Blogger Explains Why Followers Being Cut

I'd noticed the number of my Followers began to drop a few days ago. Since I didn't think I'd offended that many people, *G* I decided to read those pesky announcements from Blogger.

If you've noticed the same thing, or if you were following this blog and suddenly you notice you got dropped, here's the reason why, straight from the horse's--or Blogger's--mouth. Here's their official statement.

An update on Google Friend Connect

In 2011, we announced the retirement of Google Friend Connect for all non-Blogger sites. We made an exception for Blogger to give readers an easy way to follow blogs using a variety of accounts.

Yet over time, we’ve seen that most people sign into Friend Connect with a Google Account. So, in an effort to streamline, in the next few weeks we’ll be making some changes that will eventually require readers to have a Google Account to sign into Friend Connect and follow blogs.

As part of this plan, starting the week of January 11, we’ll remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs.

At the same time, we’ll remove non-Google Account profiles so you may see a decrease in your blog follower count.

We encourage you to tell affected readers (perhaps via a blog post), that if they use a non-Google Account to follow your blog, they need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-follow your blog.

With a Google Account, they’ll get blogs added to their Reading List, making it easier for them to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs they follow.

We know how important followers are to all bloggers, but we believe this change will improve the experience for both you and your readers.

What This Means

If you followed SlingWords, or any blogspot blog, with a non-Google account, Blogger has removed you or will in the near future.

You need to sign in with a Google account in order to follow SlingWords or any other blogspot blog.

Takeaway Truth

Sorry for this hassle, but it's beyond my control. I hope you will continue to follow SlingWords. Geez, it's always something, isn't it?

Talking About Weather

This has been the oddest winter. Two days ago, it was 38 degrees F., gray and dreary. Today, it's 72 and looks like summer.

I'm at our house in the country. Hubby is playing golf, and I'm about to go outside to enjoy the beautiful day. I notice that the orange and yellow lantana finally suffered winter-kill. Oddly enough, the plumbago is still green and vibrant and loaded with purplish-blue blooms. A branch of it is waving in the breeze outside my kitchen window.

Wacky Weather

Wacky weather indeed. According to the The Old Farmer's Almanac 2016, which I faithfully buy every year even though I'm not a farmer, obviously, 2016 is going to be another wet year. That's what the overall prediction was last year for my area. Rarely is the Farmer's Almanac wrong. Last year was one of the wettest I can remember. Tons of rain. Compared to the drought in 2013, that was better I guess.

(By the way, there are many almanacs published, the one I always buy is the link above. It's been published since 1792. I always get the print edition. I know Amazon has a Kindle version, but I've found it's too difficult to see charts and such in an ebook. So if you want to get one, regardless of which you choose, get it in print.) 

The men in my family always paid close attention to weather. They did farm and raise cattle, or as the popular local phrase says: run cows. "How many head do you run?" Families that work the land always are in tune with weather. When I talk to my older brother, weather figures in each conversation.

Me: "How's it going today?"

Him: "Okay. It's cloudy and looks like rain. I'm hauling hay and trying to finish before then."

We'll go on to talk about other things, but, rarely do we talk without mentioning weather.

Takeaway Truth

For some people--real and fictional--talking about weather isn't just a way of filling spaces in a conversation.

Thursday3Some: Tangled Memories by Jan Scarbrough

Today, Jan Scarbrough dropped by to visit. Jan and I met when we published with Kensington's now-defunct Precious Gems Romance line many years ago.

(Recently, Liz Flaherty, another Precious Gems author friend got us all together to create Gems in the Attic, a new group blog. If you see #GemsInAttic on Twitter, that's us. We expect to start blogging in the spring so look for an announcement here.)

About Jan Scarbrough

Jan is the author of the popular Bluegrass Reunion series. She writes heartwarming contemporary romances about family and second chances, and if the plot allows—horses.

Living in the horse country of Kentucky makes it easy for Jan to add small town Southern charm to her books, and the excitement of a horse race or a competitive horse show.

A member of Novelist, Inc., Jan has published with Kensington, Five Star, ImaJinn Books, Resplendence Publishing and Turquoise Morning Press.

Visit Jan Scarbrough Online

Website * Twitter * Sign up for Jan’s Newsletter * Goodreads * Amazon Author Page

Tangled Memories by Jan Scarbrough

After losing his wife, Dr. Alexander Dominican is determined his infant daughter will not grow up motherless as he did. Offering sensible, kind kindergarten teacher Mary Adams a marriage of convenience seems like the perfect solution. The widow’s husband left her with a mountain of debt. For Alex, paying it off is a small price to pay for his daughter’s happiness. Until his sensible new wife begins to lose her mind.

On the day of their marriage, Mary starts having frightening hallucinations of medieval England—visions that feel more like the memories of woman who lived centuries before. More terrifying, someone—or some thing—is stalking the new mistress of Marchbrook Manor. Could it be one of the sinister servants? Or Alex himself? Alex is reawakening hidden desires and longings in Mary, but until she can untangle the web of nightmares and secrets, she can trust no one. Not even Alex.

Alex has no idea he’s unleashing a destiny that’s taken him seven hundred years to fulfill.

If Alex and Mary are to salvage their future, they must first unravel centuries of…Tangled Memories.

When did you write Tangled Memories?

When I was thirty-eight, I almost died. I was in the intensive care unit for four days. After I recovered, I decided it was time to make my dream of becoming a novelist come true.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

After my life-threatening illness, I wondered “what if” we were all given second chances. What would we do? And especially, what would happen to a heroine if she were given another chance to find her true love? In Tangled Memories, there’s a supernatural element that makes for a happy ending.

Why do your readers buy Tangled Memories?

Tangled Memories is different from my normal contemporary romances. In a way, it defies classification. It’s set in contemporary Kentucky, but it is a typical Gothic romance with the young heroine, mysterious hero, and threatening mansion. It is paranormal because of the flashbacks to medieval England. The book is written in first and third person. Readers who miss old-fashioned Gothic romances buy this book. I like to think it’s a good story and an enjoyable read with a happily-ever-after ending.

Add Tangled Memories to Your Library

Amazon * iBooks * KoboBooks * Nook

Takeaway Truth

The Gothic lives again, much to the delight of readers everywhere. Please enjoy a live free preview of Tangled Memories. Just scroll down and click READ PREVIEW.

Leaving You With This Thought

I realized I didn't post today. It's late, and I'm headed to bed, perchance to sleep tonight since I didn't last night. Ah, the frequent complaint of my insomniacal life.

I don't think insomniacal is a legitimate word since the noun insomniac doesn't actually have an adjective form, but the word fits so I'm using it. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

In lieu of a post, here's a thought for the day. "If builders built buildings the way programmers write programs, the first woodpecker would destroy civilization." Weinberg's Second Law

Takeaway Truth

Therein lies a tale of software and frustration, but that's for another day's vent. Goodnight.

Amazon's New Preview Feature

I thought I'd test the new preview feature from Amazon. I placed it on the left sidebar. See it there? You can click Read Preview, and it takes you to a webpage where the cover is shown and a sample of the book.

I've also placed it here in the blog post so you can see how it looks on a narrow sidebar, and how it looks within a blog post. It's easy to do. On a book's webpage, on the right sidebar where it says: SHARE, you'll also see EMBED. Click Embed and follow the prompts to either post the preview as a link to click or as a "live" preview where the reader will click the image of the book cover. Very easy and a nice way for someone to read a preview of a book without having to click umpteen links. Also nice that the reader can then click BUY NOW if they're so inclined.

Takeaway Truth

I think this is a pretty neat feature, and I'll probably use it when guests visit to talk about their books. What do you think about it?

Libraries Buy Print Books

Yes, libraries--and library systems--buy print books. Wouldn't you like to see your print books on library shelves?

If you have print books and fans, ask your readers (or your street team/supporters) to request your books at their local libraries.

You see, libraries decide which books to buy based on the public's desires and demands.

You Are Part of the Public

You're part of the public. So are your readers. If you have books you want to see on your library shelves, ask the librarian for it. It's easy to make a recommendation to the librarian. You can do it, and can your supporters.

Give the librarian the title, the author's name, and the ISBN (that number on the back or inside). Ask that they stock that book. The more who request; the more likely the book will be purchased and stocked.

Takeaway Truth

There's a lot of truth to the old axiom: the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Writing Reality Number 5: Separate Self & Writing

During the first few weeks of the New Year, I'm posting about some writing realities or truths you should recognize if you want a career as a writer. Previously posted:
Today's Writing Reality Number 5: You are not your writing.

You must learn to separate your self-identity from your writing. You have to learn that because if you don't, you're going to be one miserable writer. People who don't understand this truth are those who get crushed by rejection, bad reviews, and low sales.

I know some writers who reel from one discouraging event to another. If they read a good review, they're ecstatic. If they read a bad one, they're in the pits of despair. If they have a good month in sales, they're on top of the world. If they have a bad month, they're so discouraged they want to quit.

If your writing gets rejected by an agent, an editor, or a reader browsing for a book, that does not mean that you have been rejected, but a lot of writers think it does.

Separate For Survival

Learning that you are not your writing is necessary in order to survive this fierce business. If you cave at the first sign of rejection, i.e., not placing in a contest, not getting a positive response from an agent or editor, then you might need to rethink your aspirations.

Rejection – from publishing professionals and from readers – is a huge part of being a professional writer. Whether you're published by a traditional publishing company or you're self-published, you'll suffer rejection in some form along the way. There will be peaks and valleys.

Success is a long road. Learn positive ways to deal with the valleys and know that peaks will come. However neither peaks nor valleys last forever. Learn to be philosophical about this so that it doesn't take away the joy of writing.

Takeaway Truth

The sooner you learn that you are not your writing, the happier and more productive you'll be.

Thursday3Some: Reviews of Books by Adams, Rosemoor & O'Callaghan

I've been reading a lot in an effort to reduce my TBR mountain.

3 Reviews

Here are 3 quickie reviews of romance novels I just finished. These novels represent the various faces of romance:

Married for Christmas (Willow Park Book 1) by Noelle Adams

SKIN by Patricia Rosemoor

Death is Forever: A Delilah West Thriller by Maxine O'Callaghan

Review 1: Married for Christmas (Willow Park Book 1) by Noelle Adams

Jessica talks her best friend Daniel into a marriage of convenience because she's tired of waiting for her life to begin. She convinces him that they can build a life together and have the family she longs for. She plans to be practical, but she's got a secret.

Despite the author's note in the description that this story is not inspirational, and that the hero being a pastor is not the focus of the story, I was surprised by this book which was quite sensual with fully-developed sex scenes.

Married for Christmas was well-written with motivated and conflicted characters. I think the novel made the point that pastors aren't without physical desires. They're real human beings who possess the same physical desires as others.

Review 2: SKIN by Patricia Rosemoor

Lilith Mitchell finds her runaway sister dancing at a gentleman's club. They barely reconnect when a killer kidnaps Hannah. Keeping his victims prisoner for days, he then hunts them in a forest preserve. Determined to save Hannah before it’s too late, Lilith takes Hannah’s place at the club to lure the killer into coming after her.

When she meets Michael Wyndham, documentary filmmaker whose current project SKIN is a psychological study of the dancers, Lilith falls under his spell. Is Michael the man he seems to be, or is he the one terrorizing her?

In a world of deception, where everyone seems guilty, who can Lilith trust?

This is also not your typical romance. It's gritty and edgy. I could easily see this as a Criminal Minds type TV or movie. If you're a fan of suspense dramas like that, you'll love SKIN.

Review 3: Death is Forever: A Delilah West Thriller by Maxine O'Callaghan

Ex-cop Delilah West is grief-stricken after her husband's death and obsessed with finding his murderer. She's also broke and hasn't exactly got the choice clients knocking on the door of her PI office. Her latest job gets her drugged and framed for murder. Now she’s on the run and still searching for the murderers who’ve destroyed her life.

What you need to know about this book is that it was originally published around 1981. Heroine Delilah West was one of the first of the modern female private investigators.

Ms. O'Callaghan wrote 13 novels and a short story collection. She was nominated for both the Anthony and Bram Stoker awards. Private Eye Writers of America honored her with their lifetime achievement award, The Eye, for her contribution to the field for her novels and short fiction featuring Delilah West.

I say all this as a way of telling you not to judge her stories by contemporary standards. We're all so knowledgeable now about criminal investigation. That wasn't true in 1981 when her ground-breaking novel was published.

Death is Forever is still a captivating story so read it for the deft characterization, gritty action, and rising tension.

Takeaway Truth

These three romance novels provide good reading for those with eclectic taste.

Glenn Frey: Soundtrack of My Life

Please enjoy True Love, one of my favorite Glenn Frey songs while you read this. (The player is embedded below the picture. Let it play while you read this.)

Our younger daughter called late Monday night. She asked, "Is Dad with you?"

I said, "Yes, we're sitting together and watching TV."

"So you're both sitting down?"

Uh oh. I thought. What happened? "Yes," I replied. (Continued below player.)

(Photo: "Glenn Frey" by Steve Alexander-originally posted to Flickr as Glenn Frey. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons)

She started crying. "Mike and I just heard on CNN that Glenn Frey died."

I understood her tears because I felt the sudden sting of tears too. In an instant, we experienced one of those life moments where time seems to slow--where you'll always remember what you were doing when you heard the news.

You see, my husband and I raised all our kids with the music we both loved playing in the background. That meant The Eagles and the members of the group that we'd followed all of our lives. We knew Glenn Frey from his Linda Ronstadt days. True Love is one of my favorite songs because it chronicles the love my husband and I have for each other.

Our kids share our appreciation for the talent and music of Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh--individually and as The Eagles.

I could not go to bed tonight without saying, "Thanks, Glenn, for being part of the soundtrack of our lives. You left us with a legacy of wonderful music. You'll be missed, not just by your family who loved you, but by the legions of fans you touched with your music.

Takeaway Truth

Rest in peace.

Writing Reality No. 4

During January, I'm posting about some writing realities or truths you should recognize if you want a career as a writer. Previously posted:
Today's Writing Reality Number 4

Some days, everything about writing is soul-killing and heart-breaking, and you just want to quit.

Soul Killers

You get rejections from editors, agents, and readers in the form of no sales. You get refused ad space. You get dropped by your publisher or agent. You get scathing reviews. Your book gets pirated. Readers post nasty comments on Goodreads about you and/or your books. Snarky blogs dissect you like a frog in formaldehyde. No one signs up for your newsletters or giveaways. Authors you consider poor writers are buying new cars with their royalty checks.

Nothing goes right, and you begin to wonder if it ever will. You're working your butt off and have little to show for it.


This is the point when many quit. I've always thought that if you want to quit and can, then you should. Why drive yourself nuts if you can quit and do something more rewarding with your time? And I don't say that scornfully or in a cavalier manner. There's nothing wrong with not feeling that it's as important as oxygen.


You see, those who want it bad--and I mean really bad like it's as important as air to breathe--never quit. They can't. There is something inside them that makes them persist...keeps them fighting. Even in the face of all the adversity mentioned above.

Those writers can find happiness in their writing if they can make peace with the idea that they'll never be millionaire authors. Write and put your work out there. Someone will read it. Someone will love it. That may be small applause in a big auditorium, but it is still applause. It means that someone "gets" you. Gets your stories and the way you tell them. That is priceless.

Takeaway Truth

There are peaks and valleys in your career. Some are years-long; some last just for a few days. If you want a career as a writer, you must accept this and rock on.

Last Chance to Enter Cover Art Contest

Hurry! Don't miss the chance to enter your book cover in the prestigious Judge A Book By Its Cover Contest or JABBIC, as it's popularly known.

Contest closes at midnight, CST, January 15, 2016.

Since 2005, Houston Bay Area RWA has been proving that you can Judge a Book By Its Cover! All covers entered in JABBIC will be judged by booksellers around the world, and the winning cover in each category will be featured in a full-page color ad on the inside front cover of the April 2016 Romance Writers Report, as well as on our web site.

While the booksellers are judging, we will open up the Reader's Choice portion of JABBIC. The Readers Choice Winners from each category will be featured on our web site. Last year thousands of readers logged on to view and vote for the JABBIC 2014 covers during the Reader's Choice portion of the contest!

If your book is self-published, you will be able to give credit where credit's due—your cover artist or yourself! If traditionally published, recognize your publisher or their artists!

Entry Deadline: Entries must be received by January 15, 2016

Entry Fee: $15

Eligibility: Published in 2015

Enter: The cover of your book, novella or short story published by a traditional house, self-published, ePublisher, or ! POD during 2015

Entry Format: Electronic files (JPG or GIF) only

Categories: Short Contemporary (56,000 words or less), Long Contemporary (over 56,000 words), Historical, Romantic Suspense, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Paranormal, Sexiest Cover, Young Adult and Inspirational

Judges: Booksellers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia

Top Prize: Winners will be featured in a full-page color ad on the inside front cover of the April 2016 Romance Writers Report

For more information, entry form, and rules, visit the Contest Website. or contact the Contest Coordinator Leslie Marshman at: judgeabook@ hbarwa. com (deleting spaces)

Takeaway Truth

This is a really good contest. Enter today.

Solution for Message Stuck in Outbox

I've had a problem since Saturday. A message I was trying to send got "stuck" in my Outbox on Outlook. I wouldn't send, and I couldn't seem to delete it--just kept getting an error message that it had started sending and couldn't be deleted. Not!

Since it still won't send, I went to Professor Google who knows everything to find a solution. I thought I'd post the solution here since others might have this problem one day.

This solution is for Outlook only, and I found it at Outlook Tips.

If you have Windows 7 or Vista and your Desktop Search is configured to search Outlook data, it's easy to delete the stuck message. (If you use an older Windows version, you'll need to install Windows Desktop search engine.)

1. Close Outlook. Be patient and wait a few minutes to make sure it closes completely.

2. Click to open your Start Menu.

3. At the bottom left of the Start Menu, you'll see a search box. Type outbox in it.

4. Let the search engine work. It will list all that it finds. Scroll through until you find the message you're trying to delete.

5. Select the message, click DELETE. That should do it.

Takeaway Truth

When confronted with a problem, always go to a search engine to look for a solution. Trust me, you won't be the only one ever facing tech problems. We all get them.

Oil Industry Born

Over the years, my husband, most of my neighbors and friends, and I have all been employed in some aspect of the oil business.

The oil business was the first trillion-dollar industry, and it all started about 150 miles from where I'm sitting on a cold January day in 1901. That was the day a drilling derrick blew out a gusher at Spindletop Hill near Beaumont, Texas.

The gusher was so big that it covered the surrounding area for hundreds of feet. That well struck oil at a little over 1,000 feet down. It was so much that it flowed at about 100,000 barrels a day and took the crew 9 days to cap. It took a while for the workers to learn how to prevent a gusher so the oil wouldn't be wasted.

Up until that date, petroleum had been primarily used in this country as a lubricant and in distilling kerosene for lamp oil. Spindletop of course ushered in inventions like internal combustion engines for cars, airplane engines, and the conversion of trains and ships to the cleaner-burning liquid fuel.

Takeaway Truth

It seems odd that so much we take for granted is relatively new.

iPhone Birthday

Take the Pledge: Don't Text & Drive
Can you believe it was only 9 years ago that Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone? It seems as if the iPhone has been around a lot longer than that, doesn't it?

I remember my first cell phone. It was the Motorola that looked like a brick. It was heavy and awkward to cart around in my purse, but I was thrilled to be able to make phone calls while traveling alone. The level of comfort it gave me--knowing I had a way to call for help if my car broke down or something else happened--was immense.

I've never been without a cell phone ever since, but I'm not one who has it glued to my ear. I think it's such a shame when you see people dining, and each person is on a cell phone--talking or texting. Even the children are fiddling with cell phones.

Takeaway Truth

Remember, cell phones are a convenience. Don't let them become an obstacle to developing relationships. Above all, never text and drive.

How to Prioritize Tasks

Prioritize your tasks. You hear this all the time, right? Do you know how to do it? I think the key to finding out your priorities is to answer 2 questions.

What is your biggest goal?

What can you do today that will have the biggest impact on that goal?

List everything you think you need to do on a given day. Now look at each item, and answer honestly. Does this affect my biggest goal? If it does then it's #1 on your priority list. If it doesn't, then it should be farther down on your priorities.

Grade the items on your list:
  • A: items you must do or there will be dire consequences. Paying bills, writing your quota for the day, getting a deposit into the bank, etc.
  • B: things you need to do after you've taken care of your A list. These might be doing the laundry, gassing up the car, editing your book description online.
  • C: things you'd like to do but nothing bad happens if you don't. Examples, comment on other blog posts, see what's happening on Facebook, checking your email 40 times a day.
  • D: these are "busy work" that you could delegate if you're lucky enough to have someone to hand off these items to.
  • E: stuff that can be eliminated without any consequences.
Takeaway Truth

Learn to do your #1 priority task first every morning. It's not easy when the pressure of social media, promotion, and email weigh heavily on you, but you'll be more successful if you do.

Thursday3Some: Baby It's Cold Outside by E. Ayers

On this cold January morning, I'm having coffee with my Authors of Main Street buddy, E. Ayers.

About E. Ayers

E. Ayers is a multi-published and best-selling author of western and contemporary romances. Her books are never too sweet or too hot. She writes down the middle. She says: "I love a good book and I believe in true love. Combining a life and true love seems simple, but it's not. Within the industry, it's called slice of life. I write about the romantic slice and with it comes everything else that life throws our way."

Find E. Ayers Online

Website * Blog * Authors of Main Street Blog * Newsletter Signup * Twitter

About Baby, It's Cold Outside

Three wonderfully wintry tales of true love: A Cowboy's Holiday, Christmas at Mariner's Cove, and The Charity Auction.

A Cowboy's Holiday: With no plans for the holidays, Hannah joins her friend Jeremy for Christmas at his family's ranch. More than snow is falling as two friends discover romance between the snowflakes.

Christmas at Mariner's Cove: It was just a little fib. Celine Colburn wasn't expecting Prince Charming because that was the stuff of fairy tales. But when she met Frank Cresson, she found herself instantly drawn to him. Just as they were getting to know each other, she becomes a witness to a horrendous motorcycle accident that leaves him unconscious. And lies have a way of growing.

The Charity Auction: Elke prepares herself for a disappointing night after getting conned into being part of a holiday fundraiser until Jeremy’s bid proves to her that good girls sometimes do finish first.

1. When did you write Baby It's Cold Outside?

I did it over several years. I had characters that just poked and prodded me to do something with them. The Charity Auction was actually a mistake. Several years ago, I was asked to be part of an anthology, but our stories had to be under a certain word count. Well…no one will ever accuse me of being a person of few words. Deep into that story, I realized I was going to be way over the word count. So I finished it and tossed it to one side and wrote another for the anthology. Too small to be a book of its own, it's collected cyber dust, except for the few times I've taken it out and dusted it off for some competition. It's won all sorts of kudos.

2. What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

A Cowboy's Holiday is a combination of sparks. Jeremy is one of the minor characters who run through my contemporary westerns. He's been that good teen with his sights on becoming a veterinarian. The kind of guy every mother wants her son to be and every young woman wants to date. Jeremy wanted his own story so he poked me.

I grew up where snow was normal. The day I got my driver's license there were several inches on the ground and flurries in the air. But driving through blizzard conditions is different. It's happened to me twice. The first time I was the driver and the second time my husband was driving. These are not hard snows but extremely dangerous storms. I wanted to push Jeremy to the max emotionally and really challenge this young man who has always been that fun loving, easy-going kind of guy.

3. Why do readers buy Baby It's Cold Outside?

It's so new that I'm going to have to take a guess and say at this point it's because they've read my other books. But there's something for almost every taste in contemporary romance. The Charity Auction is big city, A Cowboy's Holiday is a western, and Christmas at Mariner's Cove is a small New England cove town. I think certain settings appeal to all of us, but identifiable characters are what keep us reading.

Add Baby It's Cold Outside to your Library

The collection is currently available at Amazon Kindle International. It's also a Kindle Unlimited so you can read for free if you're a subscriber. A print edition will be available soon.

Takeaway Truth

Yes, it's cold outside so snuggle under the covers with this collection from E. Ayers.

Review: Something New

Something New, a movie with a story that just might be a perfect romance, is now on Netflix. Can you tell it's a favorite of mine?

Something New is not just a great story, it's superbly acted. In case you don't subscribe to Netflix, you can
stream it or buy the DVD/BluRay from Amazon.


Kenya McQueen (Sanaa Lathan) is an over-achiever from a family of the same. She's beautiful, smart--a CPA up for partner--and unhappy. You might think this is just another story of a woman looking for a man, but it's more than that. She's looking for freedom to be herself, but she doesn't know that yet.

When challenged to "let go and let flow," she accepts a blind date, but she's plainly stunned and dismayed to find that the man is white. He's just the opposite of what her ideal man is: handsome black men who is a professional of some kind. Brian Kelly (Simon Baker) works with his hands. Through some rather amusing incidents that follow, she ends up hiring him as her landscape architect.

The Outcome

As one might expect when you get two single, appealing adults of the opposite sex together, attraction follows. Brian challenges herself to really leg go--of her hair weave, her insistence on clothes that are black and a home that's beige. A life that is beige!

Even as she's falling in love with this adorable man who dotes on her, she uncomfortable and embarrassed by the fact that he's black. After she's lost Brian and met the man who meets all her criteria--portrayed by the always-handsome Blair Underwood--does she realize what she has lost.

Sanaa Lathan is perfect in this role of an uptight woman professional, and Simon Baker matches her performance. At the end of the movie, when he kisses her it just looks so "real" as if he doesn't care what's going on around him, he's entirely focused on her. For Kenya, at the end, she's relaxed, smiling, and like a new woman because she really has received everything she wanted--and everything she didn't know she needed.

The Cast

Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker headline a cast composed of Alfre Woodard, Earl Billings, Katharine Towne, Stanley DeSantis, K.C. Clyde, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Golden Brooks, Taraji P. Henson, Marcus Brown, Russell Hornsby, , Danny Wooten, Mike Epps, Lee Garlington, Tonita Castro, Matt Malloy, David Monahan, Gabriel Tigerman, Donald Faison, and Tanisha Harper.

The fabulous Alfre Woodard is Kenya's mom who has rigid ideas about how her daughter should live her life. Wonderful Earl Billings who has been in just about everything in his 30 years on the stage, movies, and TV,  is her father, a man so full of wisdom that steals the show with a scene in the ladies' restroom in which he encourages her to follow her heart. Like Ms. Woodard, he's just good in everything I've ever seen him in.

Takeaway Truth

This isn't just a good romance movie. It's a good movie about how life can change in an eyeblink--just as dreams and expectations can.

Writing Reality No. 3

During January, I'm posting about some writing realities or truths you should recognize if you want a career as a writer. Today's Writing Reality Number 3: Not every good book you write will sell.

Previously posted:
Let's read that again. Not every good book you write will sell.

Once upon a time, back before indie self-publishing was so easy, authors consoled themselves when books didn't find a publishing home with the fact that they had company in the form of thousands of other authors who couldn't sell books that were well-written. All of us accepted that the competition was really stiff so we just wrote another book and tried again.

Well, the gatekeepers like editors and agents who turned down most authors have been replaced by readers. That's right. Readers are the new gatekeepers for those of us who self-publish. Now instead of trying to "sell" to an editor or agent, we're selling directly to readers.

Unfortunately, that doesn't make it any easier to sell books. In fact, since just about every person on the planet has discovered how easy it is to self-publish books, it actually makes it harder to sell.

With thousands of books being published every week, how do you get your book noticed? That's the big question now, and that's why the Writing Reality No. 3 is still true.

Not every good book you write will sell.

 When I say sell, I mean thousands of copies, not a few here and there. Selling a couple of copies every day won't pay a mortgage or put food on the table. So accept the fact now that not every good book you write and publish will sell well.

If it's not selling, then don't bemoan and get depressed. Write another book. Get more inventory out there. As you write, devote some time each week to learning more about effective marketing. Bite the bullet and pay for advertising. The only thing you truly control is the writing and publishing part of the process. Once it's out there, you control nothing.

Takeaway Truth

It's always better to know the score so you won't waste time bemoaning the lack of sales. That puts you ahead of the game and toughens your resolve.

Need Some Inspiration?

Try Little Book of Sunshine

Available at most ebook sellers including Amazon Kindle.

8 Resources Jumpstart Your Blogging

At last, this year I'll publish my blogging book
Do you hate to blog? More specifically, do you feel at a loss because you can't think of anything to write about? A lot of people dread having to blog.

Anyone trying to establish online name recognition is told to blog often, but many have no idea how to consistently create topics so they have new--and interesting--content all the time.

Writers and others with products to sell often fall into the trap of talking about their product until their blog begins to sound like an infomercial. Readers don't want a "buy my book" of "buy anything" promotion every time they visit a blog.

Readers do want to be entertained and maybe learn something when they visit blogs. So blogging about interesting or relevant topics is a good strategy. Now, how do you find those interesting and relevant topics--day after day after day?

8 Go-To Resources to Jumpstart Your Blogging

1. National Day Calendar

This website lists what each day of the month commemorates. For instance, today is January 4 which is:
  • the 1st Monday in January this year
  • National Spaghetti Day
  • National Trivia Day
  • National Thank God It’s Monday Day
Okay, right there you have 4 possible topics or jumping off points to lead your imagination to a topic.

You can right about Mondays as the worst day of the week, the best day to get going on success, or anything dealing with the day Monday, etc. Or, you can talk about spaghetti--eating it or cooking it, give a recipe for spaghetti, give the history of spaghetti, talk about regional food, or any number of other topics.

You can talk about National Trivia Day from the aspect of trivia games, i.e. board games, TV shows, trivia games on cruise ships, or you can give trivia questions and answers.

National Thank God It's Monday Day...this may go back to the first Monday of the entire year being either great or terrible. Do you know anyone who knew that there was a TGIM Day? You could do a poll among readers or other bloggers about this. You could write a post with suggested ways to celebrate.

Honestly, the sky is the limit! In fact, the sky is the limit if you let your imagination soar with any of the following that I list.

2. Birthstones By Month

This website lists the birthstones for each month and has a link to The Healing Power of Birthstones which explores some of the myths and legends about them. There are many such websites dealing with birthstones, flowers, signs of the zodiac, etc.

3. This Day in History

This website is sponsored by The History Channel. There are many other such websites, but I subscribe to this one. On each day of the calendar year, something significant happened, someone famous was born, and someone famous died. Some of these events or famous people may have particular resonance for you. Blog about it. Or you just might find the event particularly interesting. Blog about it.

For instance, on this day in 1999, "...for the first time since Charlemagne’s reign in the 9th century, Europe was united with a common currency when the “euro” debuted as a financial unit in corporate and investment markets."

Also, on this day in:

1785 Jacob Grimm was born
1847 Samuel Colt sold his 1st revolvers to the U.S. government
1896 Utah entered the Union
1964 the Boston Strangler killed again
1965 Poet T.S. Eliot died in London
1974 President Nixon refused to hand over the secretly-recorded tapes
1996 GM announced their first electric car,

Surely, there is something in the above list that stirs your imagination.

Try a dictionary or word/phrase resource. There are many covering quotations, proverbs, and other linguistic devices. Try these to start...

4. The Book of the Cliches

5. The Sports Cliche List

6. Portent Content Idea Generator

Just enter a word, and this cool website generates ideas about it.

7. Google Trends  or 8.  Google What's Hot

Find out what people are searching for on Google or what's currently hot. For instance, after the football games Sunday, these were the main topics on Gooogle What's Hot: Broncos, SteelerNation, GoHawks, KeepPounding, Vikings, FeelTheBern, NewYearsResolution, COTW (Character of the Week), and Texans. If I had checked an hour later, I'd probably find different topics.

Takeaway Truth

When thinking something about blogging, be careful not to overthink. Sometimes, the harder you rack your brain about what to write, the more elusive the ideas become. Use a resource like the ones above to kickstart your blogging.

Writing Truth No. 2

Writing Truth (or Reality) Number 2. Writing is hard work physically.

Yes, writing is hard mentally, emotionally, and physically.


Read widely, not just in your chosen genre, so your imagination is always nourished by ideas. The brain is like your bicep muscles. What happens if you stop using your arms? The muscles slacken and grow weak.

In older people, it's easy to see what happens when they age and don't exercise. They grow weaker.

That will happen to your brain if you don't keep it stimulated.


One cannot write without being in touch with emotion. your emotional landscape is what informs your writing. How can you write about love if you do not love? How can you write about loss if you have not grieved?

A lot of people try to shove their emotions down--to pretend they don't feel the pain of losing a love or a loved one. If you do this, you never grow. If you stifle your emotions, you can never let another know you intimately. Your writing will show this barren emotional landscape because no matter how hard you try, pieces of yourself invade everything you write.


If you've worked at a computer for a year or more, you probably know how it can put kinks in your body.

I should be the poster child of how working at a computer can twist your body into a pretzel and give you muscle spasms that seem encased in cement. I've suffered pinched nerves and muscle spasms for too many years. Yet, I often ignore the pain signals from my body in order to finish a project.

Do yourself a favor. Make a habit of stretching before, during, and after a bout of writing. A few minutes at the top of the hour and at the end an hour will keep you writing and pain free.

Make a commitment to some form of exercise every day in addition to the writing/stretching routine.

It's easier and so much cheaper to prevent problems like p;inched nerves, back spasms, sciatic pain, and carpel tunnel than to cure them.

You know the old saying: "You are what you eat?" Well, you also are what you think about, what you feel, and how you use your physical body.

Takeaway Truth

If you ignore all aspects of your health, you will be miserable and eventually fall apart.

1 Writing Reality

With the start of the New Year, let's focus on what it means to be a successful writer. Let's explore 1 Writing Reality.

1. Writing success requires a consistent commitment.

Success: Noun meaning the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

Consistent: Adjective meaning unchanging in achievement or effect over a period of time.

Commitment: Noun meaning the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.

During the holidays, my darling hubby and I watched When the Game Stands Tall Movie, the story of Coach Bob Ladouceur, the winningest high school coach in California history.

Jim Caviezel believably portrays Coach Ladouceur. The movie was so good that I sought out the book by Neil Hayes on which it was based.

Coach Ladouceur didn't just train his teams to play football. He trained them to be men--the kind of men who were honest, accountable, and who could be depended on by the world with which they interacted. He taught them to be honorable, to do the right thing. He instilled the values of family, brotherhood, and commitment.

At the beginning of each football training season, he had the players write their commitment on index cards. Commitment to practice, commitment to physical training, commitment to the game, etc. With each commitment, the players had to list a goal: practice goal, training goal, etc. (I also ordered Chasing Perfection: The Principles Behind Winning Football the De La Salle Way by Bob Ladouceur.)

Bob Ladouceur knew how to create life success as well as football success. Guess what? The same kind of principles that he taught about winning football games can be applied to any endeavor, such as writing.

1 Writing Reality: Writing success requires a consistent commitment.


Leave a comment on this post (like your writing commitment for this year) and receive a free copy of Little Book of Sunshine: For Readers and Writers

Takeaway Truth

Today, right now, sit down and write out your commitment to writing. How often will you write? How long will each writing session be? How will you train to be a better writer? For each commitment, write a matching goal.

Wishing You Bountiful Blessings in the New Year!

Auld Lang Syne means for the sake of old times.

In this New Year, let's remember the best of the past, and let the worst go.

Let's take a cup of kindness yes, but let's also give a cup of kindness in a literal way--let's be more kind to family, friends, and strangers too.

It's a new year...a new chance to get it make a bring joy to the lives of those you bring understanding and peace to those you interact with.

Takeaway Truth

Happy New Year.