'Twas the Night Before Christmas

One of the first poems I memorized as a child was A Visit from St. Nicholas, the poem known by most as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. which is the first line of the poem.

When I was a kid, I had a record of the poem set to music, sung by Perry Como, an Italian crooner my mom loved. I played the record so many times that I can clearly hear it in my memory.

The poem was first published anonymously in the Troy, New York, Sentinel on December 23, 1823, submitted by one of the author's friends. In 1837, the poem was attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, an American Professor of Oriental and Greek Literature, who acknowledged authorship.

Although Moore published other poems as well as political treatises, he's best known for the poem about St. Nick.

According to Moore, he wrote his poem while visiting his cousin Mary McVicker in what is now Constableville, New York. Apparently, he was inspired by a sleigh ride during a shopping trip on a snowy winter day.

There are 4 handwritten copies of the poem known to exist. Three of those are in museums, and the fourth, written and signed by Moore as a gift to a friend in 1860, was sold by one private collector to another in December 2006. Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, Texas, brokered the sale for $280,000 by an unnamed "chief executive officer of a media company" who lives in Manhattan.

Takeaway Truth

"I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight: Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!"

So say we all.

Giving Gifts

I love my blog audience and the readers who buy my books! Thank you so much for supporting me.

Elbert Hubbard said: "Love grows by giving. The love we give away is the only love we keep. The only way to retain love is to give it away."

I'm giving away love today in the form of free books. If you'd like a free book, drop by Anna Kathryn Lanier's Blog today. I'm guest blogging there. Read my post and leave a comment with your email address (don't leave it as a hot link -- write it out) to win a Swag Bag I'm giving away. In my post, I'm giving the Smashwords coupon code for a free book.

NOTE: Anna is sick so there may be a delay in her loading my guest post.

Takeaway Truth

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Remember to visit me at Anna Kathryn Lanier's Blog for a free copy of one of my books and to be entered for the Swag Bag giveaway as well as prizes from the Holiday Cheer authors.

Holiday Cheer: Check These Out

Because of my Internet problems, I was unable to post earlier about Anna Kathryn Lanier's Blog. Take a moment now to visit her blog and read the Holiday Cheer posts from some pretty fabulous authors, along with a favorite recipe from each author.

You see, each year Anna Kathryn Lanier hosts authors every day from December 1 -- January 1 for chat about romance novels, recipes, and giveaways.

I'll be a guest on Anna's blog tomorrow, Sunday, December 22, so please join me at Anna Kathryn Lanier's Blog for a chance to win a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card, as well as other prizes donated by the 29 authors who were this year's Holiday Cheer guests.

I'm giving away a free copy of Nobody's Cinderella, my Christmas romantic comedy, to anyone who comments along with a Swag Bag full of goodies -- to be awarded to a commentator from the lower 48 states only. (Swag Bag and free books via Smashwords to be awarded on or before January 3, 2014.)

To Win

To be eligible for the $25 gift card and author prizes, just leave a comment on each blog post. Authors will draw names from the comments the day following their post. Anna Kathryn will draw a winner for the $25 gift card on or about Jan. 3, 2014.

Holiday Cheer Guests

If you want to read a favorite author's post, here was the lineup for this year:

1-Dec Roni Denholtz
2-Dec Wareeze Woodson
3-Dec Bethany Averie
4-Dec Celia Yeary
5-Dec Andrea Downing
6-Dec Anna Kathryn
7-Dec Caroline Clemmons
8-Dec Carra Copelin
9-Dec Chrys Fey
10-Dec Melissa Snark
11-Dec Sky Purington
12-Dec Marie Higgins
13-Dec Renee Knowles
14-Dec Linda Laroque
15-Dec Jenny Andersen
16-Dec Cheryl Pierson
17-Dec L. A. Kelley
18-Dec Lyn Horner
19-Dec J D Faver
20-Dec Tara Manderino
21-Dec Shauna Allen
22-Dec Joan Reeves
23-Dec Terri Rochenski
24-Dec Anna Kathryn
25-Dec No One
26-Dec Sarah McNeal
27-Dec Tanya Hanson
28-Dec Loretta C. Rogers
29-Dec Debra St. John
30-Dec Charlene Raddon
31-Dec Kathleen Rice Adams
1-Jan Anna Kathryn

Takeaway Truth

The Holidays is all about good company, good food, and good times. See you tomorrow on Anna Kathryn's Blog.

Remodeling Hell & Remodeling Purgatory

Is this the Christmas Cranky Report? Sort of. My complaint is that it doesn't feel like Christmas. I've bought no presents, made no Christmas goodies, and put no tree up.

I did reduce the price of my holiday romance Nobody's Cinderella, a Christmas Romantic Comedy from $3.99 to only 99 cents. The price goes back to $3.99 on or before midnight tonight so grab a copy quick.

I guess I'm back. Sort of. In case you thought I was dead or in hiding, the truth is that I've been living in remodeling hell since November 21 when we, and our contractors, moved into the townhouse we bought in Houston.

Oh, the chaos has made me long for the quiet of the Hill Country where I spent the summer. Far better to deal with skunks, armadillos, and snakes than to deal with sawed sheetrock -- and the resulting dust which seems to amount to more matter than the actual sheetrock from which it came -- a parade of various craftsmen and the receipts and charge slips that are about as high as Mount Everest by now.

Remodeling Is Hell

I had planned everything so that we wouldn't be living in the house while it was being remodeled. Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men! Nothing worked out according to my schedule. We were at the mercy of contractors and their schedules.

Okay, it didn't look as bad as the picture on the left, but in my mind, it was that bad. I didn't want our furniture delivered until everything was done. My timetable called for (1) electrical work, (2) plumbing, (3) carpentry, (4) new windows, (5) painting, (6) new carpet, then (7) moving company delivery.

As it turned out, using the numbers above, it ended up this way: (1), (6), (4), (7), (5), (3), (2).  The electrical started on time, but instead of being finished in 2 weeks, it's ongoing. Plumbing is supposed to be today, but plumber still hasn't shown up. The new carpet, windows, and moving company delivery had to happen when they told me they had an opening on the calendar or it wouldn't happen until after Christmas.

Added Problems Make You Crazy

Throw in the little problems one finds when remodeling a house: AT&T uVerse for Internet worked fine -- the first few days. Then it went crazy. I've been mostly unable to get online for days. My MS  Outlook worked great for my email those first few days -- until Yahoo, so AT&T told me, did and upgrade to their software and hardware. I've not been able to access email since then except through webmail. That makes me crazy, and there seems no answer to this problem. My husband can access email fine with Outlook on his computer in the next room. My computer has the same everything but won't work.

Then there are the things you find hidden in the walls when you start remodeling. Suffice it to say that when you set a remodeling budget, you should just triple the dollar amount to be safe.

Remodeling Purgatory

Hell has given way to Remodeling Purgatory. We are unpacking all the boxes and figuring out where to store everything. We have mostly survived -- poorer but intact -- and the house is almost finished. At least our amazing electrician has finished making holes in the walls and ceilings to discover what's wrong with the wiring. That's all fixed and safe now.

More upgraded lighting work and other things -- like new doors which didn't arrive yet and are delayed until the new year -- will happen in January. I've just reached the point where I want a couple of weeks without workers in and out of the house all day long and without having to clean dust all day, every day.

Your Routine Ends When Remodeling

Everything fell by the wayside: finishing Cinderella Blue for publication, blogging, working out -- you name any normal daily activity, and it comes to a screeching halt when remodeling. You spend your time waiting for workmen to arrive or calling and leaving messages to find out why they're not here when they promised!!! Just start to write something though, and they show up. Once here, there's constant noise -- and dust. My allergies have me sneezing and eyes burning and tearing. Then, you're constantly cleaning up after workmen.

Takeaway Truth

Eventually all things end -- even remodeling. I'm looking forward to that and have the bottle of champagne chilling to celebrate it.

How To Send Smashwords Book To Your Kindle

Smashwords offers a lot of free ebooks, and authors often give away Smashwords Coupons for free books. Some of you Kindle users may not know how to get a Smashwords book onto your Kindle.

(Every few months, I like to run this post to help new ebook readers learn how to get a book on Smashwords and send it to the Kindle device to read it.)

Smashwords offers eBooks in multiple formats. One of these is usually the .mobi file format used for Kindle. It's very easy to download the .mobi files and transfer them to your Kindle. Here are step by step instructions for you.

How To Transfer a Smashwords Book to Your Kindle

1. Set up an account with Smashwords so you can purchase an eBook or download a free book with a Smashwords coupon. Then when you buy an eBook from Smashwords, the book is automatically placed in your Smashwords library. You can download the eBook in any offered format immediately or at a later date.

2. Even though you have Manage Your Kindle set up for buying and managing your Kindle books from Amazon, you will need to download the Kindle for PC app to your computer. When you do this, the download installation will set up a My Kindle Content folder, listed under My Documents on your computer. Then, when you download an ebook from Smashwords in a .mobi file, the file will automatically be saved in your My Kindle Content folder.

3. Download your selected book from Smashwords. The book will be placed in your Smashwords Library, and Smashwords will save the book as 2 files on your computer. The first file will be the My Kindle Content .mobi file, and the second file is a .mbp file. Once those 2 Smashwords files are saved on your computer, the Kindle for PC app you already installed on your computer will be able to open the eBook. You can read it immediately on your computer.

Most of us with Kindles though want to read on the Kindle. So let's continue.

Transfer Book from Kindle for PC to Your Kindle Reader

There are 2 ways to do this.

1. Connect the USB end of your Kindle cable to your PC. Open the Kindle drive, copy the Kindle Content .mobi file into the Documents folder on your Kindle drive. (It’s just like transferring a file to an external hard drive or a thumb drive, etc.)

2. If your Kindle device has a WiFi connection, you can use the free email address set up with your Amazon Kindle account and email your .mobi file to your Kindle via that email address. If in doubt as to what that email address is, login to your account / Manage Your Kindle. In Left sidebar, you'll see Your Kindle Account and below that, a number of choices, one of which is Personal Document Settings. Click that. A window opens, and you'll see at the top Send To Kindle Email Settings.

3. Click Learn More to read the instructions given by Amazon on how to set up the free Send-to-Kindle Email Settings under “Personal Document Settings” in your Amazon account. It's easy to understand.

4. Once you have your Kindle email address set up, just open your email app, create a message sending the email to your Kindle Email that you plan to use, attach the Kindle Content .mobi file, and click Send.

5. When you email a .mobi file to your Kindle account, you'll find the eBook listed in your Kindle Library under All Items. Just use the Actions button to select where you want to deliver the eBook. (This is for those of us who have multiple Kindle reading options, i.e., smartphone, Kindle, Kindle Fire, etc.)

6. Turn on your Kindle reader device so that it will receive the eBook just as if you'd bought it from the Kindle Shop. The book will download just like any other eBook purchase.

Actually, it takes less time to buy the book from Smashwords, download it to your PC, send it to Your Kindle Account, and download onto your device than it takes to read this.

Takeaway Truth

Now you can shop on Smashwords more often, knowing you can easily transfer the books you obtain to your Kindle.

Meet Main Street Author Joan Reeves

I've reduced the price of my Christmas Cinderella romance from $3.99 to only 99 cents for Christmas so I'm interviewing myself -- freaky, huh -- to tell you about it. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, I decided to interview myself the way I had interviewed the Authors of Main Street, one of my group blogs.

Although I'm one of the Authors of Main Street, I was unable to participate in their box set Christmas on Main Street (See Remodeling Hell below). I tried to do my part by writing the Foreword as my contribution to the group effort and have promoted the box set and those authors who participated.

Indeed, the Christmas on Main Street box set is available at an amazing price -- only 99 cents for 11 Christmas stories. That won't wreck your budget, and it makes a great gift for your reading friends.
Give an Amazon Gift card or a gift card from your favorite ebook seller for the box set.

Remodeling Hell

I wanted to participate in the box set, but I've been moving since July, or so it seems. First, we moved everything into storage after selling our home. We moved most of my office up to our Hill Country home. We had bought a townhouse in Houston but couldn't move in until the remodeling is completed. Well, you know how that kind of story goes.

We ended up moving in before remodeling was completed so I'm living in remodeling hell. It's like one of those horror stories on HGTV. Every day brings more plaster dust and more things that have been found that need to be fixed. The dollar signs are spinning around behind my eyeballs like a manic slot machine.

Progress on the book I was finishing, Cinderella Blue, Book 2: San Antone Two Step, came to a screeching halt. Needless to say, I did not have time to write something new for Christmas on Main Street. So I wrote the Foreword for the box set.

Nobody's Cinderella

Although I'm not in the box set, I do have a Christmas book available. Nobody's Cinderella (A Christmas Romantic Comedy) is Book 1, San Antone Two-Step.

For a limited time, the price of Nobody's Cinderella has been reduced from $3.99 to only 99 cents.

Here goes my self-interview about this Christmas Cinderella story.

Good morning, Joan. *G* Welcome to SlingWords. Please tell us more about your book.

Darcy Benton is a Christmas Cinderella, and she's the oldest cliche in the world—a woman in love with her boss. Other than that, she's no-nonsense, practical, mature, and sober. She's just the kind of woman Chase Whitaker wants as head of accounting for his company. She's definitely not the kind of woman he wants in his bed.

Enter Darcy's meddling, matchmaking best friend who has a plan to transform Darcy into a hottie designed to attract Chase's interest. All it takes? A couple of little lies—and a wish on a Christmas star.

Darcy should have heeded that old advice: be careful what you wish for.

SlingWords: What inspired you to write this particular holiday story?

Joan: A really cold blustery December day I spent in San Antonio.

SlingWords: What is your favorite holiday memory?

Joan: When I was very small, my older brother and I got to open the presents under the tree as soon as Santa Claus had delivered them. We each got a Micky Mouse flashlight and spent the rest of the night shining the lights on the ceiling and making patterns in the dark. I've always thought flashlights make a great kid gift so I always give one to little kids. In fact, this year I have a box of little red flashlights on a keychain to give away.

SlingWords: Just about everyone has a holiday horror story. What's the worst Christmas you ever spent?

Joan: Like so many, it involves the death of a loved one. My beloved grandfather passed away on a Christmas Eve. He was 100 years old, and he had the best attitude about life. He had told me the summer before when I visited that it would be the last time he would see me on this side -- that he wouldn't be around on Christmas Day. (Prescience seems to be in my mother's family's DNA. The stories I could tell about things that many of us have "seen" prior to the event taking place!)

SlingWords: What's the title of your next individual book?

Joan: Cinderella Blue which is the sequel to Nobody's Cinderella. Like all my romantic comedies, it has romance, sex, humor, and heartwarming home truths. Cinderella Blue: Love means never having to say, "You're under arrest."

Buy Nobody's Cinderella


All Romance eBooks




Visit Joan Reeves Online

Website: www.JoanReeves.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/joanreeves
Joan's Blog: http://slingwords.blogspot.com/
Joan's Videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/JoanReevesAuthor/videos

Takeaway Truth

Enjoy Nobody's Cinderella (A Christmas Romantic Comedy) and grab a gift card for a friend too.

Perfect Christmas Ornament for Writers

This ceramic Christmas Ornament: Snowflake is for readers and writers -- for anyone who loves the written word.

Available also in Round, Hexagon, Oval, and Landscape shapes -- the ornament is perfect for hanging on the tree or over your desk to remind you of the importance of words.

The ornament isn't just for writers but for anyone who loves the written word. Maybe it's also a good gift to remind someone in your life that the written word is powerful, and what you do is important.

Leo Rosten said: "Words sing. They hurt. They sanctify. They were the first immeasurable feat of magic."

Takeaway Truth

Now that's the importance of words.

12 Steps To Success

I wrote about the 12 Steps to Success for my local RWA chapter newsletter. I thought I'd share these steps with you too.

Whether you want a career as a writer, a bricklayer, an engineer, or a strong healthy body, these 12 Steps to Success apply.

Think about these steps. Think about them so deeply and so often that they seep into your consciousness.

Take 12 Steps

1. Dream.

You have to dream. If you're afraid of dreaming about what you want because you're afraid you won't get it, then you're already lost. Dream about what you want to gain. Make it a dream so rich in sensory detail that it's very nearly a virtual reality experience.

2. Set goals.

You must lay it on the line. Write down what you want to achieve. Then write down what you're going to have to pay to achieve it. We all pay, one way or the other. Maybe the price is working toward the goal when the rest of the family is watching television. Maybe the price is getting up an hour early or staying up when everyone else has gone to bed. Identify the price and ask yourself: "Am I really willing to pay the price?"

3. Develop work discipline.

Everything worthwhile can only be achieved through focused, consistent work. Think about it and establish how often you will work. Make a schedule and keep to it as if it were the most important appointment in your life.

4. Fake it until you make it.

Yep. That's just a short way of saying you need to behave as if you have already achieved that goal. Want to be a bestselling author? How does a bestselling author spend her day? Want to be sculptor? What does a sculptor do each day? Keep regular hours devoted to your goal achievement. Develop professionalism in whatever endeavor to which you aspire. Let others see you are dedicated to the goal. Believe it, and you'll see it.

5. Learn your craft.

Whatever it may be, know everything about it. Strive always to improve.

6. Practice your craft.

Start a project and complete it. Then do it again. And again.

7. Expose yourself to the best examples of your chosen career.

Meet those who are successful in that career. Ask for insight and guidance. Hang with those who have achieved what you want to achieve.

8. Market your work.

You eventually have to put your work and yourself in the marketplace. No one will ever discover you and what you can do unless you let them see you and your work.

9. Organize your work, your office, your time, your life.

Dedicate a space to your work. Set it up. Keep it workable. A cluttered desk is not a mark of genius, but of disorganization. Enjoy going to your special space because it means it's time for you to work on making your dream – your goal – real.

10. Manage your time.

If you plan to dedicate an hour to working on your goal, don't spend that hour emailing, talking on the phone, filing, or playing Solitaire. Use the time to achieve your goal – no matter how small or how large the block of time. Know how long it takes you to accomplish a certain task. Record your time on a calendar or journal every time you work.

11. Network.

Join in forums and subscribe to lists where others seeking the same goal congregate. Tweet or hangout on Facebook, but don't let social media keep you from goal achievement. The Internet is a wonderful place to meet like-minded individuals, but it can also be an enormous time suck. Don't forget to meet people in real life too. Share the joys and sorrows. Learn from them. Give to them so they can learn from you.

12. Celebrate.

Always celebrate your triumphs no matter how small. Don't wait for those big scores to pop the bubbly. Big scores don't come along too often. Celebrating the small victories helps you mark your progress and keeps you from burning out.

Takeaway Truth

You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything. So figure out specifically what you want, and go for it!

Enter Your Book Cover Art

Hey! Have you entered your book cover yet in the annual Judge A Book By Its Cover Contest -- informally known as JABBIC?

This prestigious contest sponsored by Houston Bay Area Romance Writers of America Chapter 30 celebrates the best in book cover art. The contest closes next month. If you haven't entered yet, read on. This is a contest you don't want to miss because it is open to self-published books as well as traditionally published books.


Books published during the calendar year 2013 by traditional publishing houses, ePublishers, Print-on-Demand publishers, or self-published.


Booksellers from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. All decisions of the judges are final.

  • Single title/Mainstream
  • Contemporary Series
  • Historical
  • Inspirational
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal
  • Sexiest cover
  • Young Adult

Midnight, January 15, 2014. (This means you must have uploaded your cover via the entry process by that time.)

Entry Fee

$15.00 USD. Fees are payable via PayPal or by check as directed during the entry process. (Credit cards will not be directly accepted by Houston Bay Area. You may use credit cards with PayPal, however.) One (1) entry fee per cover. You may enter as often as you like, but remember 1 fee per cover.

Entry Content
  • Front covers only which will be submitted electronically.
  • Cover art should be in JPG, GIF, or PNG format. No PDF files.
  • You may enter as many different covers as you wish, but each cover entered requires 1 entry fee.
  • Each cover may be entered in only one category.
  • If you know the actual artist's name, you can submit it with your entry. If you don't know the artist's name, you can simply leave that field blank.

Each winner in each category will be asked to submit a high-resolution image file for inclusion in the RWR ad which is the prize for winning.

Grand Prize

A full-page color ad in the April Romance Writers Report featuring the winners in all six categories.

To Enter JABBIC, just visit the Entry Page and follow the instructions.The entry process is easy, and the instructions on the page are clear.

Takeaway Truth

This contest has been around for many years and is respected in the publishing industry. The entry fee is small, and the honor of winning is large. Enter today.

Going on Record & Giving Thanks

Today, in America, we celebrate Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims would probably be shocked to see how this celebration has changed -- and I don't just mean the massive quantity and variety of food served on the average American dining table.

The Dining Table

Just about everyone wants a formal dining table big enough for family and friends to gather. Ironically, this dining table, heavily promoted by furniture stores beginning in October, is rarely used on a day to day basis. It resides in splendor in the formal dining room -- a room that is totally wasted in most homes. Another concept that would shock early settlers who lived crowded into one-room cabins.

Yes, we have much to be thankful for: plenty to eat, creature comforts, the ability to pretty much chart our own path through life without too much interference from government.

We take all that for granted, and for the fact that we can do that we should give thanks because that's one of the hallmarks, I suppose, of living in a free society.

Giving Thanks

Today, as on every Thanksgiving, I want to go on record and give thanks to:
  •  my family and friends -- I love you all dearly
  • my readers -- I appreciate each and every single one of you
  • my online community who supports and help me when I need assistance
  • the Declaration of Independence that gives me the right to pursue my own happiness
  • the armed forces of this country who make it possible to live free
  • all who volunteer and try to make the world a better place
Takeaway Truth

Thank you. May you all be richly blessed.

Cake Day: Mom's Rum Cake

Maybe it's the approaching holidays, but I'm in the mood to bake. Or maybe it's because it's Friday, Cake Day in the Reeves household.

On the first day of 2013, I decided I wanted to do something special each week for the family. Like many authors, my family sometimes gets short shrift when it comes to special meals and fancy desserts. It seems I'm always trying to finish a book or working on some writing project. We writers get stuck in the fictional worlds we create. It's easy to take our families' support for granted.

Life Is Short; Eat Dessert First

So I decided to start doing something special for them once a week. The plus is that I'd be focused on something creative but different from my writing which is my job. I remembered how my mom made a cake about once a week, and how excited we kids would be when we came home from school and smelled the unmistakable aroma of baking. Mouthwatering didn't begin to describe her cakes. They were wonderful.

I decided that Friday would be Cake Day, and I'd try my best to make something special each Friday. After all, life is short. Eat dessert first. Sadly, this is too true. I decided to stop working so darn hard and enjoy life more as well as make it more enjoyable for my family.

I've tweeted about my Friday being Cake Day several times, but I've never shared the recipes. Today as I thumbed through my mom's collection of recipes, written on index cards, I choked up just seeing her beautiful handwriting. I've shared some of her recipes in family Christmas letters, but I decided to start sharing them with you too. (The picture above is not the cake I'm making in a bit, but the rum cake looks like this.)

The Story About Rum Cake

This cake always struck me as rather funny because my Mom did not drink alcohol at all. I remember one time when a cousin came to visit, and he had a six-pack of beer he wanted to put in the refrigerator. My mom told him in no uncertain terms that she didn't condone drinking "liquor" in any form.

Like many good Southern Baptists and Methodists however, cooking with liquor was perfectly acceptable. She never saw the humor in this, but I often laughed when I saw some of her concoctions like the fruitcake so soaked in brandy that it posed a fire hazard. Admittedly, most of her cooking with liquor held no trace of alcohol which was volatilized by the heat.

Anyway, back to the recipe, which, by the way, uses a cake mix so it's super easy.

Mom's Rum Cake

Cake Ingredients

1 cup chopped pecans
1 box yellow cake mix
1 4-ounce package Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup dark rum

Cake Procedure

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Sprinkle nuts evenly in bottom of prepared bundt pan. (I spray mine with Pam or Baker's Joy.)
3. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, oil, and rum.
4. Blend the ingredients then beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
5. Pour mixture over the nuts in the bundt pan.
6. Bake at 325 degrees for 60 minutes.
7. Turn out onto a cake rack and cool for 15 minutes.
8. Invert onto serving plate.
9. Glaze while the cake is still warm. (Glaze recipe follows.)

Rum Cake Glaze

Glaze Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dark rum

Glaze Procedure

1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, and water, stirring until butter and sugar are melted.
2. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly so sugar does not scorch.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the rum.
4. Return to the flame and boil again for a couple of minutes until the alcohol is volatilized leaving the flavor only.

Takeaway Truth

Make something special for your family today. Mom's Rum Cake may be perfect. Bon appetit.

Write Rules

Better take notes on today's blog post because you will be tested on this material -- every single day of your writing life.

9 Write Rules

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 just when your house is clean, not just when everything in Life is running smoothly.

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

4. You must put your work out there in the marketplace -- nothing ventured, nothing gained.

5. You must persist when rejected or when your books just don't catch fire and sell like hotcakes -- because eventually everyone is rejected or puts a book out that is a total flop.

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 lucky, but you can still succeed anyway. Maybe you won't hit the NYT Bestseller list, but you can produce income and supplement your family budget and maybe even support yourself.

9. You must remember why you write -- because it is what you do; because you can't not write; because the writing is itself a reward; because you are a write.

Takeaway Truth

Write hard. Live free.

Is Fishing a Sport?

My husband loves to fish. He's been looking forward to cooler weather so he can try his luck at the five lakes here in our small Hill Country community. A handyman who comes to our rescue when we have problems told Larry that the lakes were stocked with crappie which is Larry's favorite.


The correct way to pronounce the name of this sport fish? Make the first syllable rhyme with crop -- not crap. *LOL* When my book Just One Look (A Romantic Comedy) was originally print published, the copy editor stuck a note on the page proofs asking me what fish I meant in the scene between the characters who were fishing.

Then when the book became an audio book, the narrator pronounced the fish as crappie (crap). I'm so glad I listened to every word when proofing those audio files! I guess the crappie are the Rodney Dangerfield's of the fishing world -- they get no respect.

A crappie is actually a variety of sunfish. The name (also spelled croppie or crappé), comes from the Canadian French crapet, which refers to many varieties of sunfish.

Back to my Original Question

Okay, is fishing a sport? Or is it just an excuse for a guy to sit in the sun, drink beer, shush his wife every time she starts to speak, and do little except hold a fishing rod?

I've fished a lot because my parents liked to fish. I hardly ever caught one of the wily creatures. I did catch pretty bad sunburns, a fishhook in my thumb, my shirt on a bramble bush, and a bad case of dislike for fishing.

Takeaway Truth

I believe in the laissez faire philosophy of marriage. I allow my husband to do anything he wants to do as long as it (1) isn't immoral (2) isn't illegal (3) doesn't break the bank (4) doesn't force me to participate if I don't want to. As in fishing.

How To Write a Book Review

The formal book review with its formal parameters:

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Name; 1st edition (date)
ISBN: number
Book Size: Format, i.e., Trade Paperback
The Review

seems to have gone the way of daily milk delivery, newspaper subscriptions, and the dinosaur.

Now we have reader reviews. Many of them are thoughtful, helpful. Many of them are like snarky cocktail party chatter.

Many readers never post a review. I think there are many reasons why they shun the review process. Here are a few that might apply:
  • they liked the book but they are aware of the nastiness that some reader reviewers heap on those with dissenting opinions
  • they did not like the book but the author has a huge following and they're afraid loyal supporters will subject them to some of the same nastiness
  • they don't want to hurt the author's feelings
  • they don't know what to say
  • they're concerned that they don't have the writing skills necessary to write a review.
I'm sure there are many other reasons, but I think the above are the most obvious. At least, I get emails from readers who love my books, but they never post a review even when I ask them to leave a few sentences about their reading experience.

So this post is for the average book loving reader:
  • who is new to the review process
  • who may not know what to say
  • who is wary of attacks from readers with different views
  • who don't see why they should take time to do this.
(This post repeats every 6-8 months to help those who are just venturing into review territory. Feel free to pass this link on to others.)

What To Say

1. Don't worry about summarizing the book. There's already a product description on the book's webpage. If you feel you must give a synopsis, use the gist of the Product Description from the book's webpage.

2. In an online review to be posted on the book's webpage, you just need to say how you felt about the book and why.

If you liked the book, say so. Then say why.

For example, if you were posting a review of Gone With The Wind, you might say: I liked this novel because it's set on a plantation in Georgia as the North and South are on the brink of war, and I love books set during the Civil War. Or, you might say, The heroine of this book is Scarlett O'Hara, a spoiled, head-strong young woman, and I like the kind of conflict created by women like that. Or, you might say, I like to read anything that is historically based and well-researched.

If you didn't like the book, say so. Then explain why.

Using the above example, you might say, I didn't care for this book because I just don't care for books set in the Civil War. Or, you might say, I didn't like this book because I thought the character was self-absorbed and arrogant. I prefer to read books where the heroine is a likable woman.

3. Never include “spoilers,” elements of the book that are to be surprises, in a review.

4. Give your opinion of the book as it is written, not how you think it should have been written.

5. Do not allow your personal prejudices or attitudes about the author, the premise of the book, the theme of the book, the manner in which it was published, or anything else not related to the writing to intrude in your review.

If you normally don't read romance, but you got a free romance novel, and you didn't like it because it was sexy or whatever, then don't review it. A review should not reflect your personal prejudices.

Please don't ever make personal remarks about the author, i.e. anyone would have to be a moron to write a book like this. Or, the author must be a pervert to write about kinky sex.

6. Summarize your thoughts about the book and feel free to make recommendations such as, if you like southern humor, you'll love this book.

7. Always be respectful of the author and his time and effort. This doesn't mean suppress your true opinion. It does mean to present your opinion in a respectful, professional manner as if you were talking in person to the author.

To paraphrase what Danielle Steele once said about reviews: "Writing a book, getting it published, and getting bad reviews is like making a beautiful cake and someone comes along and sits on it." So be diplomatic and kind in your review if you did not like the book. The author did not set out to write a bad book, but sometimes all the elements just don't come together.

Take The High Road & Ignore Those Traveling The Low Road

If you post reviews, and someone makes a comment on it, for instance, This person is an idiot if he thinks this is a good book. (Or a bad book.) Don't answer back. You are not required to defend your opinion or to answer any detractors. You have the right to your opinion and to state it publicly. For every person who disagrees with you, there is one who agrees.

Simply ignore any negative comments. A fight can't start without 2 combatants.

Why Post Reviews

Believe it or not, writers try to learn from their reviews. If a thoughtful review mentions something the author is doing particularly well, she'll do more of it. If it mentions something she failed at, she'll try to improve. Good reviews boost an author during the long process of writing another book. Bad reviews may bring her down, but if they contain some insight, then they too are valuable.

Be responsible. Be objective. Be polite.

I think a lot of the acid-tinged reviews I see wouldn't be posted if someone had to say all that to the author's face and/or would have to sign their real name to the review.

Takeaway Truth

Please keep in mind that no one ever sets out to write a bad book. If you see a book in print, then you can bet the author spent long hours working on that book. Authors know that not everyone will like their "baby," but they expect literary criticism to be handled in an objective, friendly way.

6 Steps to Your Personalized Amazon Author URL

Lately, I've explained to several new authors how to do create their Amazon Author Page with a personalized URL, for instance, https://www.amazon.com/author/joanreeves instead of http://www.amazon.com/Joan-Reeves/e/B001K8CIEW/.

If you are an indie author publishing with Amazon, here's how to get your Amazon Author page URL with your name, not just a string of letters and numbers.

(This article is one that I will reprint at least twice a year to help new authors with basic information.)

6 Steps to Your Personalized Amazon Author URL

1. Read all the steps first--very important.

2. Sign into Author Central.

3. Click the Profile tab

4. When that opens, look to the right where your picture appears. Above your picture is a hot link that says ADD LINK.

5. Click add link.

6. A small window will open showing the suggested link. If it's not what you want, you can change it BUT whatever you put in can not be changed again so make sure you know what you want in case the one suggested by Amazon isn't your name and your name is not available. Be prepared. Make a short list of all the variations you might use for your name, i.e., YourNameAuthor, YourNameWriter, AuthorYourName, etc.

That's all there is to it! You'll get an email from Amazon showing the new URL. Actually, the original URL is still it, the new URL just re-directs to the actual URL. With a personalized URL, it's easier to use it on promotion materials and to give out to readers.

Example: my Amazon URL was -- http://www.amazon.com/Joan-Reeves/e/B001K8CIEW

Now, it's -- https://www.amazon.com/author/joanreeves

Takeaway Truth

Always try to get your author pages branded with your name.

Video: How To Handle Negative Comments

If you upload any kind of content to the internet, you will get negative feedback. It's a given. Whether it's negative comments to a blog post, a video you uploaded to YouTube, an app you are selling, or a book you published, get ready for the onslaught.

Sure, you'll probably get good comments or reviews, but you'll get bad too. In fact, it seems that the more successful you become, the worse the negative comments can be.

Vi Hart, also known as Victoria Hart, is "a self-described Recreational Mathemusician who is most known for her mathematical videos on YouTube."

Taking On Dissenters, Naysayers, and Trolls

Several months ago, Vi took on the negative universe in Vi Hart's Guide to Comments. Embed this video or the link somewhere so you can access it the next time you're feeling miserable about a bad review, negative comment, or blatant personal insult.

In large part, how one responds to online negativity depends on feelings of self-worth. Most people who are felled emotionally by bad reviews and comments have to work harder than others to shake it off. Often a boost helps restore equilibrium. Think of this video as that boost.

Takeaway Truth

If you're part of the online world, grow a thick skin. This video is a good start.

Deleted Facebook Posts Are Zombies

Some Facebook users who have been on since they were younger and much less discreet are trying to remedy their sometimes ill-advised posts, especially pictures. Who wants a potential employer to read the drunken ramblings of a frat boy gone wild or a spurned girlfriend looking for revenge against the guy who did her wrong?

Many users who are real-world bound -- or those who regret a lapse in judgment or privacy -- often start deleting old posts and pictures, following the protocol as set forth by Facebook. Aren't they surprised when those posts reappear like zombies that won't die?

Take Heed

Back in the summer, Digital Trends blogged about this after several had complained about their deleted posts reappearing no matter how many times the content was deleted. DT cited Facebook’s Terms and Conditions in explaining why the deleted content kept getting restored, often at the front of the news feed:

“When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer,” the Terms and Conditions page states. “However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).”

So even if you've deleted it, the content is still there. It only goes away if it’s permanently deleted. Again, anything once posted is never actually deleted it seems. Deleting it just stores it on a backup drive. In truth, true deletion occurs only if you delete your account and never try to access it again.

Takeaway Truth

A good rule to follow for the young and the not-so-young? Never post anything you wouldn't want your parents -- or your children -- to see on the front page of the local newspaper.

Reclaim My Heart by Donna Fasano

My friend Donna Fasano is celebrating the re-launch of her romance Reclaim My Heart, no published by Montlake. The edition from Montlake launches today and Donna will be appearing on several blogs. Click to Follow Donna's Tour.

 photo DFRerelBanner_zpscb177693.jpg

Donna has a few words to say about becoming a Montlake Author so here she is.
On becoming a Montlake Author:
Let me tell you about my wonderful publishing experience! I have to back up a little bit… to this past spring. I self-published a romance titled Reclaim My Heart. The book received great reviews immediately, and it sold well from the beginning. Very well. In fact, during the first week of August I was enjoying a mug of coffee while perusing the USA Today Bestseller's List (my usual Thursday morning routine), and I nearly choked when I saw that Reclaim My Heart was sitting at #123 on the list. A couple of days later I was contacted by an editor from Montlake. She told me she'd read one of my books months before and had been keeping an eye on me. She said she'd read Reclaim My Heart and loved it. Now, what author doesn't love to hear that? She made an offer I couldn't refuse.

The Montlake editor and the design team loved the cover that was on the indie version of the book; however, Amazon had trouble licensing the rights to the image. So we searched for weeks before finding the picture that's on the current cover. I love it! And I hope my readers do, too.

I'm happy to be writing romance novels for Montlake. I feel wanted and appreciated, and it can't get much better than that in the publishing industry!

Reclaim My Heart by Donna Fasano Cover photo 91D5bs609NL_SL1500__zpsbe57f93f.jpg
Title: Reclaim My Heart
Author: Donna Fasano
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Pages: 282
Formats: Paperback, eBook, AudioCD
ISBN: 978-1477817988
Purchase Now: Paperback § eBook § AudioCD

About The Book :

Sixteen years ago, Tyne Whitlock cut all ties to her past and left town under the shameful shadow of a teenage pregnancy. Now her fifteen-year-old son is in trouble with the law, and she is desperate for help. But reaching out to high-powered attorney Lucas Silver Hawk will tear open the heart-wrenching past in ways Tyne never imagined.

Forced to return to the Delaware Indian community where Lucas was raised, Tyne and Lucas are tempted by the heated passion that consumed them as teens. Tyne rediscovers all the reasons she found this man irresistible, but there are scandalous secrets waiting to be revealed, disgraceful choices made in the past that cannot be denied. Love is a powerful force that could heal them both—if the truth doesn't rip them apart.

Reclaim My Heart, Excerpt

From Chapter Two"Please, Lucas."
He couldn't dismiss the tone of those two small words, nor could he ignore the magnitude of emotion clouding her expression. He had no choice but to relent.
"Sit down," he murmured. He closed the door of his office and then returned to perch himself on the corner of his desk. He steeled himself before asking, "What's on your mind?"
She seemed to shrink a little as a thousand thoughts ran though her head. Seconds passed, and still she didn't speak.
Lucas witnessed the phenomenon almost on a daily basis. The people who wound up in his office often felt as if they were carrying the world on their shoulders. He knew her anxiety would eventually discharge, and from the looks of it, he wouldn't have to wait long.
Finally, she pressed her hand to her chest. "I can't breathe."
"Relax. Do you want some water?"
She shook her head, a lock of her long, platinum hair falling over her forearm. "No. I need to get this out. I promised you I'd hurry."
He couldn't keep his brows from arching a fraction. She hadn't kept her promises in the past. Why would he expect her to now?
Tyne ran her tongue along her full bottom lip, hesitated another moment, then blurted, "I need a lawyer."
Lucas closed his eyes and stifled a sigh. He could have guessed as much, of course. He'd worked hard to get himself into the privileged position of being able to pick and choose his clients. The last person he wanted to represent was Tyne Whitlock.
"A good lawyer, Lucas."
Common sense told him Tyne wasn't attempting to flatter him. She was speaking purely out of desperation.
"Look, Tyne—" Something made him stop. He sighed, and then he stood, taking his time rounding his desk and sitting down. The leather-upholstered arms of the chair were cool and smooth under his fingertips.
"I know some of the best attorneys in the city." He plucked a pen from the cup on his desktop. "And many of them owe me a favor or two." He reached into his inside jacket pocket, pulled out one of the business cards he always kept handy, and turned it over, poised to write. "Let me give you some names and numbers—"
"I don't want just any attorney." Her chin lifted. "I want you. Why else would I have come here?"
His gaze lowered to the small white card in his hand. With much deliberation, he set down the pen and the card, and then he looked her directly in the eyes.
Every muscle in her body appeared board-stiff.
"Listen to me—" he kept his tone calm "—when people find themselves in trouble with the law, or victimized, or wrongfully sued, or unjustly accused, they tend to get lost in a strange, I don't know, franticness. A recklessness that they almost always regret. Believe me when I tell you that no situation is hopeless, and circumstances are rarely as desperate as they might be perceived. Whatever trouble you're in, don't let panic and fear haze your thinking."
"You don't understand."
"I think I do," he rushed to assure her. "I see it every day. Honest, hardworking people finding themselves in dire straits. And this unfamiliar territory throws them. They grasp at help from the first source that comes to mind."
"Just like that old adage warning that only a fool acts as his own lawyer, it's also foolish to choose an attorney in haste. You and I have a past, Tyne, and even though all of that took place years and years ago, the fact remains that we have a history. I don't believe I would be the best person to represent you in a court of law. You need someone who'll be totally unbiased. Let me give you some names. I'll make some calls for you myself—"
"Stop!" She lifted her hands and scooted to the edge of the seat. "You don't understand. And I can't make you understand if you won't shut up for a minute."
His eyebrows arched and the frustration in her statement had him leaning back a bit.
She frowned. "I'm sorry. Really, I am. I had to stew all day yesterday." She fisted her hands in her lap. "I didn't expect to reach anyone on a Sunday, but do you know that your firm doesn't offer an emergency number on the answering machine?" She exhaled with force. "I'm a nervous wreck just being here. Seeing you. But all that aside, I shouldn't have snapped at you. Please accept my apology."
He didn't react, didn't move. He just waited for her to continue.
"The thing is… what you need to know…"
Once again, she grew terribly cautious, and Lucas found that extremely curious. What the hell was it she found so hard to tell him? What kind of trouble was she in?
She blanched, but then her spine straightened. "I'm not the one who needs a lawyer. I want to hire you, yes. But I'm not the one needing representation. It's my son who's in trouble." A nerve at the corner of her eye ticked, but her gaze never veered from his as she added, "Our son, Lucas."

About Donna Fasano

Donna Fasano is a three time winner of the HOLT Medallion, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, and a Golden Heart finalist. Her books have sold over 3.6 million copies worldwide and have been published in nearly two dozen languages. Her books have made the Kindle Top 100 Paid List numerous times, climbing as high as #17.

What others are saying about Donna’s books:
“…complex, funny, and realistic…” ~Wilmington News Journal

“Excellent!” ~Bookreview.com

“Could not help myself from reading excerpts to my husband and friends. This book is well written, the characters are real, everyday folks. It is very easy to identify with them. Donna Fasano is a talented author.” ~Elizabeth M. Caldwell on Amazon

“…a fast paced riotous look at family life today. Donna Fasano is right on target!”
~Donna Zapf, SingleTitles.com

Honoroing Veterans

Today we honor all Veterans who have served our country. Personally, I'm honoring my dad today. This is one of my favorite photographs of my dad who landed at Normandy on D-Day.

This photo was taken in 1944 at a nightclub in Paris. He loved Europe and spoke a smattering of French and German.

Takeaway Truth

Thank you to my father and all the members of the Greatest Generation, as Tom Brokaw called them. Thank you to all active duty military and veterans for your service.

Veteran's Day

Tomorrow is Veteran's Day. Like most families in the United States, I have relatives who served this country.

My dad landed at Normandy on D-Day. He survived, but so many didn't. My dad injured his back in France when he carried a wounded friend for more than a mile. He saved his friend's life, but Dad had a painful reminder the rest of his life of that event.

My dad rarely spoke of his military service because the memories were so painful. He was in pitched battles, and he saw horrors in Europe. No matter how many times he tried to shove those memories into a dark corner of his mind, he was never successful. He was haunted by what he'd seen.

Men -- and now women -- who fight as soldiers are marked, one way or another, by their experience in war.

Texas Congressman Solomon Ortiz wrote: "From the bitter cold winter at Valley Forge, to the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq, our soldiers have courageously answered when called, gone where ordered, and defended our nation with honor."

Takeaway Truth

To all veterans and active duty personnel: Thank you for your service and your sacrifices.

Notable Videos This Week

I'm sharing some videos I saw this week because it's Saturday and time to kick back and have some fun. You see, I'm a video junky. I like creating them. See the image at left? That's one of my videos that you'll find on YouTube.

I have 7 videos available, and I intend to create more -- funny videos like the one above as well as book trailers, book reviews, writing tips, and more.

I started producing videos because I love watching them. Who needs TV when there's YouTube and Vimeo, etc.? Here are a few videos I saw this week that are worth viewing.

Jane Austen's Mafia

Short, succinct, and funny -- this one sneaks up on you and whacks you in the funny bone. It hasn't had many views, but I think it's worth passing around.

Fly Through 17th Century London

Visually and audibly appealing, this video was an entry in the Off the Map competition, a student competition involving the British Library, the technology of Crytek’s CryENGINE® and the cultural platform of GameCity. Entry was by invitation only to a select group of undergraduate students. Teams of students in the UK were invited "to be inspired by a specially curated set of maps, each one hand-picked for the Off the Map challenge by experts at the British Library." The participants were asked to surprise and challenge viewers and to take them somewhere new -- somewhere off the map.

Strange Tudor Laws

Horrible Histories took on the Tudors and some of the weird laws passed under Elizabeth I. Ah, funny, but true.

Wolverine Gets Fired

Okay, this one is just plain funny. An assessment of the practicality of Wolverine's "gifts."

Revenge of the Bridesmaids

If you've got an hour or so and want to see a funny movie, check out Revenge of the Bridesmaids. If you've ever been trapped in an ugly bridesmaid dress, you'll appreciate this movie. The opening scene is hysterical! If you've only got a few minutes, watch the opening booking scene.

Takeaway Truth

One could truthfully say that our culture is a visual one now since so many choose visual content to keep them informed, educated, and entertained. What do you think about this?

Meet Main Street Author Kristy Tate

Today, I have another of the Authors of Main Street who have a box set, Christmas on Main Street, available for the holidays, at a bargain price that won't wreck your budget.

Today's spotlight is shining on talented Romance Author Kristy Tate. Her books have been described this way: "Mary Stewart fans will love Kristy Tate's romantic stories laced with humor, mystery and a hint of magic."

Good morning, Kristy. Welcome to SlingWords. Please tell us more about your book A Light in the Christmas Café.

An almost perfect evening can be easily ruined by a profession of love. Moonlight streaming through the windows, the café’s comforting aromas, a nearly overflowing dining room, delicious food, poetry… and Claude. Deirdre knows she has to stop him, but she doesn’t know how. In Lake Vista, a small resort town tucked in the California foothills, Deirdre finds that there are more questions than answers. And Claude is the least of her problems!

Joan: What inspired you to write this particular holiday story?

Kristy: The holidays are always a time for reflection on the direction of our lives and who we chose to share them with.

Joan: What is your favorite holiday memory?

Kristy: When I was child, I would go with my parents to chop down a Christmas tree on property that we owned. It was always chilly, beautiful (the Pacific Northwest is always beautiful) and we were completely alone in a remote forest. My dad would chop down the tree and we would bring it home in the back of his truck. My mom and I would drink hot cocoa while my dad trimmed the tree to fit the stand.

Joan: Just about everyone has a holiday horror story. What's the worst Christmas you ever spent?

Kristy: My mother died in September when I was fifteen. I lived alone with my dad. We tried going to a holiday family gathering but had to leave after a few minutes—both of us in tears. That holiday was definitely my bleakest.

Joan: What's the title of your next individual book?

Kristy: My teen time travel romance, Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent is now available on Smashwords. I will release it on Amazon in a few weeks.

Visit Kristy Tate Online

Website: http://kristystories.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KristyTateNovelist?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kristyswords

Takeaway Truth

Stretch your holiday budget. Buy Christmas on Main Street and receive 11 romances ranging from sweet to spicy at a bargain price.

Meet Main Street Author Mona Risk

Today, I'm featuring another of the Authors of Main Street who have a box set, Christmas on Main Street, available for the holidays, at a bargain price that won't wreck your budget.

Today's spotlight is shining on talented Contemporary Romance author Mona Risk and her book in the box set, Christmas Wedding Muddle. With a Mona Risk novel, you get to go: "Around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with passion."

Good morning, Mona! Welcome to SlingWords. Please tell us more about your book.

Christmas Wedding Muddle

The perfect fiancé is a cheater and the fabulous Christmas wedding is off. When a desperate Julia enters Tony's mother's travel agency, the dedicated psychiatrist is there to pick up the pieces. Sparks fly between them, and Tony is willing to put his life on hold for Julia. Nothing goes according to plan, but the would-be honeymoon cruise may fulfill their secret dreams.

Joan: What inspired you to write this particular holiday story?

Mona: We were cruising in the North Atlantic toward Iceland, and I got sick, I mean really sick with bronchitis from day one. Luckily, I’d brought the right medicines with me, and I was determined to have a good time and relax. Since I couldn’t brave the cold wind and low temperatures, I spent a lot of time indoors and visited the beautiful ship thoroughly. The idea of setting a romance story on a ship started while I strolled through the long corridors and climbed to the various decks. I wrote the whole first draft during the cruise. It was ideal for research.

Joan: What is your favorite holiday memory?

Mona: When my children were growing up, we had wonderful Christmas reunions at my parents’ house. My mother cooked and baked for two weeks for no less than fifty people, children and grandchildren, sisters, brothers, in-laws, and a few good friends. My parents’ house was not big, but cozy and warm and so full of love and laughter. The children played and sledded on the snowy hill behind the backyard. The adults played cards and cracked jokes. Oh yes it was a beautiful time that I try to reproduce now for my children and grandchildren.

Joan: Just about everyone has a holiday horror story. What's the worst Christmas you ever spent?

Mona: The Christmas after my father’s death. He died in November, and he had already planned to have the same celebration. He didn’t make it. But the whole family wanted to be with my mother. She was still wearing her black mourning clothes and spent the whole time crying and remembering. We did our best to cheer her up, but we knew it would never be the same as before.

Joan: What's the title of your next individual book?

Mona: An Unusual Christmas. The story is set in Belarus where I used to travel for business to refurbish laboratories in a different life.

Visit Mona Online

Mona invites you to check out her other Christmas books, including a box set:

Her Christmas Cruise

An Unusual Christmas

Christmas Here And There (Box Set of 3 Christmas Books)

Takeaway Truth

Stretch your holiday budget. Buy Christmas on Main Street and receive 11 romances ranging from sweet to spicy at a bargain price.

Judge A Book By Its Cover

Do you judge a book by its cover? Of course you do! We all do. If you're an author, now's your chance to brag about your cover art because the annual Judge A Book By Its Cover Contest -- informally known as JABBIC -- is now open.

This prestigious contest sponsored by Houston Bay Area Romance Writers of America Chapter 30 celebrates the best in book cover art. The contest is open to self-published books as well as traditionally published books. Read on for the requirements.


Books published during the calendar year 2013 by traditional publishing houses, ePublishers, Print-on-Demand publishers, or self-published.


Booksellers from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. All decisions of the judges are final.

  • Single title/Mainstream
  • Contemporary Series
  • Historical
  • Inspirational
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal
  • Sexiest cover
  • Young Adult

Midnight, January 15, 2014. (This means you must have uploaded your cover via the entry process by that time.)

Entry Fee

$15.00 USD. Fees are payable via PayPal or by check as directed during the entry process. (Credit cards will not be directly accepted by Houston Bay Area. You may use credit cards with PayPal, however.) One (1) entry fee per cover. You may enter as often as you like, but remember 1 fee per cover.

Entry Content
  • Front covers only which will be submitted electronically.
  • Cover art should be in JPG, GIF, or PNG format. No PDF files.
  • You may enter as many different covers as you wish, but each cover entered requires 1 entry fee.
  • Each cover may be entered in only one category.
  • If you know the actual artist's name, you can submit it with your entry. If you don't know the artist's name, you can simply leave that field blank.

Each winner in each category will be asked to submit a high-resolution image file for inclusion in the RWR ad which is the prize for winning.

Grand Prize

A full-page color ad in the April Romance Writers Report featuring the winners in all six categories.

To Enter JABBIC, just visit the Entry Page and follow the instructions.The entry process is easy, and the instructions on the page are clear.

Takeaway Truth

This contest has been around for many years and is respected in the publishing industry. The entry fee is small, and the honor of winning is large. Enter today.

Meet Main Street Author Pepper Phillips

This week I'm featuring the Authors of Main Street who have a box set, Christmas on Main Street, available for the holidays, at a bargain price that won't wreck your budget.

Each day I'll feature one of the eleven authors of Christmas on Main Street.

Today's spotlight is shining on talented Pepper Phillips who writes Southern sass with a touch of heart.

Good morning, Pepper. Welcome to SlingWords. Please tell us more about your book, The Christmas Gift.

The Christmas Gift

When an opportunity to make money presents itself, eleven-year-old George faces the biggest decision of his life. Will he become a thief like his father, or will he discover the fact that giving, rather than receiving, is the best gift of all?

Joan: What inspired you to write this particular holiday story?

Pepper: There is always one story that calls out to you, and this is my Dad’s story. I believe that every child out there should get at least one present for Christmas.

Joan: What is your favorite holiday memory?

Pepper: One year I was pressed into playing Santa Claus at a nursing home, and as I ho’ho’ around the room, giving out candy canes, there was a three-year-old girl standing on a table who was watching me come in her direction. The awe in her face was absolutely beautiful, and I thought to myself, don’t mess this up! It reminded me that there is belief out there. To her, I was Santa.

Joan: Just about everyone has a holiday horror story. What's the worst Christmas you ever spent?

Pepper: My Dad died a week before Christmas. I think that was the worst. He was walking his dog and had a massive heart attack. When he was found, his dog was sitting by his side. My small grandson said, “I wish I had a dog like that.” Which always defines his death to me. To have a loyal loving companion with you when you die can’t be all that bad.

Joan: What's the title of your next individual book?

Pepper: *LOL* I wish I knew. There are two in the editing process, and whichever one makes it out of the gate first, will be it.

Visit Pepper Phillips Online

Website: http://pepper.phillips.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pepper-Phillips-Fan-Page/294743243912344
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Pepper_Phillips

Takeaway Truth

Stretch your holiday budget. Buy Christmas on Main Street and receive 11 romances ranging from sweet to spicy at a bargain price.