Chase Your Dream

Everyone has a dream inside them. We sometimes call it our heart's desire.

Some call it a goal. Whatever you want to call it, ultimately you must take some kind of action if you really want to achieve it.

Choose which dream you want to go after and give it everything you've got. Chase your dream. Be like a long-distance runner and chase it down until you catch it.

Chasing it down means planning a campaign to achieve it.

Just in pursuing it, working toward it, chasing it down will give you a certain amount of satisfaction. Achieving it is the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae.

I love what Charles Kingsley once said. "We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about."

Takeaway Truth

Burn with enthusiasm. Chase your dream. When you capture it, expand your horizons and find a new dream.

What's In A Name? More Than You Suspect

Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, once said: "The most beautiful sound anyone can hear is the sound of their own name."

I don't know if I agree with that, but I do know that names are fascinating because most have a story behind them.

I met a woman years ago who was named Walter Smith VI. Her last name wasn't really Smith, but I'm withholding her surname. Her parents had daughters but kept trying for a son to carry on her father's name.

When she arrived, her dad named her Walter anyway. I guess he never expected her to marry and take her husband's surname. She was pretty and well-adjusted which goes against what many psychologists think, that a person with an odd or obnoxious name is socially ostracized and develops personality problems.

I've also met Enigma, a nice young woman who was a member of the wait staff at an expensive private club. I never hesitate to ask questions. When asked about her name, she laughed and said her mother just liked the sound of the word.

Writers and Names

I spend a lot of time thinking up names because, of course, every book requires new people—new names. I comb through baby names books, look through phone directories I've saved, and search online.

If I have a character of a particular ethnicity, I want a name that matches his background. Also, a name must give a hint of personality, socioeconomic status, educational background, and so much more.

The short story released in March, Liam's Wild Irish Rose, set during the engagement party for Cheyenne Dawn Smith and Luke Harper.

But the main characters are Luke's brother, Liam, and the woman he loves, Maura Rose O'Reilly, who of course is Irish since the story is set on St. Patrick's Day.

Cheyenne Dawn Smith, readers already know, was named after the title of a historical romance her mother was writing. In the world of A Moment in Time, the short story series, the mother is a famous historical romance author known as, wait for it, Lorelei Lorelle!

Yes, that's over the top, but I couldn't resist. In "real life" the author is plain Margaret Jane Smith.

Naming characters is one of the most fun aspects of writing. (By the way, Liam's Wild Irish Rose is only 99 cents.)

7 Fun Name Facts

(1) In the 1300's in England, two out of every three men were named Robert, William, Richard, Henry, or John. (Hmm. Still very popular names.)

(2) Donald Duck has a middle name. Bet you didn't know that. He's Donald Fauntleroy Duck. *snicker*

(3) Two U.S. agencies compile data on first and last names. One is the Social Security Administration which releases an annual list of first names given to babies born in the United States. The other is the Census bureau which provides a list of last names of individuals living in the U.S. once every decade or so. (This is a Census year so be sure and answer.)

(4) From a fascinating website about American name statistics comes this tidbit. "There are 4,746 people with a identical first and last name with the most frequent being Thomas Thomas, James James, Alexander Alexander, and Santiago Santiago. On the female side, the most frequent is Rose Rose. Then there's Ruth Ruth, Grace Grace, and Rosa Rosa. (Honestly, is it so hard to think of a different name for the given name?)

(5) The #1 baby names right now are Liam and Emma.

(6) Some Native American tribe members have two names but only one is made public because knowing both names would give a person power over the other. (I don't know if that's true, but I do know my great grandmother was named Morning Amanda, with Morning being the nearest English word for her name in Cherokee or so the family story goes.)

(7) Then there are the celebrities who name their children something which makes one think they
must have hated the child.

Examples: The late Frank Zappa's kids: Moon Unit and Dweezil Zappa. David Duchovny who named his kid, Kyd. Sam Worthington and wife Lara who named theirs Rocket Zot.

I always wanted an elegant distinctive name, but seeing the rather exotic names given some of the children of celebrities makes me appreciate my very simple, easy to spell name. Joan.

Takeaway Truth

Now you're ready with some esoteric knowledge for a trivia game or maybe for Jeopardy!

National Superhero Day

Happy Superhero Day! Did you know that's what is celebrated on April 28? At least according to one calendar it is.

Does it seem to you as if the world, or at least the movie-going public, is obsessed with superheroes?

In 2017, seven of the top-grossing movies were superhero movies, based on characters who were first introduced in comic books.

Now, I'm glad these folks have gained the recognition they need for their creativity, but, frankly, I'm tired of all of these movies.

Yes, I know they employ millions of people. Yes, I know millions of fans love them. But I look at it as a lack of originality by movie makers.

I thought movie makers might be also since Avengers: Infinity War kind of killed off most of them. Not so! They're just rebooting the franchises with younger actors.

Yes, they just want to keep milking the cash cow until the poor thing is dry.

Contemporary Culture
Mona Lisa to Pop Art

I remember one of my teachers lecturing about how the arts reflect contemporary culture. She said if you look at modern art, it's a visual representation of the times in which it was created.

Example: Picasso's Synthetic Cubism, also known as Crystal period, spanned the first World War.

Good Question

So what does the obsession with comic book superheroes mean? Well, maybe it's just escapism into a world of great looking guys with ripped muscles.

Maybe it's that we're all looking for a hero even though most of us have real, flesh and blood heroes in our lives whether we credit them or not.

Maybe they just remind us of when we were kids and life was much simpler with few demands and responsibilities. We were free to read comic books, adventure books, and watch much simpler superhero movies that thrilled us then.

Takeaway Truth

Maybe we're just searching for that same visceral thrill we felt when we were children.

A Must-Have Link: Shakespearean Insulter

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay
Let's have some app fun today. Whether you adore Shakespeare or pretend to—LOL—this app is for you!

Shakespearean Insulter

Ah, yes! Learn how to insult someone without their knowing what on earth you're talking about—assuming the recipient of your insult is not a Shakespearean scholar.

If your recipient is well-educated and knows his/her Shakespeare, then prepare for some verbal jousting.

Here are a few samples that are easily understood but sound so much richer than commonplace words.

Be not lost so poorly in your thoughts. — from Macbeth

I shall live to knock thy brains out. — from The Two Noble Kinsmen

[Thou art] a fool, a coward, one all of luxury, an ass, a madman. — from Measure for Measure  (This one is especially good because it can apply to just about any jerk you know.)

Just visit Shakespearean Insulter and click the gray bar that says, Insult Me Again. I couldn't stop clicking, especially when the click bar changes to taunt me a second time.

Takeaway Truth

Have some fun with this because every Monday should be a little bit wacky and whimsical.

Alexa Skill Review: Sleep and Relaxation Sounds

It's been a few weeks since I reviewed some Alexa Skills.

I've got a good one for you to try this week. I've tried it, and it really helps me relax at night.

If you're anxious and worried because of COVID, maybe you could use a little support in the relaxation department too.

Sleep and Relaxation Sounds

This may be just what you need. With a 4.8 out of 5 stars rating from 15,436 reviews, you know it's got to be effective.

When enabled, the skill is available instantly on your connected Alexa device. It supports English and 1 other language.Best of all it's free.

The skill lets you play ambient sounds to help you sleep peacefully or block out unwanted noise at work or home. There are more than 125 high quality sounds to choose from.

You may sleep better, but you can also use it to help you stay focused, study without interruption, relax quickly, and meditate more effectively. It's supposed to help you get a baby to go to sleep faster, but I wans't able to test that. *g*

How To Get Started With Sleep and Relaxation Sounds

Activation Phrase: "Alexa open Sleep Sounds,"

When the app is open, say "Play Thunderstorm" or "Play Rain" or whatever you wish to hear.

To get a list of sounds, say, "List Sounds."

To have the app pick a random sound, say, "Play Random."

You can also move to the next sound or a previous one by simply saying, "Alexa, next" or "Alexa, previous."

The sounds will automatically loop and play until you say, "Alexa, stop."

For all the details and features of this Alexa Skill, visit the Sleep and Relaxation Sounds webpage.

Takeaway Truth

I think you'll like Sleep and Relaxation Sounds. Let me know if it works for you.

Saturday Share: Tapioca Pudding Recipe

In today's world, most people are familiar with tapioca as an ingredient in bubble teas. There are several bubble tea shops near where I live.

However, I remember tapioca as the pudding my mother made when I was a child.

Darling Hubby remembers it for the same reason—his mother made it often as a simple, inexpensive dessert.

There's no more soothing comfort food than the sweet vanilla goodness of Tapioca Pudding.

What Is Tapioca?

This starchy carbohydrate is made from cassava roots, or tubers. As a reference point for you, potatoes are tubers. Cassava tubers are native to most of South America, particularly Brazil.

You can find tapioca in many different forms: flour, meal, flakes, and pearls—tiny balls of tapioca—as well as everyday inexpensive grocery brands and organic more expensive brands. I buy the box of Kraft Tapioca from the grocery store.
Image by ivabalk from Pixabay

In cooking, tapioca is used not only for pudding and bubble teas but also for thickening sauces, gravies, and for the thickening agent in fruit pies.

The "clean food" movement seemed to emphasize that tapioca was better to use for thickening than cornstarch.

If you want organic tapioca, just enter that phrase in the Amazon search box, but the Kraft brand (only $3.88 from Amazon) works just as well. I hope you'll try my mom's recipe.

Authentic Tapioca Pudding

1/3 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons of Kraft Tapioca
2 3/4 cups of milk *see note below
1 egg well beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla

  • Shake the box before using just as the label says.
  • In a saucepan, combine sugar, tapioca, milk, and egg. Whisk well together. Let it stand for 5 minutes for the tapioca to soften.
  • Turn on the heat to medium. Cook, stirring constantly to keep it from scorching, until the mixture comes to a full bubbling boil.
  • Turn off the heat. If you're using an electric stove, move the pan off the hot element.
  • Stir in the vanilla, mixing well.
  • If you plan on serving the pudding later, pour it into small bowls.
  • Let the mixture cool for at least 20 minutes. It thickens as it cools.
  • After that, it's ready to eat. Serve warm or cold.
  • If refrigerating the pudding, cover the bowls with plastic wrap.
  • Serves 6.
Note: For What It's Worth

A couple of years ago, after reading the latest dietary research on cow's milk, we switched to whole milk because of its health benefits. Recently, A recent article stated cow's milk is better because of the Vitamin D content which was once the way most people met their Vitamin D needs.

The article went on to say that unless you had lactose intolerance, to choose cow's milk rather than the proliferation of nut milks. I encourage you to do your own research about the dairy vs. nut milk issue.

Tapioca, Image by ivabalk from Pixabay
Takeaway Truth

Amazingly, this old-fashioned favorite is now a trendy "new" thing on restaurant menus and in "Whole 30" and Paleo kitchens.

I hope you'll try making Tapioca Pudding. It's nothing like the packaged, pre-mixed puddings which are rather bland and much too sweet.

Whether you choose an expensive organic tapioca, or the Kraft box from Amazon, you'll love this easy to make pudding and so will your family.

Cabin Fever Party: Free Ebooks


Don't know that acronym?

It stands for Thank God It's Facebook Party Day!

Where: ABB Party Place

When: Today, April 24, 4pm to 8pm EDT.

That's right. The Authors Billboard group is throwing another bash.

You get to meet authors, talk about books, and pick up some fabulous romance box sets for FREE!

Plus, we're giving away a $50.00 Amazon Gift Card. Wouldn't it be great if you won that? Just think about all the things you could buy on Amazon!

3 Free Romance Collections

Sweet and Sassy Baby Love

A scent of innocence, that touch of softness, an angelic nap, and deep belly laughs. Babies and toddlers bring great joy, love, humor, and even conflict into our lives. But first, we need a passionate encounter, a romance that transcends time.

Marriage-of-convenience, a woman and child in danger, a platonic marriage (but not for long), an adoption in the nick of time, finding out there’s more to life than work, holding on to love at any cost, and a brother’s love for the mother of his nephew—these are the themes that make the boxed set Sweet and Sassy Baby Love a very special delivery!

Sweet and Sassy Prince Charming

So, you think you’ve found your Prince Charming…

Handsome: check.
Sincere: check.
Strong and honorable: double check!
Perfect: probably not…

Discover the world of Sweet and Sassy, where strong heroines find their not-so-perfect men and help them discover their inner Prince Charming. Whether he starts out as a firefighter, cowboy, male escort, British lord, or even an avid birdwatcher, his majesty will wield love and passion to triumph over challenges and conflicts, proving that Happy-Ever-After is always possible.

A Romance She'll Remember

It all begins with a look. The sparkle in his eye when he first catches her looking his way. Her smile that blossoms when she realizes he’s been waiting for her his whole life. Electricity crackles through the air when two lovers realize they were meant to be.

Whether friends or strangers, there’s always that one moment when romance ignites, first through sight, then words, then with that touch that bonds them in so many ways.

Doctors, playboys, ranchers, beach bums, wounded warriors and more, these hot heroes and the women they love are sure to stir the romance fire in your blood.

These ebook romance collections will be free April 24, 25, and 26 so you'll have some great weekend reading fun.

Takeaway Truth

The ABB Party Place will be jumping so stop by for a good time. (Btw, authors give away books to introduce readers to the romance genre and to authors they may not have read before. The best way to thank an author for a free book is to leave a review of the book. Have a wonderful weekend!

Computer Woes

It's weird. I've had computer problems this past week, and so have a half dozen friends—all in different geographic locations.

I've been unable to get online and stay online. Had to constantly restart my computer only to have the browser, no matter which one I used, lose connection.

It wasn't the router which was the first thing I checked.

Fortunately, my wonderful Darling Hubby took time to deal with the problem. It was another Windows update that "hid" my internet security software. Took him almost 4 hours to get things working again.

Takeaway Truth

The moral of this story is make sure your files are always backed up. That way you don't risk a heart attack when you realize you could lose everything if your hard drive fails.

Apophenia and Bad Things in 3's

I'm following up on yesterday's post, Why Do Things Come in Threes, in which I listed the expensive bad things besieging me recently.

It seems everyone subscribes to the theory that events occur in 3's. I wondered about that so I did a little research. Guess what? It's not really true. It's just urban myth or a superstition that has arisen over the years.

Why 3's

Scientists studied the idea that bad things come in threes, and they found that it's not true. What is true is that people look for patterns in random data. It's a way we have to create order out of disorder. In other words, it's a way we can comfort ourselves.

The tendency to do this is called apophenia which was first described in 1958 Klaus Conrad, a German psychologist and neuroscientist. He was studying the onset of schizophrenia in people who thought of the delusions they experienced as a kind of revelation.

Evolutionary Advantage

The article says, "...the ability for mentally healthy people to identify and exploit patterns in nature has given us a tremendous evolutionary advantage. Mathematics, for example, is a way of describing a pattern or event that occurs in nature. Astrology, on the other hand, applies patterns onto perceived events and makes vague predictions that are easily applied to a variety of different situations."

The reason people find it hard to discount astrology is because of another human flaw in perception: confirmation bias. That's the human tendency to selectively choose information that confirms one's beliefs and dismiss information that doesn't.

Cultural Bias of 3

The number 3 in Western culture is pervasive and is found everywhere.

You see it in many areas of life like religion, i.e., the Holy Trinity, in children's stories like The Three Pigs, and in literature—the three-act narrative structure in plays and books.

Bad things happen all the time. When they're significant—like the 3 expensive repairs we incurred over the last 3 months—we tend to see the events as "bad things come in 3's" because of apophenia, confirmation bias, and cultural bias.

Takeaway Truth

If you want to know more about this, read the excellent post on Do Bad Things Really Come in 3's?

Why Do Things Come in Threes?

Why do things come in threes? Especially, it seems, bad things.

Since January, we've had 3 really expensive repairs.

Darling Hubby's pickup and our SUV. Both together? Cha-ching for the repair shop $2,500.00.

Second, our first plumbing repair bill. Cha-ching for the plumber—$800.00.

Today, our second plumbing repair bill for a new water heater that suddenly decided to die last week. Cha-ching—$1,500.00

Takeaway Truth

Somebody by a truck load of my books. Please?

Cabin Fever Party: Free Books & Prizes

We're having a party...a groovy, groovy par-tay!

And you're invited!!

Authors of Authors Billboard

Facebook Party

April 17 (also the next 2 Fridays—April 24th and May 1st)

ABB Party Place (just click the link to attend)

We all need some fun in our life!!

What better way to have fun then schmooze with a bunch of friendly authors who specialize in Happily Ever After?

Come to the party for great conversation with fascinating authors, free box sets, and prizes—did I mention prizes? Amazon Gift Card and probably some surprise prizes from the authors too.

From today, April 17 to April 19, we're giving away free copies of 3 of our bestselling romance collections:

A Wedding She'll Remember
Sweet and Sassy Weddings
Sweet and Sassy Brides

All 3 of these box sets will sweep you away from the COVID reality and leave you with a smile!

Go to the ABB Party Place now and join the page. This big blowout starts a 4pm Easter. Be there or be square!

Takeaway Truth

The Facebook URL for ABB Party Place?

Health: 3 Anti-Cancer Tips

Since Darling Hubby has such a strong family history of cancer, I'm always looking for tips to protect against this scourge of humanity.

We eat a healthy diet, but I'm open to new ideas about diet and nutrition. A few I've collected over the years are these.

1. Drink homemade iced tea made from black, green, white, or oolong tea. At least 24 ounces of this each day can lower your risk by 30% of developing any kind of cancer. (Avoid the bottled teas and instant tea mixes because of the added sugar or fake sugar or other troubling ingredients.) You want the cancer-fighting nutrients in real tea. You can even add a little sugar to home-brewed tea because real tea slows the absorption of sugar. Try your best to get your taste buds to adapt to tea without sugar.

2. Work on eliminating as much sugar as possible from your diet. All cancer researchers agree that sugar feeds cancer. That's not something you want to be feeding. Enough said.

3. Get at least 30 minutes of sunshine every day to increase your body's ability to make Vitamin D. Doing this only 4 times a week will cut your breat-cancer risk by 50% without risking skin cancer. If you want to stay out longer than that, use sun block. If you're in a climate that doesn't get much sunshine, take a supplement of vitamin D. Talk to your doctor about it. She may want to test your vitamin D level first which is a simple blood test.

Takeaway Truth

There's a lot of simple things you can do every day that reduces your risk of developing cancer.

Happy 15th Anniversary, SlingWords!

On April 12, 2005, I wrote the first post on SlingWords.

That post was short because it was a Japanese proverb that I'd always quoted when Life kicked me in the teeth.

Click to read Japanese Proverb, the first post.  

That first post had no illustrations. Hey, I was just getting started.

Some SlingWords History

In that first year, I learned the value of adding illustrations to my posts.

If you look back over the first couple of years, you won't see the art work because I started stripping it away every few years to save space.

Now I just leave the art and let Google worry about it. I figure whenever I run out of storage space, they'll let me know.

To date, I've written and published 3,484 posts. I have readers in countries from North America to all European countries, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.

My most-read post has been I Need a Good Cry, I'll Be Right Back—9,429 readers.

In July 2008, I began closing each post on SlingWords with the phrase Takeaway Truth, to succinctly summarize the post or my thoughts about the subject matter.

Around 2009, I got smart and started using an editorial calendar so I always knew what I was going to talk about each day.

I started some regular features along the way and still do some of those. I've interviewed hundreds of authors, written hundreds of reviews about books, TV series, movies, music, products, and apps.

My proposed book on blogging.
I've joined group blogs and still belong to three where I blog at least once a month on each. They are Authors Billboard, Smart Girls Read Romance, and my baby, Romance Gems.

I've learned a lot about blogging, Blogger itself, and how to keep a blog fresh and entertaining consistently.

Periodically, I've worked on compiling a book of commonsense blog tips. Maybe this year, I'll get that book finished.

A Little Freelance History

Also in 2005, I started another blog which I used for freelance copy writing, i.e., paid posts, as well writing creative content to entertain that audience.

For several years, I wrote copy for clients and eventually ghost blogged for clients as well as writing content for free for other website blogs.

I guess I'm just wordy because I was writing books too, but none had vampires or any paranormal element that publishers wanted so I sold stories to website owners who serialized the books on their websites to draw readers. I liked getting paid for writing while I waited for the world to change.

I bought my first Kindle in 2010, and I realized those world changes for which I'd waited had arrived.

I started putting my backlist into ebooks, abandoned all my freelance blog writing, and joyfully embraced life as an indie author/publisher.

But, I never stopped blogging every day on SlingWords. I'll probably never give it up.

Even when time is tight and Life is throwing flaming chainsaws at me, I may miss a day or six, but I always come back to my blog.

Why I Blog

SlingWords, my little experiment, became:

(1) a chronicle of my life as a writer as well as some of my personal life too
(2) a source of inspiration
(3) a work discipline that gets the words flowing every day
(4) a snare for my wayward Muse
(5) a means of communicating with people all over the globe.

Giveaway To Celebrate the 15th Anniversary

To celebrate the 15th Anniversary of SlingWords, I'm giving away 15 copies of my new ebook, Liam's Wild Irish Rose.

Available at these ebook sellers for only 99cents:

all Kindle shops * Draft2Digital at a variety of ebook sellers * Smashwords, also at a variety of ebook sellers.

First come; first served. Hurry over to Smashwords and claim your copy. It's metered for 15 copies and will shut down after those are claimed.

Use Coupon Code MZ46T (not case-sensitive). Enter the code prior to completing checkout.

If you don't get a free copy, it's only 99 cents. Here's a short blurb.

Maura does NOT want a relationship, but Liam wants more than sex. Can St. Patrick's day bring him the luck of the Irish and get Maura to admit she loves him?

Liam's Wild Irish Rose is Book 4 of a 13-story series, A Moment in Time. These romance short stories—some funny, some sizzling, all sexy—can be read as stand-alones or read in order.

Each short story introduces new characters and brings back the heroes and heroines of previous stories.

Joan Reeves...Keeping Romance Alive—One Sexy Book at a Time

By the way, if you read a book and like it, do the author a favor and leave a review. I, and all authors, truly appreciate readers who take a few minutes to do that.

Takeaway Truth

Thank you to all the readers who have visited frequently, and those who drop by occasionally. Keep coming back because I'll be here, creating posts to entertain and inform you.

Short and Sweet: Tax Return Done!

Hurray! I finished our tax return today. One day earlier than I finished it last year.

A whopping 3 months before it's actually due thanks to the COVID tax deadline moving to July.

Whee! I feel such a relief crossing that off my to-do list. Now I can move on to more creative endeavors.

I like what these wise men of old had to say about the income tax.

Albert Einstein said: "The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax." Gee if he couldn't understand it what chance do we mere average Americans have?

American humorist Will Rogers said: "The difference between death and taxes is death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."

Author H. L. Mencken said: "Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages.

Takeaway Truth

Oh, well, we curmudgeons all agree on what American humorist Arthur Godfrey once said: "I’m proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money."

Fun App: Internet Anagram Server

I hope everyone enjoyed Easter yesterday. It was a quiet one for us since we talked to all the kids and relatives via Facetime or phone call.

To my Canadian friends celebrating Easter Monday, I hope the day is wonderful for you.

Today's App Review: Internet Anagram Server

Kids love anagrams, words or phrases you spell by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase.

For instance, the few letters than make up my name—Joan Reeves—can be rearranged to read:

Jean Soever
Jan Oversee
Jean Ever So

which, I suppose, would be great pseudonyms if I chose to use a pen name. The letters in my name can actually be rearranged 35 other ways to create phrases such as Jars Eve One.

If you're a Harry Potter fan, you may know that Lord Voldemort’s full name is an anagram of his birth name. One game anagram fans play is to challenge others to make anagrams that are still relevant to the original word or phrase, i.e., the word schoolmaster can be turned into the classroom, or the phrase debit card can be rearranged to make bad credit.

The phrase romance novel can generate 1,796 anagrams—everything from Enclave Moron to Vernal Come On. Some of the phrases sound nonsensical and really funny. Kids love that!

Usually, the only rule in an anagram game is that all of the letters from the original word or phrase must be used when they’re rearranged to say something different. That gets a little challenging.

I remember Dick Cavett, who once had a late night talk show on American television, excelled at creating anagrams on the fly. He could take a word or phrase and just start spouting anagrams from it.

Takeaway Truth

Try Internet Anagram Server with your kids. It's a good way to get them to think and increase their ability to use words. That enhances their ability to articulate.

Special Agent Murphy by Mimi Barbour

Silver Dagger Book Tours presents a new release by my pal Mimi Barbour., a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

If you've been reading Mimi's Undercover FBI series, you'll be delighted to learn that Book 8 is now available.

Special Agent Murphy

Undercover FBI Book 8


Mimi Barbour

Genre: Romantic Suspense

It's Christmas in Washington, but not for one heartsick family.

Agent Shane Murphy has a hard time believing his life could get so crazy. Because of a choice – one he’d make again – he loses his superiority in the FBI. Now he’s forced to work surveillance with a rookie female yapper. And… gets caught up in the kidnapping of a sixteen-year-old that pulls at the heartstrings he keeps hidden.

Fighting the budding attraction for his new partner, he stresses his way through an escalating nightmare. How can he be so infatuated with a trouble-magnet female who drives like a granny and isn’t able to hide her sensitive reactions when on the job?

Agent Kathleen Edwards does a lot of things her new partner dislikes, but what’s a girl to do when a man ties her in knots and turns her into a chatterbox. Working to uncover the mystery of who kidnapped the Senator’s daughter, and where they’re holding her, continuous conflicts arise.

Struggling alongside an attractive realist whose high morals make him someone to live up to, Kayti’s heart doesn’t stand a chance. 

Author's dedication: 

My late husband’s persona is the heart and soul for Special Agent Murphy. While bringing out some of his most endearing and stubborn characteristics, his favorite cuss words and his way of looking at the world, I found myself falling in love with the wonderful man all over again. 

Together Forever, my love. 

**Get it FREE April 1st – 5th, then only .99 cents!!** 

Mimi Barbour is a NYT and USAT bestselling, award-winning author who lives on the beautiful East coast of Vancouver Island and writes her romances with tongue in cheek and a mad glint in her eye. Asked why she prefers this genre, she answers, chuckling,
“Because it’s fun! Imagination can be a lot more interesting than what happens in real life to so-called ‘normal’ people. I love my characters, and my goal is to make the readers love them also. To be concerned about what happens to them while the tale unfolds. If I can steal my booklover’s attention away from their everyday grind, absorb them in a fictional world, and make them care about the ending, then I’ve done my job.”
Mimi lives with her dog Charli who drags her from her office for walks twice a day. Her son and niece fill her life and make each day a joy.

$25 Amazon 

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Review: Never Surrender, A Galaxy Quest Documentary

One of my family's favorite movies is Galaxy Quest, starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Enrico Colontoni, Justin Long, Tony Shalhoub, Missi Pyle, Sam Rockwell, et al.

Directed by Dean Parisot, produced by Mark Johnson‎ and Charles Newirth, it was made by Spielberg's fledgling production company‎, ‎DreamWorks Pictures‎.

I honestly don't know how many times we've watched Galaxy Quest, now called a cult film. For years, my husband has included the line, "Never give up! Never surrender!" in his email signature line.

The whole family can probably do a quote-along party without help from anyone.

I say all this in order to tell you how much I loved Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary, released in 2019 for the 20th anniversary of the film.

The documentary is a love letter from fans to the cast and crew of the movie as well as a love letter from the cast and crew to the loyal fans. In case you think Galaxy Quest is just another science fiction movie, let me assure you it's much more than that.

That's what the documentary sets out to prove from the opening scene which quotes from Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet's book on Hollywood, published in 2007.

In his book, Mamet listed what he saw as the only perfect movies ever made. He lists only four:

1. The Godfather
2. A Place in the Sun
3. Dodsworth
4. Galaxy Quest.

That's right. Galaxy Quest is number 4 on that list, and I believe it definitely deserves recognition as a perfect movie.

Why Galaxy Quest Is Beloved

The documentary tries to explain this phenomenon and also discusses how the film came into being, who was wanted for the director and the cast, why those people didn't end up making this film, and what the movie production company, distributors, critics, and fans thought.

It's no surprise that the powers-that-be were disappointed with the film. They just didn't get what was so special about the film which went beyond the built-in humor of a canceled TV show whose actors were so typecast they couldn't move beyond the low-budget science fiction series.

That humorous premise, coupled with character growth, heroism, and the selfless sacrifice the fictional TV cast is willing to make is why this show is so memorable. It's frankly funny and emotionally touching, and it brings out the childlike wonder we all once had.

Great Writing

David Howard wrote the story, and he and Robert Gordon wrote the screenplay that perfectly depicts the loyal fans, the cast of the show who are just working actors trying to make a living, the lessons they learn, how they bond together to do what's right and good, and their embracing the principle of "never give up, never surrender" makes this film a teachable moment for children.

It's that rare commodity: a movie that appeals to children and adults, and pretty much for the same reasons. 

The Documentary

Like I said, if you love this movie, you'll love this documentary with its interviews of critics, former Star Trek actors, and cast members. With the exception of Alan Rickman, who passed away in 2016, all of the main cast members take part in the documentary.

Rickman is shown in film clips which make you appreciate how brilliant he was. Like most fans, I can't imagine anyone else as the movie's characters. I think it will go down in Tim Allen's personal history as his best movie.

Takeaway Truth

If you're a Prime subscriber, add Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary to your Watchlist. If you're not, you can get it from Amazon.

Make the Most of Staying Home

We're all doing our part and staying home. Most of the authors I know are reading a lot, writing a lot, cleaning out closets, and catching up on paperwork.

What are you doing?

Have you thought that this is the perfect time to make changes?

Start a diet now. You won't be tempted by dining out. You can focus on preparing the right kind of meals.

Start an exercise program. You've got time on your hands so devote at least 20-30 minutes a day to build the habit of exercising every day.

Start meditating. Again, you've got time now to do that.

Teach your children how to cook simple foods. That's the togetherness time that our kids remember well—and they've all turned out to be good cooks.

Takeaway Truth

Don't begrudge this time. Embrace it and use it to do things you've said you'd do if you only had time!

April: National Poetry Month

Poetry: the Music of Words
Each year the month of April is set aside as National Poetry Month.

Perhaps this month was chosen as a much needed respite after filing income tax.

In any event, this is the time to celebrate poets and their craft with events usually held throughout the month by the Academy of American Poets and other poetry organizations.

Of course, since we're all staying at home to prevent spreading Corona Virus, we're gathering online instead.

I know what many of you are thinking. Poetry is too highbrow for your taste. Wrong! Poetry is something for everyone, not just those who have a Master of Fine Arts. Believe it or not, it's very much a part of our pop culture. Allow me to explain.

Poetry Defined
Poet's Muse, same for all writers—Imagination

Poetry is drenched with emotion. It speaks of despair and darkness as well as of triumph of the human spirit. It's filled with symbolism or bluntly direct.

You may have slept through some English Lit class where a professor droned on about Byron, Keats, Blake, Elizabeth Barret Browning and others, but what those poets had to say about life and love and lust and turmoil holds up in today's world.

Good poetry reflects the world around it and never becomes obsolete. Let me give you a few classical favorites and a few contemporary ones too.

William Blake

"Tiger, tiger burning bright, in the forest of the night." Is this about a tiger? No, it's about the evil that's manifested in man. Read "The Tiger" and its counterpart "The Lamb."

John Donne

Did you see "About A Boy" starring Hugh Grant? When he quotes, "No man is an island," he's talking about the poem by Donne. In fact, that's what the entire movie is about. Read "No Man Is An Island" for a perspective on human relationships.

William Wordsworth

Feel harried and frazzled by the frantic modern world? Read "The World Is Too Much With Us". Wordsworth identified with that feeling because he felt man was losing the ability to see the Divine in nature.

Lord Byron

This poet gave us "She Walks In Beauty."

"She walks in beauty, like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies."

Penned a couple of centuries ago, this continues to be inspiration for artists, writers, movie makers, and musicians, not to mention for those who fancy themselves in love.

John Keats

Writers feel the desperation that Keats felt when he penned "When I Have Fears."

"When I have fears that I may cease to be / Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain." Ironically, Keats did die young.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Some point to "Locksley Hall" as proof that the Victorian poet held a belief in premonition or perhaps reincarnation. "For I have dipped into the future / far as human eye could see / Saw the vision of the world / and all the wonder that would be."

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Ah, "Sonnets from the Portuguese, Sonnet 43." This soaring ode to deep, abiding love is still used in everything from greeting cards to wedding vows. "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."

Dylan Thomas

As you get older, you begin to appreciate "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night."

"Do not go gentle into that good night / Old age should burn and rave at close of day / Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Contemporary Poets

Poetry still enriches our lives. ( Sherman Alexie's "Reservation Love Song."

"I can meet you / in Springdale buy you beer & take you home / in my one eyed Ford."

Margaret Walker ( "Dark Blood."

"There were bizarre beginnings in old lands for the making of me."

Another Perspective

All of the above is poetry, but so are the lyrics of a really great song. From a classic like Paul Simon's "Sounds of Silence" with its memorable words: "Hello, darkness, my old friend." to Selena's "I Could Fall In Love" with romantic words like "I could lose my heart tonight...." to Herbert Kretzmer's "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Meserables. "I dreamed a dream in time gone by...."

These unforgettable words were sung most recently by the fabulous Susan Boyle on "Britain's Got Talent" and won the hearts of the world.

Then there's Nickelback's "I Figured You Out" with scathing lyrics by Chad Kroeger.

All of these examples are poetry.

Takeaway Truth

Poetry is ever changing yet always reflective of our world and the human condition.

Short and Sweet: Be Happy

Well, the cray-cray week has turned into the cray-cray month.

Many people think this is the end. Instead of zombies, we've got viruses threatening our way of life—or do we?

To a great extent, your reality is what you make it. Are you afraid and miserable? Change your thoughts and attitudes about what's happening.

I'm not saying to bury your head in the sand and ignore everything. I'm simply saying adopt the half-glass full philosophy.

Look at the bright side...the possibilities before you. Search for the silver lining in those gray clouds.

Focus on the positive. Believe everything will turn out okay, and it probably will.

The secret to life is to be happy, and, believe it or not, happiness is an attitude—a state of mind one chooses rather than choosing a doom and gloom attitude.

Abraham Lincoln said: "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Before I ever read that quotation in a book, I heard it from my grandfather, a mighty force in my life. He said it; he lived it. Sometimes it's difficult, but I always come back to that simple truth.

Takeaway Truth

Cultivate the ability to be happy, right where you are, regardless of what's going on around you. You'll be a guiding light to your family and friends.