Obstacles & Writing Tip

Thanks for dropping by. I started this month with a quotation blog post, and I may be sprinkling more of those in before the month is over.

I'm on a tight deadline for my 3rd book this year so I'm writing more hours a day than I'm sleeping or doing anything else for that matter.

Let's talk about obstacles.

You know, those pesky people or situations who stand between you and what you want to achieve. 

Henry Ford once said: "Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal."

That's why I have one sentence taped to my monitor. It says, "I'm writing a story about a woman who redeemed herself but doesn't believe it until she accepts love from the man she's always loved."

That sentence keeps my eyes on the goal and inspires me to keep telling the story until it's finished.

Takeaway Truth

This post is also a Writing Tip. If you want to write a book, boil the essence of the story down to 1 sentence and stay focused on that sentence. It will guide you to the end.




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Quote for Today: Criticism

Today's post is short and sweet and speaks to that which we all experience at some point or other—criticism. 

Sometimes you may get showered with buckets of when you least expect it.

That famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said: "Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember: the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you."

Takeaway Truth

Just think, when you're criticized, you're doing someone a favor by letting them take a bite out of you.





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Thursday3Some: 3 Insights About Trail of Secrets by Nora LeDuc

This morning, I welcome Nora LeDuc to SlingWords. 

In case you haven't met Nora before, she writes romance with a mystery thriller edge. She's also one of my Romance Gems pals and blogs there on the 29th of each month.

Discover Nora LeDuc

Nora grew up in rural New England where she and her family currently live. She first decided to become an author when she spotted an article, “You Too Can Be A Romance Writer,” while searching for romances to read. 

Immediately, she knew this profession was meant for her. Through the years, she’s enjoyed combining her love of true-crime shows with her imagination to produce romantic suspense and mysteries that will keep you guessing.

During the past three winters, Nora visited her friends, the Winettes, in Florida. While there, she imagined and wrote the first book of her latest series, Love & Lies in Paradise. Book 2 releases in August 2021.Stay tuned later in the year for news of her Holiday Romance.

Visit Nora Online  

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Trail of Secrets, Book 1 of Love & Lies in Paradise

Who killed the vivacious Emily McGuire and laid out her body at the water tower? Orderly, rule-abiding Mia McGuire is the least likely person to answer this question.

Lately, her life has taken a downward spiral with her sister Emily’s murder, the breakup with her boyfriend, and the loss of her editing position. 

When the homicide investigation crawls, Mia can’t stand by doing nothing. She’s convinced the murderer is nearby, watching. 

She hires the problematic former bad boy Lucas Davis to help her find the truth. After suffering trauma from a shooting on the job, ex-police officer Lucas Davis resigned his post. 

Once known as a daredevil in his small Florida town, he has become an embarrassment to his dad, the police chief. 

When Mia offers him investigative work, he quickly accepts to prove he still possesses the skills and guts to solve the case. Together, these two unlikely sleuths form an intimate bond and are determined to beat the odds. They set out to bring a terrifying killer to justice before he targets them.

3 Insights About Trail of Secrets

1. What inspired you to write this particular story?

Growing up in New England and experiencing the cold winter months, I eagerly looked forward to escaping to the warm temperatures of Florida. Once there, the state’s natural beauty and the surrounding sites inspired me to incorporate them in my next romantic suspense. As usual, I’d no idea what would happen except I’d share the places that intrigued me with readers.

The water tower standing over us, the rail trail walks surrounded by jungle like foliage, and the picturesque sandy beaches were woven into the major points of Trail of Secrets. In the story, the water tower overlooked the scene of the crime. The rail trail became the path of the victim’s last journey, and the beach stood out as a place of hope for my hero and heroine where they finally meet and express their love.

2. Was there a favorite scene you wrote that you'd like to share with the audience?

I’ll share the final scene from Trail of Secrets. I’m a sucker for a happy ending. The hero Lucas is showing the heroine Mia his new home.

Excerpt from Trail of Secrets

Colorful surfboards were mounted on a long wall. Two windows at the end looked out onto towering Queen and Fan palms. They mixed with the blooming bushes of reds, oranges, and yellows and mirrored the colors in the room.

“It’s your dream! I love it. What else are you planning?” She pivoted around. “A few pieces of furniture would be nice.”

“They’re coming.” He tapped his index finger on his chin. “I need your opinion.”

“I will do my best.” She lifted her head upward meeting his gaze.

“This is how I picture the bare space on the other wall. Bookcases. Lots of bookcases.” He waved his hands in the air.

“Okay. Are they for surfing trophies?” She imagined shiny gold statues.

“No, they’re for books. In a special library type order.”

She turned to him. A slice of hope filtered through her. “Go on.”

“They all say, Editor, Mia McGuire, inside.”

A spark of understanding flashed through her. Her heart skipped a beat. At least she thought she understood. “I like your thinking, Davis. Tell me more.”

His expression grew solemn. “I’ve missed you, Mia. I want to be with you.”

Her breath left her. She couldn’t speak. Was he saying what she longed to hear?

“You’re what matters in my life. The world is tough, especially with our baggage, but together we can take it on. And win.” He rested his palms on her hips and looked down at her. “I’m falling in love with you,” his voice softened. “In fact, I’m totally crazy about you.” The heat in his eyes increased.

The heady feeling of anticipation and happiness burst through her. “I’m crazy about you, too.” She slipped her arms around his neck. “What’s your diagnosis? Is there a cure for us?”

“None. It’ll be you and me in the sea of life.”

“A figure of speech! You know how to sweep a girl off her feet, Lucas.” She tilted her head

back. Happiness lifting her spirits higher and higher. “So here’s to living happily ever after.

“Always.” He bent and kissed her.

3. Do you have a review of the book that really resonated with you, the author, that you'd like to share with the audience?

Here’s a part of one of my favorite reviews by Ally Swanson on the Fabulous and Brunette Blog.


“The author did a fantastic job on her character development as these characters were so real and personal on many levels! I love Nora’s writing style that everyone and anyone is a suspect. She makes reasonable, valid points of why they’re on the chopping block, and then appropriately clears them in due time, and then moves on to the next. 

"This book has a creative story line with well executed plot points, excellent mystery structured scenarios, fantastic writing style with detailed scenes, relatable characters, is fast paced, and keeps you fully engaged and entertained. There are some predictable scenes. However, there are still many unexpected twists and turns and misdirection’s that you won’t see coming!

"This book is book one in the Love & Lies in Paradise Book Series and can be read as a standalone. All in all, I really enjoyed reading it and would absolutely recommend it! So, add it to your TBR List and get to reading -you won't be disappointed!"

Thanks, Nora, for dropping by today and sharing these insights with the readers of SlingWords.

Takeaway Truth

If you haven't read Nora LeDuc before, now is your chance. Grab a copy of Trail of Secrets, Book 1 of Love & Lies in Paradise and have a great weekend reading.

Free Book: April Fool Bride

I sent my free newsletter out to subscribers Friday.

They always get the news first about free books, bargains, and new releases.

In my April newsletter, I also had 99¢ bargains from my friends who offered bargains as well as new release deals.

I like to extend the free book offer to SlingWords readers too. Get my Marriage of Convenience RomanceApril Fool Bride, free from Amazon Kindle. 

Free offer ends 11:59pm PDT, April 11, 2021, Sunday.

About April Fool Bride

Oil heiress Madeline Quinn needs a husband by the time she turns twenty-five in order to claim her full inheritance. 

Mad Maddie, as the tabloids christened her, learned the hard way that men only see dollar signs when they look at her.

Maddie decides a marriage of convenience is the only answer. 

She turns to the one man in the world she can trust, her housekeeper’s son who always treated her like a little sister when they were growing up—until one disastrous night when she acted impetuously.

Jake Becker hasn’t seen Maddie since the night she tried to seduce him. Why should he help the woman who changed the course of his life? Simple. Revenge.

Or is it something else? Something that sizzles like steam heat between Maddie and Jake that neither can resist!?

"A charming novella with romance, passion, humor. Funny and sexy is the trademark of Joan Reeves’ books, add emotion and passion. A lovely romance you will read in one sitting." —Reader Forever Review

Takeaway Truth

If you'd like to be one of my Reader Friends and get free book and new release news first, just click to subscribe.

Finally Friday

What is it about Friday that makes the day so special?

It's been years since I worked a job outside the home. I'm an author which means I'm the boss of me.

But when Friday rolls around, I feel that anticipation of the weekend ahead.

I also have that, "I made it through the week," feeling.

You know, the way Nanea Hoffman describes: "Every Friday, I like to high-five myself for getting through another week on little more than caffeine, willpower, and inappropriate humor.”

Takeaway Truth

It's been a tough week. Thank God it's Friday. Have a great weekend.

Thursday3Some: 3 Insights on It's a Trust Thing by Peggy Jaeger

Grab your coffee and let's have a chat with Peggy Jaeger, one of my Romance Gems friends.

I asked Peggy to drop by and tell us 3 things readers may not know about her book, It's a Trust Thing.

First, let me introduce Peggy, who is a delight to everyone who knows her.

Peggy Jaeger Unveiled

Peggy writes contemporary romances and rom coms about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all aspects of life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness, and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. 

Growing up the only child of divorced parents, she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

As a lifelong diarist, she caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit her at peggyjaeger.com where she blogs daily about life, writing, and stuff that makes her go "What??!"

Website/Blog | Twitter  | Amazon Author PageFacebookPinterest  

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3 Insights About  IT'S A TRUST THING

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I’d been drawn to the Bernie Madoff story while it played out in the press and, as a native New Yorker, was fascinated by how many smart people he was able to swindle. 

When I heard one of his sons committed suicide because of the shame he felt, wrought by his father, it got me to thinking: what happens to the children and families of people who are notorious, felons, murderers, etc?

Nell Newbery was born from that thought. As the daughter of a Madoff-like fellow, she lost everything when her father was arrested and convicted: social status, money, friends. Her mother has a nervous breakdown and retreats from reality, and Nell has to work like a dog to support them. From tragedy, shame, and financial ruin, her backbone was formed. But, also because of what her father did, she’s developed real trust issues.

Why did you choose the setting used in this book?

I love writing about New York City (Manhattan) and as a native New Yorker, I know the ins and outs of the city, the fun places – and the not so fun. New York is an amazing town and you can meet every type of person there is, plus, you can follow and find your dreams and heart’s desire if you want to.

Is there anything about the heroine that is like you?

Nell and I are both klutzes.

It’s been said that I can trip standing still – because I have! I drop things more than I hold on to them and if anyone bumps into me it’s a guarantee I’m going down to the ground. 

Machinery breaks when I touch it and I have some weird electrical imbalance in me that causes computers to spontaneously combust when I type the wrong keystroke!

Speaking of Nell

Nell Newbery has trust issues.

It’s hard to trust when you’re the daughter of a fallen financial scion who bilked people out of billions. 

Nell’s done everything in her power to keep away from men who see her as their ticket to fortune and fame. All she wants to do is run her ultra-successful business, HELPFUL HUNKS, in peace.

But it wouldn’t hurt to find a guy who doesn’t know a thing about her father’s felonious past; one she can give her heart to and trust it won’t come back to her battered, bruised, and broken.

Is Charlie Churchill that guy?

On the surface he seems perfect, all polished manners and quiet mirth. Nell’s convinced he knows nothing about her, other than she likes superhero movies and views junk food as a food group.

Can she trust him to be what he appears to be? Or is he just pretending? For Nell, trust is everything in life…and in love.

Takeaway Truth

If you're looking for a good book for weekend reading, grab IT'S A TRUST THING. You'll love it.

Celebrate National Library Week

I've had a lifelong love affair with books, enabled when I was very young by the public library.

National Library Week is from April 4 - 10 this year, and I urge you to visit your local library. Get a library card if you don't already have one.

With the changing times, libraries have evolved to more than a place with print books. Most libraries offer ebooks for checkout now, and that number will increase in the coming years.

Not only can you check out print books and ebooks, but also audio books and videos too.

When I was 14, I made the goal one summer to read every book in the library in alphabetical order by the author's last name.

Ah, so many books so little time. Even in our minuscule public library, I didn't even get through the A's before school started again. I treasure those summer nights when the attic fan drew cool air in through the open windows, and I read by the lamp clipped to the headboard of my bed. It was the best part of summer to me.

Oh, in case you're wondering, yes, we slept with all the windows open. The car keys were left in the ignition of the car in the driveway, and the house was never locked. Our small southern town was typical of most towns back then. 

Takeaway Truth

 Most of your favorite writers have their books available in your public library system. Many of mine are because Smashwords and Draft2Digital distribute to the library system. Ask your local library how to check out an ebook. The librarians will be happy to help you make it happen.

Review: Satan and Adam

I'm a big fan of rockumentaries although Satan and Adam, the film I'm reviewing today, isn't about rock music. It's about blues, and it's fascinating and fabulous with the music you'll hear.

The story of a young white man and an old black man will fascinate you. When you first hear the old blues man play, you instinctively know he must have been someone known for his talent.

From the opening minutes with the young man looking for a way to asuage the pain of a break-up, you get the sense that something significant is happening.

Adam Gussow was the young man who found the release he needed by playing harmonica with the old blues man who was a daily fixture on the streets of Harlem.

As the story progresses, one learns the blues man was Sterling "Mr. Satan" Magee, a talented guitarist who played with some of the greatest names in the music business. 

Adam and Satan were meant to be. Eventually they played in much bigger arenas than a city street. Sterling Magee was as complicated and conflicted as he was talented. The duo lasted 12 years before splitting up around 1998.

By 2005, Adam Gussow was a professor of English Studies at the University of Mississippi, and Sterling Magee was living in Florida at an adult care facility. Gussow went to visit the blues man only to learn a stroke had left him unable to play.

If the duo's story were an opera, the intermezzo would be that Magee regained his ability to play the guitar. In fact, music rejuvenated him. He and Gussow were once again a duo for a few years.

The documentary, actually filmed over a 20+ year period, is life affirming and makes one believe in Destiny. These 2 men from such disparate backgrounds were destined to meet and make beautiful blues music together.

Sadly, Mr. Magee, still living in Florida, passed away in September 2020 from complications of CoVid-19.

Takeaway Truth

If you're a Netflix subscriber, by all means watch Satan and Adam. The music will make you wish you'd had the privilege of seeing them perform in person.

Who Invented Crime Scene Tape?

Recently Darling Hubby and I were watching one of the many true crime documentaries.

I said, "I wonder who invented crime scene tape."

What I Learned

The official name for what we call crime scene tape is "non-adhesive barricade tape" which is a mouthful.

The yellow tape used by law enforcement was developed in the early 1960s by Harris Industries, a California company, and it's made of lightweight polyethylene.

The standard roll is 3 inches x 1,000 feet, and comes in a variety of thicknesses. The tape can be tied, stapled or nailed in place and is used, according to the manufacturer, to increase visibility of hazards.

Locard's Theory of Transfer

If you've watched very many police procedural or forensics series or movies, you know the tape is designed to keep people who aren't part of the investigating team away from the crime scene.

They want as little interaction with the crime scene as possible because Locard's Theory of Transfer asserts that people entering a crime scene leave behind evidence—from their shoes, clothes, body, and even their breath—and take evidence with them, i.e. stepping on a hair that may have belonged to the killer with the hair adhering to the sole of a shoe.

The more people entering a crime scene, the more it is contaminated. In some states, police arrest anyone crossing crime-scene tape, and the penalty can be jail time.

Why Yellow? Why Not Red or White?

The scientific explanation is that bright yellow is the most eye-catching color because of the way light bounces off the eye’s rods and cones. That makes it easier for it to be perceived more quickly than other colors.

The bright yellow can also be seen by color-blind people whereas red would not. 

Over the years, people have come to associate yellow with caution signs and other hazards. I did not know that school buses are painted yellow because of this. (In 1939, Frank W. Cyr, a professor of education, convinced education leaders to standardize school bus appearance by painting them all a high-visibility yellow.)

Takeaway Truth

You can file this under: "Learn something new every day."

Starting April With a Great Quote

Words of Wisdom from Audrey Hepburn

I believe in pink.

I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. 

I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. 

I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. 

I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. 

I believe that tomorrow is another day,

And I believe in miracles.

Takeaway Truth

 I believe in the wisdom above. For the month of April, try believing in those words too.





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Saturday Share: Recipe, One Dish Chicken and Rice Bake

I cook brown rice as my mom always called it, but many of you haven't changed from the white rice you grew up eating.

This easy bake recipe is for you. It serves 4-6, and it's put together and baked in one dish.

Easy to make, easy to clean up, and tastes good too.

Here's a tip when cooking chicken breasts. Each chicken breast is larger on one end than the other. 

If you flatten the "big end" so it's more nearly of uniform thickenss, the chicken breast will cook evenly. Simply put the big end between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper and whack it with the bottom of a skillet or a meat mallet.

One-Dish Chicken & Rice Bake

1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 cup of water
3/4 cup uncooked regular white rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in half
1/4 cup grated cheese of your choice (can use Kraft Parmesan if that's all you have)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In 2-quart casserole dish, whisk together the soup and water.
3. Stir in the raw rice.
4. Sprinkle the salt on both sides of the chicken breasts.
5. Place the chicken on top of the rice and soup mixture.
6. Sprinkle the paprika and pepper over the whole thing.
7. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees F. for 45 minutes. Chicken should no longer be pink when done.
8. Remove covering, sprinkle cheese overthe top.
9. Return to oven and bake uncovered an additional 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
10. Serve immediately.

Takeaway Truth

Try this one-dish easy bake entree for Saturday's dinner.

Make Your Website Sticky: Step 3

Welcome back to How to Make Your Website Sticky.

Read Step 1: Content.

Read Step 2: Community.

Stickiness, in case you just dropped in, means the desireability of a website.

Stickiness is why people stick around, spend time on a website, come back often, and tell their friends about the website.

I'm not talking about the visual design which I'll cover later.

Step 3: Commerce

Ah, yes, filthy lucre as it was once called, or the almighty dollar as my grandfather called it. If you're like me, you were raised not to talk about money. In business, employees aren't supposed to tell others how much they make. It's considered impolite to discuss salaries, perks, and such in social settings.

However, commerce, buying and selling, is of crucial importance to anyone who operates a website with the hope of making money from it. This doesn't apply only to Amazon, Apple, and other big corporations with websites.

It applies to you too if you have even one thing you want the public to recognize and eventually, hopefully, purchase.

Big businesses pay a lot of attention to successfully converting visitors into buyers. 

They offer discounts, bonuses, reward points, and special offers to entice a visitor to buy and to return at a future date to buy again.

This is something small business websites should model. Look at what the big guys do and see if you can adapt that to your small biz website.

Can you offer free books or reports or free samples of your online cookie company? Can you have a giveaway? 

Can you join with other small biz websites to cross promote? Are you willing to promote whatever you decide to do? Do you offer links to other websites that your visitor might be interested in? Do you "share the love" and blog about friends and their products?

Remember, even in Commerce, the goal is to give your website visitors what they want and need. Maybe they want print books, but you don't offer print books. Send them to a friend's website who does.

Takeaway Truth

That's my 3 C's of making a website desirable and magnetic, or sticky. A sticky website will bring more visitors and keep them coming back for more, and that will promote you and your product whatever that may be as well as those with whom you cross-promote.



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Make Your Website Sticky: Step 2

Welcome back to 3 Steps in Making Your Website Sticky.

Read Step 1: Content.

Want to make your website hot? Make it the bomb? Then you want to make it sticky.

A sticky website is one that attracts visitors, makes them stay on the site, and return often. 

Stickiness is why visitors tell others about a website.

Step 2: Community

Create a community built around your website, you, and your product. Do this by giving your visitors a way to interact with you.

Enable and encourage comments. Always reply when someone takes the time to leave a comment—the quicker the better. 

If you have a huge volume of traffic, then make use of any of the popular social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. to interact more frequently. Whether on your website and/or your chosen social media site, maintain a daily presence if at all possible.

Post a Contact Page on your website with a special email address for communicating with your website visitors so they can contact you privately. 

Screen these emails carefully, of course. Respond to anyone who is legitimate and takes the time to contact you.

Do not engage with anyone who emails inflammatory content. Also, do not use your personal email which you use for friends and family.

What you want to do with your website is what Barnes and Noble did with their bookstores several years ago. Do you remember when book stores just sold books? Barnes and Noble changed the whole brick and mortar bookstore scheme by installing coffee bars.

The longer a B&N customer hung out at the coffee bar, the greater the chance that he/she would think of another book that should be bought, or someone might mention a book, and the customer would go find it. The coffee bar experience brought more people into the store, and they stayed longer. B&N made the store sticky.

Model Success of Others

Take that idea and create a similar atmosphere with your website—a comfy, cozy place where you chat with anyone who drops by.

Visitors, leave comments when you find something that resonates with you. 

Ask questions. Make suggestions. Give your opinion. A website owner doesn't know what you feel, think, or need unless you tell him/her.

Takeaway Truth

Create a community of like-minded visitors, and you'll have fun every time you post to your website and interact with those who leave comments.

Come back tomorrow for Step 3 in How to Make Your Website Sticky.



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Make Your Website Sticky: Step 1

If you have an online presence of any kind—whether personal or business—you need a compelling website.

Website means either a blog or a domain named website.

You want your website to be like a beautiful woman or a handsome hunk. That means it should be desirable, charismatic, and enticing.

In internet parlance, that means you want it to be sticky so people will stick around, spend time there, and come back and visit often. Of course the visual design of the website should be compelling, but that's something I'll talk about another time.

3 Ways To Make Your Website Sticky

Making a website desirable is easier than transforming oneself into a raving beauty when you weren't born one. 

Stickiness, the desirability of a website, was a term created many years ago by Thomas H. Davenport, Professor of Management Systems at Boston University.

Davenport, in an article he wrote for CIO Magazine, defined stickiness as “a measure of how much attention a website gets over time.”

How Stickiness Is Measured

Stickiness is measured by how long a visitor stays on a website and how often that visitor returns to the website. 

Why Do You Want Stickiness

Of course, you want to entice people to your website in order to promote yourself and your product. You want them to stay on your site so they will get to know you, like you, and return again and again. You also want them to tell others about your website.

The more people who come to your site, the more your name and brand recognition increases.

Step 1: Content

Content really is king/queen. You don't want your website to be about nothing but selling.

You must give in equal measure, and what you give is content that is of value to the visitor. 

Always think about how you can help those who visit your site. How can you give them something they need? Always let your content address the needs of your audience.

If you're a writer who blogs about writing and publishing, then give content that helps other writers. 

If your blog is focused on readers, then give reviews, profiles of other authors, discussion questions for your most recent book, links to online book discussion groups, other kinds of book chat, etc.

If you're selling water filters, you should have articles about contaminants found in tap water to explain why purified water is healthier, articles explaining why water is the better choice over soda or even juice, reviews of various filters. This content is information the visitor needs, and it supports the value of the product you sell.

Takeaway Truth

After design, Content is the first step toward making your website sticky. 

Come back tomorrow to discover Step 2 in making your website sticky.



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Review: Design Wizard Online Graphic Design App

I'm always looking for free graphic design apps to offer readers since most of us use them.

If you're looking for a user-friendly graphic design app, you can add Design Wizard to your list which should be good for personal use for invitations and celebration events as well as book/product promotion.

I tried the Basic Free version to create the 2 graphics in this post.

Details

Design Wizard contacted me and asked me to review their app which I did this morning. Like other online Graphic Design Apps, Design Wizard offers a free, or basic, version and a Pro Plan which you can try for 7 days to see if you want to pay for the $9.99/month Pro Plan.

When you first go to the website, a video pops up on the home page that gives you the basics of using their app. You can close that and scroll down to read the details too. There are 3 steps in the process of using it.

1. Select a Template from their Template Library (I've linked it so you can open a new tab and look right now.) According to the website, their "graphic design team have created thousands of pre-made templates in a wide range of styles suitable for social media and print.

2. Edit or Tailor the selected template with one of their Premium Images, Videos, and Fonts. Every element is editable, and it works on the layers system like Adobe and other graphic systems.

3. Schedule, Share on Social Media, and/or Download Your Design. What you create can be downloaded to your computer or downloaded in print quality. You can share immediately on social media, and videos can be downloaded in standard or HD to be shared immediately or scheduled using their Buffer, Hubspot, or Marketo integrations.

Signing Up

After checking all that out, you can go back to the top of the home page and click the Become a Design Wizard button. 

You'll be asked to sign up for an account. 

After you've accomplished that, an ad for trying the Pro Plan pops up immediately. If you only want to try the Basic for now, as I did, you'll find below that in small text, a clickable Just Want to Try the Basic or some similar text. 

Positives for Design Wizard

1. Intuitive and easy to use without going through long tutorials.
2. Creates an attractive graphic.
3. Download fast and easy.
4. The usual fonts offered with design apps were there.

Negatives for Design Wizard

1. I didn't find many free templates or images. Most were available for the paid plan or individually priced if you weren't on the paid plan.

2. The app is geared more for the usual retail businesses/products and general social use. If you're an author, you'll probably have to upload your own images. However, I could see it might be useful for making signs like the one I made with the books graphic. I found only 2 free templates that contained books graphics, but I gave this only a cursoy examination. If you have time to explore more deeply, you might find more suitable graphics.

Takeaway Truth

Let me know if you try Design Wizard and your experience with it. Feel free to leave a comment or email me: Contact Joan.The 

Modern Magic: Time Converter Online App

In this international world of readers and writers, I'm constantly juggling times in different time zones. 

That's pretty easy, but when you start jumping from a U.S. time zone to a foreign country.

When Daylight Savings Time comes into play, it gets a little tricky sometime.

I found an online time and date converter that makes it easy to jump from any place in any country to another time and date. It's called Time and Date.

You just put in the city, time, and date in one location then add a different location, and it will compute the time for that location and that date if it's out into the future when DST of Standard time may have changed.

Takeaway Truth

I save these useful utilities in a Bookmark Folder named Magic Tricks.

Review: Out of Time by Deborah Truscott

I just finished reading Out of Time by Deborah Truscott.

First, an explanation. This year, one of my goals has been to wade through all of the books on my Kindle. 

I hate to confess this, but Out of Time has been on my Kindle since 2012!

I think I'm like many non-author readers. I grab free books, bargain books, and new releases because I'm a girl who can't say no!

I find it difficult to turn down free and bargain books especially so I've ended up with hundreds of books on my Kindle.

When a new "bright shiny" captures my interest, I grab it too and maybe go ahead and read it if it's by a friend.

Therefore, I've set a goal of reading at least 3 books a week. That should help me whittle down the mountain To Be Read backlog on my Kindle.

You can look forward to more book reviews, and I hope you'll grab some of these for yourself. It's a good thing to discover new authors. When you read a book you like, please leave a review for the author. It doesn't have to be long. Think of it as what you'd tell your friend if you read something you liked. 

Out of Time by Deborah Truscott

I enjoyed this book very much even though I knew, going in, how it was going to proceed and how it would work out in the end. That's the curse of being an author or a reader who's voracious. You pretty much know from the get-go what each book is about.

The surprise in each book is getting to meet characters who pull an emotional response from you, and that book does this. 

Kathleen—or Kathy Lee as she's called by most—is married to a cad, her mother is driving her crazy and her life is falling apart. Then her uncle dies, leaving her the family’s Revolutionary-era home and, she believes, an escape from her chaotic marriage. But one afternoon, while searching for a rake, she discovers a man in her garden shed — and a free fall through the centuries.

As her life spins wildly out of control, Kathleen finds her heart and in the process, her own place in time.

Kathleen is stuck, and the book is all about her journey to the realization that she's stuck. Along the way, we get to meet the man of whom she wants to rid herself. He's irascible, intelligent, and a manly man who's quick to grasp ideas. Since I'm from the South, I appreciate novels with southern charm, and Out of Time has that too.

Takeaway Truth

Lovely book with winning characters, intelligence, a mystery, and a feel-good ending. All of that makes it easy to decide whether to read the book in this Time Series

Free Romance: Old Enough To Know Better


FREE from MARCH 17, 2021, at 12:00AM, PDT

UNTIL MARCH 19, 2021 at 11:59PM, PDT

OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER

She's a woman with a past.
He's the man who wants to be her future.
Every woman makes mistakes. Stormy Clarkson, haunted by three huge ones she made, learned from them, and vowed never to repeat them. Now she's on the brink of turning fifty and crushing on a younger man, sexy vineyard owner Sean Butler.

Sean's been after Stormy for months, but she's resisted every advance—determined never to risk her heart, denying her desire for Sean.

Once an interrogator for the U.S. Army, Sean knows a lie when he hears one, and that's all he hears in Stormy's icy refusals. He's smart enough to know that the only way to deal with a control freak like Stormy is to make her lose control. He has a plan to win her heart. His plan? Whatever it takes.

Get Old Enough To Know Better while it's free!


REVIEWS

"This is truly a feel-good book. ... Sean is wonderful and sexy and Stormy is aptly named. She is complicated and emotional and needs to feel the love and lust of a good man." —Lynnie Review

"I loved this perspective of finding a good man to fall in love with! I was 45 when I met my second and current husband who was 39 at the time! Younger men are awesome!" —GMartin Review

"Sexy page-turner. Don't miss this read. Sean - sexy, hunky - occupying her mind night and day. Stronger and stronger, and she has no choice but to let him in. WOW! Does he come in...and nothing is ever the same. Sexy, funny, emotional and as always an ending the reader wants." —EbookLuver Review

Old Enough To Know Better free till 03/19 at 11:59pm PDT

Takeaway Truth

Every month I publish a free newsletter, Joan's Reader Friends, for subscribers. In it, I offer at least 1  free book, 99¢ bargain books, and  giveaways. These books come from me and my author friends. Sometimes, there's a limit on how many free copies to be given away.

Subscribers always get first crack at these free and bargain books because the Newsletter lands in their Inbox during the wee hours of the morning.

Become a subscriber today!  You'll get a free newsletter each month with bargains, new releases, and giveaways. When you confirm your subscription, you'll also receive a download link for a free romance ebook.

Irish Proverbs & an Irish Romance

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I was up past midnight putting together my free newsletter for subscribers.

I'm running on coffee today because I'm so sleepy and tired.

Irish Proverbs

What a perfect day to share some Irish Proverbs  with you. We all need bits of wisdom to help us in trying times. 

***

A good beginning is half the work.

However long the day, the evening will come.

Do not resent growing old, many are denied the privilege.

Complain that you have no shoes until you meet a man who has no feet.

When the apple is ripe, it will fall.

Beware of the anger of a patient man.

Life is like a cup of tea; it’s all in how you make it.

You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your father was.

If you are looking for a friend without a fault you will be without a friend forever.

It takes time to build castles.

A sex only relationship? That's what Maura O'Reilly says she wants. Just the thought of being tied to one man scares her. 

No matter how many times she tells Liam it’s over, her resolve to resist him melts when she thinks about him.

Of all the women in the world, Liam Harper had to fall for the one who seems to have no interest in him—outside of the bedroom. A lot of men would think that was the perfect arrangement—hot sex with a beautiful woman who doesn't want a relationship.

Unfortunately, Liam isn't one of those men. He wants Maura, and he wants more than sex. He wants her heart too. Can he have the luck of the Irish on St. Patrick's Day and finally get Maura to commit to him?

Liam's Wild Irish Rose is Book 4 of A Moment in Time, a short story romance series with each story introducing new characters and bringing back the heroes and heroines of previous stories.

These highly sensual romance short stories prove that A Moment in Time is all that's needed for Love to be revealed.

Liam's Wild Irish Rose, a short romance read to give you an escape from a mundane day.

Available at these ebook sellers for only 99¢:







I hope you enjoy Maura and Liam's story. If you do, please leave a short review on Liam's Wild Irish Rose.

Takeaway Truth

May the luck o’ the Irish be with you always!

Review: Midnight Special on Netflix

Sunday evening we decided to watch Midnight Special, streaming on Netflix since last year. (If you're not a Netflix subscriber, it's also available at Amazon.)

I guess we hadn't watched it before because we thought it was aimed at a children's audience simply because of the movie poster.

We found ourselves literally on the edge of our seats from the minute the movie began. We had not read the blurb. We often ignore the blurb because it gives away any surprises the movie may have in store.

This film kept us guessing from the beginning. When it started, we thought it was going to be another Waco-cult film. Then it seemed like a parental abduction of an adopted boy.

Then the weird stuff started happening. I will not spoil the surprises. Watch it before you read anything about it.

My Opinion

This is a sci-fi movie from Warner Brothers, and it's a must-see if you like speculative books and films. 

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols who confessed that the story was inspired by his child's illness, it stars Michael Shannon as Roy, Joel Edgerton as Lucas, Kirsten Dunst as Sarah, Adam Driver as Paul Sevier, and Jaeden Martell as Alton, the boy at the center of the film.

Great premise, great story, great acting, great directing, and spot-on special effects. I think that's enough greats. I had only 1 problem with the movie, and that's what all movies like this have in common. I won't share that here because I don't want to detract from how good the movie is.

If you don't have Netflix, you can rent it on Amazon Prime Video.

Takeaway Truth

If you like science fiction, watch Midnight Special



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Review: Magnetic on Netflix

A lot of people like to take an armchair vacation by watching a good travel documentary.

If you're looking for an armchair vacation that's a thrill a minute, look no further than Magnetic, now streaming on Netflix. 

This is the kind of adventure that makes you scratch your head in bewilderment as these athletes risking their very lives to catch that BIG wave—and when I say big, I mean 100 feet (30 meters) high at Nazare North Canyon, Portugal!

These crazy people athletes travel the globe looking for the impossible snow-capped mountain to ski in a near vertical descent that will have you on the edge of your seat, waiting for them to go flying off into a death drop!

I can only describe this documentary with adjectives.

Unbelievable! Death-defying! Amazing! Insane! 

In the end, let's call it a must-see documentary! Better to watch it than try to do it.

Takeaway Truth

Magnetic? You better believe it. Your gaze is steel and the film is a giant magnet. 



Subscribers are the first to know about New Books and Giveaways. When you confirm your subscription, you'll receive a link to a free romance ebook.

FOLLOW JOAN ONLINE


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Saturday Share: Recipe, Fresh Tomato Ravioli

I've been gone all week so I'm wanting something easy to cook for Saturday's dinner.

Fresh Tomato Ravioli fits that description perfectly since you use cheese ravioli from the frozen food section of your local supermarket.

Actually, any frozen filled pasta like ravioli or tortellini will work. I usually buy cheese ravioli or the spinach and cheese ravioli at Costco.

I don't give a quantity measurement for the pasta because I just cook as much as I need for a meal. If there's any sauce leftover, I store it in a container in the fridge.

Here we go!

Ingredients

1 Package of frozen cheese ravioli
1 small onion diced fine
1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
1/2 to 3/4 cup dry white wine (more if like a more distinct wine taste to the sauce)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 to 4 fresh basil leaves, sliced in strips, or 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Cook the ravioli according to the instructions/
2. Saute the onion in the olive oil until translucent.
3. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Add the butter and wine to the shallots and tomatoes. Stir gently for another 5 minutes.
5. Add the basil. 
6. Drain the ravioli if you haven't already done so and add it to the sauce.
7. Toss the pasta gently in the sauce.
8. Serve immediately with a fresh grating of Parmesan if desired.

Takeaway Truth

This rustic dish is easy to make and pleasing to anyone who likes Italian flavor.