Summertime & Living Easy

You know the song, Summertime?

Ah, yes, when the living is easy.

The lyrics of that old standard, usually sung by someone with an awesome set of pipes, always remind me of the summertime I lived as a child.

True Words

Fish jumped. Weekends were spent on the river bank with a cane pole or sometimes crabbing with a piece of fat meat tied to a string.

The cotton was high. Yes, cotton was the main agricultural crop in our parish, indeed in most of the parishes in the northern part of Louisiana. Rice and sugar cane were the ones in the southern part of the state.

The heat was a palpable thing because no one had air conditioning back then. We had big attic fans that drew in the cool night air. They didn't do much good in the day time, but we didn't care. We were kids who spent every hour, except for meal times, outside from dawn to dark, and sometimes beyond.

The bluesy melody of that song plays in the background as I write this, and it makes me think about all the things I loved about those long ago summers when the living did seem easy.

Lightning in the Night Sky

Since we had no air conditioning, summer evenings were spent on the porch and out in the yard.

We kids chased lightning bugs, or fireflies if that’s how you know those little insects that could make a Mason jar glow like a lantern if you caught enough of them.

If it wasn’t quite dark yet, most of us played baseball. We never seemed to tire of baseball.

When we finally collapsed into a porch swing or sitting on the steps, it wasn't unusual to see lightning off in the distance. We never heard any thunder though. I remember learning that was called Heat Lightning. Somehow those two words fired my imagination.

A few years ago, I wrote a romantic suspense with some of my favorite tropes: attempted murder, amnesia, Texas, and passion.

I knew the title I wanted for this story of a woman with lost memories and secrets she didn't know she held. Heat Lightning.

Heat Lightning became Book 1 of Outlaw Ridge, Texas. (Book 2 is Dead Heat.)

I'm currently writing Heat Kills, Book 3 of the series.

(Cover art reveal on July 20!)

So I had to get reacquainted with Tessa and David Galloway who "starred" in Book 1. I knew readers would want to know how they were doing now that we're in Book 3.

Here's a short blurb about Heat Lightning, which is a Kindle Unlimited free read or only $2.99 if you love it and want to buy it and keep it forever.
What Tessa doesn't remember may just be the death of her!

Her husband found her, claimed her, rescued her. David’s touch makes Tessa throb.

Desire flashes between them like heat lightning on a summer night.

Her body knows David, but when she looks at him, he is a stranger to her. Not a flicker of memory is left of him or their life together since she awakened from a coma.

Amnesia has left her with nothing but questions.

Who is she? Why does David seem to hate her even as he pulls her into his arms?

What is he hiding? How can she trust him when her gut says, Trust no one?

As her love for David grows, so does her feeling of foreboding--as if someone or some thing terrible is watching and waiting.

Takeaway Truth

I hope your summertime is full of good books, good times, and easy living!

Iced Tea: To Sweet or Not to Sweet

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay
Southerners drink iced tea all year-round, and that's the way it's been since ice became easily available.

In 1904, Richard Blechynden introduced iced tea to the general public when he served it as a thirst quencher at the St. Louis World's Fair.

Do you like your iced tea sweet or unsweet?

I like it with just a hint of sweetness. Darling Hubby likes his sweet. Our daughter likes it completely unsweetened.

I satisfy all the range of tastes from sweet to unsweet with a simple trick. No, I don't make 2 or 3 pitchers of iced tea. I make one, and I always keep a bottle of sugar syrup in the fridge for those who want sweet tea.

How To Make Iced Tea

Boil a 3-4 quarts of water.

Place 3-4 Lipton (or whatever) tea bags (depends on how strong you like your tea) in a sturdy pitcher that won't shatter when boiling water is poured in or in a stainless steel pot.

Let steep for 20 minutes. Remove tea bags, squeezing out the tea in them. Chill as you usually do.

Now comes the magic.

Sugar Syrup

In a saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups of water over low heat., whisk in 1 1/4 cups of sugar, stirring until it dissolves. Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly to make sure all the sugar is dissolved. When it has thickened a bit, turn the heat off, and let it cool. Then pour into a bottle or jar, something with a lid, and refrigerate it.

The sugar syrup should be clear. If you cook it until it's really thick, it will be slightly amber. This won't affect the taste. It's just more concentrated that way. The easier way to make it more concentrated is to use an equal amount of water and sugar. Just make sure to stir it so sugar dissolves completely.

Takeaway Truth

Tea doesn't have to be green tea to be good for you. The kind of tea used by Lipton and Luzianne, et al, is black tea, and it's high in antioxidants and bioflavonoids. It's smart to control the amount of sugar you put in iced tea. Using Sugar Syrup to give a touch of sweetness is a good idea.

Review: How to Make the World a Better Place for Women

If I'd been on top of my game, I'd have published this review in May when all the young people were graduating from high school and college.

How to Make the World a Better Place for Women in Five Minutes a Day by Donna Jackson isn't just for girls.

It's a "must read" for everyone, especially boys and men.

Hey, Dads and Moms, if we want the world to be better, safer place for our daughters, we've got to change attitudes about what kind of behavior toward women is acceptable.

Those commercials on TV with all the actors saying, "Boys will be boys," in an effort to spotlight the way male behavior is excused just aren't enough.

This small book—only 147 pages—was published in 1992. Way back then, it was a spotlight on Sexism in the Media, Sexual Harassment and Sexist Comments, Violence Against Women, and all the other issues that still plague our culture.

Want to check and see if you, the adult male, are guilty of what so many women put up with in the workplace? Read this book.

Takeaway Truth

Knowledge is power. Educate your children so they're a positive force in the world.

Review: Unlocked

If you're a fan of movies where strong women make hard decisions, I've got a winner for you.

I you like women she-roes who are just as formidable—and believable in the role—as male heroes, this is the movie for you.

You'll love watching Noomi Rapce as Alice Racine, a woman fully capable of taking care of herself and strong enough to see the big picture and try to save the world.

You're going to love Unlocked. It's an Amazon Prime Video new release.

If you don't subscribe to Prime Video, you can rent it just about anywhere. Remember, Amazon Prime Days are July 15 and 16 so mark you calendar so you can take advantage of some jaw-dropping special deasls.

Stellar Cast
  • Noomi Rapace as Alice Racine, scarred by a horrific tragedy in her past.
  • Orlando Bloom as Jack Alcott, a strong-armed character willing to bang heads.
  • Toni Collette, sporting a platinum buzz cut, as MI6 leader Emily Knowles.
  • John Malkovich as Machiavellian CIA lead, Bob Hunter.
  • Michael Douglas, another Machiavellian character, as Racine's mentor, Eric Lasch.
My Take

Since I first saw Noomi Rapace in the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy, she's been a "must watch" favorite. She's an amazing actress and isn't afraid of taking on difficult roles. This one is no exception.

Takeaway Truth

Grab this action thriller, a new release on Amazon Prime Video for some exciting entertainment this weekend.

On Amazon Prime Days, there will be special deals on joining Amazon Prime. You get free shipping on anything marked Prime shipping.

You get Prime Music, access to millions of tracks of music.

You get Prime Video with its award-winning, critically acclaimed original programming.

Some of the best original TV shows and movies are being produced by Amazon Prime and Netflix. If you haven't tried video streaming, you're missing something amazing.

Kiss Me, Thrill Me

KISS ME, THRILL ME is still thrilling readers.

Published 2 years ago, this collection of 6 full-length romance novels by New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors is still going strong and is at your Amazon Kindle shop for only $3.99.

Authors and Titles

Here is the lineup for the 6 books in KISS ME, THRILL ME: As Only You Can.

Love means never having to say, "You're under arrest."
Two commitment-phobic cops have nothing in common except their tendency to annoy each other–unless you count the desire sizzling between them.

International love story to delight the romantic.
Miguel forces his dead brother’s surrogate to marry him so he can take her and her twins to Chile to save his beloved, sickly, heartbroken mother whose only cure is to see her grandchildren.

He's not what she thinks he is.
Assaults, arson, a 230-year old video on a solar-powered smartphone and two very different women await the sharp British lord with a great big secret. What will the sassy yet lovely Leah do when she finds out the truth about him?

A lost love returns for one more dance.
They fell for each other long ago, but reality intruded and broke them apart. When they meet again, the same passion flares between them. Can love endure this time?

Fun, flirty, a little sexy, and a lot of humor!
Harrison Wolfe doesn't want his 20 year-old daughter to marry Candy's son. Candy hasn't met her yet, but knows they are too young. How can they keep them apart without their own attraction getting in the way?

What's a girl to do when she whispers another man's name in her fiancé's arms?
When forbidden dreams about a visiting French physician assail her at every turn, Mary-Beth puts her wedding plans on hold and flies to France to train with the sexy Dr. Yves and confront her past. Will Mary-Beth let her heart decide who's her right man?

Takeaway Truth

For only 66 cents each, you get 6 amazing novels. Add KISS ME, THRILL ME to your Romance Library today and have a weekend of great reading available.

My Mortal Enemies List

Inspired by Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory, I decided at 1:38am this morning to start my own Mortal Enemies List.

Now, you may be wondering what caused this epiphany?

I had spent more than an hour trying to navigate the newly updated version of a website I frequently use.

Then another hour trying to revert it back to the previous version.

Sheldon had 72 people on his list. My list is very short, and there are no people on it. Only tech companies and websites.

First, A Disclaimer

Let me be honest. Ordinarily, I like these companies and their products. I like the websites and find them extremely useful. What I don't like is the constant updating of their interfaces and/or software.

Questions for Developers

Why take a perfectly good website interface and change it to something that is not intuitive at all?

Why not give the users the option to continue using the version which they know and love to infinity?

Why should an update make it harder to use the prodcut and less intuitive than the original?

Why can't you leave an interface alone when it's elegant and works well?

I find I spend more and more time trying to fix software bugs caused by other software that has updated overnight.

Time is money for me. The hours each week in troubleshooting software and hardware could be used in writing thousands of words!

So, it's come to acting like nerdy Sheldon Cooper whose main characteristic is his dislike of change. Okay, I'll admit change can be a problem. But only if it creates problems in and of itself. Otherwise, I'm fine with change. I like new shiny things and tools and skills.

But sometimes I want to yell, "Give me a break! Leave the fracking software alone for a year."

My Mortal Enemies

1. Wordpress. Why in H-E-double L do you think Gutenberg version is an improvement?

2. YouTube. Why do you think the new Beta Version is better than the original?

3. Microsoft. Why do you send updates that blow up my printer-scanner's ability to scan using the HP software?

4. Mozilla. Why is every update fraught with problems?

5. iTunes. Every update is a learning experience. It's like playing hide and seek.

What are your pet peeves when it comes to working online?

I guess I should quit bitching and moaning and try to get some work done now. Thanks for listening.

Takeaway Truth

Gee, I wonder if I'll get kicked off these websites now?

Manic Monday: Make Time To Do These 7 Things

Yes, it's Monday, and you have a million things to do. Too many items on your Action List, and too little time to accomplish them all.

Still, take time from this Manic Monday to do these 7 things. They will make you feel better in the short term and pay benefits in the long term.

1. Walk outside for 20 minutes.

2. Even if you don't feel like it because you have the Monday Blues, smile every time someone speaks to you. It's amazing how smiling more makes you feel better. (Actually, a sound physiological reason for this. The muscles that lift when you smile causes the brain to release endorphins.)

3. Have a decent lunch. No eating in front of the computer. Actually, sit and eat. It's a plus if you sit with someone and talk while you "dine."

4. Every hour, take 3-5 minutes to stretch. This tiny break relieves stress and also keeps your muscles healthy.

5. Call someone you love and talk for a few minutes about something pleasant. I find we get into the habit of talking with our loved ones over what's wrong today, how tired we are, and about problems instead of about pleasantries.

6. Tonight, when the work day is over, spend at least an hour talking with your significant other and your kids if they're home. Don't just drop onto the couch in front of the TV and turn it on.

7. Take at least an hour some time in the evening to do something you love. You're entitled to leisure time and to have fun each day. So read, sew, knit, paint, or garden—whatever it is that makes you feel fulfilled.

Takeaway Truth

We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Reclaim some of that time for yourself. You deserve it.

Do You Know The Getttysburg Address?

Yesterday, I posted one of my favorite quotes on JoanReevesWrites, my Facebook Page.

"If a picture is worth a thousand words, please paint me the Gettysburg Address." ~Leo Rosten

I was thinking about that after reading an article about the decline in cultural history—you know, all of the written works, art, culture, history, etc.  upon which our entire society is built.

I wondered how many knew what the Gettysburg Address was and/or how many could recite it.

When I went to school we were required to memorize epic poems as well as the text of documents important to our United States of America like the Preamble to the Consitituion. I can still recite all of those.

Is this still required in public schools where handwriting is no longer taught, English grammar is a tiny aspect of the subject matter, math curriculum is now so confusing I can't do it the "required" way, and history glosses over the uglier aspects of the past, ignoring the edict that if you don't learn the hard lessons history has taught then you are doomed to repeat them?

The Gettysburg Address
1 of 2 confirmed photos of Lincoln (center, facing camera) at Gettysburg

I'm still touched by the words Lincoln spoke on the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.

The presidential speech was only 272 words long, and it was delivered on November 19, 1863.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Takeaway Truth

To quote something else Leo Rosten is famous for having said: "Words hurt. They teach. They sancitfy. They were man's first immeasurable feat of magic." Words are important—especially those upon which our entire cultural history is built.


Note About the Photograph

This Public Domain photograph is one of the two confirmed photos of Lincoln. (Look for the tall hat on the man in the center, facing camera. It was taken about noon, just after he arrived at Gettysburg, and about 3 hours before his speech. To his right is his bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon.

Photographer attributions vary from unidentified to Mathew Brady.This Public Domain image still requires a © tag. The image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ds.03106.

Recipe: Natural Air Freshener

I watched a documentary about the chemical composition of "fragrance."

You know. That word on the ingredients label of nearly all  products sold.

That one word can represent dozens of chemicals, some of them harmful to humans, yet the manufacturer isn't required to list them.

One of the biggest fragrance products are the air fresheners we all use. Actually, these  commercial air fresheners only mask a bad smell by releasing fragrance molecules. They do nothing to remove the stinky molecules.

Homemade Air Freshener

Baking soda, which has been around for centuries, has many uses other than baking. It's an excellent and safe alternative to many cleaning products including commercial air fresheners. It won't mask odors. It interacts with odor particles and neutralizes them.

  • 1 small glass jar
  • 1/3 cup baking soda (Arm & Hammer)
  • 10–15 drops of your favorite essential oils
  • 1 circle of cloth or paper large enough to cover the top of the jar with some overhang
  • 1 rubber band
  • 1 piece of ribbon, optional, used to make it pretty
  • Add the baking soda and essential oils to the jar.
  • Cover the mouth of the jar with the cloth or paper.
  • Secure the covering with the rubber band.
  • Cover the rubber band with ribbon or other trim.
  • To use, shake the contents of the jar.
  • Set it on a tabletop or shelf in the room you want odorized.
  • When the scent fades, just shake the jar.
The most expensive item in this is the essential oil. Make a jar for every room if you wish.

Takeaway Truth

In my personal opinion, the more you can eliminate unknown and/or dangerous chemicals from your environment, the better it is for your health and your family's health.

Does Marketing Ever Sell Anything?

Does marketing actually sell anything?

That's a question everyone on the internet who has a product to sell probably asks. Companies spend millions on marketing and promotion. Authors spend big bucks for ads for their books.

The hard truth is that marketing and promotion really don’t sell anything.

Then why do companies and individuals do it?

Because it calls attention to the product.

What You're Actually Buying

Buying ads means you're buying exposure. Exposure brings attention to a product. If the public is constantly exposed to a product, they remember the product. That's why authors (and companies) should create a brand for themselves. Then you can bring exposure to your brand, not just to one book at a time. 

Traditional advertising wisdom said a person had to see and/or hear the name of a product 9 times before they remembered it.

In today's short attention span world with so much vying for a personal's attention, I wonder if that 9 times rule still applies.

Maybe it's 9 times 9 now? Maybe if someone sees a book cover or hears an author's name and/or the title of a book about 80 times or more, they remember it.

Remember Title Vs. Remember Your Name

Wouldn't it be better to have them remember your name every time than trying to get them to remember a title every time you publish one?

Why work so hard to bring exposure to a title when you'll be publishing another book in a few months and have to start the process all over again.

Wouldn't it be better to use that time, energy, and money to brand your name and then bring exposure to your brand?

Connecting your name to a brand means the next time readers are browsing for a book, they have a light bulb moment: "Oh yeah. Let's see what Joan Reeves books are available."

That's making the most of exposure—branding your name so that's what the reading public remembers.

It's a lot easier to remember one name than the 20-30 books I've written.

The same is true for Paige Turner, Ima Writer, and you. I'll write more on this next week.

Takeaway Truth

Whether you're selling widgets or books, you want to create that light bulb moment.

Joan ReevesKeeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. Joan lives happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband. They divide their time between a book-cluttered home in Houston and a quiet house at the foot of the Texas Hill Country where they sit on the porch at night, look up at the star-studded sky, and listen to the coyotes howl.

Be the first to know about New Books and Giveaways. Sign up for Joan's Newsletter.

Find Joan Online and Follow her: Amazon Author Page | BookBub Author Page | Joan's Facebook Fan Page | RomanceGems FB Page for Authors & Friends | Twitter | Joan's Website | Joan's YouTube Channel

When the Going Gets Tough

I guess it may seem ridiculous to blog when it's nearly midnight, but I don't care.

Maybe you need to inspiration of this post because you also had a blah, frustrating day.

Mine was exactly that with too many things to do and not enough time to do them all. At least not enough time to do them all well.

I had to remind myself of these 3 quotes that I have printed on a page entitled, "When the Going Gets Tough."

"You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

"Acceptance is not submission; it is acknowledgment of the facts of a situation. Then deciding what you're going to do about it." ~Kathleen Casey Theisen

"Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune." ~William James

Too often, you cannot change what's happening. You just have to accept and figure out a way to deal with it, emotionally. You just have to get tough mentally.

Takeaway Truth

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Facebook Sharing Connundrum

Have you read the new policies on Facebook?

If you're like me and have a profile page and a "readers fan" page or other special interest page, you're probably scratching your head in confusion.

On one hand, Facebook is telling you to post to your network about yourself, your life, etc. For writers, that means, we'd be posting about our daily lives.

But that apparently  is forbidden because we'd be talking about writing our books, reading, publishing, and the pain of promotion, etc. because our lives revolve around all that.

Facebook considers all of that commercialism. That means if we put that on our timeline, our posts might not reach anyone but a fraction of our followers. FB seems to be saying they will censor what goes out from us.

Same thing with our fan pages I guess because it's hard to separate our writing and our personal lives. They always overlap. Yet, I get emails from Facebook every day telling me my followers haven't heard from me in a while or asking me to boost my posts on my fan page.

So what are we supposed to say when books are our worlds and overlap into our personal lives? I'm pretty sure no one wants to know how many cups of coffee I had this morning (2 and I'm going to make some more in a minute) or what I'm wearing (still in my pajamas since Darling Hubby left early to go to the country.)

Facebook is trying to get people to network more, like they did back in the day before they started selling our private information so they could rake in even more money. *LOL*

I still think Facebook is a good place to pass along information about good books you've read, blogposts you love, information you've found, music that speaks to you, and videos that are fun. So go ahead and do that.
Just ignore the hoopla & focus on writing.

What you share may be exactly what someone needs to give their day a lift or make them smile or tell them about a book they'll want to read.

If your followers LIKE, COMMENT, and then SHARE your post, FB will expose your post to a wider audience according to what I read.

Of course, if you do all that, on every post you read, you'll spend a lot of time, and time is a scarce commodity for writers—for just about everyone in fact.

Takeaway Truth

There's a fine line between judicious social media use and a giant time suck. See if you can find the balance you need.

Cruise America's Rivers

I want a relaxing vacation where I don't have to lift a finger and can sleep all day if I wish. I was thinking of another cruise.

Maybe a river cruise, but I didn't want the long flight and expense to get to the European port not to mention the rather pricey river cruises there.

I heard about American riverboat cruises and looked them up. Wow. I was surprised.

If you like to cruise and you've been on all of ships plying the Caribbean, Mexican coast, and the glaciers, maybe you're looking for something a little different too.

American Riverboat Cruises

I've never thought about cruising America's rivers and bays nor have I spoken to anyone who has. American Cruise Lines cruise all of America's well-known waterways from east to west. You can do the glacier thing too if you like that.

With 12 ships and a wide selection of dates and destinations, chances are you can get a great river cruise vacation for a good price and without the higher airfare expense of traveling to Europe.
Yes! They're paddlewheelers! Amazing.

Their ships are the newest and most environmentally friendly small cruise ships and riverboats in America.

They say that "attentive and personalized service is the hallmark" of their cruise line, and they offer "exquisite cuisine from highly trained chefs" with locally sourced ingredients.

From what I read online, they offer complimentary experiences like evening cocktail hours, pre-cruise hotel stays, and exciting shore excursions on select cruises.

Private balconies have sliding glass doors to spacious private balconies with panoramic river views from every angle, daily entertainment, a large selection of staterooms, and their ships are American built, flagged, and crewed.

With 35 cruise itineraries, they visit 28 states in America. The final deciding factor? They have free WiFi.

Have you taken one of these American Cruise Lines vacations? Leave a comment if you have or you'd like to.

Takeaway Truth

By the way, this is not a paid endorsement, but something I checked into and am adding to our vacation wish list. However, I wouldn't be opposed to getting a free trip to try out a riverboat cruise! *LOL*

Give Me One Reason: 3 Ways to Hook Readers

Remember the song by Tracy Chapman, Give Me One Reason To Stay Here?

I think of that song when I'm writing book promotion copy.

In the song, Chapman sings that she'll turn right back around if she just has 1 reason to stay.

Now, think about your Product Description on your Amazon book page. Is that first sentence a reason for the visitor to stay there?

In the song, Chapman wants one reason. On your book webpage, you better have more than one reason, or the book browser will exit and move on to the next book.

Always make sure everything on your book's webpage is a reason to stay there, reading it all, checking out the reviews, checking the price, and finally clicking BUY.

What makes a reader stay on the page?

3 Ways to Hook the Reader

1. Create excitement about your book.

Does the first sentence make you read the second? Does the second make you read the third, and so on? If it's boring, poorly written, grammatically incorrect, contains misspelled words, or its confusing and muddled, you'll lose the potential buyer.

2. Tell the reader what kind of book it is.

Don't be wishy washy and try to make the book sound as if it appeals to every reader or to romance and women's fiction readers or mystery and romance readers, or any combination thereof. That won't work.

You'll lose romance readers because they'll think the book is too much women's fiction. You'll lose women's fiction readers because they don't want that romance stuff. There's a reason traditional publishers always labeled every book specifically.

That's so readers could find the book in stores. Romance readers knew to go to the romance section. Mystery readers went straight to the mystery section. The only authors who successfully wrote mixed genre books were talents like Dean Koontz.

Remember, Amazon is just a giant bookstore. Romance readers want to find a romance easily. They don't want to guess whether it's a real romance or not.

3. Use a marketing hook, like a trope, when writing the book.

A trope is a common literary device or motif that is universally popular with readers.

Start thinking about what kind of marketing hook, or trope, you can use before you write the book.

When using a trope, be sure to emphasize the trope in the product description and use it as a keyword especially in your marketing copy.

Here's a short list of the most popular romance tropes. There are many others.

* runaway bride
* secret baby
* ugly duckling
* amnesia
* debt of honor
* Cinderella
* evil twin
* love at first sight
* bad cop
* ripped from the headlines
* woman in jeopardy
* marriage of convenience.

Other than the 3 marketing hooks above, the rest is more or less a guessing game because there's no consistent evidence about ROI.

Authors roll the dice and try these marketing protocols with varying success.

* Give away copies in the hope of getting good reviews. Unfortunately, readers hardly ever leave reviews for various reasons. Also unfortunately, good reviews don't translate into good sales.

* Buy ads on websites and newsletters with lots of dedicated genre readers. The ads that work are usually very expensive. You can easily drop almost a grand on BookBub.

* Blog about a book. If you write an entertaining post that hits the reader's imagination, this actually can pay off by gaining you a reader for your posts.

Chances are if your posts are found interesting, readers will keep reading you. Soon they'll experience the "I know that author" feeling and are more apt to give one of your books a chance.

Takeaway Truth

Consistently use the 3 Marketing Hooks listed. Using a trope wisely and well is a good way to gain readers for your brand.

Best Advice for Fathers: If by Kipling

Happy Father's Day.

If you're looking for advice on how to be a man of integrity, look no further than today's "guest" post.

Actually, my guest author died many years ago. His works are now in public domain.

I'm quoting one of my favorite poems, If by Rudyard Kipling.

This inspirational poem was first published in 1909 in his collection, Rewards and Fairies.

The poem has been quoted often, and some of the lines are inscribed on buildings, like over the players' entrance at Wimbledon.

Lines from it often appear in pop culture today, like a password used in the 2015 movie, Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation, a song performed by Joni Mitchell on her 2007 album Shine, a video tribute to Boston Red Sox retiring player David Ortiz, and so many more.

If is inspirational—one might say it's rules for being a grown-up or a blueprint for integrity.

If by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Takeaway Truth

If and other works by Kipling are in public domain and can be found in Public Domain Poetry.

Little Known Achievements By Women

I had to take a calming breath before writing this!
Over lunch, my husband told me he heard a man on TV commenting about the recent women's soccer team victory.

Darling Hubby shook his head in disgust and told me what the [profane noun deleted] man said.

It went something like this, "Face it. An average 15-year-old boys' soccer team could beat them."

Misogyny Is Alive & Well

Do you know the precise definition of misogyny? It's the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls.

Misogyny manifests in many ways: social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, male privilege, belittling of women, disenfranchisement of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification.

The male talking head mentioned above certainly fits that definition. I won't go into the emotional and psychological reasons some men are misogynists. I'm not a shrink. I'm just a woman who recognizes a misogynist when one rears his arrogant, entitled head.

Women shouldn't have their achievements denigrated any more than men should have theirs belittled. Yet, women have often seen their triumphs ignored.

Little Known Achievements By Women

These are just a few of the many achievements by women that may surprise you.

A team of six women programmed the first digital computer. The female mathematicians participated in a World War II program coding instructions into what was then a revolutionary machine: the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer better known as ENIAC.

Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper for automobiles in 1903. By 1916, windshield wipers were standard equipment on all cars.

The two highest IQ scores ever recorded were from women. Standardized testing changed the commonly-held belief that women were intellectually inferior to men.

The top score came from Marilyn vos Savant, an author and columnist. To this day, she is the Guinness World Record holder for highest IQ.

Margaret Heafield was the director of software engineering for NASA’s Apollo space program.
She wrote the mathematical sequence that enabled the Apollo mission to be successful. She was so good at what she did, NASA had her double check equations done by computers.

Eliza Zamfirescu was the world’s first female engineer. After being rejected in her home country of Romania due to prevailing misogyny at the time, she attended and graduated from the Royal Academy of Technology Berlin in 1912.

American chemist Stephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar, the material used in most bulletproof vests and body armor. In 1995, she became the fourth woman to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall Of Fame. Only 4 women out of so many female inventors!

Katharine Blodgett, the first female engineer at General Electric's research laboratory, invented the process of making non-glare glass in the 1930's by discovering how to transfer mono-molecular coatings onto glass. Her discovery was used to improve cameras, cinematography lenses, eyeglasses, and military periscopes.

Takeaway Truth

The story of women's achievements is often the story of fighting for the right to participate and overcoming the barriers placed in front of women.

Summer Playlist: Happy Songs

Summer is here, and that means road trips if you live in Texas—or you just like taking summer vacations by car.

We've been waltzing across Texas since last week. We've listened to audiobooks and lots of music from singers entertaining at the wineries and restaurants to the playlists I put together for drive time.

Everything is grist for my writer's imagination. I'll probably listen to this playlist as I'm writing my next book.

Summer Music

Here are 18 songs that are perfect for summer road trips. They're songs the entire family can sing along and seat dance.

This playlist is heavy on the 80's hits because Darling Hubby and I watching Stranger Things 1 and 2 again before we left.

We're prepped for Stranger Things 3 which hits Netflix on July 4. We can hardly wait!!

(If you don't subscribe to Netflix, Stranger Things is a very good reason to start!)

Back to Summer Music

Anyway, back to music. These tunes will make you whistle, sing along, snap your fingers, and generally feel good all over.

I'm giving the Amazon link to each song so you can easily click to listen to each one.

Many of these are in albums, but you can usually buy just the individual song on Amazon or from iTunes. (I think Kokomo is the exception. It only comes on an album on Amazon.)

Many of these are on Amazon Prime music so they're free to listen to if you're a Prime member so make a playlist.

If you're car is equipped with the latest tech, you can play any Amazon Prime playlist you create merely by having the Prime Music app on your phone.

Just connect your phone via Bluetooth. (Data charges may apply depending on your plan.)

1. In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry, 1970. I've loved this song since I was a kid. It just makes you want to dance and move with the beat.

2. California Girls by The Beach Boys, 1965. Still a cute, fun song.

3. Summer Breeze by Seals and Crofts, 1972. Smooth and laid back like you feel after a frozen margarita.

4. Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran, 1958. A real oldie but it's a goodie if you ever had to work in the summer.

5. All Summer Long by Kid Rock, 2007. Country rock with music that's very reminiscent of Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon.

6. Soak Up the Sun by Sheryl Crow, 2002. Hope you get to soak up some sun too.

7. Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini by Brian Hyland,1960. I like the French version, Itsy Bitsy Petit Bikini sung by Richard Anthony on the original soundtrack for the movie A Good Year.

8. Endless Summer Nights by Richard Marx, 1987. Solid beat for a good "singing" song from the 80's.

9. Shout by Tears For Fears, 1985. Another solid beat "singing" song.

10. Hot Stuff and Bad Girls by Donna Summers, 1979. If you look up sultry disco in the dictionary, you should see a picture of Donna Summers. Both songs just a guilty kareoke pleasure

11. I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eye Peas, 2009. Everybody sing!

12. Macarena by Los Del Rio, Bayside Boys Remix, 1996. I don't think I've ever been to a wedding reception in Texas where we didn't dance to Macarena.

13. One of These Nights by The Eagles, 1975. I have every song The Eagles ever recorded—in vinyl and digital. Best band of all time.

14. I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston, 1987. Great chorus that's an anthem! Great "singing" song.

15. Honky Tonk Women by The Rolling Stones, 1969. Got to have some Jagger in the playlist.

16. Bye Bye Bye by Nsync, 2000. Aw, come on. Who doesn't love this song?

17. I Love Rock N Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, 1982. You hear this and you have to move your feet, hips, or another part of your anatomy.

18. Kokomo by The Beach Boys, 1988. Makes me want to jump on a cruise ship and go to Kokomo.

Takeaway Truth

I love summer music!