Lily Bishop Answers Inquiring Minds

I'm happy to welcome Lily Bishop to SlingWords this morning. Lily writes romance about strong, smart women and the men who love them.

Although Lily grew up in Georgia, she lives in South Carolina with her husband and their 2.5 kids. When she's not writing, she and her family play German-style board games.

The Blurb: No Strings Attached

Laura Todd thinks she will never see her weekend fling in Vegas again, but then he turns up in her Miami office as her new boss. Fox Thornton thinks someone is cooking the books, and his best suspect is Laura. Which is the real Laura, the smart and funny consultant Fox met in Vegas, or the scheming administrative assistant he finds in Miami? Over a million dollars is missing, and Fox will do what he has to do, even it means sending the blonde beauty to prison.

Find Lily Bishop Online

Twitter: @bishoplily

Now let's grill interview Lily.

Lily Bishop Answers The Lucky 13

1. In which genre do you write and why that particular genre?

I write contemporary romantic suspense because I love seeing how my characters react under the stress of being accused of a crime or being targeted by a killer. Stress makes people act in ways they wouldn't normally.

2. As an author, what can readers expect when they read one of your books?

I hope they will find vivid characters who remind them of people they know and exotic locales they want to visit.

3. How did you "become" an author? For instance, was there a moment when you said: "I think I'll write a book."

I've always had the soul of an author. I wrote one novel in high school, one in college, and another when I was first married. I've always had stories in my head. It is only recently that I've gained the courage to release them into the world.

4. What is your writing schedule like?

I write in the evenings after the kids are in bed, and I write when we're on vacation and have a few minutes to myself.

5. Are you a "write by the seat of the pants" or a plotter or a combination of both?

I'm a little bit of both. I have a general idea of where the story is heading, but finding the right motivation for the villains and getting that part right takes time for me. For my current work in progress, I've written the ending three times and may still change it even though the book is due out in a few months.

6. What's the best thing about being an author?

Having people who want to talk to you about your characters because they are as real to them as they are to you.

7. What's the worst thing about being an author?

Finding time to write, and then when you have the time, feeling stuck for whatever reason. I also don't like the fact that sometimes readers impute things about my life from my characters. I am not my characters.

8. Do you have editions of your books available other than ebook editions?

I released No Strings Attached in a paperback edition and plan to continue with paperback releases in the future.

9. Do you listen to audio books? If so, what device do you use?

No, I don't.

10. What device do you use to read ebooks?

I use the Kindle Paperwhite, and I love it.

11. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Hone your craft but know when to let your book go. Too much rewriting can suck the life right out of a book. Keep writing no matter what.

12. If you could tell readers one thing, what would it be?

If you find an author you like, tell all your friends about them and do reviews online, even if it's just a few words. The only way authors get noticed these days is through through word of mouth.

13. What is your big dream (or goal) as a writer?

My goal is to produce two books a year and build a loyal group of fans who appreciate my stories. That will definitely take some work since I have a full-time job already. I count myself successful if my books pay for themselves in terms of costs for editing, covers, and promotion.

Buy Links for No Strings Attached by Lily Bishop

Amazon Kindle




Takeaway Truth

Now that you've met Lily Bishop, why not give her and her book, No Strings Attached, a try.

Garden Report

A couple of weeks ago, I planted my kitchen garden. Living in a townhouse requires an adjustment in terms of lot size.

Downsized the Yard

Although our house is rather large, our lot is rather small. The front yard is spacious, but the side yards are zero-lot lines which means you basically don't own but one side. The other is community common area.

The back yard is a narrow strip between the house and the brick wall, but it runs the width of the house. Most of the back is decked with treated wood with the part of the deck from the door being about a 12x12 square and with 4-foot wide decks leading off each side. I'd prefer flagstone than wood for all this, but that will come later.

Simple, But Beautiful

I chose to keep it simple with only Knockout Roses across the entire back. My gardener planted a Meyer Lemon Tree in the northwest corner. On the far edge of the big square part, I have large patio pots. Those pots are my little garden of tomatoes, yellow straight-neck squash, and herbs. Everything is thriving. I have small tomatoes on the plants, the herbs have doubled in size, and so have the squash. There are baby lemons on the tree.

I tend to my little garden each day, marveling at the baby tomatoes that have appeared. I can't wait to bite into a garden fresh, red, ripe tomato. There is nothing that tastes better. Because of chronic pain caused by sitting too long at the computer, I now set an alarm every hour so I can get up and move around.

I find myself going outside and sitting on the deck and gazing at all the roses that are blooming their hearts out and at my miniscule garden. Dan Butettner said: You rarely get satisfaction sitting in an easy chair. If you work in a garden on the other hand, and it yields beautiful tomatoes, that's a good feeling.

Takeaway Truth

I concur.

Review: For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism

I recently watched For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism on Netflix. If you are a movie fan--whether casual or over-the-top like me--or a writer, you really should watch this documentary.

Apparently, it took several years for the producers to get financing so this film didn't premiere until 2009, and it was recently made available via Netflix. Unfortunately, I could find no DVD copies for sale.

The development of American film criticism is told through film clips, old photographs, and interviews with some of today's top reviewers. These reviewers' venues were mostly print but some were from the Internet.

Story Opens

Film criticism, like print publishing, is under attack. The story opened with the statement that 28 film critics had lost their jobs in the last few years. If you are doing business on the Internet, you may understand the reasons why this is happening, and you also realize that those losing jobs are print critics.

Amateur and Pro Differences

In fact, it's probably not the mystery that the documentary makers seem to think it is. It boils down to why pay a critic to review films when everyone on the Internet does it for free. Of course, there's a world of difference from amateur reviews posted online and carefully considered criticism that can bring a deeper understanding to a film. Just as online reader reviews bear little resemblance to a journalistic review, an online fan movie review can't usually be favorably compared to a review by an experienced film critic.

Moving Forward

All that aside, the documentary is like sitting around and listening to some very intelligent people talking about one of my favorite subjects: movies. Produced by Amy Geller, written and directed by long-time Boston Phoenix film critic Gerald Peary, and narrated by actress Patricia Clarkson, the documentary features Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times, A.O. Scott of The New York Times, Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly, Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times, and Elvis Mitchell, host of the public radio show The Treatment.

The list of famous reviewers from the past read like a Who's Who of Film Criticism--like Pauline Kael, Rex Reed, and Gene Siskel to just mention a few. Film criticism was born a few years after the birth of the movie industry. Figures from film history are shown in photographs, and their contributions to fledgling film criticism are explored.

My Two Cents

The documentary takes viewers on a journey from the early part of the twentieth century to the modern day where critics ply their reviews on the internet. This is must-see modern history for anyone who loves movies. Judging by the worldwide popularity of film, that's just about everyone on the planet.

Read the Wiki about this documentary, and/or view details on IMDB.

Many years ago I was in a shop in Mexico on the night of the Academy Awards. The shop owner had a ham radio. I caught pieces of his conversation in Spanish with other people in the shop. I realized he was saying actors' names. A few minutes later, he whooped and spoke rapidly in Spanish. I recognized the movie title. Everyone cheered. I remember thinking, "Wow, they're interested in the Oscars."

Takeaway Truth

That's when I first realized how life altering entertainment media can be.

Grow Your Video Audience

Your goal in creating a video--other than fun--is to increase your name recognition factor. The more people who see your name; the greater your name recognition.

The end result, one hopes, is to have some of the people interested enough to actually buy your book, or other product. You also hope they will tell a friend about you and get word-of-mouth going about your product. Maybe both will click to buy because your video makes them remember your name, interests them, and entertains them.

Therefore, in posting your video online, you want as many people to see it as possible. That means you must post it in multiple locations. Fortunately, there are many video hosting sites available, and it usually doesn't cost anything to register an account and upload videos.

5 Places To Post Your Video

1. Your own website and blog.

Duh! As soon as I get this novella finished and out the door, I'll be working on my website and blog pages. I changed my design this past summer and life has kept me from completing those respective designs. One of the pages will have my videos.

2. Your favorite social media sites like MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn , and Pinterest. You can post your videos there. On Pinterest it can be a board that stays static,

3. YouTube

Of course, this is the biggie. In setting up your channel, go ahead an verify your YouTube account. It's easy. You can have them call your phone or opt to receive a text. When you do this, you get to upload your own image for the thumbnail that appears for each video you upload. There are other perks to doing this too.

YouTube is a social media site that can expand your reach. As with other social media, you will get reciprocation and replies if you click like when you see a video you like, subscribe when you like a user's channel, and comment. You can also save your favorite videos by creating a Playlist. All these ways of interaction will push a video up in the SERP ranking.  You can also monetize your videos on YouTube.

On YouTube, my channel is JoanReevesAuthor.

4. Vimeo

You can create a video using any method and upload it to Vimeo which also offers free account, your own channel, and the opportunity to enhance your created video in several ways. On Vimeo, I'm Joan Reeves.

5. Flickr

Flickr is more than images. You can post video also. A word of warning: if you're looking for more family oriented video fare, Vimeo is probably a better choice. Many of the Flickr videos are adult-rated.

Takeaway Truth

Hope these video tips help you. Next week on May 2, I'll be a guest on Lily Bishop's website and will be giving a couple of video tips there along with posting the Director's Cut of Scents and Sensuality, a book trailer I produced last year and just this week edited. I've learned a lot in a year hence the Director's Cut of this video. (Lily's Book Trailer page)

Thursday3Some: A Flame in the Wind of Death by Jen J. Danna

Today on Thursday3Some, I have Jen J. Danna as my guest. Jen is answering 3 questions about her book, A Flame In The Wind Of Death.

Book Blurb

At Halloween, Salem, Massachusetts, is a hot spot for Witch and tourist alike. When a murder spree begins, a cop and a scientist team up to find the killer.

Who Is Jen J. Danna?

By day, Jen is a scientist specializing in infectious diseases. She works as part of a dynamic research group at a cutting-edge Canadian university. Like many professional people, Jen's true passion lies in indulging her love of the mysterious through her writing.

With her writing partner Ann Vanderlaan, she crafts suspenseful crime fiction with a realistic scientific edge. Check out their Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries series. The spotlight book is their latest in this series. Jen's Skeleton Keys blog has been listed as one of the top forensic blogs on the web. Jen lives near Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and two daughters.

Find Jen J. Danna Online

Email: jenjdanna at gmail dot com
Website and Blog:

When did you write A Flame in the Wind of Death?

I wrote this book primarily from January to March of 2012, but then had the luxury of time to let it sit and age for a few months before going back to edit it and then get comments on it from my critique team. That was a special situation; certainly not every book gets that kind of time to breathe, but I wish they did!

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

One of the two series protagonists, Dr. Matt Lowell, is a forensic anthropologist. Matt is an expert on the worst kinds of remains--badly decomposed, floaters, unrecognizable burn victims etc. Homicide detective Leigh Abbott of the Massachusetts State Police calls Matt in as a consultant when remains are found that require his particular expertise. So, from the author perspective, one of the first things that needs to happen when outlining a book is to ensure that the case has the kind of remains that would require Matt's talents. Those remains can often drive the case and certainly did in the case of the books' burned victims. Add in a friend who is a fire Captain and a 20-year veteran of her department to make sure that our fire fighting operations and procedures were absolutely correct, and we had ourselves a storyline.

Why do readers buy A Flame in the Wind of Death?

The Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries is a great read for those who like mysteries, but who also like learning something when they read. All the science in the books is absolutely real and accurate, unlike fast and flashy TV science. So if you want to know how forensics is really done, this is the series for you. Mix in the relationship between the male and female leads, and the group ensemble feel of the whole team and it's a pretty fun ride.

Buy Links for the Hardcover Edition of A Flame in the Wind of Death

Amazon U.S.

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble


Takeaway Truth

The weekend is coming. Grab a good book and get ready for some fun.

Like Good Vocals? Meet Lake Street Dive

My friend--and very talented audiobook narrator--Holly Adams sent this video link to Lake Street Dive.

As you can see, I Want You Back, has almost 2 million views. These guys are good! In fact, they've been in the studio. Signature Sounds released a limited edition 7" vinyl of What I’m Doing Here and Wedding Band to selected independent record stores. Check here for participating stores.

Here's a video of Rachel Price singing What I'm Doing Here. I've got to get their music on my iPod.

Post Script About Holly Adams

The incomparable Holly Adams narrated these books of mine:

The Trouble With Love: Hang on to your Stetson as the fun and games begin in a romantic comedy that's sexy and funny and hotter than a bowl of Texas chili!

Old Enough To Know Better: A steamy romantic comedy about a woman with a past and a man who wants to be her future.

Holly is currently narrating and producing my last romantic comedy SCENTS and SENSUALITY: Lies, seduction, and hot passion. Love or Lust? Will the truth set things right or rip them apart?

Takeaway Truth

Anyone who says there's no good music today is either deaf or uninformed.

Best Line From A Mystery

I've been searching for a quotation I read a long time ago. The words teased my consciousness, and I wanted a character in a book I'll be writing to quote it exactly.

Finally, I found it in The Mystery Lovers' Book of Quotations by Jane Horning. I should have known it would be in that book.

The words were written by Rex Stout for his character Archie Goodwin to speak in a Nero Wolfe novel.

Rex Stout: Master of the Mystery

When I was much younger, I read every Nero Wolfe novel I could find. In case you don't know, Rex Stout (Rex Todhunter Stout who died in 1975) was an American mystery author noted especially for his larger-than-life fictional detective Nero Wolfe. When I say larger than life, that's exactly what I mean because Wolfe weighed well over 300 pounds.

In 1959, Mr. Stout received the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award. Then in 2000 at Bouchercon, the Nero Wolfe corpus was nominated Best Mystery Series of the Century, and its creator Mr. Stout was nominated Best Mystery Writer of the Century.

The next year, A Nero Wolfe Mystery starring Timothy Hutton as Archie Goodwin debuted on a cable channel. The series was excellent, but it didn't fare well with regard to ratings so it was canceled after 2 seasons. Learn more here.

Now, For the Quote

No man was ever taken to hell by a woman unless he already had a ticket in his pocket, or at least had been fooling around with timetables.

That sentence should give you a glimpse at the brilliance of his writing. I adored Nero Wolfe books. Haven't read one in years, but I think I'll have to pull one off the shelf and see if I still find them as pleasurable as I did when I was a kid.

Takeaway Truth

Good books are like old friends. To read them again is to visit with people you find amusing, entertaining, and intelligent.

How To Create a Video: 4 Tips

Yesterday, I published to YouTube, WRITE Club, a parody of the movie Fight Club.

My WRITE Club video is for writers, but I hope you non-writers will get a kick out of it too.

For personal use, video fills that gap between photograph albums and digital devices where photos are stored but never printed. For business use, videos can be remarkably effective in marketing and promotion.

To help you in creating videos, here are 4 tips. These easy steps will help you whether you're making a book trailer or a video scrapbook of your vacation. But, first, watch my video. I hope you like it and will click LIKE.

Joan's 4 Video Tips

1. Choose the way you will make your video.

You can make a video with a Smartphone, a video cam, various video editing software like Windows Movie Maker, iMovie for Mac, and a bunch of others. Just do an online search if you want to work this way.

Or you can take the easy way out and use a video design website. Very user-friendly and inexpensive. In fact, if you do an online search, you'll find a bunch of them. Register at all the video creator websites that offer free accounts.

Be sure and check out each website to see what you get at the basic free level. Then you can decide if you want to pay for an upgrade account. I primarily use Animoto and Vimeo, but I have accounts on most of the popular video design websites. For a small fee, you can upgrade either of these--and probably the others--to a Plus Membership which gives you added benefits or even the top level Pro Membership if you want to get serious about video design.

Right now, Vimeo, usually $9.95/month or $59.95/year, is having a sale. Here's a coupon code and link if you want to join Vimeo Plus. Save 5% on Vimeo Plus Annual! Use PROMOCODE: VIMEO5OFFSPRING. Ends 4/30.

I'd love to have a Pro account at Animoto and Vimeo, my two main sites, but I can't justify the cost because I'm a writer, not a video professional. So for my needs, the Plus upgrades work fine.

However, if you want to try a Pro upgrade, Vimeo is also offering 5% off to new users. Save 5% on Vimeo PRO! Use PROMOCODE: VIMEO5OFFSPRING. Ends 4/30.

So pick your websites to help you with video production and familiarize yourself with how they work. For me, Vimeo and Animoto are easiest, but you may like a different one. With all, you can upload to YouTube of course.

2. Organize the Video Components.

A video, like a movie, is made of these basic elements: visuals, sound, and story or message.

Many of these elements are created from photographs, video clips, and music tracks that you obtain on the internet. You can get some free of charge, and you can pay for them. In both cases, there are Terms of Service involved.

Be sure that you use only the images, photographs, video clips, and music that you have been licensed to use. This means you paid for it or received a license to use it from a free site or from the library available for registered users of websites like Animoto, Vimeo, etc. Most video design websites have libraries of images, video clips, and music available for registered users.

Always read the Terms of Service and do what they say in exchange for the license to use the file. For instance, if they say you must post a Copyright notice for a photograph and notify the photographer of any use, then do that.


These are the images and video clips you will use to tell your story. As mentioned above, you can obtain them from many sources. You can also upload your own images and video clips that you made or purchased/received free from various royalty-free websites.

Just do a search for "royalty-free photographs," or "royalty-free video clips," and you'll get a big list. In a future blog post, I'll give specific site suggestions for images, video clips, and music tracks.


Sound is the musical background and/or spoken narration. Again, Vimeo and Animoto and other similar websites offer their own libraries of sound clips. Again, you can do a search for royalty-free sound clips. These can range from inexpensive to very costly.

I'm a huge music lover so I spend a lot of time searching for the perfect music to help tell the story of my video. In some of my videos, I've used music from the respective libraries for registered users. In others, I've purchased music.

In my video for The Lingerie Covers, I purchased Suspicion, a music track written and produced by Skip Peck. I love all his music clips. When I bought the clip a couple of years ago, it wasn't that expensive. Now his work is usually more than $100.00 for most.

That's true of most of the music I've purchased including Mediterraneo by Ivan Paunovic which I used for Old Enough to Know Better. My favorite music composers are no longer affordable for me even though I make multiple use of my licensed music to split the expense among many projects.

For instance, I've used it as background music for the introduction and closings of all my audio books, and I use it for my videos. I've even put some of it on an iPod playlist that I listen to when I write. Once you "buy" it--license it is a better term--it's yours to use as long as you wish.

If you want spoken narration, then you can easily record the text if you have a good microphone and a computer/tablet, etc. Just write the script and read it. Of course, there's more that goes into good narration than just reading.

Make sure the recording is done without other noises intruding, without obvious clicks when the recording is started and stopped, without sibilant sounds on S's and so much more. This is why good narrators use sound editing software.

Also be sure the "actor" you select--whether that's you or someone else--has a pleasing voice. For instance, with my pronounced southern drawl, I'd probably never read something myself. Every time I hear my voice, I cringe and think I need voice lessons. *g* But that's just me. My friend Elaine Chase who worked in radio and television has a wonderful voice. She should be doing audiobook narration.


This is any narration you may include, as mentioned above. It also refers to text that may be presented as image "signs" and as captions to images.

In most of the videos I create, I tell the story with pictures and music. Any text that can't be represented by a stock image, I display as a "sign." The sign is usually a digital illustration I've created. You can watch some of the videos I mention and see what I mean.

3. Be aware of time.

With video, short is better. In fact, if you can come in at 30-45 seconds, that's perfect. Up to 60 seconds is good. Anything above that needs to be really compelling or viewers won't hang in there to watch it to the end. This means your video should be about one small message or aspect rather than about the entire subject.

I struggle with this because I not only want to put across my message, but also I want to give credit for the photographs, music, etc. that I used to create the video. I edit tightly, but I'm still working on being succinct.

4. Know your video message.

Every good movie has a plot. So should every video. Before you start putting together images, music, etc., figure out what you want to say. This will be said with visuals, music, and narration/text.

So what do you want to say? In my humorous video, How To Recognize an Author, I wanted it to be something funny about writers so I "talked" about common myths and realities of being a writer. I combined images with captions, created signs, and chose a music track that sounded quirky.

In Scents and Sensuality, I wanted the video to be the book's blurb. I chose the music Suspicion by Skip Peck. It's sexy and whimsical at the same time so it was perfect for this romantic comedy. Later I changed the book cover art so I'll be editing this video when I have time.)

I'll be posting more about creating videos in the future. You'll find all of the posts under the Video label, under Something To Talk About on the right sidebar.

Takeaway Truth

We are a visual culture--an entertainment culture.  Add video to your skill set.

Thursday3Some: Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman by Wareeze Woodson

Today on Thursday3Some, I have Texas author Wareeze Woodson who is answering 3 questions about her book, Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman.

Wareeze was born in Texas and still lives here. She married her high school sweetheart, and they raised four children and now have grandchildren--all live within 70 miles of her. After all these years, she and her husband keep living their Happily Ever After.

Find Wareeze Woodson Online


When did you write Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman?

I wrote Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman last year. It was released May 2, 2013. It took about 8 months to complete.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

I read a story and didn’t like the ending so I wrote my own. I admire mothers who fight for their children against all odds. I wanted Laurel to be that kind of woman. She measures up to that standard.

Why do readers buy Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman?

I think they like the cover. It is very intriguing. Many readers like historical novels and have taken a chance on a debut, historical novel.

Buy Links


Takeaway Truth

For your reading pleasure, why not try a new author this weekend?

Happy U.S. Income Tax Day

Is your tax return ready to file? I mailed ours this past Saturday. That's always a pleasure/pain experience. Pleasure because it's finished for the year. Pain because, well, that's self-evident. No one likes paying taxes, but everyone likes to complain about it.

I don't mind paying my share because it means I actually made money! I DO mind politicians telling me that taxes won't increase when they do.

Joe Biden said: "No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama's plan will see one single penny of their tax raised, whether it's their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax." NOT true. Plus, that statement insults the intelligence of taxpayers. Since I normally refrain from political statements, I'll now return to entertaining you.

Tax Day Humor

Here's a baker's dozen of witty pronouncements concerning income tax. Enjoy!

"It's income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta." ~ Dave Barry

"The taxpayer — that's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination." ~ Ronald Reagan

"If the Lord loveth a cheerful giver, how he must hate the taxpayer!" ~ John Andrew Holmes

"The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax." ~ Albert Einstein

"The income tax has made liars out of more Americans than golf." ~ Will Rogers

"Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today." ~ Herman Wouk

"Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a substantial tax cut save you thirty cents?" ~ Peg Bracken

"Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors... and miss." ~ Robert Heinlein

"Another difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time the legislature meets." ~ Robert Quillen

"Capital punishment: The income tax." ~ Jeff Hayes

"The wages of sin are death, but after they take the taxes out, it's more like a tired feeling, really." ~ Paula Poundstone

"People try to live within their income so they can afford to pay taxes to a government that can't live within its income." ~ Robert Half

Takeaway Truth

Dear IRS, I am writing to you to cancel my subscription. Please remove my name from your mailing list. ~ Snoopy (Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz)

5 Computer Keyboards to Explore

I bought a new keyboard last month, and I love it. I thought I'd give you a list of keyboard options because a keyboard can be your best tech friend or your worst enemy if it hurts your body. There truly is a keyboard for every taste. Just know what fits you and look for it.

1. My first choice is the one I just bought. It's the Adesso Tru-Form Pro Contoured Ergonomic Keyboard with TouchPad (PCK-308UB). I did an in-depth search for this keyboard because I wanted one with an on-board mouse, but I also wanted one that was ergonomically designed and was multimedia. I've got so many muscle spasms and nerve problems in my neck and shoulders from a couple of decades of reaching for that dang mouse, and conventional keyboards make my wrists hurt.

I read a lot of reviews of the Adesso keyboard I bought, and many were negative. However, Amazon had a refurbished one at a very low price. The keyboard looked to be exactly what I wanted so I decided to take a chance on it, and I'm glad I did.

2. This is another Adesso. It's the Adesso® EasyTouch 132 Florescent 4X Size Print Yellow Multimedia Desktop Keyboard. Yes, it really is florescent yellow. It's designed for someone whose who has visual impairment with large black print on bright yellow keys.

3. If you have perpetually cold hands or must work in a cold office, the V8 Tools Heated Computer Keyboard is for you. It's a heated computer keyboard with a 3 Step Switch: Heat off, Low heat--85 degrees F. which is normal hand temperature, and High heat--95-100 degrees F., normal body temperature.

4. If you sneak into your office to type at night when everyone is asleep, then you might love the Slim Acrylic Illuminated Backlit USB Keyboard by MODTEK. This particular one isn't multimedia, but there are lighted keyboards that are so just look for them.

5. If you're trying to teach your elementary school age children about keyboarding, this one, the Learningboard Usb White Keyboard -Based Mnemonic System, will help you with that plus help in teaching phonics. Pretty cool--and cute--keyboard.

Takeaway Truth

There are many well-designed keyboards on the market. Don't settle for the standard one that came with your computer when another might suit your needs far better.

Organization and Creativity

I've accomplished some of my major goals for April. I filed homestead exemption on our new home, filed my tax return, and completed filing the mountain of papers that had accumulated since moving.

Feeling, oh, so virtuous, in completing these tasks, I decided to apply some of that energy to organizing my business so I could accomplish more.  

Verna Gibson wrote: "Early in my career I felt that organization would destroy my creativity. Whereas now, I feel the opposite. Discipline is the concrete that allows you to be creative."

There's a lot of truth in this. When my office is in chaos, my brain is chaotic. I work best when everything is in its proper place, and I can find something without digging through stacks of paper or file drawers or closets.

Besides, when everything is organized, I feel as if I'm super efficient and can handle anything. Is your writing world in chaos? Try cleaning up the clutter and getting organized.

Takeaway Truth

Need to accomplish more? Get organized. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday3Some: Ill Conceived by L. C. Hayden

Today on Thursday3Some, I have award-winning author L. C. Hayden who is answering 3 questions about her book, Ill Conceived.

L. C. Hayden, author of the popular Harry Bronson Mystery series, has introduced a new series based on a Lake Tahoe reporter, Aimee Brent. The first book is Ill Conceived.

L. C. has received several awards and was an Agatha Award Finalist for Best Novel. Her books have hit the Kindle Best Seller List several times and the Barnes & Nobel Top Ten Best Seller List. She's a popular speaker and presents workshops and speaks to clubs. She's even been hired by major cruise lines to speak about writing while cruising all over the world.(Now, that's one lucky writer!)

Find L. C. Hayden Online


When did you write Ill Conceived?

The book was released in December 2013.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

Even though my Harry Bronson series is very popular, I wanted to write another series. I wanted Aimee Brent to be very different than Bronson. The spark came from creating a completely different character.

Why do readers buy Ill Conceived?

Readers always know that my books will deliver a roller coaster ride with a surprise ending. Readers delight in trying to figure out who the culprit is.

Buy Ill Conceived


Takeaway Truth

Thank goodness the weekend is almost here! Grab a good book and prepare for some fun reading.

How to Write True Crime by JoAnne Myers

Today, we're having coffee with author JoAnne Myers. Of course, I'm having my coffee at my desk in Houston, and JoAnne is having hers in Ohio where she makes her home.

JoAnne Myers worked in the blue-collar industry most of her life. Now, besides writing, she also paints. When not busy with hobbies, working outside the home, or volunteering in her community, she spends time with her family and her dogs, Jasmine and Scooter, because she believes in family values and following one's dreams.

Find JoAnne Myers Online

Email: joannetucker98 at yahoo dot com

JoAnne's Book: The Crime of the Century

Based on a true crime, the book is a detailed account of finding justice for the victims and the tale of one man’s perseverance to gain his freedom from death row.

Now here's JoAnne to tell us about...

Writing True Crime
by JoAnne Myers

First you must pick an interesting crime. I specialize in homicides in my home state of Ohio. Routinely reading newspapers will help the writer find murder cases. Find a homicide that has numerous good elements that will hold one’s interest.


Next you must start the investigation of your chosen crime. To find my information, I read newspaper reports of the homicide. I searched court documents for witness reports, and courtroom testimony. I interviewed witnesses. Persons that either were present when the crime occurred, or had after-the-fact information.


Try to locate the victim’s family members, and see if they want their side of the story told. If the case goes to trial, the Defense’s job is to discredit the victim. To portray the deceased as the “bad guy.” This type of mud slinging does not sit well with loved ones of the victim. Give them a chance to speak for the deceased.

Anyone that was involved with the case, will have something of interest to report. Don’t forget to locate the reports of the arresting officers and the homicide detectives. Try to locate the coroner's report, any eyewitness, or persons who reported hearing an altercation or gunshots.

Keep Up

Keep abreast of updates, and read everything that was written about the case. Build a relationship with the law enforcement officials who are involved in the case. I personally live in a very small town, where most people know each another, and many have relatives or close friends that are involved with law enforcement. Attend the trial and speak to everyone you can about the criminal, the victim, prosecution witnesses, and defense witnesses.

Tell the Story

Last but not least, sit down and write. Tell the story of the crime. Hopefully you will find most of the information you need in your copious notes. If not, go back and get the answers you need. Never throw away any notes or information concerning the case. Not even after the trial is over, and the story is written.

Most convicted felons apply for numerous appeals, which take years to dissolve. Some cases never seem to end. The Crime of the Century was such a case. When the accused was found guilty and sent to prison, he and his attorneys, who always believed him innocent, continued fighting for his freedom. That blessed event came after the convicted spent five years on death row. He was cleared with DNA evidence, but it still took nearly thirty years to find the true killers.

The most important thing to remember, if you want your true crime book to be compelling and believable, is to be honest and objective in relating the facts of the case.

Buy Links

Amazon Kindle

Amazon: Paperback Edition

Black Rose Writing

B&N: Paperback Edition

Takeaway Truth

Truth is stranger than fiction which is why true crime captivates readers.

Lone Star Writing Competition 2014 Now Open

Writers, start your engines... or whatever is the appropriate command for entering contest.

The 22nd Annual Lone Star Writing Competition, sponsored by Northwest Houston RWA©, is now open.

This year, a Romance Novella category, to include all sub-genres of romance, has been added.

What Makes This Contest Different

The Lone Star Writing Competition is one of the few contests where each first round entry is judged by 2 published authors plus 1 unpublished author. The Finalists’ entries will be judged by 3 industry professionals, agents, editors, and Epublishers.

  • Entry fee: $25
  • Deadline: June 8, 2014, midnight CDT
  • Finalists announced: August 18, 2014
  • Winners announced: October 4, 2014, at Lone Star Conference in Houston, TX.

For The Rules, click here.

For the Entry Form, click here.

Final Judges

Contemporary Series: rica Thompson, coordinator
  • Agent: Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
  • Editor: Piya Campana, Harlequin
  • Epublisher Tara Gelsomino, Crimson Romance

Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal: Emmly Jane, coordinator
  • Editor Junessa Viloria, Random House
  • Editor Brenda Chin, ImaJinn Books
  • Epublisher Chris Keeslar, Boroughs Publishing Group

Historical / Regency: Christiana Tegethoff, coordinator
  • Agent Holly Lorincz, MacGregor Literary Agency
  • Epublisher Allison Byers, The Wild Rose Press
  • Epublisher Debby Gilbert, Soul Mate Publishing

Inspirational: Anna Katherine Lanier, coordinator
  • Agent Kimberly Shumate, Living Word Literary Agency
  • Editor Raela Schoenherr, Bethany House Publishers
  • Epublisher Nicola Martinez, Pelican Book Group

Romance Novella: Ruth Kenjura, coordinator
  • Editor Lauren Plude, Grand Central Publishing
  • Epublisher Alycia Tornetta, Entangled
  • Epublisher Cindy Davis, The Wild Rose Press

Romantic Suspense: Robin Sweet, coordinator
  • Agent Jessica Alvarez, BookEnds, LLC
  • Editor Alicia Condon, Brava (Kensington)
  • Epublisher Char Chaffin, Soul Mate Publishing

Single Title: Sarah Andre, coordinator
  • Agent Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, Foreword Literary Agency
  • Editor - Katherine Pelz, Berkley Publishing Group (Penguin Group)
  • Epublisher Pat van Wie, BelleBooks

Young Adult: J.D. Faver, coordinator
  • Agent Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency
  • Editor Niki Flowers, BelleBooks Inc.
  • Editor Annie Stone, Harlequin Teen

Need a specific answer or further information? Contact Contest Coordinator Patti Macdonald by email: PattiAnnMacdonald at gmail dot com.

Takeaway Truth

Take advantage of this chance to get your work in front of credible judges.

People Watching in the Time Dilation Field

I just returned from the Time Dilation Field--you know, the post office? As I stood in line, I composed this blog post about how to describe characters because people watching gives you great examples as foundations.

If you ever have trouble visualizing a character, just go stand in line somewhere and open your eyes, ears, and nose to the people around you.

People Watching

People watching is a learned skill, and it can make creating characters so easy that it feels like you're cheating. Involve not just vision but your other senses like hearing and smelling when you're people watching. You'll end up with a character who'll jump off the page because he or she seems so real.

This morning as I stood in line at the post office, I couldn't help but notice the man in front of me. His smell hit me first. He reeked of stale cigarettes. To say he smelled like a dirty ashtray would be spot on. I stood as far from him as possible which gave me the opportunity to study him visually as well.

Description Facts

He was a big man. Probably 6'4" tall with a build that seemed more lean than bulky. His shoes were brand new and of the horribly expensive NAME BRAND variety. They probably cost as much or more than I spend on groceries in two weeks. His watch was expensive also--NAME BRAND but with a black leather strap rather than the expected stainless bracelet that you more commonly see with that brand. (Was it a knock off? Possibly.)

He wore black sweats--jacket and pants--and they weren't new. In fact, they were stretched and faded a bit and covered with "pills," those little balls of fiber that develop in the washing and drying process.

First Draft Description

He was a tall man dressed in faded black sweats, but his shoes were new.

That would give the reader a basic picture, but it wouldn't give a hint of the character's circumstances as well. Good descriptions should convey more than the way a person looks.

Better Description

He was tall with broad shoulders, but he had the rangy lean body of a runner. Maybe that's what he was since he wore running shoes that probably had set him back a couple of hundred bucks. The shoes contrasted sharply with his clothes--a pair of old black sweats covered with little fuzz balls from too many cycles in the washer and dryer. When the wind changed, I nearly gagged as the smell of stale cigarettes wafted from him. This guy was no runner. He wouldn't have the lung capacity for it.

Here's One For You To Use

A baby cried behind me. I, along with others, turned to see what poor mom was stuck in line with a baby. My gaze came to a screeching halt on the young woman directly behind me. She was in her twenties and was about 5' tall. She had huge boobs--completely overwhelming the rest of her body-- and they were displayed prominently in a low, scoop-neck, blue t-shirt.

Black stars of varying sizes were tattooed across her left breast. A man's name was tattooed on her right breast. In large flowing black script.

I wanted to look longer to see what the name was, but staring is rude plus I didn't want her to think I was some perv. Instead, I looked at the other people in line because their reactions to her appearance were priceless. Every man and woman stared at her then quickly their gazes would dart away, then back, away, back.

Maybe they were all like me, curious to know whose name she deemed so important that she had to have it emblazoned on her breast. She seemed completely oblivious to the attention she was drawing, and I found that in itself interesting.

That young woman is a candidate for great characterization. You can describe her not only physically, but also her demeanor, the reactions of people around her, and how she responds to those reactions.

That kind of description is a perfect platform for a writer to dive into a bit of backstory about a character who fairly shouts, "Look at me."

Why does she want to be the center of attention? If the character isn't a main character, and you don't need to give the reader that intimate look at her motivations, you can still make her a compelling character who will interest the reader and keep him glued to the story.

Sound: Example from Suburbia

Here's an example of how listening to someone can help you create a character. Sunday afternoon, darling hubby and I were at Walmart. As we left the store, a young man shouting into a cell phone passed us. He was nearly foaming at the mouth, he was so angry. Literally, spit was flying. He was an attractive young man--tall, lean, but white-faced in anger. I would have expected his face to be red.

Here's what he said:

You f***ing bitch. You think you can f***ing do this? You f***ing think again. I f***ing own you, you f***ing bitch.

Wow! Suburbia isn't what it used to be. This guy didn't care that people were walking back and forth, including children, and staring at him. He was still shouting and cursing when I reached the car.

Need an unhinged psychotic character? He'd be the role model for sure. Think about the woman on the receiving end of this phone call. What kind of woman has such low self-esteem that she'd even be with a jerk like that?

Takeaway Truth

Use real people to improve your characterization skills. Make notes when you can. Really look at people. Listen to how they talk. See their physical habits of movement as they stand around or talk to others. Note how they smell. All that will help you create characters who seem real.

Thursday3Some: Much Ado About Miners by Jacquie Rogers

Today on Thursday3Some, I have award-winning author Jacquie Rogers who is answering 3 questions about her book, Much Ado About Miners.

Jacquie grew up in Owyhee County , Idaho, where her Hearts of Owyhee series is set. She now lives in Seattle and has a license to sleep with her IT Guy. Jacquie writes western romance, traditional western, and fantasy romance.

Find Jacquie Online

Pickle Barrel Bar & Books:
Pickle Barrel Gazette:

When did you write Much Ado About Miners?

I wrote the first three chapters in 2012. Took a couple months. I wrote the rest of the book in November, 2013. Sometimes you’ve got to ramp things up a bit.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

This book is the fourth book in the Hearts of Owyhee series and is connected to the first book of the series, Much Ado About Marshals, by the heroines, who are sisters. In Marshals, the hero tries to rescue his friend from a perceived bank robbery and is shot by the lady teller. When he gets to Oreana, Daisy Gardner (the heroine) mistakes him for the new marshal. But guess who the lady teller was? Daisy’s sister, Iris! So I always knew that Iris’s story would have to start with her shooting the hero. Easy-peasy. I just had to think of a story to go with it, which ended up being Much Ado About Miners.

Why do readers buy Much Ado About Miners?

My readers are looking for a fun, western romance with lots of action and fast pacing, and a lot of them are animal-lovers. Here’s what they said:
  • “I love how I learn new things about Western history with each book. It's like a reading a great romance with a bonus…”
  • “If you love to read Westerns and love to laugh, you'll love MUCH ADO ABOUT MINERS!”
  • “It's a wonderful, rollicky romance that you will find difficult to put down once you start reading it.”
  • “I loved this book – a fresh twist on romance, misunderstandings and craziness. No one can beat Jacquie Rogers for showing how the west was FUN.”
  • “It has all the things I love in a good book; romance, laughter, a great setting. It also has a cat. Loved the cat!!”
  • “If you like a fun and fast paced historical western, then this is the book for you.”
Buy Links for Much Ado About Minders

Amazon Kindle

Takeaway Truth

Take heart. The weekend is almost here. Grab a good book and get ready.

April Fools

Today is April 1, the 91st day of the year. Of course, we also know that today is April Fools Day.

Got a Good Prank?

Even though the first of April is not a national holiday, it's recognized and celebrated in many countries by people playing practical jokes. Even companies get in the spirit of the day with outrageous hoaxes. For instance, our local newspaper just about always runs something outlandish on the front page.

Great Hoax

Back in 1957, the BBC broadcast a fake film for their Swiss Spaghetti Harvest prank. The film supposedly showed Swiss farmers picking freshly-grown spaghetti. After the report, the BBC were inundated with requests to purchase the spaghetti plant. The next day in the newscast, they came clean and admitted the film was a prank.

Currently, I'm writing a novella entitled April Fool Bride, but there won't be any writing for me on this April Fool Day because I'm headed to the dentist. I cracked a filling, and the tooth is going to have to be crowned.

Takeaway Truth

Although I'd love to yell, "April Fools," right now, I cannot. Unfortunately, my dental tale of woe isn't a prank. It's the truth. Happy April Fool's Day? Hmm. Not so much.