Happy Birthday, Ed McBain

Ed McBain was born Salvatore Albert Lombino. In 1952, he legally changed his name to Evan Hunter.

As an author and screenwriter, he wrote under a number of pen names, most notably Ed McBain which he used for most of his crime fiction.

The other pseudonyms he used include John Abbott, Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins, Ezra Hannon, and Richard Marsten.

His 87th Precinct novels were made into movies and a television series. Those books became the foundation of the police procedural genre.

You can learn more about Evan Hunter aka Ed McBain at his Wikipedia page.

If you want to discover his 87th Precinct novels, grab a copy of Ed McBain Books in Order by Book List Guru. This Kindle book is on Kindle Unlimited, or buy it for only 99¢. It's a comprehensive list of just about all of the works by Ed McBain.

Mystery and My Writing

Until I discovered romance, I'd planned to be a mystery author. I still love mystery, but most mysteries in the old days had very little to offer in the way of romance. Romance in a mystery meant sex without commitment, and all of it was sex from a man's viewpoint which meant without emotion.

The 87th Precinct novels were a bit different in that Steve Carella was in love with Teddy, his wife who happened to be deaf. McBain was ahead of his time with a love relationship, a woman character who was deaf, and several other aspects uncommon to genre fiction then.

In the last few years, I've begun weaving mystery into some of my romance novels.

Recently I sold video game rights to 2 of my novels, The Key To Kristina, a mystery romance featuring a Quest, and Old Enough To Know Better, a romance, not a mystery,  between an older woman and a younger man. 

The huge tech company that bought the rights will be turning each into a video game somewhat like a "choose your own adventure." I'm excited because they already have a worldwide audience for their games. 

If you're interested in seeing what intrigued the tech company, you're in luck. Old Enough To Know Better is featured in my Reader Friends Newsletter todayIt's on sale for only 99¢ until midnight CDT on October 18.


I send my free newsletter each month (except for this summer which had too many family emergencies). 

In my newsletter I offer a free ebook and sale books from me and some of my friends. This newsletter which goes out Oct. 16, Saturday, has Just One Look as a free ebook for subscribers.

Takeaway Truth

Are you a subscriber? If not, what are you waiting for?

Sand, Salt, and Spirits by Kathryn Hills

I love it when a friend has a new book so I'm happy to welcome Kathryn Hills, the author of Sand, Salt, and Spirits. She's included an excerpt so you can get a taste of this delightful romance.

A Little Bit About Kathryn Hills

The rich history and many mysteries of New England are the perfect backdrop for many of KATHRYN’s books. 

Winding roads lined by old stone walls, forgotten cemeteries, grand homes with shadowy pasts...all sparks for her imagination. 

Whether it’s a quaint seaside town or the vibrant city of Boston, it’s easy for this “hauntingly romantic” author to envision the past mingling with the present. No surprise, some of Kathryn’s favorite stories include ghosts! Sprinkle in some magic, and you’re off on a great adventure.

When not writing, this best-selling author is reading, researching, gardening, or cooking up something special in her chaotic kitchen.

She shares her colonial home in the north woods with those she loves most – her wonderful husband, daughter, and three crazy dogs.

Find Kathryn Hills Online


Discover Sand, Salt, and Spirits

Can a weekend visit to Last Chance Beach undo decades of brokenhearted memories? Conjuring up some island magic might just be their trick. Or treat!

Kyle Worthington hasn’t returned to Last Chance Beach in years. He’s worked hard to prove himself to his overbearing father and the rest of the world. Now it’s October, and the vacation island paradise is celebrating the season with an island-wide Fall Festival. Family obligation demands he participate. Everyone will be there, including the ghost that haunts his grandparents’ B&B.

The running joke that Kyle never sticks with anything—not a career or a woman—will continue to plague him. Unless he brings a knockout of a date to the weekend-long event. Cassandra Corwin fits the bill perfectly. Kyle’s had his eye on his brilliant, beautiful coworker since day one. But Cassie is an enigma, a loner. There’s no room in her life for anyone except Odin, her goofball of a Great Dane.

Will this woman of mystery agree to Kyle’s scheme to impress his family? Can two near strangers from opposite worlds survive family gatherings and back-to-back Halloween events while pretending to be a couple? Kyle’s father seems hell-bent on derailing everything before they even shout “Boo!” Or will the island’s magic prove too powerful for them to resist?

Excerpt, Sand, Salt, and Spirits by Kathryn Hills©2021

Kyle held his breath, as he pushed through the back door and went around to meet her by her car. Game on, buddy. Pull yourself together.

Yet a shockwave rippled through him at the sight of her. Black hair piled on her head in a messy, windblown bun. Short, sexy, red sundress. Her legs were bare. Pale yet gorgeous and toned. On her feet? High-top red sneakers with white laces.

Cassie dropped big, round sunglasses into place on her nose, and she grinned at him. “I made it.”

The huge dog—about the size of a pony—glanced his way but didn’t move. As if to say, “I am unimpressed by your appearance, human.”

“Yes, you made it.” He forced a pleasant smile though inside he was in full, freak out mode.

“This is Odin,” Cassie explained, still smiling. “Odin…say hello to Kyle.”

The Great Dane bared big white teeth on command in a ridiculous smile-esque maneuver. Yet still he didn’t budge from his seat.

“That’s his only trick,” Cassie offered with a chuckle. “We don’t ask much of each other.”

Kyle’s brain screamed, okay…time to fess up. 

“Cassie…before we go any further, there’s something I must confess. Please don’t get mad.”

Her smile evaporated. “Oh, that’s never good.”

“Hang on…it’s not good, but it’s not terrible, either.”

“Yet to be determined.” She crossed her arms and leveled a hard stare on him. “Spill it.”

“I may have…Okay, I definitely said…you’re my girlfriend.” Kyle cringed in anticipation of her reaction.

“You said what?” Her voice spiked.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”

“A death wish?” she accused with a scowl. “Who did you say this to?”

“Not many. Just my sister, Kat.” He swallowed hard and took a step back. “She told my grandmother.”

“No?” Her tone went dangerously low.

“…who then told my mother when she called to say she wasn’t sure if she was coming. Who, in turn, told Kendall, my younger sister. Who really isn’t coming, by the way. So, that part’s good.”

“Is it now, Kyle? Really?” Cassie demanded with an infuriated huff.

“Yeah…except Kat told her boyfriend, Ben. Now I’m done. I think. Maybe not. News travels fast on Last Chance Beach.”


Her dark eyes pinned him in place. “So…basically…you’re telling me everyone in your family and on this island thinks we’re a couple?”

Kyle gave her a small, shrugging wince. “Yeah…pretty much.”

Cassie glared at him. Lips pinched together. The tiny muscle alongside one eye quivering. “I cannot believe this.” She started pacing alongside her car. “Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a vacation? A little time off? A day, even, just for me? This was a gift to me. A chance to unwind after all the work I’ve been drowning in.”

“I’m sorry. Again. I didn’t mean to screw up your vacation. I don’t know what came over me. It just happened. Kat was bragging about all the great things in her life. She literally walked in with an engagement ring the size of a bus on her finger. Gran was gushing. Ben had just proposed. She got a promotion. Ben is expanding his business, yada, yada…My brain blew a gasket.”

“So? Who cares, Kyle? It’s family. Not like you’re competing with anyone.”

Kyle dropped his head in shame. “You don’t know my family,” he admitted.

Gotta Get This Romance. Right?

Lucky you! Sand, Salt, and Spirits is only 99¢ from now until Halloween. It's available at many retailers. 

If you're an Amazon only shopper, click here.

Takeaway Truth

Grab your copy of Sand, Salt, and Spirits, and check out the other wonderful books in the Last Chance Beach Romance series too.


Review: Thirty-Two Going On Spinster by Becky Monson

Looking for a book to make you chuckle? Try Thirty-Two Going on Spinster (Spinster Series, Book 1).

Blurb

Julia Dorning is a spinster, or at least on the road to becoming one. She has no social life, hates her career, and lives in her parent's basement with her cat, Charlie.

With the arrival of Jared Moody, the new hire at work, Julia's mundane life is suddenly turned upside down. Her instant (and totally ridiculous) crush on the new guy causes Julia to finally make some long-overdue changes, in hopes to find a life that includes more than baking and hanging out with Charlie.

But when the biggest and most unexpected change comes, will the new and improved Julia be able to overcome it? Or will she go back to her spinster ways?

My Thoughts

I needed a lighthearted romance to read. Know what I mean? Sometimes you just need something that will make you smile. Thirty-Two Going on Spinster was perfect for that.

Life didn't turn out the way Julia Dorning thought it would, and she's fighting the idea that she's a spinster—a word more commonly seen in historical novels. Julia resolves to get out of her rut rather than embrace her spinsterhood. 

That's when Life throws her a bone—or a challenge if you will—in the form of Jared Moody. The result is a funny chick lit romance that made me smile. In fact, I'm still smiling as I write this.

Takeaway Truth

Take a break from life challenges. Read Thirty-Two Going on Spinster. I think you'll find it delightful.

Post Script

*Wink. Wink.* Maybe try one of my chick lit romantic comedies too. They're all on Kindle Unlimited. Here are 4 that might appeal to you:





Whatever you choose to read, enjoy, and tell your friends about the books so they can find the pleasure reading offers.  

Always Compare Yourself To...

I heard something last week that I want to pass along to you.

I can't remember where I heard it. I was passing through the living room, and the TV was on. The words kind of glanced off me.

However, I must have internalized them because they popped into my head later.

Never compare yourself to anyone but yourself.

Wow! Powerful words, aren't they?

We're always told don't compare yourself to someone else because you'll always be disappointed. That's true if you're comparing careers, achievements, children's achievements, homes, cars, or whatever. There will aways be someone who has bigger, better, shinier whatever than you.

But we all play the comparison game from time to time, don't we? That's an evil game you can never win.

But, wait. Comparing yourself to yourself is a game you can win. It's a comparison you can easily make and come out ahead. Comparing who you are to the you of a week, month, or year ago probably gives you a win because most of us strive to do better—be better.

Takeaway Truth

So go ahead. Compare yourself to yourself. In fact, make it an affirmation to chant. "I compare myself only to myself." That's something that will empower you.

Signup for my free newsletter and be the first to know about new books and giveaways—plus you'll get a free ebook when you confirm, or opt in, for your subscription.

Catch me if you can—online, that is: Amazon | BookBub | Facebook | Twitter.


Saturday Share: Pineapple Pound Cake

Today's recipe is for a delicious cake you can make Sunday and have on hand for a fabulous dessert every night this next week for dinner.

It's easy to make so don't be discouraged by the list of ingredients or the odd instructions to place it in a cold oven and then set the temperature.

Pineapple Pound Cake

Before you start, set out the butter and shortening in advance so they will soften to room temperature.

This makes a heavy cake so be sure you check it for doneness when the time is up. You can glaze the cake with Pineapple Glaze (recipe follows) or dust powdered sugar over it.

Ingredients

1/2 cup Crisco or other shortening
2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups self-rising flour (or 3 cups all-purpose flour + 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup crushed pineapple including the liquid (I use Dole Pineapple in 100% juice, but if you want organic pineapple, you can find it on Amazon.)

Instructions

1. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
2. Cream the shortening, butter, and sugar with a mixer 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each egg.
4. If using all-purpose flour, sift it, the baking powder, and the salt together. If using self-rising flour, sift it first then measure it.
5. Combine the flour with the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk.
6. Mix in the pineapple at slow speed then add the vamilla.
7. Pour batter into the bundt pan, smooth the top.
8. Place in a cold oven. Set the temperature at 325 degrees F. and bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
9. When done, remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes. Then invert onto a serving plate.

Pineapple Glaze

2 cups of sifted powdered sugar
Juice from the pineapple

Whisk in the pineapple juice until the glaze is a pourable consistency. Spoon over the cake so it drizzles down.

Takeaway Truth

Serve and collect compliments.

7 Wonderful Things About Autumn

Ah, Autumn! How delightful to have brisk air on sunny days and cool nights.

I like October because it's the month the seasons begin their transformation here in Texas.

From long, hot summer days to cooler, shorter days, we breathe a sigh of relief as we luxuriate in the shorter days and welcome the cool nights.

Raquel Franco said, "And then the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep, and autumn was awakened."

That's exactly how it seems this first morning in October.

I like the changing of the seasons. It's kind of like a mini-New Year's Day. As the season changes, I embrace the idea of wiping away mistakes and failures—without waiting for New Year's Day.

7 Wonderful Things About Autumn

1. Getaway. If you're a parent, chances are your children have been back in school 6-8 weeks. Now is the perfect time for a romantic getaway because school is established, and grandparents will enjoy a chance to take care of the munchkins. Get vaccinated, mask up, and escape for a few days.

2. Plan the holidays. Now is the time to plan your holidays from soup to nuts. Take a weekend or two and get started. to plan your holiday. Bring back the art of sending real Christmas cards by mail. Put together your Christmas card list now and print address labels for them. Be sure and save the file, and you’ll only have to edit it in the future.

3. Plan an indoor picnic.  Summers here make picnics problematic because of the heat. Treat everyone to an indoor picnic for a change with paper plates and disposable cups. Spread a cloth, provide a sumptuous meal, and have some fun music. Best of all? No dishes to wash.

4. Collect autumn leaves. Pick up some of the beautiful red, gold, and orange autumn leaves. Take photos and post them online. Get some really big ones and place them on a pretty tray as a centerpiece on your coffee table.

5. Smores. Yes, cool nights are perfect to break out the chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers. If you’re lucky enough to have a fire pit in the backyard or a fireplace, learn how to make Smores the old-fashioned way. Or, just pop the treat into the microwave or oven and heat until melted and gooey. Delicious.

6. Enjoy a fire in the hearth. There’s something primitively enjoyable about a fire in the hearth. If you're lucky enough to have a fireplace, use it. Make the lighting of the first fire of the season an occasion.

7. Pre-Christmas decoration checkup. Break out the decorations now and go through them. Do the repairs now rather than when it’s time to put the decorations up. Make a list of what replacements you might need. Getting on jump on the frenzied holidays now will mean less work in December and more time to enjoy the journey.

Takeaway Truth

Most of all, enjoy the sunny days and cool nights. Fall in love with Autumn. Fall in love for real. If you're already in love, celebrate that fact.



It's Autumn when Kristina embarks on her Quest, accompanied by Wyatt, a man her father designated as her protector.


A suspicious death, and an inheritance. A key and a clue lead to a Quest that becomes the adventure of a lifetime!

Now on Kindle Unlimited, The Key To Kristina is Free Read for subscribers, or $3.99 to buy and keep forever.



Signup for my free newsletter and be the first to know about new books and giveaways—plus you'll get a free ebook when you confirm, or opt in, for your subscription.

Catch me if you can—online, that is. Amazon | BookBub | Facebook | Twitter


You Might Live in Texas If

Jeff Foxworthy, famous for his "You might be a redneck" routine also does a comedy bit about folks from the Lone Star State.

Sometimes, like when I go to the small town near our house in the country, I think I get humorous material Mr. Foxworthy might like to have.

For instance, Jeff Foxworthy said, "If someone in a Lowe's store offers you assistance, and they don't work there, you may live in Texas."

OMG! How true—and it applies to big stores in big cities and small stores in small towns.

Humor Comes From Life

We were buying groceries in the small store near our country house. I said to Darling Husband, "I wonder where the bread is."

A shopper pushing a cart past said, "It's in the far corner of the store just pass the ice cream. Unless you want bread like canned biscuits, and they're in the dairy case just pass the rack of high school tee shirts."

When I thanked her, she beamed and said, "You're welcome, dear."

Later, at the checkout stand, the cashier commented on our groceries. "What kind of lettuce is that?"

Me: "Romaine."

"I've never had that before. Is it any good?"

After I told her the attributes of romaine over iceberg, she and the high school girl bagging our groceries told us we should get the Butter Crunch Blue Bell Ice Cream because it was to die for. (I later discovered they were right.)

Yes, they still bag groceries there!

As we were leaving, she told us to try the baked potatoes stuffed with chopped brisket at the local barbeque joint because it too was to die for. She was absolutely correct.

The giant Idaho spud with BBQ brisket piled on the hot fluffy potato was mouth-watering delicious and large enough to feed 3 hungry people!

Weather in the Lone Star State

Jeff Foxworthy said, "If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you may live in Texas."

Yep. I've done that, and so have most Texans I know. Autumn weather is arriving as I write this. I'm wearing shorts and a long-sleeved tee shirt. I guess when you're accustomed to 90+ degree temperatures and high humidity, the brisk autumn breeze chills.

So long sleeves and shorts kind of balance each other. If it were cooler, I'd probably pull a sweat jacket on too.

Long Distances

I say if vacation means going on a car trip that lasts 6 to 8 hours or more, you may live in Texas.

We went to Midland last year. That's in far west Texas. We left in the morning and didn't arrive until evening. Never left Texas.

We measure distances in time, not in miles, and that's another aspect of living in Texas.

Jeff Foxworthy said, "If you carry jumper cables in your car and your wife knows how to use them, you may live in Texas."

Guilty. You never know when you might need them for your own vehicle or someone else's.

Traveling takes time in Texas. The speed limit may be 55 mph, but most drivers assume that's a guideline to be followed if you see a police cruiser. 

If you go 55 on most highways, everyone else will be passing you as if you're standing still. Distances are so vast that some parts of the Interstates have speed limits set at 85.

Takeaway Truth

I like how Mr. Foxworthy ends his routine. "If you actually understand these jokes, and share them with all your Texas friends, you definitely live in Texas."

(Or you want to. Just saying.)


Hang on to your Stetson as the fun and games begin in a sexy romantic comedy hotter than a bowl of Texas chili!

The Trouble With Love
, a romance that's as big as Texas, is a Kindle Unlimited FREE read.

Or buy this rompin' stompin' romance for $4.99 and put it on your keeper shelf.

Signup for my free newsletter and be the first to know about new books and giveaways—plus you'll get a free ebook when you confirm, or opt in, for your subscription.

Catch me if you can—online, that is: Amazon | BookBub | Facebook | Twitter.

Grammar Anxiety

If you're ever uncomfortable when speaking or writing because you have grammar anxiety, I have a solution for you.

Grammar anxiety is the worry that you're not using the correct verb form or incorrectly using me when you should use I, or who when it should be whom. 

This book is for anyone who is a little uncertain about his/her grammar skills. Honestly, that's most people in today's world because grammmar really isn't taught extensively in public schools in today's world.

Here's a book you might like to have.

Complete English Grammar Rules explains everything in simple terms. All the rules of English grammar, explained in simple, easy-to-understand terms.

"The grammar book for the 21st century has arrived, from the language experts at Farlex International and TheFreeDictionary.com, the trusted reference destination with 1 billion+ annual visits." 

Signup for my free newsletter and be the first to know about new books and giveaways—plus you'll get a free ebook when you confirm, or opt in, for your subscription.

Catch me with the usual suspects: Amazon | BookBub | Facebook | Twitter.


Just The Facts: CoVid Research from Medical Experts

Whether you are vaccinated or anti-vax, you should read this. Being informed is the best thing you can do to understand CoVid19 which seems to be the perfect killing machine.

When our oldest daughter was hospitalized with the Delta variant of CoVid and almost died, I felt helpless. I turned to the only thing I could do: research.

(Image at left by Fotoshop Tofs from Pixabay)

I couldn't be with her at the hospital, but I could read and learn all I could about this horrible disease as well as acquaint myself with what lay ahead.

Fortunately, our daughter survived, but she is still trying to recover. She has a long road ahead of her.

My cousin's 41-year-old son did not make it. Neither did an author friend's 39-year-old-son.

My friend and former neighbor is in her 2nd month of hospitalization, trying to beat CoVid. That's right 2 months with most of that on a ventilator.

By the way, neither our oldest daughter nor the three patients mentioned above were immunized. Just saying.

Why Does CoVid Kill Some Perfectly Healthy Adults & Not Others

The first thing I wanted to know was why CoVid kills some people and not others. I wanted real facts from doctors who treat the disease and microbiologists who are conducting research studies around the world.

I also wanted it explained in easily understood language since I'm not a doctor. I started out with Google Search Engine Results Pages, but those SERPs were all written in technical language. That wasn't what I wanted.

I went to YouTube and found a wealth of solid information that I could understand. There are many doctors vlogging about CoVid. 

Two channels I found that gave stunning information in a format that is  easily accessible were Dr. Mike Hansen, a Board Certified Pulmonologist who is also Board Certified in Critical Care and Internal Medicine.

Dr. Hansen has an entire CoVid playlist of his videos discussing the disease. I subscribed to the channel and went back to the beginning of the CoVid invasion then watched all of his videos in order.

I wanted to have a thorough understanding of what happened and when it happened. I also wanted to understand the progression of the disease, treatments that were tried and discarded and why they didn't work.

The other excellent source of information is MedCram, Medical Topics Explained Clearly - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG-iSMVtWbbwDDXgXXypARQ

MedCram dissects CoVid19 research studies from all over the world as well as other studies. 

Of particular interest are these videos:


Our Future With CoVid

On June 15, the CDC listed the COVID-19 delta variant as a "variant of concern." On August 1 is when our daughter in Texas contracted the Delta variant. Its more contagious, more dangerous, less susceptible to available treatments, and harder to detect until it may be too late.

Her disease progressed fast. She was hospitalized a week after getting it.

You may not know but CoVid19 mutated into other variants fairly quickly: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. It's continued to mutate, combatting the treatments that researchers find. It's changing fast, and that's bad news. You'll be shocked to learn that there are 8 other VOIs, that's Variants of Interest, out there.

Mu is the latest to cause alarm. It was added to the WHO (World Health Organization) list on August 30, 2021. It was first found in Colombia in January 2021 and has now been found in 39 countries, including the U.S.

If you want to know more about the variants, visit this ABC News Link: Is the mu variant worse than delta? Warning, there are a lot of pop-ups and ads, but it's worth scrolling down to find the information about the variants.

Bottom Line Truth

I worry about people who have preconceived ideas about immunizations. Especially if those ideas are  based on what Facebook groups and friends or relatives say if those people are not medical professionals backed up by dozens of factual studies.

Statements that are nothing but opinions based on fear and personal attitudes toward the government, the medical community, conspiracy theories, and authority figures can be dangerous to one's health.

Do your own research—real research backed up by facts, not opinions and fear mongering. Whatever you find should be affirmed by similar studies from many different doctors, microbiologists, epidemiologists, and other researchers—not by 1 doctor in Idaho or a celebrity you like and admire.

If you are basing your health information on anyone who does not have proper medical credentials, you could be putting yourself and your loved ones at risk. 

Takeaway Truth

Regardless of what you currently believe, keep an open mind. Know your enemy, and make no mistake. CoVid is the enemy. Only with true information can we defeat this life-altering/life-ending virus. Or at least survive it as it continues to mutate. Be safe, not sorry.

Font and Design Mistakes on Websites

Do your eyes get tired when you read a lot online?

Mine do. I spend about 8 hours a day online. Yes, that's a lot, but every day I'm writing and/or reading for information or entertainment.

I've found that websites with difficult fonts and/or backgrounds make my eyes feel as if acid has been poured into them.

In fact, I've got where I avoid websites with those problems.

(Image at left by magnetme from Pixabay!)

Plan your website well and always with consideration for those you hope to attract to it.  According to website design experts, readability is of primary importance.

10 Things to Avoid in  Website Design

1. Website themes with black or dark backgrounds and white or other light colored fonts.

Some think a dark dramatic background is evocative. Have pity on those who spend a lot of time reading online. This white text on black tires the eye.

2. Run from fonts in fluorescent orange, yellow, lime, etc. Those colors make the font seem to pulsate before the viewers' eyes.

3. Please don't use different fonts for everything on the virtual page. That's simply not good design. In fact, it looks "busy" like plaid or stripes on broadcast television. Pick 1 font. Use bold or italic of that font for specific elements on your website.

4. Avoid using weird fonts like 28 Days Later, Black Adder, Old English, or Vivaldi. Those fonts are difficult for most people to read.

Rather than be glued to your virtual page, a web visitor will simply move on to an easier to read website.

5. Use a sans serif font like Arial or Open Sans so that those with reading disabilities can access your content.

6. Use a resonably sized font like 12 or 14 point because not everyone online is under the age of 30.

7. Make use of white space. Content with huge text blocks tend to look like a gigantic page stretching from top to bottom. Web readers' eyes glaze over.

8. Break up your text into short paragraphs because web readers read "vertically" with their eyes scanning for the salient points.

9. Use relevant images to break up the text and add interest to the content.

By the way, I frequently finding myself using eyedrops. The eyedrop I've found that works best for me is Systane Gel Eyedrops. They're pricey at the drugstore so I've been ordering from Amazon. 

Takeaway Truth

Make your website easy on the eyes and appealing to the brain, and you'll have plenty of website visitors who return often.

Signup for my free newsletter and be the first to know about new books and giveaways—plus you'll get a free ebook when you confirm, or opt in, for your subscription.

Catch me with the usual suspects: Amazon | BookBub | Facebook | Twitter


Choose the Right Word

Paraphrashing Mark Twain who once said the difference between the right word and a similar word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

I was thinking about that last night after working through my clogged up Inbox. One email was the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day for August 1 of this year.

Pulchritude.

That was the word. It means beauty and comes from the Latin adjective pulcher, meaning beautiful.

The English form of the Latin adjective is pulchritudinous, the verb form is pulchrify, the noun is pulchritudeness or pulchritude (same meaning as pulchritude), and the English adjective is pulchrous.

Have you ever heard a word that sounded less like its meaning than pulchritude? I think not. When I hear the word, usually from a comedian, it makes me think of putrid.

Lord Byron did not write, "She walks in puchritude..." did he?

It's weird when words sound so different from their meaning. Can you think of a word like that?

Takeaway Truth

Always choose the right word—and make sure when spoken aloud that it sounds like what it means.

Signup for my free newsletter and be the first to know about new books and giveaways—plus you'll get a free ebook when you confirm, or opt in, for your subscription.

Catch me with the usual suspects: Amazon | BookBub | Facebook | Twitter.

Review: What Would Jane Austen Do?

If you love Regency novels, and you don't require a novel set in that era to be absolutely perfect with Regency details, then open your heart to What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown.

About the Book

Eleanor is an expert on Jane Austen and the Regency period. When she arrives in England to make a presentation at a  conference, she discovers her reservation has been canceled.

Given a room that's not usually offered because of its reputation as being haunted, Eleanor is delighted to accept. After all, there's no such thing as ghosts.

To her surprise, she meets the ghosts and agrees to help them by going back to Jane Austen's time. 

Unfortunately, even though she's an Austen expert, she finds it's harder than she'd expected to stay true to the language, attitudes, and behavior of that era.

When she meets the captivating Lord Shermont, a renowned rake and womanizer, she finds it difficult to believe he could be a murderous, cold-blooded spy. She's drawn to him, but the handsome, charming Lord Digby complicates her life.

To Eleanor's relief, the real Miss Jane Austen lends a hand with sound advice and helps Eleanor make her way in the nobility's countryhouse society. Will Eleanor choose the right man? Will she reveal the spy? Will she find her way back to her own time? Or will she stay with the lover she's found?

Bottom Line

Don't be discouraged by the mixed reviews. This is a delightful, light-hearted story that will keep you entertained even though you can see in advance how the story will work out.

It's not a book that mimics a Jane Austen novel. It's an entertaining story about a woman who is smitten with all things Austen. 

Eleanor and the ghosts—and their real life counterparts in the 18th century—as well as Shermont, the passionate, sexy rake are such fun characters. You'll enjoy them and the predicament in which Eleanor finds herself.

Takeaway Truth

Get a copy of What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown for your weekend reading pleasure.


Annabelle, who loves Regency novels by Jane Austen, is the heroine of Last Christmas, a romance about love at first sight, heartbreak, revenge, redemption, and second chances. A  dash of humor and a pinch of mystery complete this passionate, sexy romance—a story that's  good any time of the year—not just at Christmas! (Kindle Unlimited free or $2.99 to buy.)


Signup for my free newsletter and be the first to know about new books and giveaways—plus you'll get a free ebook when you confirm, or opt in, for your subscription.

Catch me with the usual suspects: Amazon | BookBub | Facebook | Twitter.

Review: This Is Pop

From my couch potato weeks of watching far too many movies, TV series, and documentaries, here's a review.

This Is Pop, a 2021 rockumentary now streaming on Netflix, was fascinating in the way it analyzed how music changed from the sixties to current day.

Unfortunately, this film is not available on Amazon. If you aren't a Netflix subscriber, find a friend who is. You'll want to see this.

If you've had the thought, "All these songs sound alike," then this documentary is for you.

The 8-part series highlights the invention and use of Auto-Tune, and the dance club scene in Europe that gave birth to the song factory in Sweden that generated hit after hit. Those who trained in Sweden are now music producers everywhere it seems.

The episodes of the 8-part series are:

Boyz II Men Effect (Philly sound meets Motown.)

Auto-Tune (The little invention that changed the music business will shock you.)

Stockholm Syndrome (That songwriting shop mentioned above.)

When Country Goes Pop (The rise of the crossover artists.)

Hail Britpop (Pop music re-imagined as grunge.)

Festival Rising (Performers connect powerfully with massive numbers of fans.)

What Can a Song Do (Change the world, bring down the Berlin Wall, topple governments, and change the public's perception of just about everything?)

The Brill Building in 4 Songs (These singer-songwriters powered rock and roll in the beginning.)

Takeaway Truth

If you're a music fan, you must watch this documentary series. Two thumbs up. Enjoy!

Surviving Life Challenges & Hurricane Nicholas

Tropical Storm Nicholas became a category 1 hurricane in the wee hours of this morning.

Thankfully, a Cat 1 is relatively mild, and this hurricane became more of a wind event than a rain one. The picture at left, not a local current photo, illustrates what is meant by a wind event, and a mild one at that.

Still, when we awoke this morning, about half a million customers south of I-10 were without power. 

That's down to about 400,000 now, still a lot. According to the power company, many of those homes and businesses will be without power for a week or longer.

We feel really fortunate to have kept power and to have had very little rain. I never want to experience another event like Hurricane Harvey. Once in a lifetime is more than enough.

Why I've Been Offline

I've been off-line for the last 3 weeks because each day was tough to get through. 

(1) Our older daughter survived CoVid pneumonia and is home now. She's still fighting to get back to normal health.

There may be cardiac damage, but that's a long story I don't want to think about. We'll know more after she has an echo cardiogram.

(2) Our younger daughter and her husband who were vaccinated contracted CoVid. Their biggest ailment was extreme tiredness. However, our daughter who has a genetic condition that makes her immune response problematic developed bronchitis. She's negative for CoVid now but still bothered by the bronchitis.

(3) Our friend and former neighbor has been in the hospital nearly 6 weeks, hanging on in her battle with CoVid. She was not vaccinated.

(4) Home remodeling took a back seat to all the CoVid bad news. We were exposed to CoVid via our younger daughter, and we had to self-quarantine for 2 weeks so we had to call a halt to all the work on the house.

(5) Remodeling also has been extremely slow due to contractors unable to obtain materials. For example, it took 6 weeks from the time we contracted with a guttter company for them to be able to obtain the metal needed to install the gutters.

(6) When we were clear, our electrician team got started. A couple of days later, our electrician had a health scare and was put on a heart monitor. He got the all clear to return to work so half the kitchen lighting was done last week. Yesterday, he canceled so he could get his boat out of the water at Port O'Connor. He lives south of I-10 and now has no power so he won't be back until power is restored at his home.

Missing My Bounce-Back

The last few years have been challenging for family and friends with cancer, surgeries, bleak futures for some, and deaths and then with our older daughter in the hospital fighting for her life, I found myself missing emotionally spent.

A couple of weeks later, I realized my ability to emotionally bounce back was strained. To be honest, I've spent most of August and into September feeling negative and blue.

I've had no urge to write and even stopped reading for a while. Instead, I channel surfed in an effort not to think and worry. I officially told family and friends I needed a break from everything.

Doing What Made Me Feel Better

Surrounded by packing boxes, I turned my attention to doing something to make me feel better. We hadn't unpacked because we kept waiting for the remodeling to be finished so painters could then get started.

I figured at the rate the remodeling was moving along, painting is still several weeks away. So I said the heck with it and started unpacking. I've even hung the paintings and done other decorating.

We've weathered the first hurricane in our new home. For the first time, this house is beginning to feel like home because it's starting to look like home! 

Takeaway Truth

Life moves on, and I'm moving with it which is why I blogged today.

The Truth About Itching

Mosquitoes love to make a banquet out of me. Even insect repellents don't keep the vampiric insects at bay for long.

Have you every had a mosquito bite or a case of poison ivy that threatened to drive you insane with the unbearable itching that follows?

This year, mosquito bite seem to be extra itchy. I try not to scratch. In the day when I'm coated with Caladryl, it's not so bad. At night, I seem to scratch in my sleep.

Real Relief On The Way

As frustrating as constant itching is, the itch response actually serves a purpose. It's an early warning system for the body.

Some medical conditions like cancer can cause the kind of itching that makes someone really suffer. It's no laughing matter when someone scratches until they bleed. If that happens to you, a doctor consultation should be scheduled.

For chronic sufferers of itching due to other reasons, relief may soon be at hand. Scientists have finally been able to separate the itch response from the pain response.

Up until now, the nerve pathways seemed to involve both, but now they clearly identify the itch-specific cells in the spinal cord.

In the simplest terms, an experiment was conducted with white mice that had their itch receptors "disconnected" or killed. They were then exposed to something that made them itch, but most of them didn't scratch.

Everything else about the mice was normal. Of course, who knows what might happen in a human if the itch receptor was removed, but researchers eventually may be able to use this knowledge to help humans who suffer abnormal itching.

Takeaway Truth

Slowly, medical mysteries of the human body will be solved. (By the way, Caladryl comes in a clear formulation, if you don't like to look as if you're wearing pink polka dots.)

Review: Linda Ronstadt, The Sound of My Voice

This morning as we were waiting for one of our remodeling contractors to arrive, we watched Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, one of the "free" offerings—meaning with ads—on YouTube.

The 2019 documentary film, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2019, is about American singer Linda Ronstadt who could probably sing the dictionary and make it awesome!

From the first time I heard Linda Ronstadt (and the Stone Poneys) singing Different Drum, I was a fan. I loved every genre she tackled with her own unique styling and her voice—oh my goodness, that voice!

The Voice

She sang old-time country songs written by Hank Williams and made rock fans of the 1960s and beyond embrace the mournful songs. She sang opera, the music her parents loved, Mexican love songs and mariachi songs which her family sang at home when she was growing up, and the golden age music by Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, etc. that her mother loved. 

Consequently, she made: rock albums and filled stadiums, Gilbert and Sullivan album from the Broadway hit musical she starred in, Mexican mariachi album that became the biggest-selling Mexican music album of all time, Great American Songbook with music arranged by Nelson Riddle, who had arranged the American standards sung by Sinatra and the other famous voices back in the day.

Documentary Details

Directed by Oscar-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, it features interviews with many of Linda's friends and music industry professionals. The film won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2019 Provincetown International Film Festival.

After the premiere, it was released to theaters and on Digital HD from Amazon and iTunes and then it went to DVD and Blu-ray. After watching it, I wasn't surprised to learn it won Best Music Film at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

That nomination was Linda's first competitive nomination since 2006. As you will learn from the film, Linda developed Parkinson's Disease, the same as her mother.

Parkinson's may have stolen her voice, but nothing can take away the gift Linda Ronstadt made to the world. Her recordings endure. This film is also available to rent or buy from Amazon Video if you want to avoid the ads.

Takeaway Truth

If you've never heard Linda's music, watch Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice. You'll want to get her music—probably in every genre in which she sang. Enjoy!

Review: Fake Me by Bonnie Edwards

Yesterday I finished reading Bonnie Edwards's latest book and immediately posted a review on Amazon.

If you like a romance with a sweet, good-natured heroine who crosses paths with a grouchy curmudgeon who stands in her way of achieving her goal, you need to add FAKE ME to your Kindle.

About the Book

Grady is the cranky beast who has retreated from the world and doesn't want anyone to bother him. True, he has a good reason for being sour at life, but plucky heroine Farren needs his cooperation to make her dream come true. She's given up a secure job and taken a leap of faith, and she's not taking Grady's no for an answer.

Grady is angry at the world and at what he thinks is his matchmaking sister's attempt to lure him back to civilization. He hatches a plan to thwart his sister, but he needs Farren's help. Together, they agree to a plan that gets both of them what they want.

The author has crafted a romance with engaging characters who have just the right amount of emotional baggage, conflict, and attraction. You'll keep turning the pages to discover exactly what his fiancée did as well as what molded Farren into the woman she is.

With touches of humor, FAKE ME is delightful and heartwarming. It's the latest addition to the Last Chance Beach Romance series and is sure to delight. 

Takeaway Truth

Escape to the beach with this lovely romance.

Gross Facts From History

In recent reading, I came across some gross interesting facts about life during the medieval and Renaissance periods.

History of life back then is usually romanticized by most. In truth, I think we'd have had a difficult time living then.

Men's Names

It certainly would have been confusing because nearly 70% of the male population was named Robert, William, Henry, John, or Richard.

OMG, the Undergarment

Then there's the issue of clothing. This is nearly incomprehensible to our modern way of life, but women and men of the 10th centure wore an undergarment that covered them from their neck to the floor with their arms covered all the way to the wrists.

Here's the unbelievable part. This suffocating undergarment was sewn onto their bodies! Can you imagine? There was no way to remove it until it literally fell apart. Then the poor souls were sewn into a new one. The purpose behind this confining garment was to keep them from bathing as well as preventing sexual shenanigans.

Oh, my! Can you imagine the smell? Just think of how long it took that sturdy cotton to rot away. (Side Note. Considering the population grew, it appears that it wasn't a good birth control method.)

Personal Hand Warmer?

Women wore long dresses that covered everything. Men were tunics, tights, shorts. Their garments had numerous pockets sewn in. These pockets could be buttoned shut to keep out the cold winter air. In the winter, it was common to place live rodents in the pockets to help them stay warm.

Nope. I'd just shiver in the typical woman's long, flowing gown that had long flowing sleeves but no rats in a pocket. (I hope.)

Takeaway Truth

If they invent a time machine, I think I'll avoid the Renaissance in the winter.



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

FOLLOW JOAN ONLINE