The Joy of Cake

Yesterday, I reviewed a cookbook teaching one how to make Cake Pops. Oh, the cake pops I made were SO good.

Since cake is one of my favorite things -- I can't believe it's not mentioned in that song from Sound of Music -- let's talk about the joy of cake.

Oddly enough I had no trouble making the habit of having a manicure and a slice of cake every other Friday. If only the habit of working out every day came as easily....

Fun Quotations About Cake

Maria Sharapova
: "I have a very big sweet tooth and I love treating myself to something that I wouldn't necessarily eat during the tournament such as a nice-sized cake."

Denise Van Outen
: "I eat quite healthily normally but, like everyone, have relapses and give in to the odd cake."

Lisa Loeb
: "When someone asks if you'd like cake or pie, why not say you want cake and pie?"

Lesley Boone: "I tried to commit suicide by sticking my head in the oven, but there was a cake in it."

Anonymous: "Birthdays are nature's way of telling us to eat more cake."

Takeaway Truth

Life is short. Eat more cake.

Audio Book Just One Look Special Promotion

I just found out that Audible has the audio book of my best-selling romantic comedy Just One Look on special for only $1.99! Tell all your friends.

Now's the time to grab this great romantic comedy at a rock-bottom price. It's delightful -- like listening to a funny, sexy romantic movie. I'll confess to fantasizing about this as a movie with someone like Katherine Heigl or Julia Stiles as Jennifer Monroe.

If you're a reader, you'll love this. My books are heavy with dialogue so they translate marvelously well to audio.

If you're an author interested in having audio books produced from your novels, get this audio book. For only $1.99, you can see a typical example of the production values of ACX.

Many Ways To Listen

If you're not conversant with the audio book scene, don't worry. There are many ways to listen to audio books, and you can go between apps with your downloaded audio books. It's all very user-friendly.

You can download the Audible app for smartphones and listen to the books that way. Or, download the Audible Manager to your computer and direct the downloaded books to your iTunes app to listen with your iPod. Or, listen on your computer or burn a CD for listen in a CD player. It's all very flexible.

Takeaway Truth

If you're a reader, you'll love audio books. If you're an author, explore this new profit center.

Review: Cake Pops

Ah, the weekend is here. Let's review a book and have fun baking the subject of the book. That's right.Today, I'm reviewing a little book I grabbed several weeks ago: Cake Pops: Recipes & Tips for Perfect Cake Pops.

As is my custom when I review ebooks, I give the Kindle Buy Link because I read most books on my Kindle. However, I'm certain every book I review is available at most ebook sellers so look for them on the platforms that match your ebook reading device. (Want your own Kindle? Click here.)

Cake Pop: The Cutest Dessert

I love cake. I love cake pops! When our newest son-in-law was courting our daughter, he gave her a dozen of the most beautiful cake pops instead of chocolates for Valentine's Day. Smart guy! Anyone can give chocolates, but cake pops? Ah, those are special.

Indeed those from a local bakery were melt-in-your-mouth, knee-weakening delicious. You've heard blow in my ear, and I'll follow you anywhere? Forget that! Give me a chocolate-drizzled butter-cake pop, and I'm yours.

When I saw a cake pop pan next to the check-out lane at the supermarket, I grabbed one. I've since seen them at Walmart, Ross's, Home Goods, and other places. Months passed. Then I saw an email alert about a bargain-priced cake pop cookbook so I quickly bought it. Yep, that's the one I'm reviewing.


This little book gives 3 basic recipes and step by step instructions. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced baker, you too can make cake pops following these directions. The directions are clear and easy to understand.

There's a recipe using a cake mix and also recipes from scratch. How to frost the cake pop is also covered.

Even if you're not a baker, you can learn to do this.

Takeaway Truth

What are you waiting for? Get in the kitchen and start making cake pops.

Tip About Your Book Links

If you sell books on Amazon and Nook, you know the URL to your book page is one long, mind-boggling link.

Here's a short reminder about what's important about the URL and what you can delete because it's nonessential. That way if you post your Amazon link on a list to request Tweets or Likes, it won't get broken. Also, if you're posting your link into a form, it's much easier to do without worrying the link may break.

I'll use my own book links to illustrate.


If you go to my author page on Amazon, you can click any of my titles. If you click Old Enough To Know Better, you get this link:

Of all that, this is the only part that's essential:

The rest of this:


can be deleted.

Try It

When you're on your book page, just highlight the URL at the top. Delete everything from the end to the Product ID# then hit enter. If you did it right, the page refreshes and you're still right there at your book page.


The same is true of Nook. Here's Old Enough To Know Better with all the stuff:

Delete the excess and you get this URL:

Shorten Links Further

Now, take the stripped down link and shorten it further if you need to using TinyURL or Bitly or any of those apps.

Takeaway Truth

Always make it easy for friends to pass on your book links and for you to send them on without worrying about the link breaking.

Publish on All Romance eBooks

I've had so many requests in the last week for this article that I figured it was easier to publish it again rather than keep sending links by email to those who asked for it.

As noted below, this article originally appeared in Writing Hacks, my subscription newsletter, then, in November 2011, here on the blog. I believe all the information is still correct. The only other bit of advice I'll offer is to save what you fill in as you go along so that if it locks up, you can just paste in the info again -- that would be book blurb and excerpt. If you start having problems with the form not taking the info, try clicking SUBMIT after every step. Cumbersome but it works.

AllRomanceEbooks sells a lot of books. If you write anything in the romance genre, or a mixed genre book with a strong romance, you need to be selling your books here.

Through their sister site OmniLit, they publish other genres and nonfiction.

(Note: This article originally appeared in Writing Hacks, my subscription newsletter for writers on October 13, 2011. Subscription form is at the right if you'd like information like this as soon as it's available. )

What You Should Know First

1. As an indie author, you are also a publisher so don't be scared away when registration information talks about you the publisher and doesn't mention author. Just use your name as publisher.

2. You need an ISBN number to register. If you haven't purchased ISBN's for your ebooks, go ahead and register then use the website Contact Form to request ARe provides you with a unique numbering system that you will use from Book 1 to infinity for your books.

3. If you choose to register ISBNs, read the FAQ by Joan on SlingWords, and the post Understanding ISBN on the blog.

Get Started

1. Click Publisher/Authors on the main page to open the window with the required forms and the FAQ links.

2. Read the FAQ.

3. Follow instructions to register.


This will save you time and effort.

1. Always use CTRL-C to copy and CTRL-V to paste. Right click doesn't give the same results.

2. At this time, if you don't have ISBN's, contact ARe and wait to hear back before you proceed because you cannot register a book without ISBN or ARe Identification Number.

3. Choose which formats you'll use and format your book file for those in advance. (Can do this while you're waiting for numbers.)

All Romance Ebooks and OmniLit sell ebooks in many formats. Choose all or select only the ones you want to offer. (Next time I'll offer some websites to help you with formats.)

These are the Formats currently used on All Romance Ebooks and OmniLit:

Adobe Acrobat (PDF)
Palm DOC/iSolo (PDB)
Microsoft Reader (LIT)
Franklin eBookman (FUB)
Hiebook (KML)
Mobipocket (PRC) and (MOBI)
Rocket (RB)
Open eBook (ePub) --
Print or POD (enter URL)

4. Write your author bio and save it in a plain text file in a desktop note taker like Flashnotes where it's ready to cut and paste into each ADD BOOK form.

5. Format your Excerpt that you'll paste into the form. Again, use plain text file because the form won't take paragraph indentations, etc.

Now You're Ready To Rock & Roll

If you've got your ISBN or numbering system assigned, and you've done the above steps then you're ready to sign your books up.

1. Click BOOK MAINTENANCE / ADD BOOK -- once you start, you can't save the form in progress. If you close the window, you lose what you filled in.

2. Fill out every box. If this is the first time you've added a book, you'll need to set up your AUTHOR NAME. Follow the instructions. After you've set it up, in the future, if you need to find your author name in a search, you'll do it FIRST NAME LAST NAME, not last name first order in the Author Database on the publisher forms.

3. Upload the various manuscript formats. I've found it's faster to upload 1 format at a time. If you try to do too many formats, it locks up or slows to a crawl.

4. When you are finished, check the entire form to make sure the info "stuck" before hitting submit.

5. Click submit.

6. After the form processes, click on the entry to see how it looks. At this point, check TAGS and fill that in if the form didn't offer you the chance to do so before.

7. Repeat the process for the next book.

If you have any questions, make a comment, and I'll try to help. Good luck!

Takeaway Truth

All Romance Ebooks is very popular with romance readers, and they have huge subscription base. Be there or bemoan the loss of sales.

The Truth About Reviews

Some topics just never go away. One of those perpetual subjects is Book Reviews. Oh, my, I can't think of 2 other words that bring such joy or anguish to writers.

This past week, on many of my various writers' lists, reviews have been discussed endlessly. For every writer who can't ignore reviews, there is a writer who will go to great lengths not to read reviews.

From bemoaning membership in the 1-star club to rejoicing in membership in the 5-star club, reviews can sweep you from hell to heaven, all in the space of a few minutes.

Authors can quote their great reviews verbatim. They can also quote the soul-killers that can compare a book that took you years of meticulous research and writing to garbage not worth the time it took to read it. I've read much worse comments that attack not just the book, but also the author who dared pen it.

Grace Metalious, author of the famous novel Peyton Place -- a book that sold millions and spawned movies and a TV series -- was once asked her thoughts on all the bad reviews her book had received. Many of them called her books poorly written trash read only by those "with lousy taste in books."

The fabulous Ms. Metalious replied: "I guess there are a hell of a lot of people with lousy taste."

Then she probably proceeded to cry all the way to the bank.

You Must Remember

Remember this the next time you get a review which should have as part of its definition, "the most subjective piece of writing that exists." A review is just one person's opinion, and that opinion is filtered through God knows what in their brains. The same way your opinions are filtered through your brain.

For every person who hates your book, there will be one who loves it. Unless you have enormous confidence in your ability as a writer, don't ever read your reviews. If you're at all lacking in belief in yourself, bad reviews will affect you. The jolt to your fragile writer's ego is a high price to pay for curiosity.

Takeaway Truth

Take heart and hang onto the thought that there will be more who love your book than hate it and keep on trucking down that long road to success.

Choosing Free Ebooks

Today, I want to talk about free ebooks and what I realized recently about how I choose to add them to my Kindle. As an author, I'm usually more willing to give other authors latitude when it comes to their books. I'll overlook things that the average reader might scourge an author on.

Having said that, yesterday, after perusing the lists of free ebooks, I realized my practice of obtaining books had changed. You see, when I first got my Kindle more than 2 years ago and discovered the land of free ebooks, I went wild with stocking my cyber library.

If it was free, I wanted it -- regardless of genre or anything else. In fact, I didn't even read the blurb. I just grabbed them and was happy to fill my Kindle. 

That Was Then; This Is Now

As time has passed and the volume of free ebooks has swelled like a storm-surge tide, I've grown much more discriminating. Last year, I ruthlessly culled my Kindle library. I opened every book; read the first couple of pages; and deleted if the book didn't grab my attention.

Then I started reading the blurb before downloading free ebooks. As time has passed and my life has grown impossibly busy, I rarely have time to read blurbs now! I've begun just scrolling through the emails I receive from the many blogs that showcase free ebooks -- just looking at the book covers.

If I saw a book cover that interested me, then, and only then, would I take the time to follow the link to the Kindle page.

Free Books No Longer Attract Simply Because They're Free

Just about every author I know who offers a book for free has been bemoaning the fact that they no longer get downloads of the free books numbering in the tens of thousands. What kind of world is it when people turn down free books? The simple answer is that it's the kind of world we've created by offering so many free books I guess. Even giving away a book isn't enough to attract attention in this new world order, and it isn't a guarantee that anyone will take a free book.

Back to yesterday when I quickly scrolled through about 100 ebooks. Of all those ebooks, only 2 interested me enough -- based on their covers -- to go to their respective Amazon pages and grab them. Coincidentally, it turned out one book was by an author I've read before who is indie and print-published. The other book was from an indie-only author, but I've read him and like his thrillers. He gets better with every book.

Cover Art Is Crucial

So this admonition is for those who think any cover will do on a free or inexpensive or ebook (because they're not like REAL books). It won't. If your cover is uninteresting, ugly, or amateurish, no one will want your book even if it is free or inexpensive.

Takeaway Truth

When competition increases -- and it has in the last year -- you must make sure that all the elements that go into your book package are above reproach -- especially the cover.

Buying from iStockPhoto

Here's a quick tip about buying graphic images for your blog or as a design element in book covers.

iStockPhoto is now offering the option of buying images using your credit card on the spot. No longer do you have to go through the process of buying credits then purchasing your image using the credits.

Just choose the Shopping Cart Checkout Option each time you want to buy photos, illustrations, videos or music tracks this way. Select a file, click "Add to Cart," and check out using your credit card.

If you have a balance of credits, or you just like using them, you can still do it that way. Credits are good for a year after you purchase them. Plus, they're still the quickest, easiest option if you're downloading a lot of files often.The Shopping Cart Option is better if you just do content every now and then.

Takeaway Truth

This is the second royalty-free image content site that I've seen do this. For new users, it certainly takes some of the headache out of purchasing images.

Autumn Sneaked In

Since it was 94 degrees F. yesterday, it's hard to believe that yesterday was also the autumnal equinox -- that's the first day of fall to most of us.

Scriptwriter Mitchell Burgess, the man responsible for The Sopranos, Blue Bloods, and Northern Exposure, just to name a few, wrote: "If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It's a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year, and it's time to reflect on what's come before."

I like that. Even here in Texas where summer still reigns, despite the autumnal equinox, it's a good time to reflect on what we've accomplished this year -- and maybe on what we failed to accomplish.

The leaves are probably starting to change color in your part of the world. They'll be falling soon. Before Mother Earth closes the drapes on another year, take time to figure out if you're where you want to be. If not, take action. You still have 4 months left.

This is the perfect time to review that list of goals you made out 9 months ago. If you haven't achieved your primary goals, can you regroup and go at it again, giving it your all this last quarter of the year?

Takeaway Truth

As long as you breathe, it's never too late to go after what you want.

Review: American Sniper by Chris Kyle, Jim DeFelice, Scott McEwen

Today's review is for American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle with Jim DeFelice and Scott McEwen which I "read" by listening to the audio book edition from Audible.

Chris Kyle was in every major battle of the Iraq war and was wounded twice. He has 160 confirmed kills out of 255 claimed kills as a sniper. You may have seen him on TV recently on Stars Earn Stripes and Sons of Guns.

Larry and I listened to this book as we were traveling across Texas a couple of weeks ago. I took the ensuing time to analyze my emotional response to the book and to figure out what I really thought about this rather unusual story of a deadly SEAL's military career.

As is my custom when I review ebooks, I give the Kindle Buy Links or the Audible Buy Links since I read most books on my Kindle or listen to them on my iPod or iPhone after purchasing from Audible. However, I'm certain every book I review is available at most ebook sellers and audio books from iTunes so look for them on the platforms that match your ebook reading or your buying preference. Click here to shop for your very own Kindle.

The Narrator

The very talented John Pruden is the narrator for American Sniper. He did an amazing job and offered a credible West Texas twang. He sounds very much like Chris Kyle who was born and reared in the Odessa, Texas, area. My husband, who also has that kind of Texas drawl, wasn't offended at all by the faux Texas voice.

Blurbing The Book

From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history. Iraqi insurgents feared Kyle so much they named him al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle earned legendary status among his fellow SEALs, Marines, and U.S. Army soldiers, whom he protected with deadly accuracy from rooftops and stealth positions.

After 9/11, he was thrust onto the front lines of the War on Terror, and soon found his calling as a world-class sniper who performed best under fire.

Amazing long distance shots and close quarters combat are presented matter-of-factly and honestly without Kyle trying to pretty up his actions. He tells it all, dispassionately until he talks about his fellow soldiers. That's when his emotion comes across. He makes the point in the book that he didn't fight to free Iraq. He fought for his country because that's what he was ordered to do, and he fought for the lives of his fellow soldiers. These men don't get to pick and choose their battles or the way they're even used. Often politics and higher-ups create as many challenges and dangers to these warriors as the enemy.

The insurgents, the ones he called the bad guys, or savages, were the ones Kyle sought in his sniper scope. The more bad guys he could pick off; the more Americans he might save. That was the bottom line for him, and it's a bottom line I'm forced to respect.

My Thoughts

This book awed me, and it made me cry. War is hell, and that fact is never so evident as when Kyle talks about his friends who died so tragically.

I am not a person who thinks deadly force and violence are never called for. I'm a realist -- maybe because I've lived in and visited enough third world countries to know how truly idealistic and naive most Americans are. At the end of Kyle's book, he quotes something that a friend of his, another SEAL sniper who didn't make it, said: "Despite what your momma told you... Violence does solve problems."

Unfortunately, I agree with that assessment. Why unfortunately? Because I'd prefer to live in a world where diplomacy and common sense ruled, but that's not the case. Force of action and violence are what pulled the world back from Hitler's quest for world domination. My dad landed on a bloody beach on D-Day. That was the beginning of many prolonged battles he fought -- for his life and the lives of his fellow soldiers. His war experiences marked him.

Just as Chris Kyle's experiences marked him.

Soldiers like Kyle -- and like my father -- perform like super heroes on the battlefield, but the post-war is often not easily won. To do what Kyle did, a man has to compartmentalize the softer emotions. In fact, I think it's safe to say that a man must become a different person -- someone who can use violence to solve problems and use it damned fast and expertly.

In the end, what happens to that changed person when war is over is the bigger moral question.That question is unflinchingly presented by Kyle and by his wife Taya, whose viewpoint is also given in the book. Taya Kyle speaks openly about the challenges of being the wife of a SEAL, and, often, the only parent that the children may know, and about how hard it is to find the man she loves inside the returned warrior.

This book is riveting, gut-wrenching, and unforgettable. It's not just an extraordinary war memoir that gives readers a glimpse of what the whole Iraq situation is really like. It's also an emotional and moving story -- warts and all -- about a hero's journey from ordinary citizen to warrior and back to ordinary citizen -- if one could ever call an ex-Navy SEAL sniper ordinary.

Takeaway Truth

God bless and protect men who are the silent warriors.

Fluffy Sweet Romance? Sort Of

Today, my friend Donna Fasano is visiting SlingWords to tell us about how she came up with the premise and plot of her wonderful new novel Take Me, I'm Yours.

You can also find Donna's new book at these ebook sellers:

Nook Book Store

UK Kindle Store

iTunes iBook Store

Kobo Books

Fluffy Sweet Romance? Yes, It Is... Sort Of
by Donna Fasano

Heroism – also known as gallantry, valor, daring. Would you have the courage to become someone's hero? What if the victim were a helpless child? Would that move you to act? Even if your own safety or the safety of those you love might be in jeopardy?

Those very questions are fleetingly pondered by the protagonist in the opening of my newest book: Take Me, I'm Yours.

A Writer's Mind At Work

I was sitting on a beach (one of my favorite pastimes) when I saw a little girl walking along the water's edge. She was all alone, and there was no one around for as far as the eye could see. The child didn't look alarmed; in fact, the wind carried the sound of her high-pitched voice as she sang happily and, I suspected, searched for seashells. I stood and had taken a couple of steps toward the little girl, when a man crested the dune and called out anxiously. She squealed in delight, calling, "Daddy!" and ran toward him. The relief on his face was unmistakable as he scooped her up into his arms. After the span of two heartbeats, he scolded her sternly for going off on her own.

Settling back down onto the cool sand, I stared out at the ocean and wondered about all the possible outcomes for that moment in time. That's how the plot for Take Me, I'm Yours came into being.

The Result Of A Writer's Pondering

Of course, my protagonist, Lainey Adams, is moved to action when she sees the little girl on the beach, lost, frightened, and in danger. And Lainey's decision to become a hero changes her life forever. Although this story begins with a scene that's filled with tension, readers can rest assured that this romance novel is sweet and funny and filled with smile-inducing emotion! I hope you'll look for Take Me, I'm Yours.

Takeaway Truth

One reviewer said: "Readers who enjoy Debbie Macomber’s writing will feel right at home in a Fasano novel."

I concur.

Back From Vacation

My darling husband and I were on a long-planned vacation beginning August 31. The first few days, we both ended up working more than either of us had planned.

Then, sadly, a death in the family intervened to change our plans.

Kin Hubbard said, "If some people didn't tell you, you'd never know they'd been away on a vacation."

Takeaway Truth

That's why I told you.

Review: Seal Team Six by Howard Wadin & Stephen Templin

Today's review is for an amazing book, SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper by Howard Wasdin and Stephen Templin which I "read" by listening to the audio book edition from Audible.

SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper on Audio.

SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper on Kindle.

As is my custom when I review ebooks, I give the Kindle Buy Links or the Audible Buy Links since I read most books on my Kindle or listen to them on my iPod or iPhone after purchasing from Audible. However, I'm certain every book I review is available at most ebook sellers and audio books from iTunes so look for them on the platforms that match your ebook reading or listening device. Click here to shop for your very own Kindle.

Blurbing The Book

SEAL Team Six is a secret unit tasked with counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, and counterinsurgency. This book is the story of Howard Wasdin who survived what would have killed most men. His story takes you deep into the world of Navy SEALS and Special Forces snipers from a childhood of deprivation and abuse to the grueling selection process of BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) to the hell of Mogadishu.

The Narration

Ray Porter is the narrator of this book, and he is amazing. I can't imagine anyone else doing this book. His voice sounds like what you think a Navy SEAL would sound like. He brings the right tone to the dramatic events and infuses a droll note to some events that are unexpectedly humorous. Humorous? Yes, as in the same noir-type humor exhibited by cops when dealing with terrible crime scenes.

My Thoughts

If you've followed the news this last year, you've heard all about the SEALs and SEAL Team Six in particular. For a super secret unit, the team has been getting a lot of publicity since finding Bin Laden and delivering justice.

I've watched the documentaries on the National Geographic channel about the SEALS, and I've seen Howard Wasdin, the SEAL that is the focus of the book, on many of these shows as he provides insight and commentary about everything SEAL.

If you truly want to know that war is hell, read this book. If you want the truth about the realities of what our soldiers, the regular ones and the special ops, have to deal with in doing their job when it comes to politicians, officers jockeying for position, and all the other crap these warriors have to contend with, read this book.

I'm amazed that anything effective ever gets done in this so-called war against terrorism. Not because these warriors aren't committed and willing to give their lives in the effort, but because their hands are so often tied.

These soldiers don't fight to bring democracy to other lands or to impose the American will on anyone else. They lay down their lives for their brothers in arms. They lay down their lives because they have sworn to protect this country. They don't choose the fight or the battle. They don't make the decisions or policies.

They are the ones at risk when executive and congressional decisions, often made to improve a rating in opinion polls, send them into harm's way. Then they have every kind of roadblock thrown in their way in trying to achieve an objective.

This book is compelling, eye-opening, and validates what I've been told by servicemen. This book will make you cry; it will enrage you. It will stay with you.

Get this book.

Takeaway Truth

God bless and protect these men who are the silent warriors. 

Warning: Crazy People Can Find You

Talk about fear factor. This is at the top of my list!

GPS Tracking

Did you hear about the literary agent who was stalked by a disgruntled writer she rejected? She Tweeted about it to warn others. The disgruntled writer found her, she thinks using Foursquare and/or Twitter. Police were involved. Fortunately, she escaped unscathed physically.

Take heed. If you are one of those who has location tracking enabled on your toys, you need to be aware that someone you don't want finding you has the ability to do so, quickly and easily.

There are many lovely gadgets that let the world know where you are! There are so many ways for someone to find you -- the physical you, not your online persona -- so be careful.

Apps That Use GPS Tracking

The list is huge. Some of the more common ones you might be using are these.

Foursquare -- that social network that let's you check in with your location. They call it: "Get personalized recommendations and deals based on the places you and your friends like." In actuality, it's a huge GPS locator.

Twitter and Facebook -- same thing, especially if you're using it on your phone. You have to go in and turn off the locator.

Your cell phone -- same thing. Check your settings and set it up so it must ask permission before permitting any app like FB or Twitter to use your location.

Takeaway Truth

Be aware and be cautious. I had a cop tell me one time that there was no such thing as being too paranoid when it came to personal safety.

3 Article Types Nudge Inspiration

A lot of people who blog, or who want to blog, have a problem thinking of blog topics. When someone asks me how to blog more effectively, my first piece of advice is always this:

Create an editorial calendar with a set number of topics about which you can write endlessly.

Today, I'll talk about another way to approach the problem of creating content consistently, and that is to work from a list of article types. From my days of freelance writing, I know that using article types nudges a writer's imagination.

Here are 3 tips that will help you quickly and creatively create new content.

3 Article Types To Add To Your Repertoire


Explain how to do something. My friend AnneMarie Novark often writes articles explaining how to do simple things that most of us think everyone already knows. AnneMarie is smart enough to realize that not everyone knows how to insert a hot link or how to use simple HTML to make text appear bold.


This is the kissing cousin of Explain. You're explaining here too, but you're breaking down big concepts into bite-size chunks.

Learn to look at complex ideas and processes and figure out how to break them down for mass consumption. I do this a lot. I tackle some subject that many see as overwhelming and break it into manageable steps.

That's what I did when I was learning how to turn my books into audio books using ACX. I ended up writing 10+ articles about the subject for Writing Hacks, my subscription newsletter. (I'll be compiling all that content into an ebook for publication this month in case you aren't a subscriber and missed that.)


Make lists of things. Readers love lists. It's easy to put together a list that will be of help to your readers. Here are a few I've done:

1. 8 Rules for a Happy Writing Career

2. 10 Ways Not To Write A Book

3. 12 Steps To Success

You can do the list from a positive or a negative standpoint. Sometimes, the negative "not to" list is even more effective if it helps the reader to identify their own shortcomings.

Takeaway Truth

It's a lot easier to accomplish a task when you have a plan.

Theory of Cumulative Loss

If you live long enough, you find yourself going to funerals. I have a theory about grief and loss. With every funeral you attend, grief accumulates and clings to your heart and soul.

After a few of these sad events, you feel the weight of this cumulative grief from each loss. It squeezes your heart when you walk into the church and hear the funereal music and see the massive floral displays.

I don't know if it's a southern thing, but just about every funeral I've attended, the song "How Great Thou Art" is played or sung. My parents wanted it at their funerals, and we made sure it was as they wished.

When you lose your grandparents, you deal with it because, even though you loved them, you knew they were old and, sad as the reality is, knew they would pass sooner than you wished.

Parents. Now that's indescribably harder. I still find it difficult to believe that my parents are no longer in this world. When my husband lost his parents within a month of each other, the shock was almost too much to bear. The only thing worse would be losing your spouse or a child. I shudder to even think along those lines because my husband and my children are the most important people in my world.

Now, we're losing cousins, friends, aunts, uncles. The most shocking are those who are our age and younger.

I'm at the point now where I walk into a funeral service and can hardly control my tears. When the music -- that song -- begins, I usually lose the battle. It's as if each funeral is not just the loss of that person, but the cumulative loss of all the people I have loved and who are now gone.

Takeaway Truth

I could say something profound, but because death touches us all, you have your own profound conclusions and don't need mine.

I will say this. When I kick it, I don't want any music designed to make anyone weep. I want Norman Greenbaum's "Goin' Up To The Spirit In The Sky" and the Doobie Brothers singing "Jesus Is Just All Right With Me."

A Funeral

Of all the reasons for a gathering of relatives and friends, a funeral is the saddest.

Takeaway Truth

I'll be away for a while.

Random: Sale, Creativity, Wind Map, Anagrams

Happy Friday! Here are some links to entertain, educate, and, in some instances, help you get the most from your weekend.

Win-Win Sale

If you're a subscriber on Audible -- and you should be since the intro offer is $7.95 a month with no obligation -- you can take advantage of the Audio Books are on sale thru Sept. 18 for only $4.95 each!

How Creativity Works

Great video that educates and entertains. It may also make you look at your own imagination in a different way.

Wind Map

This is just plain fascinating. Shows the wind currents across the country.

Anagram Server

Anagram: word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase. Anagrams are fun. Manna Argues Far. Fauna Nears Gram.

Joan Reeves writes. Sweaters Jeer Vino. Senators Were Jive.Well, you get the picture. Have fun with your kids with the Anagram Server.

Takeaway Truth

Have a great weekend.

3 Websites for Making Book Trailers

I've been on vacation this week so I've been dabbling in various activities. One that interests me is creating videos, specifically, book trailer videos.

Of course, you can create videos about anything from family reunion movies to baby's first steps to marketing videos for whatever needs promoting. In this marvelous age of technology, we can all be movie makers with an amazing degree of expertise.

Here are some How-To websites to teach you a bit about creating a book trailer. Enjoy!

How To Make a Book Trailer With Your iPhone

How To Make Windows Movie Maker Video

How To Make Book Trailer by Book Trailers for Readers

Takeaway Truth

Try something new for promotion. You might discover that it's as much fun as it is creative.

Latest Sizzlers Ebook Available

Blue Moon Sizzlers is the latest edition of the novel excerpts "and more" books that my friends -- Cynthia Wicklund and Elaine Raco Chase -- and I publish.

We always make this ebook free, but it takes a while for Amazon to price match to the free listings.

If you don't want to wait until Amazon makes it free, get it now at Smashwords or All Romance eBooks.

Takeaway Truth

Free sampler books are a great way to see what will hit the cyber shelves later this year as well as get some entertaining articles, recipes, and more.

Prestigious Emily Contest Open

The 2013 Emily Contest, sponsored by West Houston Romance Writers of America, opened for submissions September 1, 2012.

Due to the popularity of this well-known writing competition, and to the high volume of entries, the contest closes at midnight, September 30, 2012, so don't delay!

Contact Info

For more information and to enter. Visit West Houston RWA/Emily or Email: emily.contest at

Contest Details

* All Electronic ~ Fee: $30 (WHRWA members $20)
* No synopsis ~ maximum of 7,000 words
* Three first-round judges ~ lowest score dropped
* Open to published authors (not published in category for three years)
* Multiple entries allowed
* Entries capped at the first 240 entries received


This is what gives this contest such credibility and makes it respected by publishing professionals and authors.

Final Round Judges:
Contemporary Single Title:
* Agent ~ Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management
* Editor ~ Katherine Pelz, The Berkley Publishing Group

Contemporary Series:
* Agent ~ Scott Eagan, Greyhaus Literary Agency
* Editor ~ Susan Litman, Harlequin Enterprises

Erotic Romance:
* Agent ~ Roberta Brown, Brown Literary Agency
* Editor ~ Chelsey Emmelhainz, Editorial Asst. Avon Harper Collins

Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal:
* Agent ~ Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency
* Editor ~ Jennifer Lawler, Crimson Romance /Adams Media

* Agent ~ Jessica Alvarez, Bookends, LLC
* Editor ~ Leah Hultenschmidt, Sourcebooks

Novel with Elements of Romance (including Women's Fiction):
* Agent ~ Suzie Townsend, Nancy Coffee Literary & Media Rep
* Editor ~ Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks

Romantic Suspense:
* Agent ~ Karen Solem, Spencerhill Literary
* Editor ~ Patience Bloom, Harlequin Enterprises

Young Adult:
* Agent ~ Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, Larsen Pomoda Literary Agents
* Editor ~ Aubrey Poole, Associate Editor, Sourcebooks

Best of the Best:
* Overall contest winner receives a cash prize of $100

* Judge ~ Karla Hodde, Katy Budget Books

Takeaway Truth

Someone must win. Maybe it will be you. Don't delay. Enter soon!

Check That Writing

Over the years I've written about a lot of free apps. I'm going to take some time in the next few days to organize all those posts under the label Free App. Those posts will also still be labeled Technology for those accustomed to finding them there.

Today's Free App

Today's free app is one that will help you identify if a work has been copied. In other words, it's about plagiarism, a subject of great interest to authors everywhere. One of the problems in today's world is that too many people think it's okay to copy something off the Internet and pass it off as their own work. This is wrong. The general public seems not to realize that.

Scan My Essay

This website offers a plagiarism checker. They say that they have scanned over 10 billion resources. They offer an easy interface, and it's free. Unfortunately, it's also for Windows only.


The website is aimed at students who may be confused about whether or not they can include something in a paper. I can see that this app would also be beneficial for a lot of bloggers who are unclear about the legalities of posting something they find.


I imagine quite a few teachers use this to check their students' work in order to make sure it's original, but this could also be a great opportunity to educate the student about the importance and process of referencing sources and giving proper attribution.


Even seasoned writers can use this because sometimes a writer who has written millions of words (like me) finds a phrase or sentence leaping to the forefront of consciousness, and one wonders if it's original or something read along the way.

Takeaway Truth

Don't you love to start Monday with something free? If you're a writer, this app is a good tool to add to your repertoire.

We Who Labor

Tomorrow is Labor Day, an American federal holiday that's observed on the first Monday in September.

This day to honor the workers of America has been celebrated since the late 1800's. Work itself has changed a lot since then, but most of us with jobs -- which, in today's economy we're thrilled to have -- still work hard.

Whether you're on an assembly line, taking orders at McDonald's, greeting at Wally World, Tweeting for your marketing department, growing a field of cotton, running after a bunch of kids and keeping the house clean and the laundry done and the meals cooked, pushing a broom as a janitor, bringing cattle to auction, or writing a book, you labor.

We Americans labor -- now more so than ever when there are so many more tasks to be accomplished on a daily basis.

Today, I salute you. Enjoy a holiday designed to pay respect to you as an American worker.

The droll Elbert Hubbard wrote: "The man who doesn't relax and hoot a few hoots voluntarily, now and then, is in great danger of hooting hoots and standing on his head for the edification of the pathologist and trained nurse, a little later on."

Takeaway Truth

Celebrate. Be safe. Get back to work on Tuesday.

Review: Falling Uphill by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

Falling Uphill by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga is a gem of a book. I truly loved this story from the first page which sucks you in with a great hook and doesn't release you until the end, at which time you want to go back to the beginning and read the book again.

Blurbing The Book

In this multi-layered novel, Candace Grey, an anthropology professor at a small Michigan college, is almost 30 and mired in a fizzling relationship with a man who won't commit any more than he'll become the kind of man she needs.

With plans made for a summer of research in Los Angeles to be followed by a fall dedicated to completing her thesis on gender roles as influenced by sitcoms, Candace is unsettled and lonely and uneasy and worried about her relationship. When she's notified that her only remaining relative has died in San Francisco, she decides to attend the memorial service there. That decision changes everything in her life, and leads her on a voyage of discovery about the star of one of her favorite television shows and about her own self -- what she wants out of life and what she's willing to fight for.

My 2 Cents

From the first page of this novel, you'll find yourself believing in Candace and her issues and understanding what makes her tick. It's as if she's someone you know, and maybe that's because we recognize her longing to be with someone because that would mean she wasn't alone in the world. Even though the man in her life doesn't nurture her, she tolerates his critical assessments and makes excuses for him and hopes he'll eventually commit because she wants marriage and children yet she doesn't push for that.

The subtle restrained emotions, the engaging characters, and the inexorable recognition of certain truths -- life is to be enjoyed, life is short, life is what you make it, and, in the end, life is what you decide to either settle for or to reach for -- fuels this novel. When you think it's predictable, it surprises you. When you think you see Candace's happy-ever-after coming down the pike, you breathe a sigh of relief because it's rewarding in a way that pleases anyone who ever struggled for a way out.

Setting As Character

Don't be surprised if you're overcome with a burning desire to go to San Francisco and discover the enchanting stairway houses for yourself. In many respects, the city by the bay is as much a character as Candace and her pessimistic pals. She and her friends undergo an "optimism renaissance" as they recognize that not all men are bastards. Candace's embrace of the city she learns to love is a reflection of her willingness to step out of her comfort zone, ignore conventional wisdom, and reach for what she wants.

Takeaway Truth

I loved this book. It's a keeper.