Bouncing Around The Middle Ages With Anna Markland

This morning, my guest is Canadian author Anna Markland whose keen interest in genealogy has led her to write medieval romance novels about family honor (or honour for our Canadian readers *g*), ancestry and roots -- love stories filled with passion and adventure.

Read more about Anna's book, Dark Irish Knight, below.

Thanks for having me on SlingWords today, Joan.

My pleasure, Anna. Tell us something about yourself.

After a career in teaching, I transformed my love of writing and history into what I hope is engaging works of fiction. Prior to tackling fiction, I published numerous family histories. One of the things I enjoy most about writing historical romance is the in-depth research required to provide the reader with an authentic medieval experience.
Bouncing Around The Middle Ages
by Anna Markland

I often add a proviso to the introduction of my books that if only my heroes and heroines had revealed their stories to me in chronological order, life would have been so much easier for my readers!

As it is, I have bounced all over the eleventh and twelfth centuries like a grasshopper. Each of my 13 books stands alone, but the common thread is a medieval family of noblemen and women from the Middle Ages—the Montbryces.

Why did I choose to follow one family through successive generations and branches? I am an avid genealogist and my hope has always been to trace my family back to the time of the Norman Conquest. I was born in England, but it is unlikely my dream will ever come true since I am not a descendant of nobility. So I made up a family!

When I began their odyssey, I quickly wrote 250,000 words! Then I realized—too many love stories, too many relationships, too much you know what!

So I split the novel into four, and produced the series, the Montbryce Legacy. They blend well because they were all written at the same time! I even used my genealogical software to create a family tree for the Montbryces. This way I don’t trip myself up! I now add a family tree in each book for the protagonists of that story, and readers love them!

Successive series have been offshoots of branches of the family. My current series, Montbryce-The Next Generation, focuses on three heroes with physical afflictions. Book 3, Dance of Love, features Izzy de Montbryce whose hands have been gnarled by rheumatoid arthritis. Imagine a warrior unable to wield a sword!

Book 1 (see what I mean about grasshopper mentality), Dark Irish Knight, is a new release. The hero, Ronan MacLachlainn, has been blinded in one eye. This book also features the legend of the selkie—something new for me as I don’t usually introduce any paranormal elements, although there is an aspect of the miraculous in Dance of Love.

Book 2 (slated for September 2013) will be entitled Silent Knights and will feature Adam de Montbryce who loses his hearing after suffering mumps as an adult, and his half brother Denis de Sancerrre, a dwarf. We first meet Denis in If Love Dares Enough and he appears briefly in Passion in the Blood and Dance of Love, but readers have been asking for him to feature in a book of his own.
My motivation for the themes is personal. I myself suffer from arthritis, my mother was debilitated by macular degeneration, and my grandson (Adam) is profoundly deaf. The dwarfism is an unknown factor for me, so I will enjoy the research into that aspect of the book. It’s daunting though!

If readers prefer to read in chronological order rather than trying to follow the vagaries of my creative brain, I have a handy list on my website.

My obsession with genealogy even extends to my pen name. Anna Markland was actually my 3g great aunt who died at the age of 15. She was not given a chance to experience romance, so I deemed it appropriate to use her name. (Fellow genealogists will understand completely my use of the word “obsession.”)

I hope those readers who enjoy series will get to know and love the members of the Montbryce family.

I will award a free paperback copy of Book One of the Montbryce Legacy, Conquering Passion, to a lucky commenter (US/Canada). Be sure to include your email address in your comment.

Takeaway Truth

Readers in the U.S. and Canada, leave a comment for a chance to win the paperback edition of an enthralling love story.

Book Design Templates

My friend Joel Friedlander has created an amazing resource for indie publishing authors. Whether you're interested in publishing print or ebooks, Book Design Templates offers MS Word templates that will help you easily produce books that look professionally formatted.

Click Book Design Templates and read Joel's post. In his post, he talks about the 32 page report, Book Construction Blueprint, he created and offers for free. This guide is a valuable resource you'll want.

Details: Book Construction Blueprint

Parts of a Book
Chapters and Subheads
Elements of the Book Page
The Title Page
Book Trim Sizes
Pagination Styles
Book Covers, Dust Jackets and Casewrap Books

Takeaway Truth

Get your copy today. Click here to visit Book Design Templates.

Amazon Changes Free Ebook Game

Attention, Readers! If you love free ebooks on Amazon and find them by visiting many of the blogs that post about them each day, you're in for a shock. Amazon has announced sweeping changes effective March 1 that will mean many of those blogs that list free books will disappear.

Those blogs earn revenue by visitors who click the links to grab a free book. Each book link has a referral code embedded in it that means the blog publisher, who usually doesn't have paid advertising on his blog, gets revenue from affiliate referral commissions.

If you click a link for a free book and also purchase something else during that Amazon session you initiated, the blog owner gets a variable commission based upon the sale price and the item purchased. This never increases the cost for the buyer, but it always results in revenue for the blog owner.

Change Is Coming

Last week, Amazon sent out email updates to everyone who participates in their affiliate program. (I'm one.) What they're going to do basically amounts to killing the referral commission program for those who list free books. Blogs that list free books and are dependent on referral income are already taking steps to roll with this punch.

My friend Mike Gallagher who writes Free Kindle Books and Tips blogged about this yesterday. By the way, the name of Mike's blog will change to Kindle Books and Tips, but the URL ( remains the same.

Books on the Knob has decided to set up a second website to list free books and will keep it going as long as they have time to handle two websites. They will use their original website to feature special deal books that aren't free for which they can still receive affiliate income.

You'll see changes in all websites that feature free books. Many websites that listed free ebooks will be shut down, shifted to an alternate website just for the free books, as Books on the Knob is doing, or probably change their policies and start accepting advertising to replace referral income. Many that haven't charged authors to have their books listed in the past will now do so.

For Authors: Good News/Bad News

The good news for authors is that the price point of ebooks should rise when the exposure for free ebooks diminishes. Just about all authors agree that ebooks are undervalued. Many authors have a tough time making sales when they're competing against 1,000's of free ebooks. Just today, there are over 7,000 free ebooks available on Amazon. Perhaps without all the exposure offered by the "free ebook" blogs, the 99cent ebook will once again reign supreme as the bargain book to introduce readers to your writing.

For Readers: Bad News

Of course, readers will decry the loss of so many free ebooks. However, the quality of all those free ebooks is terribly inconsistent. Many are excellent, but it seems more are not very good.

Just this past weekend, I downloaded about a dozen free ebooks in these genres: Romance, Mystery, Paranormal. I ended up deleting all of them after reading the first few pages. Why? Because of illogical characterization, faulty plot execution, and grammatical errors. Yes, all that in the first few pages!

There are many who think the badly written ebooks that are often free taint all ebooks with the reputation of being poorly written.

Takeaway Truth

My advice? Give the books that aren't free a chance. Take a free sample. Read it. If you like it, buy it. There are tens of thousands of low-cost ebooks just waiting for you to discover them.

Free Guide To Pinterest

Here's another great offering from Make Use Of, one of my favorite websites: Your Guide To Pinterest.

This guide, a free download, will teach you how to get the most out of Pinterest whether you’re already a registered user or you have only heard of it recently. Pinterest -- which stands for Pin Your Interests -- is a great way to save, organize, and share products, pictures, and ideas you like.

Warning: Be sure you do not post anything that you do not have the rights to post. This includes pictures, text, etc.

Begun in 2009, Pinterest has over 20 million users. A report from The Social Habit stated that 21% of social media users have a Pinterest account. Forbes called Pinterest the third most popular social networking site after Facebook and Twitter.

So go grab your guide. It's easy. Just read the instructions: How To Download on the website.

Takeaway Truth

The Internet contains a wealth of free information. Free is, as Kellogg's Tony the Tiger said, "Great!"

Let's Rodeo

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo 2013 began Feb. 23 and runs through March 9.

Every year, groups of trail riders on horseback and in wagon make their way to Houston, riding through the streets of this large metropolis on their way to Memorial Park where they make camp.

The trail ride tradition is more than 60 years old. Their arrival heralds the beginning of the world's largest livestock show and rodeo.The 13 trail ride groups travel a combined total of nearly 1,800 miles. They arrive the night before the Houston Rodeo Parade. Some of these groups began on February 16, with the trail riders from Reynosa, Mexico, traveling the farthest to get here.

Who Are The Trail Riders

Who are these trail riders? They are men, women, and children who spend days on horseback, through all kinds of weather. Some really are cowboys. Many live on farms and ranches or small towns, but many are ordinary people from the cities who love the western traditions. All of them participate in the trail ride as a way to keep western heritage alive.

Bad Weather Is A Given

The one constant for every trail ride I've witnessed in the past 30 years is that the weather is usually horrible the week that the trail rides converge on Houston. That's the way it was this week -- cold, windy, and wet. The kind of weather that makes you want to stay inside wrapped in a blanket.

You see a lot of television and movie cowboys, but not many stack up to the real deal. Luke Perry who played a rodeo cowboy said: "There's a big difference between me and a real, legitimate working hand, or a world-champion rodeo cowboy. I play 'em, and I aspire to be like that, but those guys are tough."

Indeed they are.

I have a tough time watching rodeos. The bronc busting and bull riding scare me to death. I had a couple of cousins who worked the rodeo circuit when they were younger. One was stomped by a bull. Luckily, he can still walk. So I always find myself thinking about him during rodeo time.

Takeaway Truth

God bless and protect you rodeo cowboys. Yee haw!

Review: Jessica's Guide To Dating On The Dark Side

This title won me over and made me grab this book: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey. I have to admit that the story lived up the great title.

This is a book, labeled Children which means Young Adult, and it's funny and poignant, filled with high school angst, young love, and the quest to save the soul of a vampire -- who is, of course, totally hot as all young male vampires should be. Right?

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.)

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side is peopled with great characters from Jessica, the brainy heroine who spends every waking minute trying to be invisible, to the studly young vampire Lucius who claims she is a vampire princess and his promised bride.

The author's surname, Fantaskey, amused me with its similarity to fantastic. She's certainly penned a fantastic story that is wryly amusing and compelling.

Takeaway Truth

Try something different for your weekend reading pleasure. Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side fits that niche perfectly.

Random News For Readers & Writers

Damn Few by Rorke Denver and Ellis Henican which I reviewed here, is now available as an audiobook.

For those who want to read it in print, Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior in Hardcover is available today. The paperback edition won't be out until Nov. 15, 2013.

Good news on the war against book piracy. Google has a plan. Every time I read an article like that one, I'm amazed at the people who are so violently against enforcement of copyright laws. I guess they think it's okay to kill an author's career and make it impossible to earn a living. Would these same people shoplift a paperback book from Walmart? Theft is theft.

This is kind of old news, but I forgot to mention it last month. TOR UK is going to accept direct submissions from authors. Read about it here on GalleyCat.

My favorite song of the day? Need You Now by Lady Antebellum. I'm listening to it on Infinite Looper right now.

Takeaway Truth

All the Trail Riders have made it to Houston for the kickoff of the Houston Rodeo 2013 so the weather should be good this weekend. (It's always horrible the week the trail riders are making their way on horseback and in wagons to Houston.) Wishing y'all a great weekend!

Alisa Anderson: Keep A Backup Copy

This morning I'm talking with erotica author Alisa Anderson.

In her own words, Alisa says: "I did stuff and am still doing stuff only now I have two boys crazy enuff to want me as their mommy."

By the way, Alisa has an idiosyncrasy. She doesn’t like to capitalize. She tells me that she likes how lower case letters look visually, but confesses that it's mostly out of laziness.

Thankfully, she overcame her aversion to upper case in writing the guest blog post for you today, but her biography she sent was au naturale.

Alisa says she's waiting for a world full of controllable anatomically correct, android men programmed to meet her specific feminine needs (wink, wink, nudge, nudge with a big waggle of the eyebrows). In her perfect fantasy world, these men are designed to look like The Rock. And Ian Somerhalder. And Idris Elba. But alas, she confides, this apparently exists only in Johanna Lindsey's genius mind.

So, enough of Alisa's delightful rambling. Visit her online if you want to discover some real facts about her. Maybe. *g* Here she is to tell you about the importance of always making a backup.

Find Alisa Online

Alisa's Erotic Romance Novella

Always Keep A Backup Copy
by Alisa Anderson

So I had just finished making all these fantastic, utterly fabulous edits to my latest novella, give & take, book 2 of the give & receive series. And as wonderful non-Apple computers do, my computer loves to kirk out at the most inopportune time.
Between the gremlins and demons currently possessing, make that completely moving in and squatting within my computer and refusing to pay ANY kind of rent, it’s pretty safe to say my computer sucks. Totally. She is a moody, evil, positively hateful creature, with her mind bent on nothing but ill will towards myself and others.

Personally, I think she suffers from incredibly low self-esteem. Why else would she have such a nasty outlook on the world? I have to tell anyone using my computer to be careful how you treat her because she will freeze at any given moment. And she has to be a woman. No man would be this difficult to get into and maneuver. *grins*

Back To My Story

So back to that. Like I was saying, after I made all these million-dollar, best seller changes and edits to my work, as clearly that’s what this novella WOULD have been, the helpers of Satan residing in my computer must have realized the rest of us could hear them casting voodoo spells, conducting numerous séances, and, of course, the never-ending plot for world domination, decided to come to a complete stop. Like ... everything. I couldn’t ctrl-alt-delete; I couldn’t pray to the sun god for rain; I couldn’t sell my left kidney ... all of which I tried. Any Disney character granting wishes was apparently on strike, as none seemed poised to answer my grief-stricken call.

So I paced the floor like an expectant father anxiously awaiting the complication-filled birth of his first child. I too fretted, cried and raged my war against God. I shook my fist; I screamed. I crumpled paper and threw it to the floor for the dramatic visual effect. That’s how I used to imagine it when I was a kid at least. The writer -- with his or her typewriter -- starting and stopping, with crumpled paper strewn about them on the floor. It looked so ... writer-ly. Writer-ish. Writer ... something.

In the midst of all of this, I neglected to notice my computer had quietly rebooted. When I turned around and came back to my desk, there she was.

Sitting there prettily.
Filing her nails.
Mocking me.
My edits and changes completely gone of course.
Lost in the black hole that is currently my literary life.

As I sit here with my head on my desk and my 2 six-year-old boys running around me, serving me Lord of the Flies circa 1954 chanting with spears and a severed pig head (perhaps I am being a shade facetious) my message, the moral of this tragedy is clear and simple.

Always keep a backup copy.

I dunno. And maybe buy a Mac.

Takeaway Truth

Thanks, Alisa, and a message we should all take to heart: make a backup. Frequently.

Skinny on Amazon Discussion Forums

Prior to May 2011, authors rubbed shoulders with readers on Amazon Discussion Forums. I liked this because I find it interesting to discover what readers have to say about books. In fact, I took their pet peeves to heart in many instances. Now, I ruthlessly scan my work for words and phrases that romance readers abhor or find laughable.

Unfortunately, some authors don't know how to socialize with readers. They created problems on these forums with their constant in-your-face advertisements for their books. This happened so much that readers became belligerent and abrasive to anyone they suspected was an author with an agenda.

So in May 2011, Amazon created Meet Our Authors Forum, a place where authors could congregate and talk about books.

Unfortunately, most of the discussion threads in MOA forums still amount to constant self-promotion. I'm an author, and I get tired of this too. If I go to a book discussion forum, then I'm there to talk about books I like, find out what other readers like, and get some insight into buying habits.

I don't necessarily mind if other authors post SHORT blurbs about their work. I do that too, but I try to limit it to a book link and a couple of sentences either about the book or a review quote.

Because I'm always looking for a good book, I don't even mind scanning through the discussion threads to pick out a short blurb about a book that might be worth my time. I NEVER stop and read multiple paragraphs about a book, or any quote where the author says something like: "this is the most wonderful book ever written" or "this is so much better than bestseller John Doe writes.


1. I don't have the time to read long blocks of text about a book. If you can't convey the essence of your book in 1 or 2 sentences, then you need to develop that skill.

2. Quotes not backed by a credible source -- even an Amazon Review quote is credible since it can be looked up -- are meaningless. Things an author says about his own book are nothing more than marketing copy, and that's not a credible review source.

3. I will never buy a book from an author who publicly disrespects another author. Writing karma is a bitch. Sling mud on another author in an open forum, and you'll end up muddied too.

Takeaway Truth

Writers, if you want to participate in a book discussion forum, then don't be a tool (of self-promotion) about it. Remember that the purpose of the forum is to discuss books -- all books, not just yours.

Review: Tripwire by Lee Child

If you're looking for a thriller in an audiobook, you can't go wrong with Tripwire by Lee Child with narration by Jonathan McClain.

If you want to read it rather than listen to it, here's the link for Tripwire (Jack Reacher, No. 3) Ebook Edition.

Tripwire, Book 3 of the Jack Reacher thrillers, abounds in emotional threat and creates a nervous anxiety as the momentum of the story builds. You just know terrible things are going to happen to the villain's latest targets -- and you aren't wrong.

I won't say any more because I don't want to toss out a spoiler. If you read Tripwire or listen to it, you'll understand what I mean.

Sadistic Psycho

Suffice it to say that much of the book is an exercise in emotional sadism as well as physical acts of violence that have you constantly on the edge of your seat, waiting for more to happen to the hapless victims of the sadistic villain.

On a side note, this book was published a few years before 9/11 which brought massive changes to the NY landscape. Some of the science paradigms have changed so don't think the author did a sloppy job in research. What he describes as SOP was the way it was back in the mid 1990's. Science has evolved and so has SOP of dealing with body remains.

Narration Excellence

The consummate professional Jonathan McClain voices Reacher again and does a superb job with this story which gives more insight into Reacher's background, making you feel as if you know him better by the end of Tripwire.

Takeaway Truth

All in all, another taut suspenseful thriller from Lee Child, a master of the genre, and a superb acting job by narrator Jonathan McClain.

Review: Damn Few by Rorke Denver

Some may wonder why I, a romance novelist, am reviewing Damn Few, a book about training America's elite warriors, the Navy SEALs. That's easy to answer. It's because I am a romance novelist. I write books wherein the male lead is always a hero: a man who does the right thing for the right reasons.

Actually, My Cup of Tea

I've read and reviewed quite a few military memoirs. I admire men who put themselves in harm's way for the greater good of their fellow soldiers and their country. Rorke Denver, former head of Basic and Advanced SEAL Training is one of these men. In his book, he shares his own experience as a SEAL and later as the man who directed SEAL Training, as well as his philosophical insights into the mental and emotional makeup of a candidate who successfully completes SEAL training and wins the Trident, the gold pin that is the visible symbol of being a SEAL.

Different Perspective

Of all the books I've read about Navy SEALs, this is the first that offers the perspective of an officer who was an active duty SEAL and who was the officer in charge of a SEAL team. Denver shows the hard decisions an officer must make to consider the risk and reward of every operation, to deploy his team effectively, and to know that every decision he makes will affect not only a SEAL in his command but also the wife, children, parents, and siblings waiting stateside for that SEAL to return.

Although not characterized by "war stories" of firefight after firefight, Denver's story has power that comes from the emotion and philosophy he infuses. To be perfectly honest, he had me from the first line of the dedication: "For my wife, my heartbeat." There is not a woman on this earth who would not be affected by such a declaration of love. The fact that it comes from a man's man, a warrior, just makes the sentiment more profound.

Triple Threat Content

There are three sections in the book: Learning It, Doing It, and Passing It On. If you've seen any of the popular television documentaries that began popping up after the rescue of Maersk Alabama Captain Richard Phillips in 2009, then you probably are familiar with the Navy SEALs BUD/s Training and Hell Week.

Learning It, the first third of the book, deals with BUD/s and Hell Week in detail as well as an analysis of why some men make it, some don't, and some quit before anything really hellish even begins.

The second third of the book, Doing It, covers the Peacetime Warrior era and Denver's long-awaited and eagerly-anticipated insertion into war-torn Iraq.

Passing It On is the final third of the book. Denver discusses his movie role as a Navy SEAL in the movie "Act of Valor," produced by Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh and written by Kurt Johnstad who wrote the screenplay for the very successful "300," about King Leonidas and his 300 men who fought the Persians at Thermopylae. After reading the "behind the scenes" story of this movie, I plan to watch it again with an eye for the detail Denver mentions.

More importantly, in this part of the book, Denver presents the challenges facing the SEAL program now when they are under pressure to produce more SEALs, as if that would be the ultimate answer to the challenges facing our country. I think it's obvious to anyone, after reading this book, and others written by SEALs, that if more SEALs are wanted, they'd better start young.

What Makes A Warrior

The will to prevail--to never give up--is the overriding characteristic of these warriors. That is not something that can be created in an adult. It's something that is created as a child grows and is influenced by parents, by a value system that emphasizes greater good as well as a belief in one's ability to succeed, just to mention the obvious.

Damn Few is a testament to heroic men who are not saints, but who are selfless in their patriotism. Perhaps more than any other group of people, SEALs recognize, as Denver says in his book: "You can do everything right, and things can still go catastrophically wrong." How tragically true.

At the beginning of Damn Few, Denver quotes an early Scottish toast that seems ironically appropriate given the murder of SEAL Sniper Chris Kyle, killed by a former soldier he was trying to help. "Here's tae us / Wha's like us? / Damn few, / And they're a' dead."

Damn Few will inspire, educate, and instill in you a deep appreciation for these men who are the ultimate warriors and for their willingness to make hard decisions and do the right thing.

Special Invitation For My Readers

On February 19, at 6pm EST, Rorke Denver, the author, will be doing a live video chat about his book. You are invited to participate. You can ask questions via text or even on video. Please RSVP using this link:

Takeaway Truth

I didn't buy this book. I was sent an advanced reading copy by the Social Media Manager of Hyperion Books, the publisher, and asked if I would read it for review. The book is compelling and insightful, and I'd have been happy to plunk down the money for it.

What Makes A Reader Buy A Book?

I've been buying books lately as if they're becoming extinct. I just bought another that I saw listed in Mike Gallagher's Free Kindle Books and Tips. If you don't subscribe, you're missing a great blog.

With the one I bought that was listed on Mike's blog, I started thinking about what attracted me to each book. So I thought I'd take a few of these and tell exactly why I bought each one.

In no particular order, here are the books.

Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His Fair Assassin Trilogy) by Robin LaFevers.

I looked at the cover and read the tagline: "Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?"

That was it. The tagline sold me on the book. It pushed my feminist-don't-be-a-wimp button. I glanced at the price. I clicked Buy.

I had not previously read this author. Did not take a sample. Did not read the Description, the reviews, or anything else. The tagline sold me. The cover image reflected the strength of the tagline. If it had been priced higher than $2.99, I probably would have given it a closer inspection.

A Lonely Resurrection (previously published as Hard Rain/Blood From Blood) by Barry Eisler.

I had previously read Eisler's John Rain thrillers. I like the character and I like the Japanese setting because I lived in Japan for several years. I think Eisler nails the Japanese culture and people in a way not too many westerners do. When I read a "John Rain" book, it's like revisiting Japan.

So, Eisler's previous books sold me on this book. Also, cover is good, title is evocative.

The Single Daddy Club: Derrick, Book 1 by Donna Fasano.

I don't usually read sweet romance unless it's by someone who's truly a master of the genre. Fasano packs so much emotion in that you just truly love the characters. This is her first book in her Single Daddy Club series.

So, Fasano's previous books sold me on this book. Also, great cover.

The Girls Come Marching Home: Stories of Women Warriors Returning from the War in Iraq by Kirsten Holmstedt.

The subject matter sold me on this book. I cannot tell you how much I admire the women who have served in Iraq. Returning soldiers -- men -- get the bulk of attention, and that is great, but women fought too. Some of them gave everything and sustained terrible injuries. They too suffer.

So, subject matter ruled supreme in this book choice.

I'm going to close this out with a note about a book that I'll be reviewing tomorrow, Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior by Rorke Denver and Ellis Henican.

I didn't buy this book. I was sent an advanced reading copy by the Social Media Manager of Hyperion Books, the publisher, and asked if I would read it for review. I did. The book is compelling and insightful.

I definitely would have bought this book, and here's why:

1. Subject matter -- Again, I am greatly appreciative of the men and women who serve our country. I've read quite a few military memoirs and find them fascinating and insightful. You get a look at what's REALLY going on in the world of fighting terrorism.

2. Great cover. It conveys the solitary nature of what our elite forces do.

3. Book description. It hooks you.

4. Just reading the book's dedication did it for me. More on that in my review.

On February 19, at 6pm (I presume that's EST), Rorke Denver, the author, will be doing a live video chat about his book. I'll post more on this tomorrow when I post the book review.

Takeaway Truth

Have you analyzed your last few book purchases to see why they hooked you? If you're a writer, that's a good way to zero in on successful marketing techniques.

Special Gift For Followers

Happy Valentine's Day!

Traditionally, on Valentine's Day, I honor my Followers. Look over in the right sidebar at the little icons representing those who follow SlingWords.

I appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you for reading and supporting this blog and my writing career. Thanks for Tweets, FBs, and Google+ -ing the blog.

If you are one of the Followers listed on the sidebar, I have a gift for you to show my appreciation of you.

If you'd like to receive this gift, simply follow these steps:

1. Email me: Joan at JoanReeves dot com

2. In the Subject Box, put Real Live Person -- Valentine Gift

3. In your email, give me your mailing address.

4. Deadline for me to receive your email is Friday, Feb. 15, at 8pm CST.

I'll be sending the gifts next week.

Takeaway Truth

"Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well." ~ Voltaire

Why The Phrase Nose To Grindstone?

I was going to say that I've had my nose to the grindstone in an effort to get my latest romance novel Scents and Sensuality published by tomorrow, Valentine's Day, which was what I announced.

Actually, the book will be 1 week late so light is blazing at the end of that tunnel. (One could have an entire conversation with hackneyed phrases.)

I've sent Scents and Sensuality to a couple of proofreaders. I was at this stage months ago. However, when I got it back and read it again myself, I just wasn't happy with it. Now, I am. The book makes me smile. Next week when I get it back, I'll format and upload to all the platforms. So all you who have been eagerly anticipating this book, you'll have it next week.

But, let's talk about grindstones. It's an evocative phrase, and I've used it often. So, I decided to research its origin.

2 Explanations

The phrase started appearing in print in the 16th century. In early 20th century rural America, it was a common phrase that meant to apply oneself conscientiously to work.

One story is that it came from millers who checked the huge stones used for grinding wheat by putting their nose to the stone to see if friction was causing them to burn.

In mills, grindstones are called millstones, and they are humongous. I doubt this story.

The second origin story is that it came from the practice of knife grinders who would bend over their grindstone when sharpening blades.

When I was a kid, I saw men sharpening knives this way. They do bend down close to the wheel to make sure they're holding the blade evenly against the stone. This story sounds more plausible.

Takeaway Truth

Back to the grindstone. While I'm waiting for the proofreads, I've started the final edit on Cinderella Blue, Book 2 of the San Antone Two-Step Duet. This romantic comedy was easy-peasy and will be published in March.

Photo Sale Today Only

Hurry! My favorite photography website,, is having a 1 day sale.

I buy most of the images used for my book covers, blogging, etc. from iStockPhoto. Quality photographs are expensive.

Today, Feb. 12, buy a credit package from iStockPhoto and get 15% off.

Even though I already had more than 40 credits, I bought a 30 credit package. I use a lot of graphic images. Since the credits are good for a year, I stock up during sales.

Just go to and at checkout, use Promo Code PERK24HR.

Takeaway Truth

Cutting business expenses improves your bottom line and your cash flow.

Clean Out Your Computer Day

Part of being a successful writer is taking care of the tools of your trade. For most of us in today's world, that means a computer.

Since today is Clean Out Your Computer Day, it's a great time to talk about the routine maintenance one should do to take care of your PC.

Regular Maintenance

There are some basic things like ScanDisk and Defrag that one should do on a regular basis, and it's easy to schedule these tasks because these utilities come with every Windows program. Probably Mac has something similar.

Keeping your various programs updated is another routine task as is always running updated anti-virus/anti-malware/firewall software.


There are a lot of free apps like AdAware/LavaSoft and CCleaner to assist you in keeping your PC clean. One of the best choices though, for ease of use and comprehensive nature, is System Mechanic, a software I recently reviewed.

System Mechanic is moderately priced, but its reputation is sterling. I mean 45 million users can't be wrong.

Takeaway Truth

Whatever you choose to use, the important thing is to use something. Get your PC cleaned out and make it routine to keep it that way.

Rainy Day

Sometimes, I really enjoy a rainy day. This Sunday was such a day. As I drank my morning coffee, I watched slate blue clouds roll in from the north.

Before I finished my first cup of Dunkin Donuts, it was raining. Slow, steady, gentle rain. None of that scary thunder and lightning.

I took my second cup of coffee to the computer. Since my husband was gone today, I spent the day writing and listening to the rain along with Michael Buble on the stereo -- one particular track, You Don't Know Me, over and over. It seems to be the theme song for Scents and Sensuality, the romantic comedy that will publish this week.

Corner Of My Mind

When I looked out the window at the rain, I suddenly remembered the rainy days when my youngest daughter was a toddler. In the summer when it rained, I let her play outside. I had bought her a tiny raincoat, little rubber boots, and a pink umbrella.

On those special rainy days that occurred without thunder and lightning, I'd help her into her rain gear. I'd put on a nylon windbreaker and grab an umbrella, and we'd go outside. The rain was gentle. Just enough to accumulate in puddles.

I'd stay close by and let her stomp in the puddles to her heart's content. Giggling and laughing, she'd do her own version of Singing In The Rain. I guess it's not a surprise that the old Gene Kelly movie  became one of her favorite musicals. She has it on DVD, and she's seen live productions of it in the theater.

Fran Lebowitz said, "Do not, on a rainy day, ask your child what he feels like doing, because I assure you that what he feels like doing, you won't feel like watching."

Takeaway Truth

Oh, she was so wrong. I loved watching Adina then, and I love remembering it now.

Our History In 2 Minutes

Winter Storm Nemo is doing its worst. More than half a million people are without electricity. So it's kind of a down day for much of the country.

My friend Frank sent me a link to this video that's rather amazing. For your entertainment, check this out, created by a high school student. Amazing. It moves really fast so don't blink.

Our World History (Notre Histoire)

Be sure and click the "i" in the upper right corner of the video to read more about why and how it was made.

Here's the actual link:

Takeaway Truth

Stunning visual representation of the high -- and low -- points of our history in 2 minutes.

Liebster Award

Oh, no! Not another meme! Recently, Olene Quinn nominated me for The Liebster Award. In case you're wondering what Liebster means -- I know I was -- it's a German word meaning sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

Gee, after hearing all that, how can I not play along as a nominee for this award which is meant to promote bloggers. If you're listed as one of my 11 bloggers that I nominate, please pass it on if you have time.

Readers, hope you discover a new blog to love from those I nominate.


Sigh. There are always rules, aren't there?

1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer. (I'm doing no-brainer questions for my nominees.)
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them. (I'll email, Tweet, or Comment on your blog -- whichever I have time for.)
5. No tag backs!
6. Post an image of the award on your blog. There are many versions available. (Just copy the image above or plug Liebster Award image into a search engine of your choice to choose another.)

That's it. If you want to play along, just post your answers, your nominees, etc. on your own blog.

11 Facts About Me

1. I'm petite.
2. I love lemon meringue pie.
3. My husband is my soul mate.
4. I've been in a haunted house -- totally true.
5. My daughter and I have what the family laughingly calls a "brain link." I have had experiences when I literally heard her scream for me (heard it in my head -- crazy huh?) and I did rush to the rescue which was a good thing.
6. My mother and my maternal grandmother had some kind of, I hesitate to say psychic ability, but that's the only way it can be described. I have had dreams about things that actually happened. So much so that if I warn the kids about something, they listen up.
7. I love just about any kind of music.
8. I am intensely loyal.
9. I hate injustice of any kind.
10. I owned my own airplane once.
11. My grandfather lived to be 100.

11 Questions from Olene Quinn

1. Cats or dogs?

2. If you could have one person’s fashion sense, who’s would it be?
Coco Chanel

3. Do you like to cook?

4. Coffee or tea?
Coffee but also tea

5. PC or Mac?
PC but want a Mac

6. What or whom makes you feel the most peaceful?
Being on top of all situations, caught up, not overwhelmed by a huge To Do list

7. Do you keep a garden?
I always want to but never have the time

8. What is your favorite movie?
Impossible to answer. I'm a movie freak

9. What is the worst book or movie you’ve seen or read lately?
Worst movie -- In Bruges, compelling but like watching a train wreck

10. Do you have a goal for 2013? If yes, what is it?
Yes, be happy and healthy

11. Are you spontaneous or methodical?
By nature spontaneous, but I try to curb that with heavy doses of methodical

My 11 Nominees

1. Suzan Harden --

2. Randall R. Peterson --

3. Donna Fasano--

4. Donna Maloy --

5. Anne Marie Novark --

6. Bella Street --

7. Mona Risk --

8. Caroline Clemmons --

9. Wendy Tokunaga --

10. Milly Taiden --

11. Cathy Perkins --

11 No-Brainer Questions For My Nominees

1. Last book you read?
2. Last movie you saw?
3. Movie you want to see?
4. Favorite article of clothing?
5. Did you read comic books as a kid?
6. Wine or beer?
7. Favorite music?
8. Favorite childhood toy?
9. Favorite teacher in school and why?
10. What do you eat usually for breakfast? 
11. If you could have 1 wish granted, what would it be?

Takeaway Truth

Memes are fun! Happy Friday!

Author Donna Fasano Talks Sweet Romance

This morning we're having coffee with Donna Fasano who writes heartwarming romance.

Donna, author of The Merry-Go-Round, is well known for her sweet romances that have been print published, ebook published, and are now available as audio books.

Here's Donna Fasano to tackle The Dirty Dozen!

1. Do you read ebooks? If so, what device do you use?
Kindle, iPad, and my iPhone....I most often use my Kindle Fire.

2. Do you listen to audio books? If so, what device do you use?
I've just recently become a member of Audible. I hope to start listening to audio books on my iPhone, but I don't know if I can. At the moment, I've downloaded books to my laptop. I obviously need to do more research.

(Note from Joan: To read on your iPhone, simply download the free app from Audible. Your entire library will be available to you.)

3. When did you enter the indie publishing arena, and how has it affected your career?
Wow! I never expected to become an Indie Author. About four years ago, I took a sabbatical from my 20-year traditional-publishing career in order to take care of my terminally ill father. A couple of colleagues told me about their adventures in indie publishing, and I decided to give it a shot. I haven't looked back. I'm learning something new every single day. This career-change has ignited a flame of excitement and ambition I've never experienced before.

4. What's the best thing about being an indie author?
More control, and more money. Did I say more control? I love being able to write whatever it is I want to write.

5. What's the worst thing about being an indie author?
No boss looking over my shoulder which makes it too easy to side-step my self-made deadlines. However, I will say that I work much harder now than I ever did as a traditionally published author. I recently read a funny quote: "An entrepreneur is someone who works 80 hours a week in order to avoid working 40 hours a week." That describes me perfectly.

6. What would you like to tell readers if you could appear in front of all of them?
I'd like to ask readers to let go of their preconceived notions regarding independent publishing. Not so long ago, self-publishing was a dirty word in the publishing industry. That is swiftly changing. There are lots of good books out there that have been written by excellent authors who are finding new and innovative ways to get their work into the hands of readers.

I'm an independent author not because I can't find a traditional publishing house -- I've been there, done that. I am an Indie Author because that's the career path I choose for myself, because I want to have control over the stories I write, because I feel I deserve the lion's share of the royalties from the books I write rather than the smattering I used to earn.

Don't get me wrong. I was happy writing for that New York City publisher. I can call myself a bestselling, award-winning author whose books have sold over 3 1/2 million copies worldwide because of that New York City publisher. But technology has changed the world, and I intend to move with the times and take advantage of those changes. I hope readers will try to understand and maybe even embrace my adventurous spirit.

7. Of all the books you've written and published, what is your favorite book? Why?
Although I love all my books and I'm proud of each and every one, I think I'd have to say that my favorite is The Merry-Go-Round.

I'm so happy that an audio book edition of The Merry-Go-Round is now available too. The book's protagonist, Lauren, is a professional woman who -- in doing what she thinks is best for herself and her future -- makes a terrible mistake. We see her working through the awful result and, ultimately, coming out on the other side, stronger, smarter, happier, and a much more compassionate person. The characters in all my books develop and grow over the course of their stories, but I think Lauren is the character who changes the most.

8. If you were a casting director and that book was being produced as a movie, who would you cast in the major roles?
I could easily see Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck in the lead roles. Hey! This could be their first movie together. For the secondary characters, I'd choose Robert De Niro for the grumpy Lew, and Diane Keaton (or Goldie Hawn) for the vivacious Norma Jean. Seeing that book made into a movie would be the ultimate FUN (for me, at least).

9. Now that you are having audio books produced from all your titles, what do you think is the most difficult aspect of the audio book experience?
Choosing the perfect narrator. The voice over actor has to be talented AND he/she has to be able to interpret the story the way I heard it play out in my head when I wrote it. No easy feat.

10. How did you go about choosing your narrator?
I asked for advice from seasoned authors (such as yourself, Joan). And I listened to many (read: MANY) audio book samples.

11. What are you currently working on?
I'm finishing up a romance novel with the working title Hindsight. It's about a couple who were torn apart as teens due to the racist views of others. The story opens with the child of that teen tryst, now a teenager himself, finding himself in trouble with the law. The young man's parents are forced to come together again to see what can be done about their son's delinquent behavior. Attraction instantly stirs their desire for each other, but the labyrinth of bitterness and blame over the past presents a huge challenge that threatens to overwhelm these once passionate lovers.

12. Where online can readers find you?
Oh, I'm all over!

Takeaway Truth

For heartwarming romance full of home truths, try a book by Donna Fasano.

Banned? Need To Know News

I've been hearing a lot of people grumble about being banned by Facebook, Twitter, or some of the other social networks.

Whether you're just an ordinary person who loves social networking or a writer or other business person with a following to nurture, getting banned will not make you happy.

Most of these people say they don't know why they were banned. I suspect I know the reason for a few of them, but I thought I'd send you to Make Use Of, one of my favorite websites, for the skinny on why social networks may ban a user.

The report covers the most popular sites: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Takeaway Truth

If your social networks are vital to you or your career, don't make these mistakes or you may find yourself banned.

Promotion Opportunity at Free Book Dude

Have you heard about Free Book Dude?

I had a nice email from Bradi who helps run this website which she says is "dedicated to helping authors, especially indie authors, find readers and reach new audiences."

How It Works

They do this by posting free Amazon Kindle books every hour -- fiction and non-fiction. They do not expect the authors participating in free promotions to be bestselling authors and/or have a bunch of 5-star reviews.

They offer at least 48 authors the chance to be seen by thousands of possible new readers every day. To that end, they have expanded FreeBookDude. They've added monthly contests to help authors get their books into the hands of new readers and book reviews and daily guest posts from authors across all genres. They plan to begin scheduling blog and book tours for authors at a low cost.

They're in the process of signing up authors for their new authors helping authors blog network. If you're interested, fill out the Free Book Dude Tour Host Form on the website.

What's In It For You

Helping authors who wouldn’t normally be able to reach new readers due to financial, personal or any other reason. Oh, and that "warm, fuzzy feeling you will get...."

They will hold drawings for hosts from time to time and "will be promoting our tours and authors tirelessly," according to Bradi, which should bring "increased traffic to your site, free ebooks for you and new and fresh content for your readers."

Takeaway Truth

To see if this promotional opportunity is for you, drop byFree Book Dude and check it out.

No Time To Read? Listen To A Good Book!

Last week I discovered something interesting. BBC Audiobooks America, a well-known publisher of audio books, is now AudioGO.

AudioGO is not only a leading publisher of audiobooks in the U.S. and Canada, but also the exclusive North American distributor for BBC Audiobooks, one of the most respected and prolific publishers of unabridged audiobooks and radio dramatizations in the world today.

Since my romantic comedy novels began to be produced as audiobooks, which thrilled me to pieces, I really became interested in the audiobook scene. Of course, I'd listened to audio books for years, and, in the past, I've even interviewed some of the more popular audiobook narrators.

If you haven't discovered the convenience of audiobooks, let me give you a really good reason why you should add audiobooks to your library.

Why Audiobooks?

Reading the popular nonfiction and fiction books out there reflects well on you in social and business circles.

Let's imagine you're at the company Christmas party, and your boss says, "Tell me, Smith. What did you think about that Brian Tracy book, Eat That Frog?"

If you read the book, you're safe. If you didn't, you've lost a chance to impress the boss. So what do you do? Stumble over an explanation of how you didn't have time to read that popular self-help book – probably because you spend 18 hours a day trying to impress your slave-driver boss with your hard work.

If you listened to audiobooks, you could have heard the entire book on your commutes to and from work, whether that's driving through rush hour traffic or taking mass transit.

Indeed, lack of time is one reason so many readers have turned to audiobooks to keep up with the nonfiction and fiction being published today.

Social Stress

What if you're meeting the parents of your significant other for the first time? Now there's a situation fraught with stress. What do you say to these strangers whom you desperately want to impress? Perhaps the mother is an Agatha Christie fan, particularly the Hercule Poirot mysteries – but you're not. You were probably told this in advance. If you were smart, you'd have read one of the books.

However, for many people, reading a book that isn't their taste is arduous. It's so much easier to listen to the book especially when a full-cast dramatization of a book breathes life into the material. I've often described the audiobook editions of my novels as listening to a great romantic comedy movie. That's what really good voice actors do for a book – even for a book you feel forced to read, as in the "meet the parents" scene above.

Cultural Past

You see, it wasn't so long ago that people were judged by the books they read. Once it was common to peruse a host's bookshelf to see what they bought – and to see if it was worn from reading. Educated people, business people, and the "in crowd" were readers. Books were discussed at formal dinners and cocktail parties as well as at casual "meet and greet" events.

That's why you still see books and authors featured on late night talk shows and early morning news shows. In fact, due to the popularity of ebooks, reading is cited more now as a pastime than in the past. People read in bits and pieces of time using their cell phones, ebook readers, or tablets.

For those who can't even find the odd minutes in a day to do this, there are audiobooks.

Rising Popularity

Once just for the blind, audiobooks became available to the general public in the 1970's, first in libraries. Shortly thereafter, you could find them in bookstores. By the turn of the century, they took up quite a bit of real estate in the big box stores. Now, in this era of digital downloads, the audio book industry is booming.

At audiobook sellers, like AudioGO, you can get an audiobook on CD and MP3CD, or you can download online with options as to what to do with the download.

Takeaway Truth

In today's world, there's really no excuse for not keeping up with the books everyone talks about when audio books make it so easy.

Review: Killing Floor & Die Trying by Lee Child

My husband and I are slowly working our way through the audiobook editions of the Jack Reacher novels.

Killing Floor, Book 1 of the series, was the first audiobook of a Jack Reacher novel that my darling hubs and I bought. We'd read several of the Lee Child novels so we figured the audiobook would be good entertainment.

If you like your entertainment suspenseful, taut, gritty, and with a strong mystery too, this book is definitely for you.

Dick Hill did an amazing job as narrator. He brought this book to life and made it feel as if we were listening to an action movie with all the elements guys love: blazing guns, strong hero, evil bad guys, and a high body count!

(Ah, the things I do for my hubby -- like listening to Stephen Hunter and Lee Child novels. *g*)

Wrong Place; Wrong Time; Right Hero

Die Trying, the second book of the series, finds Reacher in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he nearly loses his life because of it.

Wrong place and wrong time, yes, but Reacher is definitely the right man for the situation in which he finds himself embroiled.

Die Trying is narrated by Jonathan McClain, who does several of the Reacher novels, and this book is a thrill ride. Just when you think there's no possible way the situation can get any worse, it does.

Just when you think there's no way out, Jack Reacher creates one.

Lee Child does a masterful job in creating a taut, suspenseful, ripped-from-the-headlines story, and McClain does an equally masterful job of narration.

All in all, this audiobook is excellent. It will keep you on the edge of the seat, and you won't be able to stop listening!

Takeaway Truth

Seriously, if you're looking for hero material, check out Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels. You won't be disappointed.

Review: His Wife For A While by Donna Fasano

His Wife for a While by Donna Fasano is a heartwarming Sweet Romance.

Donna is great at creating characters that seem real -- with the mixture of strengths and weaknesses that real people have. Best of all, she's at the top of the game in writing a sweet romance filled with emotion and characters who end up yearning for each other -- like Chelsea and Ben in this story. For comic relief, there's Ben's Aunt May.

(If you're interested in the audio book, Narrator Mary Lynn Bowen is skillful and brings this romance to life. She's superb in voicing the different characters, but in Chelsea's voice, she really shines.)

His Wife For A While has depth. You'll root for Chelsea. She learns, with the help of others, to overcome the tragedy of her own past, and that is what really helps her to embrace her future. She earns her happy ending.

Takeaway Truth

Not only did I read the ebook, I bought the audio book too! Lovely romance with excellent narration!