Starfish Writers Conference: Registration Open

The 2017 Starfish Writers Conference, hosted by the Houston Bay Area Chapter of Romance Writers of America is now open for registration.

Conference Details

The conference runs from Friday, September 22 through Saturday, September 23, 2017. There will be Raffle Baskets and door prices.

Location: South Shore Harbour Resort, 2500 South Shore Blvd., League City, Texas 77573. This is just a short hop south of Houston.

Times: Friday, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


Friday evening is a poolside gathering featuring Melinda VanLone, owner of Book Cover Corner with a cash bar.

Saturday morning kicks off with a light breakfast, followed by workshops with Tracy Brogan, Amazon and Wall Street Journal bestseller.

A full lunch will be served at mid-day.


$50.00 for  Houston Bay Area RWA Members.

$75.00 for Non-members

No refunds will be given after September 7, 2017

To check out the workshops, click here.

To register online, click here.

Takeaway Truth

This writers conference is a good one. Plan on attending.

14 Agent Questions to Ask

For those authors seeking literary agents, here's a list of questions to ask prospective agents.

Things A Writer Must Always Remember

When shopping for representation, an author is actually screening applicants for a job.

The author is the Employer seeking to hire an Employee, a literary agent to work FOR HER/HIM.

This is a business. Never forget that. Be business-like. Ask the right questions.

At the very least, here are some basic questions a writer needs a prospective agent to answer when an offer of representation is on the table.

14 Important Questions

1. Does the agent maintain separate escrow or trust accounts for client funds?

2. Does the agent have a separate signatory for the client account in case of death or incapacitation?

3. How do you get your money if the agent is incapacitated or dies?

4. Does the agent have a surety bond?

5. Does the agent maintain some sort of error, omission or fidelity insurance?

6. Is the agent a member of RWA or other professional organizations? If so, check with that organization to see if there are any comments or complaints against the agent.

7. Does the agent offer a written contract?

8. Does the agent also package books?

9. Does the agent also write books? Is there anyway this could be a conflict of interest for you?

10. If you ever have to return an advance, does the agent forfeit the commission?

11. What fees are charged? Courier, copying, telephone, postage, flat "Office Expense" fee, etc.?

12. Are you sent an accounting? If so, how often?

13. Does the agent send a year-end statement of activity or some other kind of report?

14. How can the agent be terminated if he/she doesn't work out?

Takeaway Truth

Read these questions carefully. If you don't know what some of these things mean, look them up.

Educate yourself. This is a business, not just a creative pursuit.

Getting Rid of Weeds the Natural Way

This picture to the left isn't my house--thank God! I'm using it to show how weeds can get a toe-hold and take over your yard before you can say Roundup!

Actually, this post is a short lesson in controlling weeds without using the dangerous chemical Roundup, now implicated in autism and auto-immune diseases.

I'm talking weeds because it's Saturday, and I'm at my house in the country tackling this weedy issue.

Vinegar, Believe It!

The best time to kill weeds is when your lawn has grown dormant in winter. Otherwise, you have to be careful not to get this vinegar solution on your jewel-green grass or other plants.

Plain old vinegar is a natural herbicide that kills with exceptional speed. Here's what you do.

1. Add vinegar (white is probably cheapest) and a squirt of liquid dish soap to a spray bottle. The dish soap helps the mixture stick to plants.

2. Spray a few times over each weed or several times over weed patches.

3. Remember, like a chemical herbicide, this is a non-selective mixture. That means it will kill any green growing thing it gets on.

That's it. If it rains or the sprinklers wet the sprayed weeds, repeat the spraying.

Takeaway Truth

Natural ways often work as well as the chemical.

Must See YouTube Videos

I really do love my job--especially the sharing part. I get to read, write, watch videos, and so many other things.

Then I tell you all about what I've done. Love the sharing!

This week, I'm sharing some fascinating videos I think you'll find interesting.

The Rice Video: Carbon Dioxide by The Galileo Movement
(global warming myth or fact)

How to Draw Cartoon People by DrawStuffREalEasy

Quadriplegic Drives 2016 Z0 Camaro by Jay Leno's Garage

10 Most Unforgettable Singing Auditions

How to Use Gimp, Beginner's Guide

Top 10 Life Hacks with Vinegar

The REAL Reason Apple Cider Vinegar Works for Losing Weight

30 Movies That Are Going To Blow Everyone Away In 2017

Takeaway Truth

YouTube is one of my favorite sites for entertainment and education. You can find videos on everything from taking off a Cessna to making an apple pie.

Review: American Anarchist

A week ago, Darling Hubby and I watched American Anarchist on Netflix. (You can also find it on Amazon.)

I think just about everyone has heard of this infamous book, but you may not know the author.

William Powell was nineteen years old and obviously rebelling against parental authority--all authority in fact, as many young people did in the 1960's.

American Anarchist is about Powell, the author of The Anarchist's Cookbook which has been used by those who have committed horrendous acts of terrorism.

Compelling Documentary

The documentary is compelling as Charlie Siskel, the writer and director (and the nephew of the late film critic Gene Siskel), unfolds the narrative with photos from the counterculture period of the late 60's and early 70's and interviews with Powell and his wife of many years.

First Thing That Struck Me

Two things struck me about this film. The first was Mr. Powell's insistence that he was ignorant of all that had been done, using his  infamous book, which he had compiled mostly from free booklets obtained from the Government Printing Office.

Ironically, Mr. Powell had become a teacher, serving in third world countries where he and his wife tried to make a difference. They were both well-respected as educators and as people. Until a fateful day when the officials who ran the school where he was currently employed were notified of his connection to a book that had figured prominently in terrorist bombings.

In all the years since The Anarchist Cookbook was published in 1971, the Powells claim they knew nothing about its connection to the bombing atrocities. I suppose that could be true since they lived abroad for decades and didn't own a television, they said.

I believe they wanted to be like an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand--oblivious and ignorant--because the alternative was soul-crushing to a man and woman who had devoted their lives to teaching young people.

Second Thing That Struck Me

When I watch a documentary, I'm expecting an insightful story, presented fairly, about a particular subject. I'm not expecting an example of hard-nosed investigative reporting, but that's what this film seemed to be.

Charlie Siskel, the writer and director, seemed determined to make William Powell admit his sins. He kept throwing statistics about various atrocities at Powell. In today's world of video journalism where interview subjects are slapped in the face with "how does that make you feel," Siskel seemed intent on making Powell take responsibility for each and every single maiming and killing.

Would it have been better if that book had never been published? Maybe. Who is to say? The information was already out there. Anyone could have ordered the pamphlet from the Government Printing Office. My goodness, the blueprints for the atomic bomb were once available for free to the public also. (I don't know if that's still true--probably is.)

Takeaway Truth

 I found the documentary interesting and...sad. I felt sorry for Powell who did a stupid, rash thing when he was an unhappy, rebellious kid.

He grew up to be a good person, but everything good that he did in life will always be overshadowed by that horrible book.

Is it any wonder he died suddenly, a year after the documentary was completed?

Get Ready for Amazon Prime Day

I hope you have your Amazon Wish List populated because Amazon Prime Day starts tonight at 9pm Eastern.

I like to take advantage of Prime Day to buy some Christmas and birthday gifts. When I've added the items I want to my Wish List, I can go to my Wish List as soon as Prime Day starts, add to cart, and checkout fast. That way I don't end up with things already sold out.

If you're not familiar with Amazon Prime Day, here's an Insider's Guide to help you out.

If you go to the Insider's Guide link, you can click to start a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime so you too can take advantage of the great deals. There's even a link to get a 6-month free trial. You can also find out ways to get notified of the best deals.

There's a wealth of information in the Insider's Guide so you can even have a portion of your purchases go to the charity of your choice.

Now, I've got to go and update my Prime Day Wish List that I set up just for the event.

Takeaway Truth

Seriously, I've found some amazing deals on Amazon Prime Day in the past, and I think you will too.

Change: The Only Constant

I'm trying to be the warrior, not the worrier.
There are some unsettling changes going on in my life. Like most humans on this planet, I don't like change. I've decided that's because too many of the changes I've experienced aren't for the better.

I looked up some online articles about how to survive change--as if I'm a novice in the change department. Most of them basically say to re-frame the way one looks at change or to celebrate what's new and good in the change.

Yeah, well, I'm working on it. (If this were a line of dialogue, I'd be forced to write it this way. "Yeah, well, I'm working on it," she grumbled.)

So I looked at some inspiring quotes. I made a list. I think I'll read and then write a quotation about 10 times every day until it soaks into my subconscious. Then when I'm upset, I can't repeat it like a little parrot to myself.

Let me share some of them with you.

I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. ~ Jimmy Dean

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. ~ Maya Angelou

Change your thoughts and you change your world. ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. ~ Soren Kierkegaard

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. ~ Stephen Hawking

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the game. ~ Randy Pausch

Takeaway Truth

Change comes whether we want it or not so we might as well learn how to deal with it. I'm working on it. I truly am.