Reminder: Joan's New Blog Title

Time for another singalong with David Bowie crooning Ch-Ch-Changes. Today, I'm reminding you that SlingWords is assuming a new identity on August 1. The title changes to JoanReeves.

The look changes to something more in keeping with sitting around with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and talking about what's going on in our respective worlds.

What books we're reading... what we're watching on TV... what movies we're seeing... what we like about today's world... what we hate about today's world... and how we're all coping with the changes Life throws at us.


I guess the Keywords or Tags for the blog's new lifestyle, in no particular order, are these:

humor, pop culture, books, music, movies, TV, writing, friendship, family, inspiration, and fun. Yep. Definitely fun because life is too often grim when you're coping with kids, family problems, medical issues, economic reality, and all that other depressing stuff. I truly believe my motto: "It's never too late to live happily ever after."


How do you change a blog that's been in existence since 2005 and has a great reputation and a faithful following? Quoting myself: "Very carefully."

When one is an author seeking to grow an audience, name recognition is extremely important. My name is part of my brand -- it is my brand for all practical purposes -- so it should be the title, or URL, associated with all my websites. That's why I'm doing this. If you blog, and your blog title isn't your name, heed this advice. Change it before it gets big.


I started this blog, SlingWords, in 2005 when I was primarily freelance writing for Internet clients. The blog had a faithful following by 2011 when I published my first ebook, Just One Look, a sassy, sexy romantic comedy. The blog's followers helped make my book a bestseller in its second month.

That's why I've resisted abandoning this blog and creating one that is titled JoanReeves. I've put my heart and soul into this blog, and SlingWords has almost 2,000 posts now. I published a compilation of the Sunday posts, Written Wisdom that will continue to be available at all ebook sellers.

Back to the David Bowie Song

This is a year of change for me. This week brings to a close our time in the Richmond home. As you read this, I'm moving out. I'm tempted to sing the theme song from the old TV show The Jeffersons. *g* "Moving on up... not to the East Side, but to the Hill Country. For now.

All kinds of moving going on. Moving furniture into storage until our new townhome in Houston is ready. Moving me up to our weekend home. Moving hubby into a hotel downtown since he has to be at the office. I'll be having morning coffee on the porch and watching the deer graze while he will still be fighting the traffic downtown. I definitely got the better end of this deal.

Changes. Big ones. So now is the perfect time to change the blog over, consolidate newsletters, update websites and profiles -- as soon as my temp office is set up. When that's all done, I plan to dive into finishing Cinderella Blue, the second book in my San Antone Two-Step series.

New Joan Reeves Blog Address =

Simple to remember. It was SlingWords -- now it's JoanReeves. Easy-peasy.

I have loved the writing journal template that I've used on SlingWords, but the new blog name deserves a new look. I hope you like the new template I've been customizing. The image above is from the template and represents the friendly, casual way I live my life -- coffee or wine with family and friends, good conversation and word slinging about books, writing, romance, love, sex, life, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

The new template also is easy to navigate and flexible enough to expand. I like that. Change is good. The transition should be seamless. If you are a Follower, you should still be signed up to Follow. RSS feed should work the same, etc.

Grand Opening Prizes

I'll have a Grand Opening on August 1 and there is a bundle of prizes to win. Details will be given in the post on August 1.

1. Visit the blog on August 1, leave a comment with your email address, and be entered to win a prize.

2. All Followers Receive Prizes so sign up to Follow, joining my other faithful Followers, and receive a prize.

3. If you're a writer, sign up for Writing Hacks, my free subscription newsletter, and win a prize.

4. If you're a reader, sign up for Wordplay, my free subscription newsletter, and win a prize.


SlingWords is just changing to a new URL and design. All the posts will remain intact -- I hope. *LOL* I'll always be here unless Blogger or Google decides to kick me out. opens August 1. I hope to see you there.

Takeaway Truth

Change is good. Change means you're growing. That's what I keep telling myself so I don't focus on the sheer work involved.

3 Audio Book Reviews

Since I've been ferrying my office "stuff" to our weekend home, I've been listening to a lot of audio books. For your consideration, here are three.

Inside Delta Force

We started moving my office to our weekend home where I'll be hanging my hat temporarily until our townhome is available. Listened to Inside Delta Force by Eric Haney and narrated by Robertson Dean who has a great voice -- a manly man voice which is perfect for this story of Delta Force.

This is a compelling personal history from Haney who was among the first selected for Delta Force. Years ago I saw this book listed in the credits of the TV series The Unit starring Dennis Haysbert. I bought the book and read it in print, passed it on to hubby and our kids. When I saw the audio book, I knew we would all enjoy it -- and we did.

Highly recommended. Don't miss it.

The Templar Legacy

This thriller by Steve Berry features his recurring character Cotton Malone. I've had this audio book in the queue for some time and had looked forward to hearing it. This one is all about the Knights Templar and their treasure believed to have been hidden when they were all arrested and scourged in the 14th century. Caught between the Pope and a French king lusting after their wealth, the Knights Templar were more or less exterminated.

So, hidden treasure, puzzle within puzzle, assassins, exotic women, and Knights Templar. This book had all the elements a thriller should have, but I found myself many times unable to suspend disbelief. My darling hubby rolled his eyes and muttered in disgust at several parts. He's not as patient with plot devices that involve guns and other manly things. He knows instantly whether some bit of daring-do is possible or is a crock.

The narrator is Paul Michael who does a lot of this type of books so he has a good feel for the material. Definitely worth listening to for the escapism value, but I'd have to give this 3.75 out of 5 stars -- good escapism but has some flaws. Of course, those flaws may not bother you at all.

Deal Breaker

I love this book because it's Book 1 of the Myron Bolitar series by Harlen Coben. Narrated by the fabulous Jonathan Marosz -- my whole family are Marosz groupies -- Deal Breaker is a tour de force. In case you haven't met Myron and his lethal friend Win, you're in for a treat. Great characters who are fully formed and the kind of guys you'd want protecting you when the you-know-what hits the fan.

Marosz is amazing. He's like Barbara Rosenblatt in that he breathes life into the characters until you hear their voices in your head.I wish he had done all of the Myron Bolitar books.

Highly recommended. I own these books in print, in CD, and now in digital for my iPod. Rating: how about 10 out of 5 stars!

Takeaway Truth

I love audio books. They make the miles disappear when you're traveling.

Friends Write Books: Part 2

Moving craziness continues, but I'm catching up today on more new books by writing friends. For your consideration, here are some more new books by some really good authors.

The Reluctant Rancher~Badlands by J. D. Faver is a Contemporary Western Romantic Suspense.

E.J. Kincaid has one thing on his mind. He wants to get the hell out of Dodge, or in this case, Langston, Texas. When his father is sent to prison, E.J. feels obligated to hang onto the land and cattle empire his father built in the Texas Panhandle.

Of course, there's also local veterinarian, Jenna Lewis, who is another reason for staying put. Trouble is she thinks he’s a complete jackass.Cowboys, murder and romance. Enough said!

Texas Heroines in Peril by Cheryl Bolen (Boxed Set, 4 books) contains 4 complete romantic suspense books. Romantic Times magazine called it "non-stop action adventure - 4 stars."

The boxed set consists of Capitol Offense, Protecting Britannia, Murder at Veranda House, and A Cry in the Night.

A WELL-STACKED TRIO: Three Sexy Romantic Comedies by Elaine Raco Chase was published in 2012, but it now has a great new cover.

What's better than one sexy romantic comedy for your Kindle? Why three of course! Three hot women plus three hot men equal sexy romantic comedy! Designing Woman, Lady Be Bad, and Video Vixen all in one download.

The Deadliest Denial by Colleen Thompson is a sexy suspense novel from a master of the genre.

When one woman's detective husband is accused of abusing and plotting to kill her, she must come to terms with the truth, the lies, and the passion that is the basis of their marriage.

The Hollow House by Janis Patterson has a great blurb that makes you want to click BUY!

Denver, 1919 ~ I decided to use the name Geraldine Brunton. It's not the name I was born with, nor the name I married, but it will hide who I really am...and what I have done.

I've taken a job as companion to wealthy invalid Emmaline Stubbs, whose fragile exterior hides a will of iron. Despite its opulence, the Stubbs household is not a happy one. Emmaline's equally stubborn daughter and charismatic, untrustworthy son-in-law want control of her fortune, forcing the entire staff to take sides in their power struggle. I must tread carefully in this tension-filled household if I want to keep my job and my secrets.

Events take a deadly turn when Mrs. Stubbs is nearly killed and a maid is found murdered. Though I ought to keep a low profile, it soon becomes clear I must uncover the truth. Because if I don't, my past will make me the prime suspect...

Sweeter Than W(h)ine by Nancy Goldberg Levine is the third book from newcomer Nancy Goldberg Levine who is staking out sweet romance as her genre.

Dr. Rafe Farber is stuck with grief counselor Dina Edelman, his least favorite patient who has an attitude as depressing as her occupation, but he also is attracted to her. Dina just wants out of the skilled nursing facility where she's been since knee surgery. She’s intrigued by the handsome doctor who returns her interest, but she's also attracted to her handsome new neighbor, Holden Bixler, a police officer who makes great pizza and who is about ten years younger than she. Doctor or cop? What a quandary!

Takeaway Truth

So many books; so little time. *sigh* Note to self: "Read faster."

Word Counts and eBooks

You might think that if you're writing and publishing ebooks that word count doesn't matter. Wrong! Don't lose sight of a very important fact: reader expectations.

Readers know how long books should be. They know how long it takes them to read a typical mystery, romance, horror, science fiction, or whatever.

If they're reading a science fiction, and they finish it in one night, they're going to howl. They feel cheated because the book didn't last the usual 3 nights or whatever. Same with a romance novel. If a reader finishes it in an hour, they know it wasn't a full-length book. They feel cheated, and they may well take their ire out in the form of a nasty review.

Yes, there's a lot of discussion on many websites and blogs about short versus long books; serializations versus short stories, etc. Young ebook readers are ever-changing and coming into the digital bookstores in droves, but the readers who have always been readers and who are now choosing ebooks as well as print are the ones who will be your bread and butter. Always keep them in mind when deciding how long to make a piece of fiction.

Know what lengths "normal" print books are and aim for that range with your ebooks. Here's a Reference Guide for you.

Word Count – Adult Trade Fiction

Micro-Fiction: about 100 words

Flash Fiction: 100--1,000 words

Short Story: 1,000--7,500 words

Novelette: 7,500--20,000 words

Novella: 20,000--50,000 words

Novel: 50,000--110,000

Epic Novel: 110,000+ words

Word Count – Juvenile Fiction

Middle Grade: 25,000--40,000

Young Adult (YA): 45,000--80,000 (genre dependent)
Now let's look at some of these genres and reader expectations which apply to print and digital – traditional pub and indie.

Word Count and YA

Ever since Harry Potter in Juvenile Fiction and Twilight in Young Adult, these two, sometimes viewed almost as one – a hybrid combining elements of both, with the intention of attracting older juvenile readers and younger YA readers – have been smoking hot with readers and writers.

Because of this "hot" factor, YA, and I'm talking big book, mainstream YA, usually fantasy or paranormal, sometimes runs as long as 120,000 words. With print publishing, editors don't like to see books of that length because anything above 100,000 words, which is what most presses are set at, increase costs.

So word length in this segment of YA truly depends on the story. If you can spin a tale as delightful as J. K. Rowling, then don't sacrifice word length because you think it's got to come in at 100K.

Best practice if you're a newbie is to shoot for 80,000 to 100,000.

Word Count and Romance

In romance, with an established category house like Harlequin, word count is very specific because of how their presses are set. The different category romance lines have different word counts. These can be found in the guidelines at their website. Generally, category romance books are 55,000 to 75,000 words.

Books that are called Single Title Romance and Paranormal Romance are usually 85,000 to 100,000 words. The longer lengths are usually represented by established authors because of the higher production investment. If you're a first timer, they generally feel that shorter is safer. Again, it all depends on the book.

Word Count and Mystery

In the mystery genre, there are many publishers who offer a mystery line, much as Harlequin offers category romances. Most mystery houses publish a set number of mystery books each month. These are often cozy mysteries, or PI, or police procedurals, or whatever the sub-genre might be. Generally, they run 65,000 to 90,000 words.

The popular blending of paranormal and mystery; mystery and hobby; and crime fiction and thrillers run about 75,000 to 90,000.

Word Count and Horror

With so many paranormal books, true horror has kind of taken a back seat. Now, to be tagged horror, a book usually must be truly horrific. In a bookstore, a book with horror on the spine is usually about the same length as single title romance and paranormal, weighing in at 80,000 to 100,000 words.

Word Count and Western

If you want to support a genre that truly needs it, buy a western. The western genre has been dying for the last 30 years. Now, it probably has the least rack space in stores, but die-hard western fans have found digital bookstores satisfy their thirst for westerns. Romance writers with their western historical romance books often fill the gap for a lot of western fans, but there are true western novels available. They're usually 80,000 to 100,000 words. (In trad publishing, it's really hard to sell a western these days.)

Westerns come in many flavors from Classic to Contemporary to Revisionist and even to Horror Western. I suspect Harrison Ford's movie Cowboys and Aliens might inspire a blending of science fiction and wester. Western Writers of America has a great listing of some of the best of all the western sub-genres.

If you look at the Kindle Store, you'll see that Western is classified with these sub-categories:
Western Romance (3,198)
Christian Westerns (426)
Louis L'Amour (142)
Pioneer (9)

If you're looking for a niche where you might get great rank with a popular book, this might be it. Maybe this should be the next hot genre? All it would take would be one stunning novel.

Word Count and Big Books

These are the James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, and other "star" authors. Basically, they can be any length the author chooses, but generally speaking, they're in that single title word count range of 80,000 to 100,000.

So is Chick lit, whenever it's published by whatever is the nom du jour. The same is true for Mainstream, Thrillers, just about all Commercial fiction, and Literary novels although these have been decreasing a bit in word length over the last few years as has most commercial fiction.

Word Count and Science Fiction/Fantasy

If you write long, this should be your genre. Lots of sub-genres from which to choose. These editors like long books. Most of them will look at books as long as 120,000 words and up. Again, if you're established, then you have more leeway. Generally, 80,000 to 100,000.

Takeaway Truth

A professional writer knows what past publishing standards were and keeps those in mind when self-publishing a book in order to satisfy reader expectations.

Free: Printed Book Design 101 by Joel Friedlander

My friend, self-publishing expert Joel Friedlander, has a free book just for you!Printed Book Design 101 is Joel's definitive guide to producing a great looking printed book.

His guide provides step-by-step advice and tips to help you create a retail-ready book. Topics covered include:
  • Picking the perfect typeface
  • Enhancing the readability of your book with interior design
  • Catching the reader’s eye with cover design tips from the pros
  • How to avoid the most common mistakes made by self-publishers
and lots more.

All you have to do is click on the link, fill out the brief registration form, and the PDF Download Link pops up.

Takeaway Truth

This should be a great resource for anyone who wants to format a print book. Grab a copy today.

Man On The Moon

I remember a July evening back in 1969. It was July 20 to be precise. I was a kid, lying on my back on the living room floor and watching television.

As I watched, Neil Armstrong took that long step from the ladder on the side of Eagle, the lunar module, and stepped, albeit a bit awkwardly, onto the surface of the moon.

I didn't know it then, but eventually I would come to live in Houston, home of NASA and most of the astronauts. Houston, as you probably know, was the first word uttered by Armstrong after he and Buzz Aldrin had landed on the moon's surface in the Sea of Tranquility with only seconds of fuel left.

Armstrong reported in to NASA command center in Houston: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

Houston responded: "Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again."

At 10:28 p.m. EDT, Armstrong turned on the video cameras, and more than half a billion people on this planet watched in amazement as the first humans walked on the moon.

Neil Armstrong took the first step. As he touched down on the lunar surface, he said: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Then, Buzz Aldrin climbed down a few minutes later and joined Armstrong. Hardly anyone knows what Aldrin said, but it was this: "I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way."

Aldrin, a church elder, used a pastor's home communion kit that was given to him by Dean Woodruff. With it, he gave himself Communion on the surface of the Moon, reciting the words used by his own pastor at Webster Presbyterian Church. He kept this a secret because of a lawsuit brought by atheist activist Madalyn Murray O'Hair over the reading of Genesis on Apollo 8.

The Lunar Plaque, (Image, Courtesy of left on the moon is inscribed: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon. July 1969 AD. We came in peace for all mankind. Neil Armstrong"

Takeaway Truth

We came in peace. So say we all.

A Guide To Publicity & Promotion

Poets & Writers are offering a compilation of articles about publicity and promotion by the staff of the magazine.

Their guide is described as: "the essential resource for forming and tackling a marketing plan to get your work the attention it deserves."

Sections include:
• A guide to the publicity business
• How to capture the attention of literary journalists
• The impact of artful author websites
• Social media for authors
• The key to successful video marketing
• How to amplify your poems with audio
• Giving inspired readings
• The do-it-yourself book tour

The Poets and Writers Guide to Publicity and Promotion is a $4.99 download. When you click the link, scroll down until you see the name of the guide. Then click "Buy This eDocument."

Takeaway Truth

As the competition heats up, the author must learn more about that dreaded subject: marketing -- even if only to decide to opt out.

Friends Write Books: Part 1

With all the craziness of moving, I've missed several new books by writing friends. Today, I've tried to remedy that by adding some books to my TBR pile.

For your consideration, here are a few new books by some really good authors.

Bluebonnet Bride, Men of Stone Mountain Book 3, by Caroline Clemmons is another winner for the western author.

He’s a by-the-book Texas sheriff; she’s on the run from a murder conviction. When they meet, instant attraction. What will he do to save her from the gallows?

Beyond the Bo Tree: Ten Tales of Romance by Jacqueline Seewald

Ten tales of romantic love -- not formula stories but unique male-female relationship with some sweet and others sensual. Some humorous; others serious. Some paranormal; others "real." All are entertaining with HEA endings.

Bride of the Shining Mountains (The St. Claire Men) by S.K. McClafferty is a Pygmalion tale that contains explicit language and sexual content.

Reagan Dawes had been brought against her will from the backwoods of Kentucky to the wilds of the Missouri Territory, where her step father Luther is determined to find her a husband. She intends to rebel at all costs. . . until she lays eyes on the Creole aristocrat. What woman wouldn’t desire the darkly handsome rake, Jackson Broussard?

Love, Honor, Cherish by Anne Marie Novark (Boxed Set) discounted for a limited time only at $2.99. Get three books for the price of one!

Three full-length stand-alone novels by Anne Marie Novark, author of The Diamondback Ranch Series. This boxed set includes: ADAM'S TEMPTATION, TEXAN UNDERCOVER, and MIDNIGHT MY LOVE. Three books, three romance genres. Love, Honor, Cherish ... and Happily-Ever-After.

A Child's Heart (Trent & Cassie's Story: A River City Novel) by E. Ayers is finally here.

When Trent Callahan brings his dinosaur-loving son to the River City Museum, Cassie Jones, curator of the museum, falls head-over-heels in love with the boy and his father. But Cassie's love drags Trent deep into her tangled web of city politics, drives a wedge between him and his mom, and shows him that history is far from boring and dreams are worth chasing.

The glue that holds this series together is the city. River City is a fictional mid-sized city in the mid-Atlantic area of the USA. Many of the characters know each other or are loosely connected. Join the fun and meet these young people as they work their way through today's problems and find their true love.

Reclaim My Heart by Donna Fasano is proclaimed by BigAl at as, "Fasano's best book yet."

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.

Takeaway Truth

So many books; so little time. *sigh*

Success Is Relative – Just Write

I'm thrilled to welcome S. K. McClafferty, a veteran author with fifteen books and counting, in mass market and digital, to the blog today.

You may know S. K. as Selina MacPherson or Sue McKay. She writes Romantic Suspense, Romantic Comedy, and Historical Romance. She's smart, witty, and, most importantly, knows a thing or two about surviving the writing business. Read and heed her words of wisdom.

Books To Grab

Here are two of her books for you to start with.

Love-Match.Com, a Jenna’s Cove Romance that's laugh out loud funny!

Bliss: An Anthology of Novellas by 5 talented authors. Five stories of enduring love in one great house on Albemarle Sound.

Don't Tell A Soul, a gritty suspense story that's part of the Dark Water Series.

Success Is Relative So Just Write
by S. K. McClafferty

Success is relative. 6 years ago, my life imploded, and everything went away. 36-year-marriage, home, publisher-editor-relationship tanked and dissolved into nothing, and I lost my mom. I started over at the bottom.

Sixteen months ago, while working a minimum wage job in retail, I started republishing my considerable backlist. I have 15 or so items for sale currently on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Apple, etc. with more coming out. That means full-length single titles and boxed sets. Because my writing is keeping the lights on, and food on my table, without my having to work a normal job, I consider it successful – even though it in no way compares to what some writers are making. And while I applaud the writers making tons of sales every day, it is not my reality as yet.

Going Digital

Having said that, my expectations after 25 years in the publishing industry, are down to earth. They always told us back in the day, that "Every overnight success takes ten years." I am building. In the first year, ebook sales were miniscule. Some months, there were none. In January of this year, I saw my numbers jump into triple digits, and stay there, and this has been a much better year for me. I don' t– at this point – advertise. Can't afford it. I am a recovering anti-social-network personality, so I just started forcing myself to talk on Twitter and FB, though I have 8 followers. *LOL* Word of mouth alone is driving my sales.

I put out a book a year ago that hasn't done anything yet. It's a quirky romantic comedy. So, I wrote the second in that series because I like the concept. This one is hilarious (my 2 reviews say so, *g*) and it makes ME laugh. At some point this will probably start to sell. But, to be honest, it doesn't concern me. I am concentrating on the next step, creating the physical book for that series for local signings, and I have started another book for one of my other series.

Hard Lessons Learned

As a writer who has come back more times than I wanted to, in an industry that chews people up, I try to keep my head down and just write. Writing brings surprises, and it is the only part of this process that we can really control. The business side of writing is unpredictable. There is no cookie-cutter approach to lasting success, and what works for one person, or one project, may not work for another. It’s tempting, when you see the methods that other writers are using, to try and emulate their efforts. Yet pouring money you can't afford to spend into something with the hope it will perform, is like spending your whole paycheck on lottery tickets. It just creates stress.

Be Smart

I’m not saying I don’t do anything to advance my career, but I have to be smart about it. I do what I can feel good about doing, and I write something else. And I don’t spend much time feeling badly about not measuring up to what’s-her-face who sold ten million books last year. I’m not her, and she’s not me. She has assistants, and a publicist, and her hubby’s a banker. But my writing is keeping the lights on, and I’m not hungry…. I can afford ink for my printer, and my newest project really excites me. It’s a good thing. Success is relative.

Takeaway Truth

As soon as I settle into my new blog after August 1, I'll post a review of one of Sue's books.

I notice that Sue did not give her Facebook and Twitter addresses so I will post them in comments. You'll want to Follow this amazing author. Heck! Make that amazing woman! Grab one of her books today. You won't be disappointed.

Review: The Nighttime Is The Right Time by Bill Crider

The Nighttime is the Right Time by Bill Crider kept me company this past weekend.

Crider, known for his mystery series, with the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series perhaps being his best-known work, writes several other series. This collection of short stories is a great way to meet some of his other sleuths.

With a sly sense of humor evident in most of his writing, the author infuses a wry, often ironic tone, to his prose. Even some of his titles make me smile, like "See What the Boys in the Locked Room Will Have." (Show me a mystery reader who won't smile at that!)

This dozen of mystery short stories is perfect reading for those odd moments in the day when you need a short break, or, do as I did, and read them one after the other on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

From small town Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes to a werewolf teenager, Crider's characterization never makes a misstep. Whether the character is "real" like the sheriff or a fantasy creature like a werewolf, Crider makes them all believable.

In case you don't know, Crider also writes edgier, darker -- much darker -- fiction too, and some of these short stories show that.

Takeaway Truth

Short story collections are a great way to sample the diverse offerings of an author. When the voice appeals, let it lead you to a longer work -- perhaps even to a new series. Happy reading!

Free Book: Become Blogger Expert

Amanda Fazani who writes Blogger Buster, one of my favorite blogs to visit, offers The Blogger Template Book for free downloads.

 This book is perfect to help you choose, install, or optimize Blogger templates. Grab a copy today and get started.

While you're at it, check out Amanda's other book Building Websites With Blogger.

Takeaway Truth

With one of both of these excellent reference books, you can make your blog "ready for its close-up."

Moving Causes Insanity

In a recent survey, 100% of people who move to a new house stated that they suffered recurring bouts of insanity while packing and moving.

Okay. I made that up. *VBG* Still, I believe there is a lot of truth in my chosen title for today: moving causes insanity.

We're down to the last 2 weeks of this first phase of moving -- or is this the 2nd? It's hard to tell since we already moved our clutter to our weekend home and a rented storage facility. I guess that was phase 1 so that makes what I'm doing this week -- moving my office files, computer, etc. to the weekend home phase 2.

Phase 3 is when the moving van comes next week to pick up the furniture and other assorted boxed stuff -- about 50 boxes to be precise. All that goes to storage. Then phase 4 comes in November when we take possession of the townhome we bought and everything from storage gets delivered. I won't even number the phases of moving things from the weekend home back to the city home.

All those phases and prep work that went into them? That's insanity.

Arnold Bennett said: "Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts."

We wanted this change. In the end, it will make life easier, but, as Mr. Bennett observed, it's definitely accompanied by a plethora of discomforts.

Takeaway Truth

Yep. Moving causes insanity. And sore muscles.

Review: Dark Horse by J. R. Rain

Dark Horse (Jim Knighthorse #1) by J. R. Rain is a solid mystery with a sleuth who is a cut above most. In fact, Jim Knighthorse reminds me a bit of my favorite sleuth Myron Bolitar from the imagination and pen of Harlan Coben.

My Take

The setting of Dark Horse is Surf City, USA, aka Huntington Beach, California, and stars Jim Knighthorse, an NFL never-was who can toss off a wise-crack as easily as he can navigate an investigation that reveals the underbelly of a local high school that isn't as enlightened as its image purports.

Jim is retained to look into the case of a black student accused of killing his white girlfriend. Not only do complications hamper his investigation, but also new evidence regarding Jim's mother's unsolved murder surfaces.

Throw in a cop best friend and girlfriend Cindy to round out Jim's support network, and you have a compelling mystery that will surprise you.

The first J. R. Rain book I read was an entry in his Samantha Moon, Vampire For Hire, series. That led me to his other books so his books are always a "thumbs up" for me.

Takeaway Truth

Want a good book to keep you company during this long, hot week? Grab a copy of Dark Horse (Jim Knighthorse #1) by J. R. Rain.

Just One Look Celebrates 2 Years With Reduced Price

My life has been so crazy this year that I have had no time to celebrate my milestones as an author. That changes this week!

With my house now up for sale (mission accomplished); family surgeries completed (mission accomplished); new house selected (mission accomplished); and most of our enormous mountain of clutter packed, I finally have time to focus on my writing business.

To that end, today is a belated celebration of the 2 year anniversary of the ebook publication of Just One Look which I published March 24, 2011. This romantic comedy continues to be my bestselling book of all time.

Just One Look, summed up by one reviewer as "...wonderful story; saucy heroine, confident hero; sweet love, vicious revenge, happy ending..." went on to sell World French Rights for Print and Digital to Bragelonne, my wonderful French publisher who has given such gracious support to me and my books. Many readers have told me that they want a movie version of this sexy romp. (Hey, Hollywood! Are you listening?)

Blurbing The Book

What would you do if the gynecologist subbing for your regular doctor turned out to be your old high school crush?

Successful psychologist Dr. Jennifer Monroe does what any normal, well-adjusted woman would do. She makes an excuse to send the doctor and nurse from the room, dives into her clothes, and flees!

Unfortunately, her running away makes conscientious Dr. Penrose conclude she has some kind of sexual hangup. He's determined to refer her to another doctor for her health's sake. If he can just talk to her, he'll suggest counseling for what he thinks are emotional problems.

Jennifer refuses to take his phone calls, and she plans to never see him again. After all, Dallas is a big city. What are the odds that she'd ever run into him again? Even money when Fate lends a hand.

When Jennifer and Matt meet at a charity gala, he earnestly urges her to seek professional help. Jennifer is incensed that he seems to think she's some frigid old maid. All the old high school resentment floods back, fueling her determination to teach him a lesson he won't soon forget.

With Jennifer, payback is a scorcher. Kids play doctor, but these doctors play seduction games. And they're playing for keeps.

When will Matt recognize Jennifer? Will Jennifer lure him into her bed? Seduction and sex can be pretty funny when both sides play dirty!

Available Editions

Just One Look is available in an audio edition from: Audible and iTunes and in French, print and ebook, from Bragelonne.

The English language eBook edition of this comedy of errors courtship is available at:

All Romance eBooks/OmniLit
B&N Nook U.S.
B&N Nook UK 
Diesel eBooks
iTunes/Apple Bookstore
Sony eBooks
XinXii, English Platform

Celebration Discount: Get It Now!

From Friday, July 5, through July 8, Monday, this romantic comedy will be on sale for only 99 cents to celebrate this 2-year milestone. Although the book is for sale at all the outlets listed above, I can only get prompt re-pricing from:

All Romance eBooks
B&N Nook U.S.
Smashwords by using Coupon Code HF66B (not case-sensitive). You must enter the code prior to checkout.

If you buy through iTunes or any of the above retailers where I cannot easily adjust the price, please use the Smashwords Coupon Code HF66B that will give you the reduced price. This coupon code is good only for Friday, July 5, starting at 5AM CDT, through Monday, July 8, at 10AM CDT. Remember to enter the code prior to checkout.

Takeaway Truth

Enjoy this sexy romp of a story. At the end of this 99cent sale, the price of Just One Look will rise to $3.99.

Daughters of Liberty

When one thinks about those who were crucial in gaining American independence, the names that come to mind are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, Paul Revere, Nathan Hale, and so many other illustrious and noteworthy men.

But where are the Women of the American Revolution? Where are the daughters of liberty, the women who were infused with the spirit of freedom and did their part for liberty? What are their names? You may remember Molly Pitcher and Betsy Ross from history class, but what about the others like Elizabeth Burgin, Hannah Arnett, Elizabeth Zane, Mercy Otis Warren, or Nancy Hart?

What about the bravery of Mammy Kate, kidnapped as a child from Africa and brought to the colonies as a slave. For her bravery during the American Revolution, she became the first black woman to be honored as a patriot of the American Revolution in the State of Georgia. Her husband, Daddy Jack, another who was kidnapped from Africa as a child, was also acknowledged when the Daughters of the American Revolution laid wreaths at their graves.

Take Note

Take note of these names, and on this day where we celebrate our Independence, tell someone about these women. They were inspiration for the men, solace and support, but they were also fighters, spies, couriers, and completed dangerous missions under fire. Here are a few of the women who made it possible for you to have this 4th of July to celebrate.

Elizabeth Burgin helped 200 Patriot prisoners escape from the British.

Hannah Arnett through her oratory exhorted disillusioned ill-equipped Patriots from giving up the fight for independence. In fact, she threatened to divorce her own husband if he gave up the fight! The men voted to continue.

Elizabeth Zane, during a battle at Fort Henry in the latter days of the war, volunteered to run to her brother's house a short distance away to get more gunpowder for the defenders of the fort. She dumped the gunpowder in her apron and ran back under a hail or arrows and musket fire.

Mercy Otis Warren wanted to do something to reach the common people with revolutionary ideas. She wrote plays that made fun of the British, and that was a dangerous thing to do since that was a crime punishable by jail time. She ignored all that and kept writing. Mercy wrote the first history of the Revolutionary War using her notes from meetings and conversations. History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution was published in 1805.

Nancy Hart didn't lie when British soldiers came to question her about helping out a Patriot soldier, she freely admitted it and killed two of the soldiers with their own muskets.

Margaret Corbin followed her husband into war, taking care of cooking and other needs. When the British attacked Fort Washington in New York, she took over her husband's job as matross, the person who loaded the cannon, when the gunner was killed. Her husband was killed, and she was hit and left for dead. A doctor saved her, but she was left permanently disabled. For her bravery, "Captain Molly" became part of the Invalid Regiment. She was the first woman to receive a lifetime pension for the wounds she suffered in battle.

Sybil Ludington was the female Paul Revere, and she rode twice as far. The British had sacked Danbury, Connecticut, a Patriot supply center, and were headed for Fredricksburg, New York. Sybil's father, Colonel Ludington, was in charge of the local volunteers. He needed someone to go gather the troops, and Sybil volunteered. She rode to the villages, spreading the news. The Patriots massed and were able to force the British back to Long Island Sound.

Grace and Rachel Martin donned their husbands' clothes and used their pistols to ambush British officers carrying important documents.

Scholars say several women were known as Molly Pitcher during the Revolutionary War, but Molly Hays McCauley is generally considered to be the Molly in question. "Molly, bring me a pitcher" was what men on the battlefield called out when they desperately needed a drink of water. That was shortened to "Molly, pitcher".

Molly McCauley was bringing water to the men, at the battle of Monmouth, New Jersey, and she saw her husband shot. She rushed to him and took over his position at the cannon, firing several rounds at the oncoming British forces. Her bravery and good aim inspired the soldiers to keep fighting and they sent the British retreating. General Washington commissioned her as "Sergeant Molly Pitcher."

These are just a few stories.For more wonderful stories of female bravery, visit Women and the American Revolution for a brief capsule history of some of the daughters of liberty.

Bravery knows no sex or color nor is it a matter of education, economics, religion or any other element. The late John Wayne, known for playing heroes, once said: "Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway." That's what all real-life heroes do.

Takeaway Truth

Honor Independence Day by remembering that freedom is never free. It's bought with the sacrifices of others -- women and men.

Rolling With Changes

Can you hear David Bowie crooning the lyrics to Changes? That's what today's post is about. Changes. How do you change a blog that's been in existence since 2005 and has a great reputation and a faithful following?

Very carefully.

For the last 2 years, since I started indie publishing my backlist and original fiction and nonfiction, I've known that I needed to change my blog because its URL is not my name.

When one is an author seeking to grow an audience, name recognition is extremely important. My name is part of my brand -- it is my brand for all practical purposes -- so it should be the title, or URL, associated with all my websites.


I started this blog, SlingWords, in 2005 when I was primarily freelance writing for Internet clients. The blog had a faithful following by 2011 when I published my first ebook, Just One Look, a sassy, sexy romantic comedy. The blog's followers helped make my book a bestseller in its second month.

That's why I've resisted abandoning this blog and creating one that is titled JoanReeves. I've put my heart and soul into this blog, and SlingWords has almost 2,000 posts now. I published a compilation of the Sunday posts, Written Wisdom that will continue to be available at all ebook sellers.

Like David Bowie Sang: Changes

This is a year of change for me. I spent the last 2 months de-cluttering, packing, moving things into storage and to our weekend home. Our house went up for sale Saturday. By Monday, we had 2 contracts offered. We took one. Now comes the real packing and moving. Moving furniture into storage until our new townhome in Houston is ready. Moving me up to our weekend home and hubby into a hotel downtown until we move into the townhome.

Changes. Big ones. What better time to move blogs, consolidate newsletters, update websites and profiles? It's not like I can dive into finishing Cinderella Blue, the book I'm writing. At least not until I get set up for work in the other house.

So, I bit the bullet and spit it out and committed to moving out of SlingWords and into a new blog:

New Joan Reeves Blog

I'm designing the template now. It will have a different look entirely (see the image above) and will be based on the friendly, casual way I live my life -- coffee or wine with family and friends, good conversation and word slinging about books, writing, romance, love, sex, life, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

I'll have a soft Grand Opening as soon as I have the template finished. The transition should be seamless. If you are a Follower, you should still be signed up to Follow. RSS feed should work the same, etc.

Bonus To Followers

When the new blog opens, I'm giving away a free book to all who Follow -- new and old. Just send me your email address. I'll send you a Smashwords coupon for a free book.
I'll post an announcement every few days to update you on my progress.


SlingWords is just changing to a new address and a new template. I'll always be here unless Blogger or Google decides to kick me out.

The new blog JoanReeves opens August 1. I hope to see you there.

Takeaway Truth

Change is good. Change means you're growing. That's what I keep telling myself so I don't focus on the sheer work involved. Please stay tuned for new URLs coming down the pike as soon as I get all the arrangements made.

Writing Craft: Scene and Sequel

(This article previously appeared in Writing Hacks, my subscription newsletter for writers. Subscribe today if you want to read articles like this as soon as they are published.)

There's an old Don Henley song called The Heart of the Matter. The talented Mr. Henley, in his hiatus from The Eagles back in the 1990's, sang about trying to "get down to the heart of the matter," but his will weakens and his thoughts scatter. Unfortunately, this scenario is repeated each day when writers attempt and fail in their efforts to become successful novelists.

Why do they fail? One reason may be because they have not mastered the technique of writing scene and sequel, the driving force that powers a novel from beginning to end, or, defined in its simplest term, dramatic structure.

According to the late Jack M. Bickham, guiding light behind the University of Oklahoma's Creative Writing program and author of Writing Novels That Sell, a "gut-level understanding of scene and sequel is the single most crucial factor in becoming a successful novelist." He goes on to say: " . . . for me, the heart of the matter: [is] dramatic structure."

Scene & Sequel Defined

So what is scene and sequel (dramatic structure, storytelling structure, or whatever you wish to call it)? It is the technique of rendering a life-like reading experience for the person holding your book. By life-like, I mean that the story is told moment by moment with no summary, from a viewpoint, lived now, with actions that have results. Without this life-like reading experience, there is no forward motion, no excitement, in your book which means that no one will want to read your book.

Oh, so if we wish to create an exciting novel then we simply tell everything that happens, with no summary, so that everything becomes a scene? Wrong! If everything were a scene, books would be a gazillion pages long. In real life, we summarize, so, in a novel, we also summarize some things. That is the sequel part of dramatic structure.

Thus, we can refine our definition of scene and sequel by saying that it is a clearly-defined structure that develops a novel through a sequence of stimulus and response transactions that begin with page one and conclude with "the end."

The SCENE is the way the action is developed between the characters -- moment by moment with nothing left out or summarized.

The SEQUEL is the characters' reaction to what has happened.

Scene = goal, conflict, disaster

The scene starts with a character stating clearly what he wants. This is the GOAL that the protagonist wants to achieve. In the scene, the writer develops the CONFLICT that prevents the character from achieving that goal, then shows that DISASTER strikes as a result of thwarted goal achievement.

The SCENE QUESTION, arising from the scene goal, tells the readers what to worry about so they'll keep reading to find the answer. You should answer the scene question disastrously so as to keep the reader hooked.

Scene = goal, conflict, disaster

For example, let's say the scene starts with John Smith (viewpoint character) stating: "I must get you to the hospital, Mary, before the baby comes!" (The action is being lived now.) This is his goal: get his pregnant wife to the hospital before the baby comes. The scene question is: Will John get his wife to the hospital before the baby comes?

The conflict is that which prevents him from achieving his goal: the weather, the traffic, the other drivers, his rattletrap car, his paranoid fear of driving in the rain, his nervousness, his wife's thrashing about, her screams of terror, etc. And of course the disaster is that he does not get to the hospital in time. (The action has results.)

Play the scene out, moment by moment, telling about the slippery roads, the blinding rain, the car fish-tailing when he hit the brakes too hard, the other drivers' speeding, etc.

Sequel = reaction, dilemma, decision

The SEQUEL (reaction) is the character's REACTION to what has happened. That reaction embroils the character in a DILEMMA based on the way the scene question was answered, forces him to make a DECISION which leads him to a new ACTION with a new goal which of course becomes the next scene. In this manner, scenes and sequels are like dominoes standing next to each other, one falling tile gives way to the next and the next until the end is reached.

Sequel = reaction, dilemma, decision

With our John Smith above, after the scene question is answered disastrously, John realizes he must deliver the baby and reaction sets in (the sequel). John goes through the emotional REACTION of knowing he must do this (perhaps he faints at the sight of blood? or his first wife died in childbirth? more conflict), the physical reaction of clammy hands, racing heartbeat, the knot in his stomach.

On the heels of the reaction, John is faced with a DILEMMA or quandary. Does he attempt the delivery? Does he flag down someone to help? Does he run away from the trauma? Does he become catatonic and contemplate his toes? The dilemma forces him to make a DECISION. What is he going to do? The character weighs all the options and within the scope of the character's personality, makes a decision that leads him to take action, and of course, this action leads to a new scene where you go through the process again.

Takeaway Truth

If a failure to understand scene and sequel is holding you back, then please read and study some of the excellent books on the subject, many published by Writer's Digest Books. I strongly recommend Jack Bickham's books.

Secure Your Facebook Account

This weekend I read an excellent article about how to prevent scams and other security problems keyed to Facebook so I want to share that with you today.

First, here's the article that attracted my attention: Secure Your Facebook, a Step By Step Guide. This explains why you should be concerned with Facebook security and gives some basic tips to get you started.

More importantly, this article contains a link to "How to Secure Your Facebook Account," by Shehzad Mirza of The Center for Internet Security.

How to Secure Your Facebook Account, a practical, easy to read guide for the typical user, is a PDF download. Please grab it today and read it.

Takeaway Truth

This 7 page guide is valuable information for you -- and your teenagers who use Facebook.