Blogging Explained in Less Than 280 Characters

This post title came from one of the topic generators I listed in my new release, Blog Ops, Be a Better Blogger.

To illustrate the benefit of the website where I found this post title, I thought I'd blog about it myself. Fun, right?

I can then put the link to this post in my book, which is scheduled for release June 5, 2022.

(By the way, I'm pleased to announce that my book, only 99¢ new release price, is the #1 New Release in User Generated Content, i.e., blogging.)

Analyze the Post Title

When you use a topic generator, the first thing you should do is analyze the title that pops up. Many times, that tells you what the content should be.

In this case, obviously the 140 Characters in the title tells you that this is a post you can use to promote your blog on Twitter.

Of course, Twitter now allows you to use 280 characters so I changed the generated title to indicate this update. That gives you plenty of room for a good Tweet, the permalink, and some specific hashtags.

With that thought in mind, here are some of the 280 character Tweets I came up in a few minutes to explain blogging.

1. Sharing my passion for blogging. https://slingwords.blogspot.com/2022/05/blogging-explained-less-than-280-characters.html #SlingWords  #blogging #bloggingtips (158 characters) 

Note: That's the permalink to this post. For the other Tweet examples, I'm making up a permalink)

2. Today, I'm blogging about my love of gardening with a post about planting tomatoes to ensure success. https://sitename.domain.com/year/mo/plant-tomatoes-for-success.html #gardening #blogging (191 characters)

3. 5 Reasons I Love Blogging: Sharing, Writing, Hobby, Fun, Friendship. https://sitename.domain.com/year/mo/5-reasons-love-blogging.html #inspiration #blogging #writing (166 characters)

Takeaway Truth

Yes, blogging is really all about sharing what you know or love with others in the hope you find an audience is hungry for what you have to say or who also have a passion for the same things.

12 Best Things About May

May named after Maia, the Greek goddess of fertility, is a fabulous month in Texas. The fertility angle is easy to understand since the weather in May is ideal for romantic evenings.

Twelve best things about May—especially in Texas? Here's my lsit.

1. At the top of my list is that May is when Day Lilies burst into bloom. These are the ones that border our porch at our country house. The abundant blooms and the easy way these lilies spread make them a favorite flower for Texas gardeners.

2. A famous Texas woman praised and reviled in movies and books, Calamity Jane, whose real name was Jane Canary, was born on May 1, 1852.

3. May is a great month for weekend trips. There are some beautiful places in Texas that are close to major cities like the Bayou Bend Gardens, created by Miss Ima Hogg who began work on the lovely manicured gardens in 1925. Today, they are stunning and a must-see for anyone interesting in nature. Near Houston, they're a place to stroll through beautiful blooming gardens, sit and soak inthe peace and beauty.

Other notable scenic places to visit are Rockport near Corpus Christi, Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, In the southwest desert part of Texas, Santa Elena Canyon near Marfa, Gorman Falls near Austin, The State Capitol in Austin, Johnson Space Center in Houston, the 6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, the Historical Tour in Fort Worth, Caddo Lake in the northeast part of Texas, The River Walk in San Antonio, and Sonora Caverns, El Capitan near El Paso, and Big Bend near the Rio Grande just to name a few.

If you'd like to see all of the "must-see" places in Texas, Texas Bucket List is available on Amazon.

4. The Texas Ranger Museum is a must-see place in Waco. Celebrating the most famous law enforcement organtization know around the world, it's one of the best museums for those who want to really know about the Texas mythology.

5. The Alamo in San Antonio is the other iconic building that you must see if you want to get to the heart of what makes Texans stalwart and brave.

6. May is the month when gardeners select the bedding plants of marigolds, zinnias, periwinkle, petunias, begonias, and all the other flower plants that adorn many landscapes in the state.

7. May is the next blooming of wildflowers along Texas roadways. Look for the pale pink primroses called buttercups, the orange of Indian paintbrush, red clover, and many more because Texas has more than 5,000 varieties of blooming plants.

8. May is Stroke Awareness month. Do yourself a favor if you live in Texas and acquaint yourself with the hospitals near you who have Stroke Centers, specialized stroke treatment centers in some hospitals that can offer immediate treatment to lessen the effects of a stroke.

9. Discover Galveston, home to a Garden Center like in New Orleans, and many beaches for sun worshippers.

10. May is also the perfect month to design and setup a home solar power backup system since we have 232 sunshine days on average. It's so much easier now than even a few years ago. In Texas, The Texas Property Tax Code allows 100% exemption on the increase in assessed value of a property for installing a solar or wind powered energy device. Plan now for worst case scenarios given all of the dire predictions because of CoVid and the Ukraine-Russia war.

11. Start a garden. Again, there are scary predictions because of the global unrest. Learn how to grow your own vegetables which is doable in pots on an apartment balcony or in your yard.

12. Festivals in Texas are hugely popular, and May has one of the best. The Kerrville Folk Festival in west Texas is amazing. It's all about music and draws its audience from 40 states  and several foreign countries. Songwriters are booked to play and many past performers return for the experience.

Takeaway Truth

Texas is a big state. There's a lot to see, and something for every interest.

Review: Operation Mincemeat

There has been a dearth of good movies lately. I was delighted to find one that I thought worthy of a review.

Operation Mincemeat, designed to make the Nazis think the Allied troops would be landing in Greece instead of Sicility, was a real spy operation in World War II.

Set in 1943, the movie stars Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Penelope Wilton, Johnny Flynn, and Jason Isaacs.


Released this month and distributed by Netflix, Warner Bros. Pictures, and FilmNation Entertainment, the movie is compelling, believable, and even suspenseful even though we know how the Allied landing turned out.

An intelligent story and well acted, this is a must see. You'll find it on Netflix and IMDB I believe.

Takeaway Truth

I'd love to find more movies like this. So much of the content with streaming services is lacking in so many ways.

Life Is Good, Give Thanks

May has been a challenging month—details below in case you're interested—but I finally have a few moments of normality.

So life is good and giving thanks reminds me of why life is good despite everything.

Challenging Times Build Strong People

CoVid, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, senseless murders every week.

Senseless hatred based on: the color of one's skin or religion, politics, sexual orientation, ethnicity—hatred because of those things make no sense and can't be understood by rational people.

These and other tragedies make it easy to feel morose and somber—even depressed about the world and the future.

That's when we need to consciously remember all of the reasons that life is good. No matter how down and discouraged you may feel, no matter how little you may have, you always have blessings whether or not you're aware of them.

Surefire Way to Feel Better

The best way to shake the gloom is to consciously count your blessings. You may take most of these for granted.

That's a mistake many people make. Let's get back to basics, and count blessings.

1. If you are alive, you are blessed. Life means you have the chance to get healthier, be happier, achieve more, and live the best life possible. Like my grandfather who lived to be 100 always said, "It's always better to be looking down at the grass than up through it." Give thanks that you are alive and decide what to do with your life.

2. If you have bills, chances are you have, or had, a job. Give thanks for the bills and the job that enables you to pay them. Always improve your skills to make yourself a valuable employee.

If you've lost your job, work each day to get another one. Scour the internet for articles about how to land jobs, network with everyone you know who has a job, work on improving your skills and on presenting yourself as a prospective employee. 

Waste no time in watching TV, sleeping late, bitterness, regret, or goofing off in any way. Assess your attitude. Choose optimism, have faith, be hopeful, and believe in your ability and your future.

There are thousands of videos on YouTube that may help you become an entrepreneur if you're motivated in that way and/or desperate. Opportunity exists for those willing to put in the hard work and seize the moment.

3. If you are healthy, give thanks and work to stay that way. Give up junk food and super processed foods, read labels. If you don't know what an ingredient is, don't buy it. Eat more vegetables. Learn how to cook at home for the best option for good health. Get 20 minutes of sunshine every day. Remember, everything, especially alcohol, in moderation.

4. Give thanks for those who love you. Start with your parents and your siblings. By nature, they have raised you from the first moment they knew you. Their love is a given. Cherish those relationships. If you've lost touch in some way, work to make those relationships stronger. Give thanks for your partner in life. Treat your spouse as if he/she is the most important person in your world. Talk together each day. The same is true for your children. With kids and grandkids who don't live near you, it's a lot harder, but stay in touch regularly. Always say, "I love you."

5. Give thanks that you have a roof over your head, i.e., a home. 

I know too many people who are never satisfied with their home whether it's an apartment, condo, or house. 

They focus on what the home doesn't have rather than enjoy the fact that they have not just a roof over their head, but a place that can be a welcoming sanctuary from the cares of the world.

So what if it doesn't look like a picture in a decorating magazine? The feeling of home has nothing to do with what a place looks like. Looks can be changed if you have the desire and willingness. Check YouTube for the millions of videos on decorating projects with many involving dollar store and thrift store finds. There's a reason that old song's refrain is true, "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."

Quick/Not So Quick Update

Our younger daughter had major surgery. Everything was going well for a few days then 4 days later she ended up in the ER due to a fever. She's fine now and recovering without any other complications.

Darling Hubby spent a hot day loading and unloading landscape rocks—big, heavy ones. A day later he noticed a swelling on the right side of his abdomen. Since he's a strong, healthy guy, we knew something was wrong.

Fortunately, he got in to see the family doctor in a couple of days who diagnosed a hernia and sent him on to a surgeon. A few days later, he was already scheduled for surgery. Another few days, and we were at the hospital for pre-op registration. Three more days—this past Monday—he had surgery.

Since I've had plenty of experience in taking care of post-surgery patients thanks to our daughter's 14 surgeries, I've known how to keep him comfortable, log the medication I give him and stay ahead of the pain, keep him company, and keep him entertained.

I've watched more TV and movies this past week than in a month. I give thanks he came through surgery with flying colors and is doing well in recovery.

The post-op role of "nurse" is exhausting. I guess my own problems (sciatica pain, injured rotator cuff, and delicate eyes/vision) take a toll on my energy. 

Takeaway Truth

I give thanks also for this blog and its readers. Thank you!

Saturday Share Recipe: Best Homemade Salad Dressing Ever

I've been experimenting with making salad dressings for the last year. I've shared some of the recipes I've come up with here.

I've finally created one that everyone in the family likes, and it comes out thick and luscious rather than separating too easily.

We've started having a large salad before each lunch and dinner, and the dressing makes it super delicious.

I made a large batch of it today and decided to share the recipe with you. The secret to it is a good balsamic vinegar.

I made it with fig balsamic vinegar, and it's out of this world! The recipe that follows makes almost a quart of dressing.

Ingredients

2/3 cup balsamic vinegar (I love the fig balsamic)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons honey (you could also use sugar)

1 teaspoon salt 

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 to 2 teaspoons finely minced Italian herbs

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional

Important Notes

(1) For the Italian herbs, I buy a local product, but it's very similar to the Dean Jacobs Italiano grinder shown here that is available from Amazon. This grinder is refillable which makes it super useful.

(2) For the balsamic vinegar, you don't have to use fig balsamic. It's my personal favorite. If you find balsamic vinegar isn't tart enough for you, use 3/4 cup balsamic and 1/4 cup red wine vinegar.

(3) If you don't want to make a large batch, just cut the ingredients in half.

Directions

In a quart jar, add all the ingredients. Place the lid tightly on the jar and shake vigorously. 

With the large batch I made, after shaking, I pour it into 3 smaller glass jars that have lids. Refrigerate the dressing.

Before using, set a jar out and allow it to come to room temperature before serving. Shake well.

However, if you're like me and always pressed for time, bring it to room temperature the quick way. Remove the lid, place the jar in your microwave, and nuke it for 10 to 15 seconds. Then shake and serve.

Takeaway Truth

This is a fabulous dressing that doesn't separate the way most homemade dressings do. Let me know if you like it.

Review, Rambo: Last Blood

Okay, I've never seen a Rambo movie. Not even the first one. So it was a big deal for me to allow Darling Husband to talk me into watching this one on Netflix.

If you don't have Netflix, you can rent the movie on Amazon for $3.99 or purchase it for a surprisingly low fee of $7.99.

To my surprise, the movie was quite good. I say surprise because I thought Stallone's early movies seemed over the top characterizations in stories that seemed contrived.

Of course, writing is everything in a story. If the writing isn't good, then the story won't be good. Even good acting can't save an insubstantial bad story.

Having said all of that, I must say I was impressed by Stallone's acting in this. Yes, there was a ton of violence with a woman initially as the victim. I don't care much for stories like that because there's too much of it in real life.

Stallone's role as the father figure to his adopted niece is the emotional foundation on which the story is built. When she is kidnapped by a Mexican cartel and forced into prostitution—there have been too many movies with that premise lately—he sets out to rescue her.

The violence that follows in his desperate attempt to save her is believable in the fantasy world of action films. Stallone delivered a poignant, emotional performance and fully inhabited the character. I can only say, "Well done, Mr. Stallone."

About Rambo: Last Blood

The movie is a 2019 action film directed by Adrian Grunberg with the screenplay co-written by Matthew Cirulnick and Mr. Stallone from a story by Dan Gordon and Mr. Stallone.

If you're a longtime fan of this film franchise, you probably know that the character of John Rambo was created by David Morrell in his novel First Blood.

This latest Rambo film is the 5th installment in the franchise and co-stars Paz Vega, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Adrianna Barraza, Yvette Monreal, Joquin Cosio, Oscar Jaenada, and Genie Kim.

Location filming took place in Bulgaria and Spain, and Brian Tyler created the musical score. The theaterical release was September 2010 and received mostly negative reviews aimed at the script, the violence, and the attitudes represented in the film toward Mexico.

Like I said that whole Mexican drug cartel kidnapping innocent women has run its course. The majority of the people in Mexico are decent, hardworking, and moral. Movie makers need to present a more balanced picture of the country and its people.

Apparently, the film made a modest profit so I assume Rambo fans were pleased with it. 

Takeaway Truth

I'll give this film a thumbs up, and based on his performance in the movie, I'd be happy to watch Mr. Stallone in another film where he could show his acting chops.

Monday Magic: America's Historic Newspapers

Today I have an amazing app for you that's perfect for Monday Magic—Chronicling America, from the Library of Congress.

This is a wonderful app that allows you to search through America's historic newspapers. You can search by state, county, and city.

You can search from 1690 to 2022. That means there are more than 19 million pages available for research.

There are other search options available like frequency of publication, language, ethnicity, etc.

Takeaway Truth

Best of all, this amazing resource is free! What a boon to those who do historical research.

5 Signs May Has Arrived

I can hardly believe that May has arrived. What happened to the first quarter of 2022?

5 Signs May Has Arrived

1. All of the blossoms on flowering trees like redbud, pear, dogwood, and Japanese magnolia have faded.

2. Traditional magnolia trees are starting to bloom now.

3. Azaleas were stunning—in March and April. Now, they're green shrubbery again.

4. All of the varieties of irises and lilies are blooming now.

5. The sun is rising earlier and setting later which makes walking Mr. Freddie easier.

Quotation for May's Beauty

I like what Malory had to say about May and its appeal to those in love.

"It was the month of May, the month when the foliage of herbs and trees is most freshly green, when buds ripened and blossoms appear in their fragrance and loveliness. And the month when lovers, subject to the same force which reawakens the plants, feel their hearts open again, recall past trysts and past vows, and moments of tenderness, and yearn for a renewal of the magical awareness which is love." —Sir Thomas Malory

Takeaway Truth

I wish you a May full of joy, laughter, love, and happiness.

Why Easter Eggs?

Even as a child, Easter Eggs made little sense to me. I mean, I was smart enough to know the Easter bunny didn’t lay eggs.

However silly Easter eggs might have seemed to me, they were a family tradition that I passed on to my kids.

I know that eggs have always been a universal symbol in many religions for more than a thousand years. The egg symbolizes new life, rebirth, and fertility.

The Easter Egg’s origin can be traced to the fertility lore of the Indo-Europeans—our pre-Christian ancestors. The egg was a symbol of spring.

Vernal Equinox, Perfect Time

In Persia, people gave eggs to each other at the vernal equinox. For them, it was like a New Year’s present because that marked the beginning of a new year in their culture.

In Judaism, eggs are a part of the Passover seder plate. For some Christians, the egg symbolizes the tomb from which Christ emerged on Resurrection Day.

Another reason eggs were popular with Christians on Easter was that they were forbidden during the 40 days of Lent. Chickens didn’t know this of course so they kept laying eggs. People collected the eggs and decorated them.

Many religious groups and/or countries have traditions of decorating eggs for Easter. Orthodox Christians stain them red to symbolize the blood of Christ. Intricate designs are created by eastern Europeans. Eggshells are pierced to remove the egg, and the decorated shell is hung from trees and shrubs in Germany.

Every year, the White House lawn is the scene of an egg-rolling party, but in today’s world, plastic eggs filled with treats are often used in egg hunts.

Takeaway Truth

Plastic eggs for hunting are a great improvement because I can remember the bad smell emanating from a neighbor’s yard when hidden hard-boiled eggs went undiscovered. Not a nice smell at all.

Laugh, Don't Cry on Tax Day

Hey, Americans, it's tax day! Pay up or rue the consequences.

Have you filed your income tax return? If so, here are some quotations to give you a chuckle before you engage in that last minute rush.

From Mortimer Caplan, a former IRS Director: “There is one difference between a tax collector and a taxidermist—the taxidermist leaves the hide.”

An anonymous wit once observed: “One difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”

Humorist Art Buchwald said: “Tax reform is when you take the taxes off things that have been taxed in the past and put taxes on things that haven’t been taxed before.”

“An income tax form is like a laundry list—either way you lose your shirt.” —Fred Allen

American humorist Will Rogers once said: “The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.”

Takeaway Truth

If you haven’t filed your tax return yet, quit reading blogs and get busy. Happy Tax Day!

SlingWords Celebrates 17th Birthday With Free Book

On April 12, 2005, 17 years ago today, I posted for the first time on my then-new blog, SlingWords.

(Giveaway Alert: Details at the end.)

That 9-sentence post, Japanese Proverb, has been read 173 times.

I'd already been blogging for a few years for clients. I liked doing it so I decided to start my own blog.

In fact, for a few years, I wrote and published SlingWords and another personal blog I used in freelance writing. On that second blog, I wrote and published a few hundred posts.

Those were busy years, and I learned a lot about blogging. I'm finally publishing Blog Ops: Be a Better Blogger, a book of best blog practices to help those who struggle with blogging. The book is on pre-order now. You can read more about it at the end of today's post.

Looking Back to the Beginning

In 2005, I blogged mostly about these topics:

(1) my thoughts on everything from the art, craft, and business of writing to zany people behaving badly

(2) funny things I thought, read, or heard

(3) book, music, TV, apps, and movie reviews

(4) "war" stories from other authors in the trenches

(5) interviews and spotlights on other authors and their books

(6) personal and professional triumphs and disappointments

(7) miscellaneous bits and pieces of informative and entertaining trivia

(8) and some things I learned from life.

In other words, I blogged about the same subjects then as I do now. I've added a few topics along with some standard posts that I normally write on a certain day of the week.

Posts like Thursday3Some with 3 questions an author answers or 3 bits of information on a subject of interest to readers.

Another common post for wannabe writers was If Only I'd Known in which authors share insights into things they wished they'd known when they began. I think I'll start publishing those posts again because the old ones have 1,000 to 2,000 reads.

Back then, there weren't labels or tags, but I quickly learned how to use them. I didn't add graphics to each post in the beginning.

Most Popular

My Review posts—whether reviews of books, apps, TV, movies, or music—have over 1,000 hits. My Review: How to Starve Cancer by Jane McLelland has 3,685 reads. I still get email about that post.

In 2005, the most popular post I wrote was 10 Best Smells in the World which has been read 3,835 times! Actually, through the 17 years, I've had many posts that have become popular and continue to be read.

Milestones

Toward the end of 2005, I began adding graphics to each post. 

After 17 years, the graphics began to take up too much storage space so I've begun removing some from early posts.

I began adding my closing phrase, Takeaway Truth, in mid-2008. By the end of the year, I used that closing phrase on every post.

To date, I've published 3,868 posts. That's an average of 227 posts a year. Rarely did I skip days. The last 2 years have been challenging due to family medical crises and writing deadlines so my blogging fell by the wayside.

Posts That Are Queen of Content

I won't list all of the posts that have thousands of views and continue to be read. One of the most popular is How to Create a Clean Amazon Link

I've tried to teach the importance of this to other authors because it's crucial to success. So I re-publish that post once every few years. To date, those posts have 14,550 reads.

Another post I re-publish fairly often is How to Write an Online Book Review. I do this to encourage readers to review books they like. Many do not because they don't know what to say. To date, those posts have been read 3,375 times.

The Christmas posts in which I feature authors with special bargains on their Christmas romance novels still get huge numbers of reads—almost 8,000—even though most of them are several years old. But the authors' books are still available so an old post can help a new reader discover an author she may love.

Author and Book spotlight posts always get about 100 to 200 reads initially, but because the post stays on the blog, always found in Archives, the posts continue to be read. Most of those posts end up with 1,000 to 2,000 reads over the years.

Authors can thank Google for providing links to a post on SlingWords when their names are entered into Google search—and give a hat tip to me, I guess, since I keep their content available.

About Blog Ops: Be a Better Blogger

I'm sharing concise, specific tips to help you not only be a better blogger but also to enjoy blogging rather than looking at it as a tedious task.

If you have an old blog that needs rescuing, BLOG OPS will show you how to breathe life into it.

If you started a blog and don't know how to keep it going when the initial excitement wanes, BLOG OPS will give you a strategy to keep it fresh and vibrant.

In case you think blogging is dead, think again. It's alive and well and paying rewards to those who utilize it smartly.

 Available for pre-order now, Blog Ops: Be a Better Blogger will publish in June—maybe before if I quit having emergencies. *G* 

Giveaway

To celebrate the 17th anniversary of SlingWords, I'm giving away free copies of April Fool Bride, the first book in my All Brides Are Beautiful series. This book is FREE Wednesday, April 13, 2022, 12:00am PDT, through Saturday, April 16, 2022, 11:59 pm PDT.

Is it a marriage of convenience or something more?

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!?

Takeaway Truth

I lift my glass of champagne to you. Thanks for being a SlingWords reader. You can look forward to more grreat content and great guests in 2022.

Monday Magic: Instructables

This morning, I have a great online app for you especially if you like DIY projects or crafts.

On Instructables, you can learn everything from baking 4 ingredient beer bread to 3D printer projects to, well, to just about anything you can think of.

Best of all, Instructables is free. Browse the categories, and I'm sure you'll find something to pique your interest.

If you're looking for a craft to learn, try Origami Craft for Beginners. This past weekend, I was reminded of how delightful origami is.

I was packing up the last of the clear glass vases used as centerpieces for our daughter's wedding reception.

She had made hundreds of tiny origami cranes, a marriage good luck symbol.

The vases contained tiny twinkling lights and crushed irridescent cellophane.

We dropped the colorful paper cranes into the vases and sprinkled a few on the tables for guests to take away.

The centerpieces were beautiful, unique—memorable! 

And that's why I'm thinking about origami today.

Takeaway Truth

Have a wonderful week. Come back tomorrow to get information on my free book this week.

April Fool Romance Novels on Sale

Yes, I have 2 books with April Fool in the title!

Something about April Fool's Day  always intrigued me.

Both of the books are on sale for 99¢ each from now through April 10 at midnight CDT.

First up is April Fool Bride, a book readers love! Here's the blurb for this heartwarming, sexy marriage of convenience romance.

Is it a marriage of convenience or something more?

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!?


2nd April Fool Romance

Next up is April Fool Proposition, a steamy, romance about a girl who feels like a bit of an ugly duckling.

Matchmaker gone wild! That's the label that should be plastered on the forehead of her friend's mom, romance author Lorelei Lorelle aka Margaret Smith.

Unfortunately, Brenna O'Reilly is late to realize that she's part of a romance plot using real people rather than fictional characters.

Brenna is the middle button—that's what her grandmother who raised her and her older sister and younger brother—called her. Her sister was the wild child; her brother is the smart, happy-go-lucky player. Brenna is the responsible one who takes care of everyone.

In her quest to fulfill that role, she's given up every part of herself and become the even-tempered, responsible young woman on whom everyone depends.

She doesn't realize she's put her personal life on hold. When her friend's mom tells Brenna her sister Maura won't commit to the man she loves because she's afraid Brenna will be alone, she plants the seed of an idea for Brenna to pretend to have a lover of her own, and that Dr. Travis Larsen is the perfect man to play the part of her pretend lover.

Brenna doesn't realize until too late that her friend's mom, a noted romance author, has set her up! What will Brenna do when she learns the woman has her own agenda for throwing Brenna and Travis together? Will Travis settle for being a pretend lover? Will Brenna cut loose and yield to her own desires?

Takeaway Truth

Read Romance, the Optimistic, Feel-Good Genre.

Unplugged Is Difficult—Gardening Is Easy

Hello, Readers! I've been in no WiFi land for a while now.

Darling Husband and I have been at our house in the country more frequently than in town.

We've been up in the air about whether to sell this property, but discovering we no longer have sufficient cell phone service to achieve a Personal Hot Spot made our decision for us.

In my business of writing, I simply cannot be unplugged every day and night. The backlog of email plus being unable to communicate with my writing and reading communities makes my life too difficult.

I use Dropbox for quick access across all my devices for writing, my spreadsheets, my graphics, etc., but I can't get it to load without WiFi or a strong hot spot signal for cellular data.

I have to drive up to the stable on a nearby hill to get 2 bars in order for the hotspot to be "hot" enough to get a good internet connection. Forget streaming anything.

Now that I've updated you, I'll open a couple of files from Dropbox, save them to my local computer, and work on them later.

Gardening in the Country

Yes, we are gardening today—cleaning up the winter kill and weeding the flower beds.

We already have purple Dutch iris, blue agapantha, and three varieties of lantana—orange/yellow Radiation Lantana, pinkyellow Silver Queen, and bright yellow New Gold—popping up.

I want to get those weeds out before they get a foothold.

I'll see if I can post some pictures tomorrow. Here's one of the Dutch iris. Larry's mom gave me a start of those about twenty years ago. I've transplanted them to the yards of every house we've owned and shared them with friends and family. I'm taking some with me when I go home today to plant in my current yard.

I'm sorry I can't send a clump to you. They're resilient, beautiful, and bloom for a 4-6 weeks here. I never have to dig them up in my growing zone, and they spread every year.

I looked on Amazon (they seem to have everything)and found you can order Dutch iris bulbs. I've embedded the link here: order a 10-pack of Dutch Iris Mixed Colors, in case  you'd like to plant some in your yard.

Takeaway Truth

It's beautiful here in the country, and I hope it is where you are too. Have a wonderful day.

Book Spotlight: Vegetable Gardening from the Ground Up by Stephanie Suesan Smith

Please welcome my friend Stephanie Suesan Smith who is a gardener extraordinaire.

Join us as she answers 3 questions about her new book, Vegetable Gardening from the Ground Up. Her new book is available digitally and in paperback.

Stephanie is not only a Ph.D. and a Master Gardener but also a professional copywriter specializing in writing about gardening.

If you check out her Garden Writing Portfolio, she can see some of the hundreds of articles she's written for print and digital publications.

I was thrilled when she published a book about Vegetable Gardening since so many discovered during the first wave of CoVid, the joy and pride of starting a garden.

Find Stephanie Online

Stephanie's Vegetable Blog 


3 Book Spotlight Questions

Q1: What inspired you to write the book?

SSS: I see new gardeners set themselves up for failure because they don’t realize all the things they need to take care of before they plant anything. They become discouraged and decide they can’t grow their own food. With just a little bit of guidance, they can.

Q2. What expertise do you have in this area?

SSS: I have been a Master Gardener since 2001. Master Gardeners are volunteers who work with the horticultural extension agent to teach people the best way to grow vegetables, ornamentals, and anything else they want to grow. 

I have to take continuing education every year to stay up with the current best practices. I have advanced training in growing vegetables and entomology but learned to grow vegetables from my Dad. He let me “help” him plant and harvest when I was young. When I got a little older, he made me help weed and water, too.

Q3: What do you hope readers will get from the book?

SSS: I hope they will be able to grow their own vegetables. Lots of people do not have enough money to eat healthy food. In addition, children are more likely to eat vegetables they help grow. Finally, gardening is good exercise and most people do not get enough of that, either. Everyone, even apartment dwellers, can grow fresh vegetables if they want to. I hope this book teaches them how.

 Vegetable Gardening from the Ground Up is available as a Kindle ebook for $2.99 (It's also a Kindle Unlimited Free Read.) or in paperback for $7.99.

Stephanie has been kind enough to say she'ls happy to answer any gardening questions readers may have. Just leave your question in comments.

Takeaway Truth

I'm a gardener, and I think everyone should experience the joy of gardening. Studies have shown that gardening lowers blood pressure, helps one de-stress, and actually contributes to longevity. All that aside, gardening is pure joy. Get your copy today of Vegetable Gardening from the Ground Up.

Review: The Last Kingdom on Netflix

Warning: Do not start watching The Last Kingdom unless you have hours upon hours to devote to the 5 seasons of this gripping Netflix Original series.

If you remember anything about world history, you might remember England during the reign of King Alfred who was called Alfred the Great after he died.

You may also remember this was a time when Scandinavian invaders collectively known as the Danes during that time raided England every spring—if not sooner.

Seriously, I'm not kidding. You'll end up in a time dilation field with days and evenings passing outside the field while you're stuck binge watching every single episode of the 5 seasons.

Another Warning: Authors—women in particular—if you're looking for a role model for a Viking hero, look no farther than Uhtred perfectly portrayed by Alexander Dreymon.

The movie poster sold on Amazon is shown at left. That's Dreymon as Uhtred. ($24.99 for a 24" x 36" poster and only 20 psoters left, ladies!) 

Genesis of The Last Kingdom

The Last Kingdom, free for Netflix subscribers, or pay per episode with YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV, Vudu, and Amazon Prime, is based on Saxon Tales by Bernard Cornwell, a 13 book series. Rather than give the title of each of the 13 books, I've linked the series of books so you can check each of them out.

FYI, the first season of the series roughly covers the events of the first 2 books in the series: The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman.

Each season of this series is action-packed, full of emotion, bloodlust, valor, treachery, sadness, stupidity, back-stabbing, love, honor, loyalty, and—completely exhausting! Uhtred is naive when the series starts, but by the middle of the series, he's learned that the one thing you can depend on is that it's rare to find anyone who honors a pledge.

He's the misunderstood man who's guilty of trusting the wrong men and women and for that he's constantly maligned and targeted as a traitor by those seeking power. But he eventually learns how to turn events to his advantage, how to use words to see that right is done, and accepts that he will not be remembered by name but by the common people as a great warrior. 

Cast of The Last Kingdom

I can't imagine anyone else filling the roles as the actors and actresses named below. For an excellent listing of the cast, visit the Wiki for The Last Kingdom. I'm not going to list them all because there are dozens upon dozens. These are the ones that stick in my mind.

Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred of Bebbanburg
David Dawson as King Alfred 
Tobias Santelmann as Ragnar the Younger
Emily Cox as Brida
Adrian Bower as Leofric
Thomas W. Gabrielsson as Guthrum
Simon Kunz as Odda the Elder 
Harry McEntire as Aethelwold 
Joseph Millson as Aelfric
Ian Hart as Beocca
Eliza Butterworth as Aelswith, Alfred's wife and Queen of Wessex 
Eva Birthistle as Hild, a nun and a warrior, one of Uhtred's most trusted allies
Peri Baumeister as Gisela, Uthred's second wife and sister of Guthred
Thure Lindhardt as Guthred
Mark Rowley as Finan, a fierce Irish warrior sworn to Uhtred
Arnas Fedaravičius as Sihtric, Kjartan's son who becomes one of Uthred's allies 
Jeppe Beck Laursen as Haesten 
Toby Regbo as Aethelred, Lord of the Mercians
Millie Brady as Princess Aethelflaed 
James Northcote as Aldhelm 
Ewan Mitchell as Osferth, Alfred's illegitimate son and one of Uthred's allies 
Simon Stenspil as Dagfinn, a chief of the Danes
Timothy Innes as Edward, King of the Anglo-Saxons 
Thea Sofie Loch Næss as Skade, a Skald and Sorceress 
Ola Rapace as Earl Sigurd "Bloodhair" 
Magnus Bruun as Cnut, a powerful Danish Warlord and cousin of Ragnar
Adrian Schiller as Aethelhelm the Elder, a rich and powerful Ealdorman in Wessex
Amelia Clarkson as Ælflæd, wife of King Edward and Aethelhelm's daughter 

Takeaway Truth

If you loved Game of Thrones, you will absolutely be spellbound by The Last Kingdom, a real-life game of thrones with England of the late 800's CD (or AD if you think along those lines) as the reward of the winner—in effect the battlefield over which all groups fought.

Review: Fisherman's Friends

If you're looking for a feel-good movie, look no further than Fisherman's Friends, now streaming on Amazon Prime, free for subscribers, and Tubi, free with commercials. 

The film is based on a true story about a group of Cornish fishermen from Port Isaac who were signed by Universal Records and achieved a top 10 hit with their debut album of traditional sea shanties.

This 2019 British film was directed by Chris Foggin from a screenplay by Nick Moorcroft, Meg Leonard, and Piers Ashworth.

There's something addictive about the sea shanties. You've all heard "What Will We Do With A Drunken Sailor," and that's just one of many sung by the eight men. 

The film stars Daniel Mays, James Purefoy, David Hayman, Dave Johns, Sam Swainsbury, Tuppence Middleton, Noel Clarke, Christian Brassington, Maggie Steed, and Jade Anouka.

The Story  

Danny lives life in the fast lane as a London music executive. At a weekend party in Cornwall with his pals, he's pranked by his boss and told to sign a group of shanty-singing fishermen.

Danny is out of his element and struggles to gain the respect and enthusiasm of this unlikely boy band, the members of which value friendship and community over fame and fortune. He learns to respect and admire them and works hard to fulfill his promises of an album.

Along the way, he falls in love, analyzes his own life, and changes for a different kind of success.

Takeaway Truth

This is a delightful movie that's fun and has songs you'll be singing and humming for days afterwards.

Vernal Equinox and Ancient Civilizations

Welcome, Spring!

How I've missed your green of new leaves, growing grass, and flowering trees and shrubs.

Vernal Equinox

Many cultures in the  ancient world celebrated the vernal equinox.

People built monuments, like Stonehenge, to observe the rise of the sun on that day.

Indeed, ancient civilizations tracked the path of the sun across the sky from sunrise to sunet as well as monitoring how the length of the day changed. They used the sun and the moon as a clock and a calendar.

One of the most famous spring equinox celebrations was at Chichen Itza in Mexico where the Mayans built a massive pyramid around the year 1000 AD. The sun light shining on it was the signal for the beginning of the seasons.

The Mayans called this day The Return of the Sun Serpent because the sunlight looked like a giant snake slithering down the steps.

Takeaway Truth

Spring is my favorite season of the year. It's a renewed burst of energy that makes anything seem possible. Happy Spring!

Book Spotlight: Katie's Gamble by Kara O'Neal

Good morning!

Grab your cup of coffee, tea, or whatever, and let's chat with Kara O'Neal about her latest book, Katie's Gamble, which is in the SlingWords Book Spotlight today.

Get to Know Kara O'Neal

Award-winning author, Kara O’Neal is a teacher and lives in Texas with her husband and three children.

She writes stories with strong family ties, lots of romance and guaranteed happy endings!

Please visit Kara at her Website.

Subscribe to Kara's free Newsletter and get the latest news about new releases and barggains. Find Kara online at these other websites:

Facebook   *  Twitter   *  Pinterest  *  Goodreads

About Katie's Gamble by Kara O'Neal

Katie McCord bears much weight on her shoulders–single-handedly running her family’s business, McCord’s Confectionery, and caring for her three younger siblings.

Her little shop is in trouble, which forces her to seek help from her brother, Johnny McCord, a notorious gambler living in New Orleans, or lose everything.

Rowdy Denton might be a gambler working for Johnny McCord, but one look at Katie’s sweet innocence tugs at the ache and guilt in his heart.

For his peace of mind, he’s determined to get her out of the opulent hotel and brothel kept by her brother and back to the little town in Texas where she belongs—far away from Rowdy.

When Johnny refuses to sell his share to Katie, he sends Rowdy to her hometown to cause her further trouble. But, instead, Rowdy finds himself working as her hired hand and helping her keep everything together.

Katie knows Rowdy has another purpose for being in Echols. He works for her brother, after all, and is a gambler himself. So, why is he helping her? When she discovers the answer to her question, she races back to New Orleans, prepared to make the biggest gamble of her life.

Behind the Story: Writing Katie's Gamble

Q: What inspired you to write this particular story?

KO: I do this thing where I fall in love with secondary characters. I can’t help it. Once a picture forms in my mind, a story usually follows. And then I just have to write it. Even if the character is a villain.

During MAGGIE’S SONG, I met Rowdy Denton. Gambler. Gunslinger. Collector of debts. And he had no give in him. But somehow I felt that underneath the harshness beat a heart of gold. And I had to find out why. So, I wrote KATIE’S GAMBLE and Rowdy became a hero I will always cherish.

Q: How did you choose the names for your main characters (any particular reason?)

KO: I chose “Katie” for my heroine because her last name was going to be McCord, and I think “Katie McCord” sounds so musical. I chose “Rowdy” because when I first pictured him, I thought, “Well, he looks rowdy.” So, he became “Rowdy Denton.”

Q: If this book were made into a movie, who would star as the heroine and the hero?

KO: This is soooo easy! Jennifer Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue. They are beautiful together!

Takeaway Truth

Great weekend reading is just ahead so grab a copy of Katie's Gamble by Kara O'Neal.

Foolishly Yours Video

I created a video for my latest release, Foolishly Yours, a Kindle Unlimited free read.

Leave a comment and tell me if you think the video is too short, too long, or just the right length.

I'll give away one copy of my new book by random draw.

Just leave a comment with your answer. Drawing open until Sunday, March 20 at midnight.

Click to watch the video — Foolishly Yours.


Takeaway Truth

Sign up for my free newsletter and receive a newsletter twice a month with a free book offer and bargain books. You'll receive a download link for a free ebook romance to thank you for subscribing. Your email address which will never be shared.

Review: Nobody Starring Bob Odenkirk

This movie is for all the Walter Mittys of the world. 

Hmm. That may be a dated reference. If you don't know who Walter Mitty is, he was the main character in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a short story by James Thurber, published in 1939 in The New Yorker.

The story is the most famous of Thurber's work and gave rise to a man being labeled a Walter Mitty. You may have seen the movie of the same name that was released in 2013 and starred Ben Stiller as Mitty.

In the story (and the movie) Mitty is a meek, mild-mannered man whose days are monotonous and boring. He escapes his mundane existence with exciting daydreams in which he's a brave, stalwart hero, facing danger and winning.

Where to Find Nobody

You can watch Nobody on HBO Max if you're a subscriber. If not, it's available on a few other streaming services, but I don't know if it's free there. You can rent or buy from Amazon too.

Blurbing the Movie

Hutch Mansell is a nobody and isn't respected by his co-workers or his children. When he fails to defend himself or his family when thieves break into his suburban home, he reaches the boiling point. He's had all he can take of being a nobody and goes out looking for trouble.

Boy! Does he find it. More than that. He IS trouble to the punks he comes across. Trouble in the form of his long-simmering rage, brutal fights, gunshots, and burning rubber on a stolen car.

Along the way, he crosses the wrong people and his wife and kids are endangered. Can he save them and live a life where he will never be anyone's doormat again? Absolutely because Hutch has a secret that you'll delight in discovering.

Nobody is a 2021 American film released by Universal Pictures in 2021. This action thriller was directed by Ilya Naishuller and written by Derek Kolstad. David Leitch and Bob Odenkirk are among the film's producers.

Odenkirk also stars as Hutch and Connie Nielsen, as his wife. Christopher Lloyd is fabulous as his father who shows that the acorn doesn't fall far from the oak tree.

This movie was a total surprise to us. Odenkirk—you may know him from Better Call Saul—is completely believable, and Christopher Lloyd is a hoot. The plot surprises are just what the viewer kind of suspects and is rewarded by.

If you don't like violence, pass this one by or close your eyes during certain scenes. Truthfully, the movie is an unexpected delight. Solid writing with no "stupid" scenes. What I mean by that is one of our pet peeves about movies and TV shows. That's when a character suddenly acts contrary to the characterization previously established. Great acting, likable good guys, and evil bad guys. Two thumbs up.

Takeaway Truth

We'll probably watch it again in a few months if it's still available on HBO Max. It's that good.














Writing Rules to Embrace

Do writers really need rules?

Sometimes, we do. It keeps us focused.

If you're a writer or want to be a writer, try these on for size.

(1) You must write—not just talk about it, not just think about it, not just dream about it.

(2) You must write consistently—not just when The Muse inspires you, not when your house is clean, not when everything in Life is perfect because it will never be the perfect time to write.

(3) You must strive to improve—practice indeed makes perfect, or at least better.

(4) You must put your work out in the marketplace—nothing ventured, nothing gained.

(5) You must persist when rejected—because you will be rejected. Everyone is rejected at some point by either agents, editors, or readers.

(6) You must believe in yourself even when no one else does—especially when no one else does.

(7) You must remember why you began writing in the first place—because you love putting words together.

(8) You must accept that luck is a part of this business and that you may never get that lucky break—but you can succeed anyway.

(9) You must remember why you write—not for money or fame but because you love putting words together to tell stories.

Takeaway Truth

Writing is what you do and characterizes who you are. Writing in and of itself is the reward. Write hard. Live free.

Laughter Chases the Chill Away

If you've been stuck at home when the snow bomb hits, you are probably sick of cold weather. I do hope everyone has power and heat while stuck indoors.

This post is to give you a little chuckle to brighten your Sunday the way the funny paper once brightened my day when I was a child.

My friend Frank sent me these funnies.

1. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

2. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public. Or not.

3. Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.

4. You're never too old to learn something stupid. Or to do something stupid.

5. I didn't say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you.

6. There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away.

7. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

8. Learn to take life with a grain of salt—and a slice of lime and a shot of tequila.

9. Behind every successful man is a woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

Takeaway Truth

Stay calm. Spring is sure to come sooner or later.

New Release: Shamrocks are a Girl's Best Friend by Lucinda Race

My friend Lucinda Race has a new romance, Shamrocks are a Girl's Best Friend.

This book is extra special because it's her first for the Last Chance Beach Romance series.

Getting to Know Lucinda

Award winning author Lucinda Race writes about family, love and happily ever afters.

She is a lifelong fan of romantic fiction. As a young girl, she spent hours reading romance novels and getting lost in the hope they represent. While her friends dreamed of becoming doctors and engineers, her dreams were to become a writer—a romance novelist.

As life twisted and turned, she found herself writing nonfiction but longed to turn to her true passion. After developing the storyline for The Loudon Series, it was time to start living her dream. Her fingers practically fly over computer keys as she weaves stories about strong women and the men who love them.

Find Lucinda Online

Twitterwww.twitter.com/lucindarace

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/LucindaRaceAuthor/

Instagramwww.instagram.com/lucindaraceauthor

Amazonamazon.com/author/lucindarace

Sign up for Lucinda's Free NLhttps://www.lucindarace.com/newsletter

About Shamrocks are a Girl's Best Friend by Lucinda Race

Battered, broken and looking for solitude smoke jumper Tric heads to Last Chance Beach and without warning walks into Kelly's cottage. She knows from experience this is the best place for him to recover and she'll share her safe haven with him. Will a bit of Irish luck and a matchmaking uncle give them a chance to find love?

Tric Ryan has spent the majority of his adult life jumping out of airplanes and into infernos. That is until a fateful jump nearly ends his career as a smoke jumper. 

Badly in need of a change, he drives to Last Chance Beach to recover. A short respite at Shamrock Cottage promises him the solitude he needs to recoup, or to figure out how he’ll face a future without the dangerous job he loves.

Kelly O’Malley moved to Last Chance Beach after a broken heart. She’s living in her uncle’s rental, Shamrock Cottage, after a fire destroys her home. Brandishing a skillet she’s ready to defend her safe haven from the battered and bruised man in her living room.

A quick call to her uncle confirms the mix-up, and that he’s accidentally rented the cottage to both Tric and her for an open-ended stay. When they both agree they can share the spacious vacation home, sparks are sure to fly.

Kelly helps Tric recover with easy walks on the beach and friendship. Will the magic of Last Chance Beach, with a dash of luck from the Irish, heal the heartaches Kelly and Tric carry and help them find the love and a future they both deserve? After all Shamrocks are a girl’s best friend.

Takeaway Truth

If you're looking for a wonderful romance to read this weekend, look no further. Shamrocks Are a Girl's Best Friend by Lucinda Race will delight you. Return to Last Chance Beach today!