Register NOW! Lone Star Writing Conference

The 2014 Lone Star Writing Conference, one of the best anywhere, is sponsored by Northwest Houston Chapter of Romance Writers of America.

The conference is Saturday, October 4, so register now.


Featured Speaker: Bob Mayer and Bob's Cool Gus Publishing partner Jen Talty: “New Frontiers in Publishing”

Date: Oct. 4, 2014

Time: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., registration and breakfast from 8:30-9 a.m.

Place: Hilton Garden Inn
7979 Willow Chase Blvd, Houston TX 77070 ($69/night)

Conference Fee: $130

The winners of the 2014 Lone Star Writing Contest will be announced at the Conference. Congratulations to the 2014 Finalists!

Editors and Agents

Attending the conference will be:

Editor Deborah Gilbert, Founder and Senior Editor, Soul Mate Publishing

Editor Jill Limber, Boroughs Publishing Group

Agent Kim Lionetti, BookEnds Literary Agency

About the Featured Speakers

Bob Mayer is a West Point Graduate, Former Green Beret, CEO of Cool Gus Publishing and a NY Times Bestselling Author. He has had over 50 books published. He has sold over four million books, and is in demand as a team-building, life-changing, and leadership speaker and consultant for his Who Dares Wins: The Green Beret Way concept, which he translated into Write It Forward: a holistic program teaching writers how to be authors. He is also the Co-Creator of Cool Gus Publishing, which does both eBooks and Print On Demand, so he has experience in both traditional and non-traditional publishing.

His books have hit the NY Times, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and numerous other bestseller lists. His book The Jefferson Allegiance, was released independently and reached #2 overall in sales on Nook. Mayer’s military background, coupled with his deep desire to understand the past and how it affects our future, gives his writing a rich flavor not to be missed.

Jen Talty is the Co-Creator and COO of Cool Gus Publishing with Bob Mayer. She has been teaching workshops on the craft of writing and on the business of publishing for over a decade. She has presented at Romance Writers of America and Thrillerfest as well as many local chapters and other writer conferences. She has also taught at Writers and Books of Rochester. Many of her workshops can also be done with her her business partner, NY Times Bestselling Author, former Green Beret, and west Point Graduate, Bob Mayer.

They have done variations of these workshops at numerous conferences and also for day long writers’ group meetings and they have had a very positive effect: both in terms of preparing people to make the most of the conference and/or having a bonus workshop you can add as an option for those who want to come a little bit early.

Kim Lionetti, BookEnds

After eight years at Berkley Publishing, Kim Lionetti left her position as Senior Editor to join BookEnds in March 2004. While there, Kim enjoyed overseeing an eclectic list comprised of romances, westerns, young adult, mysteries, nonfiction, and general fiction. While she’s narrowed her focus a bit with the books she represents, she still enjoys using her editorial skills to help authors shape their work into more marketable products and helping them to see their writing as part of the “bigger picture.”

Kim’s areas of interest are historical and contemporary romance, women’s fiction, contemporary new adult fiction, young adult (except fantasy or sci-fi), and cozy mysteries. Her authors include Christie Craig/C. C. Hunter, Elizabeth Joy Arnold, Sofie Kelly, and Elle Lothlorien.

Debby Gilbert, Soul Mate Publishing

Soul Mate Publishing Founder and Senior Editor Deborah Gilbert graduated from Nazareth College, magna cum laude, with a B.S. in English and an M.S. in Reading. She taught high school English for sixteen years and joined RWA in 1998. Noting the tightening New York market and the trend toward digital publishing, she opened Soul Mate Publishing in October, 2011.

She is currently seeking submissions in all areas.

Jill Limber, Boroughs Publishing Group

A multi-published author and former RWA President, as a child some of Jill’s tales got her in trouble, but now she gets paid for them. At the beginning of 2012, Jill entered a new phase of her Romance career, she became an Editor at Boroughs Publishing Group and now helps other writers realize their dreams. Residing in San Diego with her husband and a trio of dogs, Jill’s favorite pastime is to gather friends and family for good food, conversation and plenty of laughter.

More Conference Highlights

* The first 35 people to register are invited to a Meet-and-Greet party Friday night.
* The Lone Star Writing Contest winners will be announced during our Awards Luncheon.
* Amazing raffle baskets and silent auctions.
* Post conference Wine, Chocolate, Cheese party at the hotel – everyone is invited!


Pay your conference registration fee via PayPal. Once you’ve paid, complete the registration form and include your PayPal Transaction ID number, which you’ll receive in a confirmation email from PayPal. Payment via check is also accepted, but may not be received in time since the conference is Saturday.

Takeaway Truth

Lone Star Writing Conference is one of the best. Don't miss this chance to attend.

Prestigious Emily Contest: Enter Now

The deadline looms for the Emily Contest, the highly regarded writing contest sponsored by the West Houston Chapter of Romance Writers of America.

This prestigious writing competition  closes on October 7th so don't delay. Click here to enter. Link will be repeated below also.

Just The Basic Facts

* Any unpublished / not under contract manuscript (provided you haven't been published/self-published in that genre in the prior 3 years) is eligible to enter.

* Only the 1st 200 entries are accepted!

* Deadline: 10/07/2014

* Entry Fee:
$20 USD (West Houston RWA Members)
$30 USD (Non-West Houston RWA Members)

* To enter:

* Questions, comments, concerns? Email: emily.contest @

What Do You Get?

* Valuable feedback from 3 trained judges. (The Emily is known for all the helpful first-round comments.)

* lowest 1st round score is dropped

* 3 finalists per category go on to the agent/editor round

* each finalist is read by an editor AND an agent (The Emily has a long history of multiple requests for finalists.)

* Best of the Best winner receives $100!

What Do You Need To Enter?

* the first 5600 words of your manuscript (I've written several posts about how to succeed in contests. You might want to read this post I wrote about contest elements. You can find the others by search the blog for "contests.")

* and what you don't need is -- a synopsis!

Categories & Judges

* Contemporary Romance – Long

Finalist Judges:
Agent – Maria Carvainis, Maria Carvainis Agency, Inc.
Editor – Chelsey Emmelhainz, HarperCollins Avon

* Contemporary Romance – Short
Finalist Judges:
Agent – Mary Sue Seymour, The Seymour Agency
Editor – Brenda Chin, Belle Books / ImaJinn

* Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Romance
Finalist Judges:
Agent – Victoria Lowes, The Bent Agency
Editor – Robin Haseltine, Entangled Publishing

* Historical Romance
Finalist Judges:
Agent – Kimberly Lionetti, BookEnds, LLC
Editor – Sue Grimshaw, Random House

* Romantic Suspense
Finalist Judges:
Agent – Courtney Miller-Callihan, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates
Editor – Patience Bloom, Harlequin

* Young Adult Romance
Finalist Judges:
Agent – Michelle Grajkowski, 3 Seas Literary Agency
Editor – Alice Jerman, Harper Teen

* New Adult Romance
Finalist Judges:
Agent – Rebecca Strauss, DeFiore And Co.
Editor – Mary-Therese Hussey, Harlequin


* Fee:
$20 USD (WHRWA Members)
$30 USD (Non-WHRWA Members)

* Click here to enter. (If you're reading and can't click, here's the link:

* Questions, comments, concerns? Email:

Takeaway Truth

This is one of the best, most reputable writing contests anywhere. Enter today.

The Sky Is Home

When Larry and I were first married, he was the one who expressed the desire to get his pilot's license. It didn't take long for him to talk me into the idea. I was always willing to try just about anything that wasn't illegal or imoral.

Young and Crazy

We both took a couple of lessons and loved it. When we talked to our instructor about continuing, he said it was actually cheaper to buy a small plane and use it to learn to fly. So we did. How crazy is that?

We were living in the New Mexico oil patch, "40 miles from nowhere and 2 feet from hell," as the postcards sold there proclaimed. Driving to the nearest large city (Lubbock, Texas) took several hours so we thought a plane made sense in that we could just fly somewhere when we wanted a taste of civilization.

So we bought a plane from an agency in Santa Monica. A pilot flew it in, and we were amazed to learn that the plane had once been owned by the king of the cowboys, Roy Rogers.


I wouldn't give anything for those years we were plane pilot/owners. We had some amazing adventures and met some amazing people like Zip Franklin who took us in his ranch truck to his ranch out on the Caprock.

Zip's ranch truck was an ancient Cessna stripped on the inside to make room for hay bales. Zip was an aviation pioneer who had two sons. Both sons ended up being stunt pilots in the movies and were headliners in airshows.

We landed between 2 outcroppings of rock. We touched down on this mostly level ground, overgrown with tall weeds and rutted so badly that we bounced up and down as we rolled along his makeshift runway. That heart in the throat feeling, traveling over rocky ground and hoping you stop before you reach the cliff, is something you don't experience every day.

I didn't know it then, but memories like that, and the emotions they call forth, are rich source material for writing.

Takeaway Truth

Jerry Crawford, Wings Over Texas, said: "To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home."

Planes, Planes, and More Planes!

Looking from our back porch
This weekend was the annual fly-in at our country home. With more than 60 planes, the fly-in was a big success.

Our house is on a hill above a small private airport. We chose the house for its location just as we chose this community for its amenities, one of which is that airport.

Dozens of Planes

Lanes of planes. All total: about 60.
Every year, pilots from all over the country fly here to display their planes and enjoy a catered barbeque lunch--brisket and all the trimmings.

Everyone can stroll through the lanes of parked aircraft and ooh and ah to heart's content. You can look inside the cockpit and check out avionics. Most have upgraded to computer avionics, GPS, etc. No longer is the old IFR joke applicable.

IFR actually means Instrument Flight Rated, meaning you have the equipment to fly at night and land among other things. To novice pilots several years ago IFR jokingly meant "I follow roads" for those who had difficulty reading air maps. With GPS, navigation is easy.

Great Designs & Interiors

Largest plane that flew in, a Cessna 8 seater
The colorful planes, many with outstanding graphics, beautifully appointed interiors, and top of the line avionics are amazing, and talking "shop" with the pilots never gets old. We also have a chance to schmooze with our neighbors since we don't get to see them very often.

Darling Hubby and I once owned and flew our own plane, a Piper Cherokee, 4 place--that's 4 seats to you non-flyers. Every year during fly-in, we talk about buying another plane. Or maybe buying an RV and building it ourselves. Home-builds, as they are called, are always labeled Experimental Aircraft, but there's nothing experimental about them. They all have to be approved by the FAA as airworthy.


RV, a Home-build
Takeaway Truth

I guess it's a good thing we aren't millionaires because we'd probably spend more than is sensible on hot cars and airplanes. Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Thursday3Some: Changeling's Crown by Juli Revezzo

This morning, my guest is my pal, Juli D. Revezzo. who has written a New Adult paranormal romance. Juli and I met when we were part of a group blog that has since gone to that big blog heaven.

About Juli D. Revezzo

Juli D. Revezzo is a Florida girl, with a love of fantasy, science fiction, and Arthurian legend. She loves writing stories with all kinds of fantastical elements as is seen by her her works: a New Adult paranormal romance, Changeling's Crown; the paranormal fantasy series, Antique Magic; and the paranormal romance series, Harshad Wars.

She is a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour. Learn more about her at her website.

Find Juli D. Revezzo Online


About Changeling's Crown

Disgraced faery godmother Ianthe doesn’t count on her new assignment throwing her into the path of handsome ranch hand Briak McGee, nor falling in love with the human. But everything she touches these days seems to backfire on her. Could love be just the thing to turn her luck around?

When did you write Changeling's Crown?

I wrote Changeling's Crown, over a three year period, beginning in the winter of 2011. It took sometime for me to whip the characters into shape. When they suggested they were faeries (about the middle of 2013) the story took off from there.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

A dream, really. I had a dream of this couple having lunch in a honky tonk-themed restaurant. That dream became that catalyst for Ianthe and Briak's flirtatious lunch (and quick jaunt into the dark faery realm!) in Chapter Seven.

Why do readers buy Changeling's Crown?

For the sweet fun and sigh-worthy hero it promises the reader. :)

Buy Changeling's Crown

Changeling's Crown: Kindle Edition

Changeling's Crown: Paperback from B&N

Changeling's Crown: Smashwords Edition

Changeling's Crown: Paperback from Createspace

(Authors, have you tried CreateSpace to publish your books? Learn how at CreateSpace.)

Takeaway Truth

The weekend is almost here. Have you grabbed your weekend read yet?

Meet Fantasy/Paranormal Author Andrea Cooper

Grab your coffee or tea and help me welcome Andrea Cooper.

Andrea has always enjoyed creating characters and stories, but it wasn’t until she was in her late twenties that she started writing novels.

Andrea explains what happened to ignite the writing flame in her fingers: "Divorced, and disillusioned by love songs and stories. They exaggerate. Love and Romance are not like that in the real world."

Then she met her husband and realized, yes, love and romance are exactly like the songs and stories say. She is now a happy wife, and a mom to two boys and a girl.

Find Andrea Cooper Online


Andrea Cooper Tackles the Dirty Dozen

1. In which genre do you write and why that particular genre?

I write in several genres: fantasy, paranormal, and historical romance. My favorite genre to write in is fantasy. Why? Because it incorporates my love of history and fantasy. I have always loved fantasy stories—even when they were forbidden in my house growing up—I wasn’t even allowed to watch or read Disney.

I love this genre because anything can happen from world building to dragons to mythical creatures.

2. What's your most recent book and what's it about?

My latest release, Son of Dragons: Book 2, Legends of Oblivion, is a fantasy/ paranormal romance.

In a time of false peace, the dead rise as soldiers for the Warloc's scheme. For thousands of years he has stood ready for the final battle. Though the witch and her cursed Elvin have destroyed his physical body, now with his protégé, he has honed a new way to wage war.

Elvin warrior Mirhana, shunned by her own people and weary-hearted from centuries of lost loves, scours the land to silence the undead. Her heart has turned as cold as the sword she wields, until a prince seeks her aid.

Prince Landon has never met a woman like Mirhana. Both beautiful and deadly, she haunts his dreams. The battle at hand becomes more enchanting than fighting to remain true to his unseen betrothed.

When a traitor emerges, new alliances are tested and the only remaining hope is to follow the prophecy and find the . . . Son of Dragons.

3. As an author, what can readers expect when they read one of your books?

Vivid worlds full of filled with magic, adventure, captivating heroines and the men that love them.

4. How did you "become" an author? For instance, was there a moment when you said: "I think I'll write a book."

I have always imagined characters and created stories. As early as I can remember, kids in elementary school would come over to me during recess and ask what we were going to play that day. I set the scene and we ad libed the rest. Once, when I was in second grade I came up with the idea to play ‘space vampires’. So that none of the kids would bite someone, I had them use their first two fingers as their ‘fangs’. It seems funny now, but I thought it was revolutionary then—and everyone seemed to have fun playing the roles.

Then, I grew up and could no longer play act. However, it was not until I read more romance novels that I thought about writing a book.

5. What's the best thing about being an author?

Being able to share my stories and characters with others. It’s like having great friends that no one knows but you. I want the world to know all my friends ;)

6. What's the worst thing about being an author?

Marketing. I dislike talking about myself or trying to convince someone to buy something.

7. Do you have editions of your books available other than ebook editions?

Yes, all of my novels with crimson romance – including son of dragons – are available as either ebook or paperback.

8. Do you listen to audio books? If so, what device do you use?

I only listen to audio books via the library. I have too many expenses with ebooks on my kindle to have additional charges for books.

9. What device do you use to read ebooks?

Kindle (my husband gave me a kindle when it first came out and I didn’t like it. The ebooks then were too expensive. Now, though, I’d grab it and my usb that has all my written novels in the event of a fire).

10. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Get into a critique group. Somewhere either in person or online that has other writers and share your work. I have learned more in the year and half since I have been published by readers, editors, critique partners, and beta readers than I did in a decade of writing alone.

11. If you could tell readers one thing, what would it be?

Leave a review. I read all of mine and some are helpful in knowing what worked in a story and what didn’t.

12. What is your big dream (or goal) as a writer?

Sharing my stories so that I can write more. And having a few more fans, eager for the next book would be awesome.

Buy Links for Son of Dragons by Andrea Cooper

Amazon Kindle U.S.

Amazon Kindle: UK, Australia, Canada



Takeaway Truth

Have you read a fantasy/paranormal romance before? If not, give it a try for your weekend read.

Blog Ops Excerpt: 5 Tips to Make Blogging Easier

Update: eBook Available October 2014
With over 150 million blogs out there, how can you attract visitors to yours? Once they find your blog, how can you make sure they come back to visit? How can you get them to click to Follow your blog or subscribe by email?

Here are some tips to help you.

1. Lay a good foundation.

A good foundation ensures success and longevity of your blog and of your internet presence. A good foundation means having a plan.

2. Think first. Act later.

A lot of thought should go into your plan. Now is the time to figure out what you'll write about on your blog. Figure this out before you ever write the first blog post.

Answer These Questions

* What are my abiding interests or passions? Examples: bargain shopping, wine, growing vegetables, stamp collecting or collecting anything, model railroading, Civil War reenactment, etc. The list of hobbies or interests or passions is endless. List yours.

* Do those passions make their way into my work, my books, or my product? Analyze your books and the ones you intend to write in the future.

* Is there a large segment of the population who is also interested in those passions? Are there hobby groups attached to your interests?

* Are you interested enough in the subject matter to occasionally write about it?

3. Create an editorial calendar.

Right now, figure out which days of the week you will actually blog. Every day? Monday, Wednesday, Friday? Only on weekends? Once a week?

Answer These Questions

* What is my available time to take on another task?

* Am I willing to make a commitment to blog, week in and week out, on the day or days on which I decide?

* Print out a calendar or use a Day Planner and mark the days of the week on which you'll blog.

4. Decide on the specific topics about which you will blog.

Knowing what you will write in advance makes everything so much easier.

Example: on SlingWords, Sunday is for Written Wisdom. Monday is for my sharing some kind of tech news like a tool or website or gadget that will help you whether you're a reader or a writer. On Tuesday I offer an article about the art, craft, or business of writing--sometimes about my specific writing life.

Wednesday is a Guest Post that will interest all readers or an interview with an author to introduce new readers to the author. Thursday3Some is a staple and is designed to introduce a specific book and author to new readers. Friday is for video, audio, or pop culture. Saturday is for reviews.

Most of the time I adhere to this schedule, but I've been publishing SlingWords so long that sometimes I shake it up a bit.

5. Be consistent, not apologetic.

I really hate blogs that begin with: "I'm sorry I haven't blogged lately, but I'm back ..."

The easiest way to lose your audience is to not post regularly. If you have a gap between posts, then resolve to do better and eliminate the apologies. Nobody but your mother cares. Readers come to blogs for information and entertainment, not excuses.

Real life happens to us all. I know it's difficult to avoid explaining absences or tell readers your book didn't get published on time because your daughter had another surgery or any number of personal catastrophes I've experienced. I don't do many personal posts because I figure you don't want to read about my real-life problems. Instead, I try to offer entertainment and information.

Takeaway Truth

A good blog is one of the best branding/marketing tools available.

Inheritance and Intellectual Property

I had a bit of surgery last month. It wasn't anything to worry about. However, anytime I've had to have anesthesia, thoughts of my last will and testament pop into my head. So I thought I'd talk a little about the issue of wills and inheritance and writers.

(This article previously appeared in Writing Hacks, my free subscription newsletter for Writers.)

Inheritance and Intellectual Property

Dying without a will leaves a mess for your heirs. Please, see a lawyer and have a will drawn up even if you think you have little in the way of an estate.

If you're a writer who is publishing, either with traditional publishers or as an independent author, you DO have an estate. Your estate is made up of Intellectual Property which is an asset that is inheritable. So you need to designate someone to inherit your intellectual property and all associated rights.

Tips to Help You Get Started

1. Make a list of all of your published books, completed but unpublished works, and articles. Yes, articles too. If you publish a blog, your rights in that intellectual property are worth something. Your heirs could compile a "best of" volume of your posts and publish them. For today's discussion, we'll focus on books though.

2. Create a folder for each work containing all materials associated with that book. These items should include:

(a) Cover sheet with all dates in chronological order. (Date you began the work, completed the work, publishing contract date, Copyright Date, Date of First Publication, any other publication dates like sub-rights deals and contracts, Date of Rights Reversion, etc. For indie published works, the above plus when you published on which platform, ISBN assigned date, etc.)

(b) Copy of all publishing contracts, Letters of Reversion.

(c) Easy to understand instructions for your heirs on the value of your Intellectual Property and what to do with the Property upon your death. You might also include a simple guide to informing the publishers/self-publishing platforms and arranging for funds to be paid to the heir.

(d) Easy to understand instructions on how to market the rights in the future.

3. Once you've got all this set up, make a list of a comprehensive list of each work, rights owned, rights that may be licensed and when they expire, and discuss this with your intended heir.

4. You will also give this comprehensive list to your attorney for inclusion in your will. Most attorneys know little about Intellectual Property so don't depend on them to catalog your Intellectual Property appropriately or even to know what constitutes Intellectual Property.

Takeaway Truth

Making the inventory and setting up all pertinent documents in each work file is the toughest part. The plus side to this is you'll have all your files organized for the future.

Post Script

The holidays are coming. Wouldn't you love to give your writer friends a special gift? If you need a gift for a writer--or a promotional item--visit my CafePress shop, WriteWay.

One of the most popular items in my shop is the Writer's Christmas Ornament -- use this direct link, and the prices in the shop are less than if you search for the item in the CafePress Marketplace.

The ornament is available in several shapes. The one shown is Snowflake.

4 Ways to Improve Your Focus

Today's quotation is long so my two cents will be short.

Motivational speaker Jack Canfield said: "Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them."

4 Ways to Improve Your Focus

1. Make a little sign with what you want to achieve and what you must do today to achieve that.

Make it where it's easy to read from a distance of 3-4 feet. On index cards or pieces of paper, write it down: just 1 thing you want to achieve. Write 1 short, succinct sentence. Then write 1 short sentence that says what you must do today to achieve that goal.

2. Tape the sign where you see it first thing in the morning.

That usually means the bathroom mirror. When you see it, read it aloud.  Tape another little sign in the kitchen because that's usually the next place you go in the morning. Maybe tape it over the coffeemaker. Read the sign aloud.

3. Post your little signs where you see them as you move through your day and read them each time you see one.

Okay, you see where I'm going with this? Seeing your signs and reading them aloud keeps the goal ever present in your mind. That keeps your focus where it belongs: on what you wish to achieve.

4. Last thing at night, read the sign you've placed by your bed.

Ask yourself: "Did I maintain focus on what I want to achieve?"

If you did, then sleep contentedly. If you didn't, then take a few minutes to analyze what you did and how you can improve your focus the next day then sleep contentedly with new resolve to do better tomorrow.

Takeaway Truth

Always focus on what you want to accomplish, not what stands in the way of accomplishing it.

Thursday3Some: Saving Sarah by Kara O'Neal

I'm pleased to welcome Kara O'Neal to SlingWords this morning. I've got my mug of freshly-brewed Dunkin' Donuts Coffee so let's chat with Kara.

About Kara O'Neal

Kara was born and raised in Texas. After surviving those awkward years of 7 to 16, she spent two years at Sam Houston State University where she met her husband. One marriage, two certifications to teach Special Education, and three children later, she decided to pursue a career in writing.

With four ebooks published through Resplendence Publishing, she is amazed at her good fortune and hopes the ride never ends!

Find Kara O'Neal Online


About Saving Sarah

Saving Sarah is the prequel to the Pikes Run Series.

Sarah Kerry's world is shattered when a man from her past, Liam Devlin, shows up with proof that, if shared, would send her father to the noose. In order to keep Liam quiet, she must break her young courtship with Michael Lonnigan, and marry Liam instead.

Michael is crushed and angry when Sarah abruptly ends their courtship, but he knows something isn’t right. He's seen the new man hanging around the Kerry family and believes the man is blackmailing the woman he loves. Unwilling to let her go, Michael will do whatever it takes to save Sarah, and make her his own.

When did you write Saving Sarah?

I wrote this story during the spring of 2014. The characters were familiar, and I loved delving into the lives of the parents of my first hero.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

My first hero -- Kyle Lonnigan -- tugged at my heart. After writing his book in the Pikes Run Series, I was intrigued by his parents -- Michael and Sarah Lonnigan. I wanted to learn how they fell in love and jumped in with both feet. After finishing it, I decided it should be the prequel to the Pikes Run Series.

Why do readers buy Saving Sarah?

First -- it is a love story. Being a part of someone's journey to forever is exciting and an escape. Second -- my stories contain characters with a strong sense of family. The relationships created amongst my characters strike a chord with readers. They feel as if they're meeting their own siblings, parents, cousins, etc. in my books. And I love that.

Buy Link

Kindle Edition of Saving Sarah by Kara O'Neal: Pikes Run Series Prequel

Takeaway Truth

A little vacation can always be found between the covers of a book. Buy one today.

Puzzling Professional Paths by J. Hughey

Please welcome J. Hughey aka Historical Romance author Jill Hughey. She's written a great guest post that many people can identify with.

About J. Hughey

J. Hughey knows what a girl wants. Independence. One or two no-matter-what-happens friends. A smokin’ hot romance. A basic understanding of geological concepts. Huh?

Okay, maybe not every girl is into geology, but J. Hughey is and, in the Yellowblown™ series, she combines her passion for a timeless love story with her interest in geeky stuff to help Violet Perch get a life, despite an ongoing global catastrophe.

(As mentioned above, J. Hughey is the popular Historical Romance author Jill Hughey so you'll find both the personnas hanging out online.)

Find J. Hughey/Jill Hughey Online

Twitter: @jillhughey

Okay, J. Hughey, take it away!

Puzzling Professional Paths
by J. Hughey

I have a degree in geology. I write romance. Some of you are scratching your heads. There are several possible reasons for your puzzlement, one of which might be the question of what geology is, exactly. Here is a humorous definition from American satirist Ambrose Bierce in 1911.

“GEOLOGY, n. The science of the earth's crust —to which, doubtless, will be added that of its interior whenever a man shall come up garrulous out of a well. The geological formations of the globe already noted are catalogued thus: The Primary, or lower one, consists of rocks, bones of mired mules, gas-pipes, miners' tools, antique statues minus the nose, Spanish doubloons and ancestors. The Secondary is largely made up of red worms and moles. The Tertiary comprises railway tracks, patent pavements, grass, snakes, mouldy boots, beer bottles, tomato cans, intoxicated citizens, garbage, anarchists, snap-dogs and fools.”


I include this partly because it made me laugh, and partly because it might accurately portray the murkiness of most folks’ understanding of geology. My comprehension is only slightly more sophisticated after four years of college way back when. However, one still has to wonder how I graduated with a science degree and ended up as an author—and writing romance of all things—a genre considered as intellectual as mouldy boots in ethereal literary circles where love and happy endings are viewed as pedestrian.

Well, in all honesty, it took me a while to suss out what I wanted to be when I grew up, besides sarcastic. I ignored some directional signs on the way, such as poems I’d penned since elementary school and the creative writing course I loved in college. Of course, I loved my mineralogy course too, and, coming from a family of lifetime-at-one-job type people, had no idea how to make a living at anything with the word “creative” in it, beside it, or even wafting nearby like incense from the writing professor’s office.


I don’t regret my choice. In fact, it makes me very slightly interesting to myself because I’m fascinated by the odd paths professional lives take. For example, once, when out to dinner with the board of a Fortune 500 company…okay, you caught me, it was the local youth soccer league board…anyway, I was sitting across from a soccer dad who lived on the dairy farm on which he’d been raised. Dairy farmer. Easy to peg. When not milking and cultivating, he built signs and framed pictures. Got it.

The real shocker came when he said he was also a gemologist.

For those of you who thought beer bottles were part of the geologic strata, a gemologist handles gems, and a gem is just a really fine mineral. For example, a transparent crystal of the mineral beryl with some chromium atoms cheating in for aluminum turns out green and is called emerald. Needless to say, this whole gemologist gig caught my attention much more than the framing. (See sentence where I said I loved mineralogy.)

Suddenly-most-fascinating-guy-at-the-table goes on to say he’d worked as an independent gem buyer before he got married and had kids and his wife made him quit. Why, one might ask, would his wife make him do that? Imagine the awesome jewelry a gem buyer might cough up on those landmark anniversaries!

Turns out, he wasn’t buying gems on 47th Street in Manhattan. He was traveling, Indiana Jones style, into the regions of the world where the really good stones are, like Kashmir and East Africa. Tucking pouches of precious minerals into a leather satchel slung over his camel, no doubt.

Appearances Are Deceiving

At this point, I found myself staring. This guy went to the same elementary school I did and coached six-year-old girls soccer. He’s a dairy farmer in rural Pennsylvania, for cryin’ out loud. Except he’s not. In his fascinating past, he’s a freaking gem-buyer. I could have picked his brain all night, but no one else found his stories nearly as intriguing as me. His gemless wife was especially bored.

The dairy farmer’s meandering career path makes mine not nearly so disjointed. Geology degree to apple grower (I skipped over that part) to full-time mom to part-time business administrator and self-published author isn’t nearly as bizarre. Or adventurous.

Complete 360

Funny, though, how our lives come full circle. My newest series of books, called Yellowblown™, tells the story of a college sophomore whose existence is upended by the eruption of the Yellowstone volcano. I’ve merged my love of geology with my creative side, and readers are loving that smattering of science as they enjoy the derailment of Violet Perch’s future.

Book 1: Eruption, Excerpt

I’m in the middle of the perfect college semester, hundreds of miles from Mom, with an awesome roomie and my freshman crush finally becoming a sophomore reality—Hotness! I’m figuring out calculus, I’ve got both hands on the handlebars and the wind of freedom in my hair. What on earth could slow my roll?

How about if the Yellowstone volcano erupts for the first time in 630,000 years, spewing a continuous load of ash (crap) all over North America? Think that’ll put a kink in my bicycle chain?

Parting Shot

If you forged a really bizarre professional path or have any questions about mine, leave a comment. It’s been a fun visit.

Thanks for having me on SlingWords.

Buy Eruption: Yellowblown™ Book One by J. Hughey

Eruption is available at Amazon at a discounted price of 99 cents for a short time. Grab it before it goes up to $2.99.

Kindle Edition of Eruption (YellowblownTM Book 1) by J. Hughey

But Wait! There's More

Any new subscribers to my newsletter will have a chance to win some swag decorated with Eruption cover art and Yellowblown series logo charms. You can choose from a necklace, bracelet or bookmark. Subscribe at before September 27.

Takeaway Truth

Jill, it's been a blast. Can't wait to read Eruption. Readers, grab a copy while it's priced low!

Cut the Cable Options: Amazon Fire TV

Welcome to another episode of Cut the Cable.

I've recommended Amazon Prime TV as a viable way of cutting the cable or satellite TV service. I watch Amazon Prime Video Streaming on my Smart TV and on another flat panel "dumb" TV using my Amazon Kindle HD.

A friend recently decided to sign up for Amazon Prime since I recommend it so often. You get a free 30-day Prime trial with unlimited access to all they offer.

You can even get a free copy of What is Amazon Prime?: The Complete Guide to the Amazon Prime Membership so you can learn all about Prime Membership before signing up.

When my friend visited in the spring, he was amazed at Amazon Prime Streaming so it didn't take him long upon returning home to get his own membership. He went a step further and ordered the Amazon Fire TV.

About Amazon Fire TV

In case you're not familiar with this gadget, the Amazon Fire TV is a tiny box you connect to your HDTV. With it you can stream videos from Amazon Prime -- over 200,000 TV episodes and movies, millions of songs,s and hundreds of games -- as well as Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, and rent movies, games, music, etc.

It also offers the capability of Voice Search that actually works according to my friend. Just say the name of what you want to watch and it finds it for you in a few seconds.

Check it out for yourself and Compare Streaming Devices. Of course, you don't have to have this gadget. You can use your iPad, Kindle Fire HD, smartphone, and other devices.

Friend's Comments

My friend was disappointed to learn that not all of the 200,000 plus TV and movies are free. (He did not cruise around the Prime Video webpages before ordering the gadget, or he'd have seen that not everything was free. Some movies and TV shows cycle on and off the "free" list.)

My friend said: "As to the Amazon Fire device — the Voice Search works GREAT. No problems there. However, on a Hardware note — it has NO power button (you can’t turn it off … it goes off automatically after a while if you’re not actively streaming a video — I’D LIKE TO BE IN CHARGE OF WHEN IT GOES OFF)."

He also found that the device makes you jump through more hoops to watch Netflix.

"If using the Nexflix App on it (to view a Netflix video), there’s no way to turn-on, turn-off the Closed Caption without returning to the basic app (Amazon Video), and turn it on/off, then go back into Netflix and pick up the video where you left off... seems as though Amazon Fire made it as inconvenient as possible to use Netflix."

That's probably true since they are direct competitors.

He goes on to say: "Voice Search doesn’t work with Netflix … it’ll work, but throws you back into Amazon Video. If you want to search within Netflix, you have to do it the old-fashion way – hunt and peck the letters."

Also, "The remote has NO “Stop” button — None! You can “go Forward, Backward, Pause” … that’s it! You can’t STOP a video. Basically I just hit the Pause then return Home and find a different video. Soooo — there are some things I’d have designed differently with the remote."


He liked the Amazon Fire TV but felt like there were improvements to be made.

Takeaway Truth

Since we cut the cable/satellite last year, saving $100 bucks a month makes up for minor inconveniences.

Flood Prevention

Charlie Brown said to Snoopy: "Are you upset little friend? Have you been lying awake worrying? Well, don't worry...I'm here. The flood waters will recede, the famine will end, the sun will shine tomorrow, and I will always be here to take care of you."

I love Peanuts. Just comforting to read sometimes.

My yard flood — which thankfully didn't flood the house — has been taken care of. Not by Charlie Brown but by Raphael Harvey of AAA Irrigation here in Houston. They worked in the rain Friday and Saturday to get the drain system installed. The picture above shows a section of it.

When they finished Saturday, all ditches were covered and grass was rolled back into place with only the emergency drainage trench my husband dug looking as if the yard had been chewed up.

Raphael and his crew will be back today to redo the landscaping.

Takeaway Truth

Even big messes can be fixed by experts.

Armadillos and Coyote Urine

After reading that title you may be saying, "Yuk!" That's what I thought also. Smell a bag of the stuff, and you'll run in the other direction. Yes, coyote urine is sold in granular form by the pound.

Why Would Anyone Want Coyote Urine

Ah, how my life has changed since buying a house in the country. Once upon a time Saturday night was for going out and kicking up our heels. Now? Not so much. I spent last Saturday night online, shopping for the best price on coyote urine.

If you didn't read my blog last summer then you may be wondering why I'm buying and discussing such a gross product.

Simple. Another armadillo has made its home near our house and visits our yard every night in its never ending search for worms, grubs, and bugs to chow down on. Ah, the joys of country life. It's not enough that we have to put up with the skunk family that lives in the brush around an old dead oak across the highway, not to mention the occasional snake and field mouse that finds its way into the garage. I won't even get into the gophers that reproduce so fast that they put rabbits to shame.


I can handle those kinds of varmints, but an armadillo aka Nature's Destructor does exactly that -- destroys your yard. Those critters can even burrow under the concrete slab on which your house is built and undermine the foundation's integrity.

An armadillo is like the shark of the animal world. All it knows is eating. It digs holes and goes after bugs, grubs, and the like -- constantly digging and eating. It can dig holes every night that takes you hours to fill the next day.

There's very little that will stop it short of a 9 mm. bullet, but coyote urine seems to deter it and makes it move to a different area. Of course, the stuff is expensive plus you have to keep it "freshly applied" around your entire house foundation.

Good News/Bad News

Armadillos have very poor vision but enhanced smell receptors. The good news is that they don't like coyote urine, but then who does? Other than other coyotes. You see, coyotes are one of an armadillo's few predators. Even animals don't want anything to do with them. People have learned to leave them alone too. Some years ago, it was determined that armadillo's carry leprosy and were responsible for the spike in cases of that biblical disease in the southwest.

The bad news? Coyote urine works, but it smells awful, just like, well, like a pack of coyotes surrounded your house and had a you-know-what kind of contest. Just retrieving the box from the post office bin was enough to make me gag.

Write What You Know

So what has this got to do with writing or books? Writers write what they know. So how do I use this experience?

I can think of some comical ways like maybe the heroine of a story accidentally sprays her hero with coyote urine. That would cover the comedy part of romantic comedy, but there sure isn't much romance in going around smelling like a coyote urinal. I'll have to give this some more thought while I go sprinkle the urine into the holes the armadillo dug last night.

Takeaway Truth

If you ever want to keep visitors away from your door, just sprinkle a teaspoon of coyote urine granules nearby. People will stand out on the street and yell to avoid ringing your doorbell.

Deirdra Eden & Knight of Light: Blog Hopping Here Today

This morning, I'm welcoming Deirdra Eden to SlingWords. Deirdra is the author of The Watchers Book 1: Knight of Light.

Deirdra has a video book trailer below to show you what the book is about and a giveaway to promote her new release.

Take a look at the book trailer, read more about the book and Deirdra, and enter the giveaway for a free print copy of the book (10 to be given away) and a $100.00 Amazon Gift Card (only 1 of those lovelies).

The Watchers Book 1: Knight of Light

In England, 1270 A.D., Auriella (pronounced yurr-ee-ella) flees her village after being accused of witchcraft. Pursued by nightmarish creatures, she struggles to accept the truth about her humanity.

Filled with fairies, dwarves, pixies, dragons, demons, and monsters, Knight of Light is an enthralling tale that will capture the imaginations of readers young and old.

About The Watchers

The Watchers Series has been described as Braveheart meets Supernatural. The mythology for the series is based on many theological texts from dozens of sects with correlating themes. Ancient writings include The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Traditional Apocrypha, The Pearl of Great Price, and The Kabbalah.

“The Watchers” are supernatural beings in human form whose duty is to protect and guard mankind from the armies of darkness. Unfortunately, as the Book of Enoch mentions, some of these Watchers go bad.

Although the mythology is based on these texts, Deirdra Eden’s The Watcher’s Series is written in a traditional fairytale style with a young girl’s discovery of incredible, but dangerous powers within herself, a cast of humorous side-kicks, a quest for greater self-discovery and purpose, and villains of epic proportion.

Buy Link

The Watchers: Knight of Light, Paperback from Amazon

From Deirdra Eden

My goal in writing is to saturate my books with intrigue, mystery, romance, and plot twists that will keep my readers in suspense. I want to see fingerprints on the front and back covers where readers have gripped the novel with white knuckles!

Aside from writing, I enjoy jousting in arenas, planning invasions, horseback riding through open meadows, swimming in the ocean, hiking up mountains, camping in cool shady woods, climbing trees barefoot, and going on adventures.


Deirdra is celebrating The Watchers Series with a really nice Rafflecopter Giveaway so just Click to enter. Prizes: 10 print copies of the book and one $100.00 Amazon Gift Card.

Find Deirdra Online

Deirdra's website






Takeaway Truth

The weekend is here. Grab a great book--perhaps The Watchers: Knight of Light--and prepare to be entertained.

Thursday3Some: Awakened by the Minotaur by Erin Moore

Grab your cup of coffee and say hello to my guest Erin Moore.

About Erin Moore

Erin writes sensuous paranormal romances set in exotic locales. Her latest book, a sexy minotaur shifter story set in Crete, is in the Thursday3Some Spotlight. Erin is a regular blogger for Marketing for Romance Writers as well as Heroes and Heartbreakers which means she is sadly neglectful of her own blog.

She lives in Atlanta with her two little paranormal beings and one unruly husband. She’s also (way too frequently) on Twitter and Facebook. Find her free short story, To Love a Shaman, at her website.

Sign up for her newsletter for a chance to win 1 of 10 critiques of a first chapter that she's giving away. Find details on website or her Facebook page.

Find Erin Moore Online


About Awakened by the Minotaur

Lara Castille always plays it safe in both love and life. But when she arrives on vacation in Crete, she is determined to enjoy herself. Old habits die hard, though. Drawn to her tour guide, the enigmatic and sexy Teo Lambros, she cannot let down her guard—until she takes part in the ancient and sensual rites at the ruins of Knossos. She dreams of the minotaur who takes her upon the altar, and wonders if it could be Teo who brought her to ecstasy. 

A gray haze clouds Teo’s memory of the rites; he knows only that the bull has chosen him for his own. He fears that the land will once again need a sacrifice, as it did when it claimed his fiancée the year before. Though he cannot deny his need for Lara, he knows that protecting her from his desire is the only way to keep her safe. 

As the island’s magic demands everything they have, Lara and Teo must discover what’s real and what’s imagined if they’re to survive the passionate sexuality that draws them together.

When did you write Awakened by the Minotaur?

It was officially finished in March of 2014, but I started it in the summer of 2013 and worked on it on and off between then. There were a few plot issues that had to be worked out, because though I like my heroes dark, Teo was a little too dark for a while there.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

I was thinking of places that I had been that would be good for a story, and as soon as I thought of Greece, the story came to me. I had this idea that Teo, my then-unnamed hero, would become a minotaur, but he was never quite clear what happened during those dark times. Which opened up the possibility that he might have killed his ex-girlfriend.

Why do readers buy Awakened by the Minotaur?

Most readers are looking for something different in the paranormal world when they buy "Minotaur". And, while this is definitely still a paranormal, it's not a classic "shifter" novel - there are no warring clans, no different species. There is just Teo on his own, stuck with an ancient prophecy and a desire to protect Lara from it. They both have to learn to compromise before they can really see the other, and it makes for a very different type of novel.

Buy Awakened by the Minotaur by Erin Newman

Awakened by the Minotaur: Kindle Edition

Awakened by the Minotaur: Nook Edition

Awakened by the Minotaur: Kobo Edition

Takeaway Truth

A little vacation can always be found between the covers of a book. Plan your weekend "getaway" by buying a book today.

Meet Author Melanie Greene

Please welcome author Melanie Greene who is a rarity among Houstonians--she's a native Houstonian. You see, Houston is the great melting pot. It's uncommon to meet someone who is a native.

Melanie told me that her greatest pleasure is in creating characters who feel like friends, then giving them some (or several!) challenges to overcome on the way to Happily Ever After. Check out her steamy contemporary romances, full of brainy banter, cosmopolitan cowgirls, and hometown hunks.

Melanie shares her life with her own hometown hunk of a husband and children so amazing they defy superlatives.

Find Melanie Greene Online


Melanie Greene Tackles the Dirty Dozen

1. In which genre do you write and why that particular genre?

I write single title contemporary romance. It’s great fun for me to create real-world people with modern problems, and then give then more problems, and an inconvenient romance to boot.

2. What's your most recent book and what's it about?

My debut novel Rocket Man is the first in a series about four former college roommates who create a middle school type fortune telling game to predict their romantic futures! In Rocket Man, Serena wants only one thing: a house all her own, so she never has to move or accommodate others again. And Dillon wants everything, including to be as much in Serena’s space as possible.

3. As an author, what can readers expect when they read one of your books?

Readers can expect brains, banter, and bedrooms! My characters are fun and likable and hot for each other, and they move in an appealing version of our own world.

4. How did you "become" an author? For instance, was there a moment when you said: "I think I'll write a book."

Back in 5th grade, when my teacher (Penny Heap, best teacher ever) complimented my writing style, I latched on to that and never let it go. My BA and MA are in creative writing, so I’ve been pursuing this goal for my entire adult life!

5. What's the best thing about being an author?

Besides the working in jammies part? When I’m writing and my heart starts pounding or I start crying because the tension my characters are feeling leaps straight off the page into reality.

6. What's the worst thing about being an author?

When I wear holes into my favorite jammies. No, really, the worst thing is that I’m a classic perfectionist, so I constantly want ‘just one more look’ at my work before I let it go.

7. Do you have editions of your books available other than ebook editions?

Not yet! Later this year I will have print and audio versions.

8. Do you listen to audio books? If so, what device do you use?

I constantly listen to audio books. I’m mad for them, and last year alone listened to 115 titles. Most of the time I listen on my phone, though I have an MP3 player and sometimes listen to CDs in the car, as well. (I used to have two MP3 players, and the worst thing happened – I left one of them in a hotel while I was on a road trip.)

9. What device do you use to read ebooks?

Usually my phone, though I switch to my kindle on occasion.

10. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Give yourself deadlines. And tell someone else what they are – it’s too easy to let writing time slip away if you’re accountable only to yourself. One way to help you make time for yourself is to have your teenage son interrogate you about how much you’ve written that day (speaking from experience!)

11. If you could tell readers one thing, what would it be?

I read voraciously, and my reading life became a lot more fun once I stopped feeling the need to apologize (even to myself) for not liking what everyone likes. Even if you’re in a book club, no one gets to decide what you ‘have’ to read, so follow your heart!

12. What is your big dream (or goal) as a writer?

My current goal is to publish the rest of the novels and novellas in the Roll of the Dice series throughout 2014-15. After that, I’ve got several other book ideas I’m eager to explore, so my big dream is to have time to write everything in my heart!

Thanks, Joan, for having me at SlingWords. It’s been a lot of fun! ~~ Happy to have you, Melanie!

Want to Buy Rocket Man?

Kindle Edition of Rocket Man

Nook Edition of Rocket Man

Kobobooks Edition of Rocket Man

Google Books Edition of Rocket Man

iTunes Apple Edition of Rocket Man

Takeaway Truth

It's exciting to discover new authors and their books. Take the opportunity to do just that today!

10 Reasons to Become an Author

My recent near-flood experience made me think about how great it is to be a writer. Well, it was actually a flood, but we were able to keep the water out of the house. (See I Need a Good Cry--Be Right Back.)

I learned that 12 other people in our small subdivision weren't as fortunate. So I'm counting my blessings and not focusing on counting the dollars required to re-landscape my yard after the underground drain system is installed Thursday. (I just wish the drain man could have put us on his schedule sooner.)

But back to why that experience made me think how great it is to be a writer. It's because I have a place I can escape to when real life sucks. It's the fictional world of my work in progress. That's a reason to become an author for sure. So what are some other reasons?

Top 10 Reasons for Becoming an Author

In David Letterman style, here's my list.

10. You can escape grim reality like trenching up your front yard to keep your house from flooding in torrential rains by entering the fictional world created for the book you're writing.

9. You can take people in the real world who have been mean to you and plunk them down in your work of fiction where you make sure they're depicted as heartless villains so that readers dislike them too. Then you can finish them off however you choose--send them to prison, bankrupt them, make them gain a few hundred pounds, whatever floats your boat. (Look for a murder mystery from me next year wherein I'll do away with a couple of people who have really created problems for me. *g*)

8. You can create characters who are strong, good, loving people and name them after your friends and loved ones.

7. What's even more fun is to take the names of your friends and loved ones and use them for towns, hotels, restaurants, businesses, etc. in your work of fiction.

In The Trouble With Love the first book of my Texas One Night Stands series, I establish the Sheriff's Department as being in Alton County, Texas, which is fictional. I named the county after a close relative.

In Second Chance Bride, Book 2 of An All Brides Are Beautiful Romance (the first book is April Fool Bride), the town of Malcolm was suggested by my son-in-law. We were in the waiting room when my daughter had surgery recently. I was working on that story, and we were all worried so I started discussing the story with my son-in-law. I asked him to name the town to which Constance travels at the beginning of the book. We discussed several of his suggestions, then he decided on Malcolm, after Malcolm Reynolds of the cult-favorite Firefly TV series which he loves. Playing the name game helped us get through the awful waiting.

6. You're not scolded for daydreaming when you're a writer. When I stare into space at nothing, I'm writing. If I'm watching TV instead of putting words on paper, I'm writing because whatever I'm viewing makes the wheels turn in my brain that's always looking for ideas, connections, etc.

5. When you go to a party, you have lots of things to say to the other guests when they say: "Oh, so you're a writer. Well what are you writing?" Just be careful you watch for the telltale sign of eyes glazing over.

4. You can make great mental lists of rejoinders when you talk to a civilian who says: "Oh, yeah, I'm going to write a book someday when I have the time."

Possible Responses: "Yes, and I'm going to litigate lawsuits as soon as I have the time." Or to a dermatologist: "I'm going to remove some precancerous spots with that nifty liquid nitrogen gun as soon as I have the time." Or, "Yes, I plan to dive into neurosurgery as soon as I have the time."

3. You can look frazzled with no makeup, no visible hairstyle, and you can avoid all social and community activities by saying: "No, I'm sorry, but I'm on deadline and can't do anything until this book is finished." (This also works to avoid having to cook dinner for the family, but don't use it too often or they rebel.)

2. You can wear whatever you want to the office. Pajamas, tee shirt and shorts, warm fuzzy sweat clothes in the winter--or nothing I suppose if that's how you roll.

1. You make truckloads of enough money to keep doing what you love.

Sadly, you seldom make truckloads of money. I can't imagine working this hard for any reason other than I love what I do and can't think of anything else that beats writing. I'm lucky that I make enough to allow me to keep doing this because the only other alternative would be saying: "Welcome to BIG-HUGE-DISCOUNT STORE."

That's my list. If you're an author reading, what's yours?

Takeaway Truth

Dear wonderful, discerning, intelligent Readers. I haven't forgotten you. You're definitely one of the reasons I became an author. I love knowing that my words make people smile and entertain them. I like sending the message in my books: "It's never too late to live happily ever after."

I Need A Good Cry--Be Right Back

Sunday, my part of Houston flooded. At our new townhouse, I've been waiting for the underground drain installer to put me on his schedule.


Because this is a small gated community, I was afraid that we'd have a flooding issue in case of torrential rains. It seems as if the previous owner had built the yard up higher, but whoever did the grading didn't make sure it had positive drain to the street. Instead, the yard slopes toward the house.

The underground drain installed is supposed to be here Thursday. Sunday, the torrential rain hit. We had just returned from our home in the Hill Country when it started raining. Then the power went off. I went to the front door and looked out to see water lapping inside the courtyard. The rain was backing up in and flowing toward the front door. The water was about 4 inches high in the enclosed patio.

Panic Ensues

We panicked. Donned rain gear and boots, grabbed buckets and shovels. I bailed water and dumped it in the street while darling hubby dug a trench across the yard so the water would be able to run into the street. One of my wonderful neighbors was home, and she grabbed a bucket and joined us.

We kept the water from getting inside the house. With the water level lower and hubby digging another trench, I went to Home Depot and bought 12 huge bags of mulch. Brought them home, and we used them to build a dam across the courtyard entrance.

Now, we're praying there is no more rain until the drains can be installed and the gutter downspouts tied into the drains.

If you emailed me this weekend or did anything online that requires a response from me, please be patient. I normally answer everything on Monday morning. In this case, though, it's going to take me a while.

Tomorrow I'll be back at the doctor's office. All that intensive expensive physical therapy I had on my arms, shoulders, and back was pretty much a waste of about a thousand bucks. It's amazing how you can tackle physical labor in a crisis without giving into pain.

The pain comes later. Like right about now.

Takeaway Truth

I'll be surprised if I can get out of bed in the morning.

Lack of Time Kills--or Does It?

How many times this past week have you said: "I just don't have time to do everything."

Actress Marilu Henner said, "Lack of time is a real health killer."

I totally agree.

Wait a minute.

No. I don't agree. Actually, it's not lack of time that kills one's health and, potentially ends one's life. It's how we use time, how many obligations we assume, and how we feel about the failure to meet obligations.

Mea Culpa

I find myself blaming lack of time for not exercising, for not spending enough time with my loved ones, for not giving enough attention to the mundane daily activities like taking care of home and all that tedious stuff, and for not getting my projects done fast enough.

Do You See Yourself?

Sound like a familiar scenario? The real culprit isn't time. It's how we use it, how we prioritize, and how we feel about all our obligations--in other words, the stress to which we subject ourselves.

Mostly, I feel overwhelmed. Too much of the time. Do you?

I find myself over-scheduling my days, underestimating the time needed for some projects, using my high energy mornings for low-priority tasks, then there's that desire to be all to everyone, and a lot of other habits that changed due to the chaotic disruption last year in my life.(Moving is stress. Moving twice is insanity.)


Starting Monday, I'm going to structure my day differently. I'm going back to the way I used to do things. I'll get my writing--my real work--done in the morning, rather than leaving it to the afternoon when I'm caught up on email and social media and all that.

Somehow, my work schedule was flip flopped, and I've found myself doing the important--but non-essential tasks in the morning. By afternoon, my brain is too tired to create fiction.

5 Tips to Control Your Time

1. Look at everything you want to do and ask yourself is it reasonable that you can accomplish all those things. Don't make it dependent on best case scenario. Make it dependent on what is possible if the worst situation exists. Then find the middle ground that is an actually normal possibility. Make what is really possible into a new list.

2. Take the new list and break it down by the time needed to get from beginning to end of each project. Pick the highest priority project--just one--and schedule it on a calendar.

3. Begin the project when your energy and intellect is at its highest.

4. When each high priority task is accomplished, move to the next on the list.

5. At the end of your work day, always ask yourself this: "What did I do today to accomplish my highest priority goal?" If your answer pleases you, then leave your office with a sense of satisfaction. If you're unhappy with your office, don't be yourself up about it. Just resolve to make tomorrow more rewarding.

Takeaway Truth

Sometimes a simple change may be all that's required to refocus one's energy and focus. Of course, most simple changes are not necessarily easy. I'll let you know how this works out. If you need me, I'll be on email and online after lunch.

I love you, Readers of SlingWords! To prove it, I'm showing the love. Everyone who leaves a comment with their email address (write it out, don't leave as a hot link) will be entered to win the September Prize. Each comment with email gets 1 entry.

Want another entry? Subscribe to either of my newsletters (WordPlay for Readers: and/or Writing Hacks for Writers: and get another entry.

After the end of the month, I'll put all names into a hat and have a friend or my daughter draw the winning name. You will be notified, and you'll see the name here on the blog and on my newsletters.

What Do You Win?

You might want to know this. Each month the prize varies. For the September Prize Winner, if the winner resides in the Lower 48, the prize is a copy of Old Enough To Know Better along with an Old Enough to Know Better Keytag.

If the winner is outside the Continental U.S., the prize will also be the book plus another gift of commensurate value --  that can easily be delivered abroad.

Read an eBook in a Bath? Sure! Why not?

Yes, you can read an ebook while you loll in a bubble bath, float in a swimming pool, or lay on a beach with the waves tickling your toes -- all without worrying that dropping the ebook reader in the water will mean one dead electronic device.

No worries should be the motto for the new water-safe Kobo Aura H2Oicon.

Kobo Aura H2O has a waterproof and dustproof design and it has an amazing 2-month battery life. Take it anywhere. Drop it in a sink full of water or spill your martini on it. No problem. Just use the included special drying cloth to dry the screen and continue reading.

Isn't this amazing? The Kobo Aura H2O is illuminated at night. No need for a little reading light plus it's easy to read in the daytime also like most of the really good ereaders now.

Find out more about it at the Kobo webpage.

Takeaway Truth

Wow! I needed this years ago. I can't tell you how many books I ruined by dropping them in the tub while I was soaking away the day's cares and reading.

I love you, Readers of SlingWords! To prove it, I'm showing the love. Everyone who leaves a comment with their email address (write it out, don't leave as a hot link) will be entered to win the September Prize. Each comment with email gets 1 entry.

Want another entry? Subscribe to either of my newsletters (WordPlay for Readers: and/or Writing Hacks for Writers: and get another entry.

After the end of the month, I'll put all names into a hat and have a friend or my daughter draw the winning name. You will be notified, and you'll see the name here on the blog and on my newsletters.

What Do You Win?

You might want to know this. Each month the prize varies. For the September Prize Winner, if the winner resides in the Lower 48, the prize is a copy of Old Enough To Know Better along with an Old Enough to Know Better Keytag.

If the winner is outside the Continental U.S., the prize will also be the book plus another gift of commensurate value --  that can easily be delivered abroad.