Cinderella Treasure Trove Book Release

What happens at midnight on New Years’ Eve?

Aside from all the usual, the Glass Slipper Sisters who just released the Cinderella Treasure Trove will launch their Princess Pack Giveaway!

(Visit the Glass Slipper Sisters Facebook page for the announcement of when the party starts on New Year's.)

Cinderella Treasure Trove is a free book (see the beautiful cover to the left?) with excerpts from 15 captivating Cinderella romance novels. Also included are recipes, games, and party ideas.

We, the Glass Slipper Sisters, are giving away a Pamper Yourself Like A Princess Pack, which you won't want to miss. includes these fabulous gifts:
  • a rhinestone tiara
  • 3 movies (Enchanted, the 2015 live action Cinderella, and Ever After)
  • a stash of pumpkin candy
  • champagne glass filled with candy
  • wire pumpkin decoration
  • SWAROVSKI necklace
  • 2 Cinderella coach necklaces
  • a Cinderella charm bracelet
  • a royal cookie cutter set
  • head-to-toe Royal pampering body care set
  • and a Cinderella Storage box to hold all the goodies.
Will Cinderella make it to the ball? She did in the fairy tale, but in these fresh takes on the original, just about anything can happen—and usually does.

Fifteen romance authors have served up delicious samples of their Cinderella-themed stories, along with a feast of tasty treats and glitzy party ideas. Tap into your inner princess and indulge in excerpts sparkling with dream-come-true romance, nail-biting suspense, haunting magic, bubbly chick lit humor and tear-jerking heartaches.

After sampling the tasty morsels, you’ll find a treasure-trove of recipes and ideas to inspire your next party.

Let the Glass Slipper Sisters style your regal table to perfection, thanks to the gorgeous, but quick and inexpensive adornments and easy-to-prepare scrumptious delights. You’ll even find a few party games that can be adapted for your royal guests whatever their age.

Excerpts from the following books are included within the pages:

Cinder the Fae by Rebekah R. Ganiere: Sometimes the greatest love of all, is the one you’ve had all along.

Cinderella Had it Easy by Jennifer Connor: After wishing on a magical locket, Cami has only 24 hours in her Cinderella body. Will she keep hiding or can she learn how to live life?

The Cinderella Princess by Melissa McClone: A scandal-ridden prince must marry a royal if he doesn’t want to be disowned, but he falls for the American sent to find him a princess bride. Could she be his Cinderella?

The Cinderella Series ~ the collection by Kae Elle Wheeler: Said the fairy godmother, “True sisters will always find their way, no matter the obstacles.” A dainty foot means nothing when one's eyes flutter furiously enough to change the weather."

Cinderella's Enchanted Night by Amber Daulton: Annalise just wanted one night with Elijah. But will an antique locket and a bit of Cinderella magic fulfill her every dream?

Fairy Tale Flirts! 5 Romantic Short Stories by Lisa Scott: Cindi’s an unappreciated housekeeper with an eye for designer goodies. Can she get the dream shoes and the guy?

Fooling around with Cinderella by Stacy Juba: When Jaine Andersen proposes a new marketing role to the local amusement park, general manager Dylan Callahan charms her into filling Cinderella’s glass slippers for the summer. However, her reign transforms Jaine’s ordinary life into chaos that would bewilder a fairy godmother.

Home Sweet Texas Home by Caroline Clemmons: Courtney believes an inheritance in West Texas is the answer to all her prayers--but Courtney learns that while money improves her life, it doesn’t guarantee happiness. This modern Cinderella encounters problems even a fairy godmother couldn’t imagine.

Nobody's Cinderella by Joan Reeves: A lie and a wish on a Christmas star…Uh oh! This Cinderella should have been careful what she wished for.

Pumpkin, A CinderMama Story by Ines Johnson: Having given up on fairytales after falling for her toad of an ex, Pumpkin is afraid to take a chance on town royalty Manny who believes she may be his soulmate.

Savage Cinderella by P. J. Sharon: Kidnapped and left for dead, Brinn Hathaway survives for years in the wild, only to be drawn out of hiding by a young nature photographer who steals her heart. Now she must decide if coming out of hiding is worth the hope—and danger—that may await her.

Second Chance Cinderella by Sharon Kleve: Raven St. James only has 24 hours in her Cinderella body. What will she do with it? Will she become the confident, strong, flirty girl she wants to be? Will she get the guy she has always wanted? Quinn.

Spellbound Cinderella by Angela Ford: If you had your dream body for only 24 hours… What would you do? One magical pendant gives Tess one wish to use before the clock strikes twelve.

The Thin Person Inside by Rochelle Weber: Kristen Jensen never expected to fall in love when she finally decided to address her morbid obesity by seeking addictions treatment—let alone with a rock star.

Wishful Thinking by Lynette Sofras: A struggling single mother and a pop-icon turned Hollywood star meet in unusual circumstances. Fate drew them together but the intrigue and trappings of stardom threaten to unravel love's ties.

It all begins at the stroke of midnight New Years’ Eve! So visit the Glass Slipper Sisters on Facebook to see the announcement of the New Year's Event.

Takeaway Truth

Add Cinderella Treasure Trove, this free book of excerpts from 15 Cinderella romances, recipes, and party ideas to your library.

Available here: Amazon Kindle * Google Play * Kobo * iBooks * Nook.

Free Christmas Book

With so many book bargains for Christmas, readers are in for a treat.

 I have 2 Christmas romances for your consideration: one is reduced from 3.99 to 99cents, and the other is free.

LuvU4Ever, a holiday short story romance, is free, and Nobody's Cinderella is reduced to only 99 cents.

LuvU4Ever (Free)

This Christmas, Noelle faces the biggest decision of her life.

LuvU4Ever. That's what was engraved on the gold heart David gave her when he proposed. They've shared 10 years of joy in what she thought was a forever love.

I told you never to call me at home.

Can nine little words destroy her forever love? What will Noelle do? Will she walk away? Or dish out some payback? Or will she choose love?

Available at All Romance Ebooks * Amazon Kindle (Amazon has NOT price matched so it's still showing 99cents there.) * iBooks * Kobo * Nook (Nook has NOT price matched either so it's still showing 99cents.) *  Smashwords and other ebook sellers.

Nobody's Cinderella (only 99cents)

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

Enter Darcy's meddling, matchmaking best friend who has a plan to transform Darcy into a hottie designed to attract Chase's interest. All it takes? A couple of little lies...and a wish on a Christmas star. Darcy should have heeded that old advice: be careful what you wish for.

Available at All Romance Ebooks * Amazon Kindle * iBooks * Kobo * Nook * Smashwords and other ebook sellers.

Takeaway Truth

Books are the least expensive form of good entertainment, and ebooks are probably the biggest bargain of all!

Here We Go A'Caroling

I love Christmas music. A lot of people hate it when the Christmas tunes play in every department store, but I like it.

I think it's interesting also to share the history of these songs with our kids (or grandkids). Amazon has a neat book that does just that. This info makes a neat holiday trivia game too.

The Kindle Edition of The Spirit of Christmas: A History of Best-Loved Carols is on sale for only 99cents.


The history of our best-loved carols, including Silent Night; God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen; Ave Maria; and many more are included. The book is gorgeously illustrated throughout with Renaissance art.

Hardcover Edition

If you buy the Hardcover Edition of The Spirit of Christmas: A History of Best-Loved Carols which is $13.99, you get a CD with complete lyrics provided to help you sing along.

Takeaway Truth

Don't be a Scrooge. Get in the holiday spirit and sing along. That should put a smile on everyone's face.

12 Days Of Christmas: Christian Fact or Fiction?

I like knowing why things things come about...the history and the story behind the story. That's why in 2006, I did a little research about the Christmas song The 12 Days of Christmas.

I included the article below in my Christmas cards. Since I'm a writer, I always give a little "present" with the cards I send. That present is usually a piece of writing keyed to the Christmas holiday.

The 12 Days Of Christmas: Christian Fact or Fiction?
by Joan Reeves©2006

In 1995, an essay entitled An Underground Catechism was posted by Father Hal Stockert on the online Catholic Information Network. Purporting to be the truth behind the popular song The 12 Days of Christmas, the article resulted in a storm of controversy and was subsequently found to be not historically accurate, resulting in the article being withdrawn. Now that article has been published again and amended to read:

“It has come to our attention that this tale is made up of both fact and fiction. Hopefully it will be accepted in the spirit it was written. As an encouragement to people to keep their faith alive, when it is easy, and when any outward expressions of their faith could mean their life. Today there are still people living under similar conditions, may this tale give them courage, and determination to use any creative means at their disposal to keep their faith alive.”

The essay by Father Stockert has been debunked by many people on the Internet through the years. As a Christian, I wish the good Father had posted the essay as his interpretation of the significance of the numbers from one to twelve, symbolic of the religious significance of the twelve days between Christmas Day and Epiphany, January 6, when the three wise men arrived on the scene.

So here's what I found out.

The True History of The 12 Days of Christmas

The 12 Days of Christmas is an English Christmas carol that enumerates a series of gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas. Although first published in England in 1780, the song may be French in origin.

The song, whose specific origins are obviously unknown, may have begun as a Twelfth Night "memories and forfeits" game. A leader would recite a verse, each of the players repeat the verse, then the leader would add another verse, etc. until a player would make a mistake. The player who messed up the verses would have to pay a penalty, or forfeit, such as a kiss or a sweet.

The 12 days in the song are the 12 days starting Christmas Day. In some traditions, the first day is the day after Christmas, December 26, commonly called Boxing Day in England. (This day is also known as St. Stephen's Day, the feast day of St. Stephen Protomartyr.) The 12th day is the day before Epiphany, or the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6.

Twelfth Night is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking."

Over the Ocean to America

In 1910, the song came to the United States, courtesy of Emily Brown, of the Downer Teacher's College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who had found the song in an English music store. She is said to have used the song for the school Christmas pageant.

Now, I’d like to share with you Father Stockert’s essay. One can only assume that he must have come upon this explanation of the song at some point in his life and thought it to be the true record of the song’s history. Whether you find it spiritually rewarding or just a footnote as another Internet urban myth debunked, at least you’ll be entertained and learn the true history of the song, along with a little world history and Christian history in the bargain.

Father Stockert’s Essay

To most, the Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, is a nonsense rhyme set to music, but it’s more than just a repetitious melody about a bunch of strange gifts.

From 1558 to 1829, after Henry VIII abolished Catholicism and established the Church of England in order to facilitate and legalize his marriage to Anne Boleyn, Catholics in England were banned from any private or public practice of their faith. It was a crime to be a Catholic.

The Twelve Days of Christmas was written as a catechism song to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith. A memory aid was necessary since to be caught with anything in writing that indicated adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned but also could get you hanged or beheaded.

The gifts mentioned in the song had hidden meanings. The true love mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God Himself. The me who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, much in memory of the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so...."

The symbolism of the song in its entirety:

Day 1
A Partridge in a Pear Tree = Jesus Christ, Our Lord

Day 2
2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments

Day 3
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Love, the Theological Virtues

Day 4
4 Calling Birds = the 4 Gospels and/or the 4 Evangelists
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
Originally this was a colly bird. Colly means black as coal so a colly bird was probably a black bird.

Day 5
5 Golden Rings = the first 5 Books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy give the history of man's fall from grace. Originally this was a gold-ringed pheasant, another bird which re-establishes the first seven verses as being birds.

Day 6
6 Geese A-laying = the 6 Days of Creation

Day 7
7 Swans A-swimming = the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit: the 7 Sacraments
Prophecy, Ministry, Teaching, Exhortation, Giving, Leading, and Compassion

Day 8
8 Maids A-milking = the 8 Beatitudes
Blessed are: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake.

Day 9
9 Ladies Dancing = the 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control

Day 10
10 Lords A-leaping = the 10 Commandments

Day 11
11 Pipers Piping = the 11 Faithful Apostles
Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James bar Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas bar James. The list does not include the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders and the Romans.

Day 12
12 Drummers Drumming = the 12 Points of Doctrine in the Apostle's Creed
1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell (the grave).
5. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.
6. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
7. I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8. the holy catholic (universal) Church, 9. the communion of saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins, 11. the resurrection of the body, and
12. and life everlasting.

Takeaway Truth

Perhaps, the next time you hear what seems to be that silly nonsensical Christmas song, you’ll reflect on the fact that it's actually a chronicle of Christian history. May God bless you and your family this Christmas and every day of the New Year.

Thursday3Some: Cathy’s Angel by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Let's give a warm welcome to Pamela S. Thibodeaux who's visiting today to tell us about her short story Cathy's Angel.

About Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Pam is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, Inspirational with an Edge! ™ and reviewed as "steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message."

Visit Pam Online

Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter

About Cathy's Angel

Single mom Cathy Johnson is tired of running her life alone…what she needs is a well-trained angel to help out. Jared Savoy gave up the dream of having a family when he discovered he is sterile. Can a confirmed bachelor and the mother of four find love amid normal daily chaos?

When did you write Cathy’s Angel?

Cathy’s Angel was written and published in 2007 by The Wild Rose Press for their White Rose (Inspirational) line. It continues to be a Pelican Book Group/White Rose Publishing title.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

Way back in the 90’s I attended a workshop hosted by NOLA-RWA chapter in Shreveport, Louisiana, at which Nora Roberts was the guest speaker. She had us write an assignment, a “hook” and read it to the class. I wrote a scene about a woman jogging who resents the appearance of a newcomer–feeling as though he is intruding on her quiet time. I fleshed out the scene into a short story which was accepted but never published by a romance Ezine. When TWRP ventured into short stories as well as novels, I submitted it there.

Why do readers buy Cathy’s Angel?

Although the story contains a spiritual message as all mine do, people enjoy Cathy’s Angel because it is a light-hearted romance and a quick read.

Add Cathy's Angel to Your Library

Kindle * Pelican Book Group

Takeaway Truth

If you haven't read inspirational romance before, a short story is the perfect form to sample this popular genre.

Give-But Give Smart

During the holiday season, most people like to give to help others whether it's dropping money into the Salvation Army pot in front of their local stores or donating to an organized charity.

We live in the land of plenty. I've traveled enough in other parts of the world to realize that the poorest person in this country is rich compared to many struggling to put food on the table each keep a roof overhead...even to find clean water to drink each day.

Do Something Amazing

It's great to give to those not as fortunate during the holidays, but I'd like to challenge you to do something amazing. Adopt a charity or local group that you will support until next Christmas. Make a monthly gift, no matter how small, to a group that you've selected who are worthy of your support.

How to Find Worthy Groups

Before giving even a dime to any group, check them out on Top Rated by Charity Watch. The American Institute of Philanthropy, AIP, operates this watchdog group that rates charities from A+ to F based on how they use the donated monies.

Although Charity Watch now charges an annual membership fee to use their resources, they still offer their Top Rated lists free.

For instance, the American Cancer Society is not on the Top Rated list, but 13 other cancer charities including Cancer Research Institute are. (I don't know what their rating is now, but the last time I checked, American Cancer Society received only C+ because 97% of their overhead is paid for by contributions with only 60% of donation money going to the stated goal of the charity.)

My Support Requirements

Ability to donate in the name of someone else.

Ability to donate online with a card sent to the recipient.

Majority of the donated money goes to the programs, not staff salaries and bonuses.

No excessive funds held in reserve rather than used to help people.

No secrets--full disclosure of basic financial information.

Spend little on fund raising.

Visit Top Rated by Charity Watch

When you check the Charity Watch website, you can read their requirements. Of more than 500 charities rated, only a small percentage qualify for their Top-Rated listing which is B+ to A+.

Takeaway Truth

If you're like me, you work hard for your money. You want to give, but you want to make sure your money goes for the intended purpose, not to pay for some power lunch and not to pay to create a blizzard of other requests from them every time the moon changes. Be smart about giving so you make each dollar count. Happy Holidays!

Viewpoint Basics for Writers

Recently, I came across some notes I made on viewpoint when I first started writing fiction. I made these notes after digesting a couple of very good books on the subject: How to Write Best Selling Fiction by Dean R. Koontz, Copyright 1981, Writers Digest Books, now out of print. (I understand if you own a copy, you can ask a small fortune for it on Ebay.)

The other book was Writing Novels That Sell by Jack M. Bickham which is available on Amazon. According to the late Mr. Bickham, a story is "the formed record of a character testing conflict, told from a point of view." As for viewpoint, he says: "All fiction begins with the technique we call viewpoint."

This technique, this viewpoint, places the reader in the mind and heart of a person at the center of the story's action. It allows the reader to identify with the central character of your story--to imaginatively become that character.

How to Establish Viewpoint

Force your imagination to see everything from inside the viewpoint. The viewpoint character never sees his own face unless he's looking in a mirror. He cannot know what is going on inside anyone else. The best he can do is guess--just like we do it in real life.

Movie Viewpoint vs. Book Viewpoint

When watching a movie, you see the action from several different eyes because the camera jumps around. That's great for movies, but in books you have to be careful not to do this. Why? Because believability is harder to achieve in print than with the visual medium of movies.

In movies, the visual medium is there on the screen which helps you identify with the central character. In print, the reader needs help to identify and believe and "become" that central character. This is done by filtering the story through the viewpoint character.

Choosing the Viewpoint Character

To select the viewpoint character, ask yourself these 4 questions.

1. Who will be at the center of the action?

2. Who will have everything at risk?

3. Whose struggle toward a goal is the fuel driving the story?

4. Who will be moved and/or changed by the outcome?

Changing Viewpoint

Can you change viewpoint within a book? Of course, but you change only because you have logically decided to do so. Not because you have simply run out of thoughts for your character.

Takeaway Truth

There's much more to viewpoint, for example choosing first, second, or third person as well as verb tense etc., but post gives you the place to begin.

Perfect Time to Make a Home Fire Escape Plan

Sadly, the holidays seem to be a time when there are many house and apartment fires. Here in Houston, there have been 3 apartment complex fires in the last couple of weeks.

Fires can be caused by many things, and the holidays can be especially dangerous from holiday decorating placing a larger demand on electrical resources to the prosaic falling asleep while smoking in bed.

Fire departments urge people to create home fire escape plans, and I think this time of the year is a perfect time to do that.

How to Make a Home Fire Escape Plan

1. Analyze your home whether it's a single family dwelling or an apartment in a large building.

2. Draw a map of your home. Show all exits--doors and windows. If in a building, detail the exits that take you to the outside.

3. Mark the positions of all smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.

Note: A smoke alarm should be placed inside each sleeping room, outside the areas, and on every level of the home. More on smoke alarms at the end of this post.

4. Physically go into each room and look around. Find 2 ways out of each room. Make sure the ways out aren't blocked in any way. Open and close all windows and doors. They should open easily. If they don't, fix them so they do. Never nail windows closed in the name of security. That's a good way to die in a fire.

5. Draw arrows on your home map showing the way to go to get outside.

6. Pick a meeting place in front of the house where all family members will gather if they have to evacuate.

7. Make sure your house number or your apartment building number can be seen from the street.

8. Now that you have your plan designed, gather the family and talk your way through the plan. Make sure everyone understands the plan. Practice calling 911. Talk about whether anyone should grab something precious before leaving. Emphasize that the only thing precious is human life. Emphasize that all should make the habit of keeping cell phones on the nightstand.

9. Now rehearse the plan. Rehearse it as if it were 2 in the morning and everyone is asleep in his/her bedroom. Blow a whistle that represents the smoke alarm going off. Everyone is to exit and gather outside at the arranged meeting point. Once outside, practice calling 911.

10. Rehearse several times from several scenarios: someone is taking a shower when the alarm goes off, everyone is watching TV, or some are playing video games and some are napping. Rehearse the escape plan until it is embedded in the subconscious.

11. Frequently throughout the year, have a home fire escape drill.

More About Smoke Alarms

Make sure your home has smoke alarms as discussed above. Many security systems have the option of fire alarm packages where the alarm will call the local fire department. The old-fashioned inexpensive battery-operated kind still work well. The important thing is to have a smoke alarm of some kind.

Push the test button once a month to make sure each alarm is working properly. In the U.S. when the time changes on or off daylight savings time, which happens twice a year in the spring and fall, use that time to change the batteries in your smoke alarms.

Takeaway Truth

Teach your children fire safety and protect your family by creating a fire escape plan for your home. It just may save your life or the life of someone you love. Pass this on.

Success-Themed Popular Posts of 2015

Thank you, faithful readers of SlingWords. You make me feel that all the work I put into the blog is time well spent.

For all the readers who have recently discovered SlingWords, there's some great reading here. I've written and published this blog since 2005 so there are more than 2,000 posts in the archives. Just look at Past Prose on the right side bar.

If you don't wish to wade through the archives, here are some of the most popular posts of 2015, garnering hundreds of views. Each of these posts are designed to help you succeed.

A Baker's Dozen of Popular Posts from 2015

7 Steps to Success Modeling

Writing Advice for the New Year

How to Fill the Creative Well

What Makes a Novel

6 Steps Back on Track

10 No-Brainer Email Rules

EZ Thunderclap Lesson

Marketing Hooks

5 Free Ways to Promote

3 Ways to Avoid Burnout

Overcoming Fear

Emotional Truth in Novels

How to Write A Tagline

Takeaway Truth

Thank you for reading SlingWords. I hope to see you here often in the New Year.

Christmas Crafts: Pine Cone Fire Starters

Ah, the lowly pine cone. My gated community is covered with them on a weekly basis thanks to some towering pines. At mid-week, the  gardeners sweep in and literally sweep them all up.

I learned quickly that if I wanted to make pine cone fire starters that I had to swoop in before the gardeners arrive on Wednesdays.

Appreciated Home-Crafted Gift

Pine cones are pretty good fire starters just as they fall from the trees. When treated according to this recipe, they turn into Pine Cone Fire Starters, an amazing gift appreciated by all.

So if you want something fragrant and organic to give as a give or to use in your fireplace as a fire starter instead of those expensive chemically-treated fire starter logs from the store, try this home craft idea.

Items Needed

1. dry pine cones
2. paraffin or wax
3. cotton twine or wicks
4. double boiler
5. waxed paper or non-stick foil

Optional Items Needed

If you use any of the options to kick it up another notch, then you might need this: essential oil of your choice, old Crayons, and/or salt of some kind. Instructions at the end.


1. Get pine cones. If you don't have them available in your yard or a neighbor's, just ask some of your friends. They'll probably be delighted to let you gather all you want from their yards. If the pine cones are damp or they're compacted--meaning not opened up--they haven't been on the ground long enough to dry out. All you have to do is place them on a foil-covered cookie sheet in a 150 degree oven for 1 hour. This will dry them if wet and will open them up if compacted. Don't leave the house with the oven on because as with anything flammable like wood or pine cones, even in a very low oven, there is a possibility of fire.

2. In a double boiler (or a metal bowl resting in a bigger pot of water), melt enough wax or paraffin to coat the pine cones. You can get candle wax or paraffin in a craft store. If you plan ahead, you can save candle stubs throughout the year for this purpose.

Note: Buy an old double boiler at a charity thrift store for this purpose. You'll find it useful for many home crafts.

3. Take about a foot of cotton twine or candle wick and wrapped around each pine cone from the base up to the top, leaving a short wick at the top.

4. When the wax has completely melted, grasp a pine cone with tongs and dip into the wax. Coat thoroughly. Hold over the pot and let the excess drip back into the pot. Then place the cones on sheets of waxed paper or non-stick foil to dry.

5. Let them cool and harden about 2 hours on the waxed paper. Then place them in the bag, bucket, or basket that you plan to use for the gift.

6. Create a gift tag containing these instructions on how to use the fire starters: "Just place in your fireplace beneath some kindling or on top of some crumpled paper placed on your wood stack and light the wick."


Scented: If you want to scent the pine cones, use a few drops of essential oil. Cinnamon or rosemary is nice. About 1/2 teaspoon per quart of melted wax is usually sufficient.

Colored: If you want to color the wax, just drop some old crayons into the wax and let them melt.

Create Colored Flames: After coating the pine cones in wax, roll in some kind of salt. Table salt produces a yellow flame. Salt substitute which is potassium produces a violet flame. Epsom salts which is magnesium produces a white flame. You can also use borax found in the laundry detergent section of the store. Borax creates a yellow green flame.

Takeaway Truth

Home-crafted Pine Cone Fire Starters are guaranteed to start the fire and please whoever receives a basket of them as a gift.

Adopt This Holiday To Do List

Here's a Holiday To Do List that costs very little but pays huge rewards for givers and recipients.

1. Donate food. Many go hungry here and abroad.

2. Be present. Your presence is far more important than any present you can give.

3. Send peace. Think peace. Pray for peace. It's a sad truth that the old Latin adage: "If you want peace, prepare for war." is still true. So support our armed forces and first responders who have the difficult task of protecting us.

4. Be the light. Be a positive force in your world. Shun negativity.

5. Make friends. In a world of superficial relationships and social media friends you've never met, remember to make friends in the real world.

Takeaway Truth

Try to do these 5 things. You'll feel good, and you'll do good. You just may inspire others by your example.

Thursday3Some: The Pendant’s Promise by Judythe Morgan

My friend Judythe Morgan stopped by for Thursday3Some today. Before she answers the 3 Thursday questions, let me tell you more about this multi-talented woman.

About Judythe Morgan

Award-winning author Judythe Morgan juggles many hats. She’s an Air Force daughter, Army wife, one time-Department of Army Civilian, mother/grandmother, antiques dealer, teacher, mayor’s wife, and sometimes church pianist.

Her characters come to life because of her diverse experiences. You’ll always find a happily-ever-after ending in her stories because she believes in true love, second chances, and forgiveness.

If she’s not at her computer working on her next story, she’s reading or hiking with her real life hero and their two canine babies in the nearby Rio Grande National Forest.

Visit Judythe Morgan Online

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Amazon Author Page * Goodreads

About The Pendant’s Promise

Twenty years after they met in South Korea during the Vietnam War, Lily and Alex meet again. Old passions return, but Alex feels betrayed by Lily’s fabricated marriage and widowhood. Lily believes revealing the truth could cost her the only man she’s ever loved and her daughter. Will the flame of love be strong enough to re-ignite, or, have there been too many lies?

When did you write The Pendant’s Promise?

The Pendant’s Promise is my debut novel, released in 2012. More importantly, it is the book of my heart. Authors are told to write what they know and that’s what I did with The Pendant’s Promise. The setting and many of the scenes come from personal experiences in the military.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

During the Vietnam War, I joined my husband on his unaccompanied tour in South Korea. I ended up working as a DAC (Department of Army Civilian) at 8th Army Headquarters, Yongsan. I wasn’t the only wife/girlfriend who followed her soldier. Watching the commitment of these couples and hearing the longing for loved ones back home in the voices of the soldiers, the seed of a love story took root in my head. Many what ifs, title changes, and editorial input transformed the story many times before The Pendant’s Promise took shape as a book. I think, like your first love, this story will always be my favorite.

Why do readers buy The Pendant’s Promise?

The Pendant’s Promise is a clean and wholesome love story set during the Vietnam Era based on the premise—some love lasts a lifetime, true love lasts forever. Readers, whether they lived in that era or not, are drawn to the setting and military environment. The premise appeals to romance readers, who look for those happy endings, and here's what Amazon Reviewers say:

The Pendant's Promise is a complex and emotional tale, woven slowly and exquisitely, through the connections of an extended cast of well-drawn characters you will come to know as you struggle with Lily and her conscience and the far-reaching consequences of a life built on a lie.

If you love emotional and moving romance and family drama, you'll love this book!

Add The Pendant's Promise to Your Library

Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iBook

Takeaway Truth

Looking for a romance that's a bit different? Add The Pendant's Promise to your reading list.

Thunderclap Step By Step

Thunderclap is easy to use. This post will take the mystery from this very useful website that is the epitome of I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine.

A Thunderclap campaign is designed to have the same effect as a loud clap of thunder--to make you sit up and take notice about something.

A completely automated Thunderclap campaign uses supporters' Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts to post a composed message on a certain day and at a certain time. This Thunderclap will hopefully call attention to whatever you are promoting.

I've supported friends and acquaintances when they set up a Thunderclap, and I've set them up to promote my new releases too.

Here's a quick overview in case you want to support someone's Thunderclap campaign or you want to create a Thunderclap of your own.

Set Up a Thunderclap

1. Set up a free account on Thunderclap.

There's information and examples on the website to guide you.

2. Click button to set up your Thunderclap when you're ready.

You'll need the link to your book or webpage or whatever the URL is that will go in your automated post. Then you'll fill in the form which calls for:

* Organizer Name
* Bio
* Title of Campaign
* Category
* Message -- short & includes the URL I mentioned. This is what supporters share. 139 characters.
* End Date/Time -- this is when those posts will automatically publish
* Supporter Goal -- Small, 100. This is the campaign that is free.
* Campaign Photo -- 600p x 280p
* Edit Your Story -- a couple of paragraphs that explain your campaign
* Your Email

3. When the form is completed, click Submit. Otherwise, you can save it as a Draft and work on it until you're ready.

4. Once you submit, your campaign goes for review. When it's approved, you'll get an email.

5. Post the link and ask your friends and followers to click it to support your campaign.

6. When you reach your minimum number of followers, usually 100, your campaign will be sent. If you don't reach the minimum, it won't.

How to Support a Thunderclap

This is very easy to do, and it's nice to help out the people you know.

1. Click the link provided.

2. A page opens. Scroll down it. You'll see it has the campaign information, graphic, etc. as well as a big red horizontal bar with 3 options: Support with Facebook, Support with Twitter, Support with Tumblr.

3. Click each "Support" buttons. With each, you get a message where you can opt to receive messages from Thunderclap (remove the check mark if you don't want this) and also to receive followup from the person who has the campaign (just click No Thanks if you don't want this). Automatically your number of supporters will be tallied and added to the count. Click to close that window.

That's really all there is to it. On the day a campaign is set to end, the composed message you saw in the campaign will post to your FB, Twitter, and/or Tumbl accounts at the pre-arranged time. You don't have to do anything at all.

Takeaway Truth

Where would we be without a little help from our friends?

How To Claim Free Audiobook from Audible

You'll find the audiobook editions of most of my novels at Audible. I'm happy to say that Audible is great about providing free codes to authors for special promotions.

I give away audiobooks every month, but I discovered not everyone knows how to claim a free audiobook from Audible so I always give instructions when awarding the prize.

I'd like to pass these instructions on to you because audiobooks are wonderful, and I'd like more people to take advantage of this.

Leave a comment on today's post and be entered to win a free audiobook. Contest open through Sunday, December 6, 2015. Winner chosen by random draw will be notified on Monday, December 7, 2015.

8 Easy Steps to Claim Free Audiobook from Audible

1. Go to the Audible book page for the specified book.

2. Add that audiobook to your cart.

3. If you are prompted to sign in, please login. If you don't have an Audible account, just create a new Audible account. It's easy and free.

4. Click Go to Your Cart.

5. Below the cover artwork, you'll see Do you have a promotional code? Click that.

6. Enter the promotion code you've been given. Just cut and paste it in from the email you probably received or the FB message. Click Apply Code.

7. A credit for the audiobook will be added to your account. Click the box next to 1 Credit and click the Update button to apply the credit to the purchase. The price for the audiobook will change to $0.00.

8. Proceed through the checkout by clicking Next Step and Complete Purchase on the subsequent page.

When you go to your download, you may select from several options to download and listen to the audiobook on your iPod, cell phone, computer, etc. I think just about every device is covered.

Takeaway Truth

It's really easy so share these instructions with others. Remember to leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. If you win, you can see for yourself how easy it is.

Holiday Ornament Designed for Writers

It's Cyber Monday, and I have a selection of Holiday Ornaments designed for writers to offer you from my online CafePress shop, WriteWay.

These are great to decorate your office, your tree, or to give as a gift to writers. The design celebrates the writer's contribution to the world: words.

Snowflake Ornament for Writers - $8.99

These porcelain ornaments come in several shapes as shown below.

If you use the links I've embedded, rather than going to the CafePress Marketplace and doing a search, you'll save quite a bit of money.

Holiday "Without Words" Large Round Ornament - $9.49

Holiday "Without Words" Medium Round Ornament - $8.99

Holiday "Without Words" for Writers Oval Ornament - $9.49

This next porcelain ornament is a cute design that reminds me of a bowtie, but CafePress calls it a picture ornament. It's really cute hanging on the tree or on a garland decorating your office.

Holiday Design for Writers Picture Ornament - $8.99

While you're visiting WriteWay, check out the other products with exclusive designs for writers like the Writer's Journal, $10.99.

If you visit WriteWay, use the links in this post so you can save money. If you go to the CafePress Marketplace and do a search for these items, they'll cost more because CafePress tacks on a rather large charge to each item.

Takeaway Truth

Take advantage of Cyber Monday and get an ornament for your favorite writer--especially if that writer is you!

7 Tips to Win the Name Game in Branding

A lot of people think the way to be memorable is to have an oddball a unique name for their online identity.Is this the right way to brand?

They use this name for their websites, social media, and to sign up for newsletters and such. That doesn't work out so well for branding. Sure, some may remember your name, but not in a positive way.

The best branding requires using your own name. Not the title of a book, not the name of your hero in a book, but your own name because that is what you want remembered in connection with the kind of story you write.

7 Tips to Win the Name Game

1. Use your own name for a domain, blog, or social media profile.

2. Use your imagination to come up with a logical variation of your name if someone already claimed it. Sure, you can go after .net or dot whatever--there are a lot to choose from now--but just about everyone thinks websites are dot com. So try to come up with a logical expression of your name if you want a dot com. John Smith Author or Author John Smith or John Smith Writes. All those work.

3. Don’t make your variation too long. Shorter is better in the domain naming world.

4. Don’t use symbols like the underscore to separate names i.e. that make it hard to read when it’s in a clickable link. When links get underlined, they obscure the underscore. Everyone who has ever used the Internet and email know that names and words run together. Your eye gets used to seeing joanreeves and knowing it says Joan Reeves.

5. Don't use more than 1 dash or hyphen.

6. Make it easy to spell and pronounce.

7. Try to be intuitive in titling. If someone is looking for you, what would they most likely put into a search engine? If you choose to pick a colorful name, be sure it lends itself to appropriate marketing in all kinds of venues. Try to get something that won’t offend more than it attracts.

Takeaway Truth

Choose your brand name carefully. Brand everything. Once you’ve settled on a name, extend the brand to email, blogs, social media, etc. Always put links in your signature line for email. Have cards printed with your brand on it. Use your web addresses anyway you can.

Reinventing Your Writing by Jo Ann Brown (Among Other Names)

A while back, I emailed my friend JoAnn. I know her as JoAnn Ferguson, but you may know her as  -- or another pseudonym.


Jo Ann and I met long ago when we were both authors for Kensington Precious Gem Romance. She's a Past President of Romance Writers of America and a veteran of the publishing wars.

In my email, I asked her if she would allow me to publish an article she wrote years ago about how authors end up reinventing their careers with the changing vagaries of the publishing world. I found a tattered yellow copy of the carticle which prompted my email. She kindly agreed.

About JoAnn

Jo Ann Brown has been creating characters and stories for as long as she can remember. Her first stories were populated with her friends and sisters. She wrote her first novel in high school, and it happily resides in the very back of her file cabinet. Fast forward through college, serving in the Army as a quartermaster officer, getting married, and increasing her blessings with three children...and Jo Ann sold her first book in 1987. Since it was published in 1988, she has sold over 100 titles and has become a best-selling and award-winning author. Romantic Times called her "a truly talented author." She currently writes Amish romances for Harlequin Love Inspired as Jo Ann Brown.

Reinventing Your Writing
by Jo Ann Brown (among other names)

“When I fall in love, it will be forever...” That song was supposed to be the theme of my writing career. I was in love with historical romances, and I would write them forever. My characters’ once upon a time would mean my happily ever after.


I’ve reinvented myself several times in the 25+ years I’ve been writing, and I suspect I will again. Each time, I’ve done it with eyes wide open. Here’s what I’ve considered each time.

What is triggering my desire to reinvent myself?

• In the early 90's, I went from historical romance author to traditional Regency author because of market conditions. At that point, Regencies were doing great (hard to imagine now!) and slots for historicals had dried up.
• Subsequent reinventions happened when opportunities came my way – a publisher looking for a specific sort of book, a packager needing a ghostwriter, my editor moving from one house to another.
• Reading in a new genre/subgenre and wanting to write in that market.

Why do I want to reinvent myself?

• The need to reinvent oneself may be a story idea/characters you want to write, but you simply can’t fit it into your current genre/subgenre.
• You’re bored and want a new challenge.
• Your fans have been clamoring for a book from you that wouldn’t fit in with your current contracts/submissions.
• You are between contracts/houses.
• Your numbers tanked for your last book, and you need to start over to get the distributors to order more of your next title.

When should I reinvent myself?

• If you are an aspiring author, you need to be Kentucky Fried Chicken – do one thing and do it right. You shouldn’t jump genres...until you’ve published a few books and established yourself as “Paige Turner, who writes erotic Cinderella vampire inspirationals”. Then you can consider reinventing yourself. On the other hand, if you’re not yet with an agent/under contract and your current genre isn’t taking you where you want to go, you can reinvent yourself now. Stop submitting in Genre A while you write in Genre B and start submitting that. It doesn’t mean you’ll never go back to Genre A. It just means you’re making Genre B a priority...for now (as they sing in the Broadway play “Avenue Q”).
• For a published author, you need to look at your contract obligations and figure out when you’ll write what may need to be a complete ms. Just because you submit and sale on proposal now doesn’t mean you’ll be able to when you reinvent yourself. It’s not going back to square 1 (because you have knowledge and experience), but it’s like going back to square 1.5.

What should be considered when you want to reinvent yourself?

• Markets, of course. There’s no sense in writing that erotic Cinderella vampire inspirational if there isn’t a market. For published authors, does your current publisher have a line/program with books like the one you want to write? If so, discuss this change with your editor before you jump ship.
• Time. When will you write in another genre/subgenre with your writing/life obligations?
• How long do you want to stay with this reinvention? If you’re looking at a single book, it’s probably not worth the time/effort.
• Money. If you’re accustomed to million dollar advances (and aren’t we all????), are you willing to take a smaller advance to begin all over again? Even if you’re keeping the same name, you can’t always expect to receive the same advance in different genres. The bookstore sales simply don’t support it.
• Name. Will you take a pen name? Readers can be annoyed if they pick up a favorite author’s book and it isn’t what they expect. If you take a pen name, how do you know your current readers will go with you? You don’t. You can hope your loyal readers will follow us, but some won’t like your new genre. Some won’t get the news (even if you send out a newsletter and/or have a web site and/or a blog and/or Facebook and/or tweet...and/or whatever other social media you use or comes next).
• Renewing your brand. Should you have separate web sites, etc. for each version of yourself? Should you combine them? If you have two separate ones, should you link them? This becomes more of an issue if you’re reinventing yourself into children’s or YA (and possibly inspirational) markets.
• Balancing deadlines. Not only for submitting, but the subsequent work. Many writers when they’re reinventing themselves follow the wing-walker’s rule – don’t let go of one part of the airplane, until you can grab another! Or they simply want to write in multiple genres at the same time. If you’re working with editors at different houses, you have to make sure you don’t set unreasonable deadlines that will have a collapsing domino effect if copy edits come in late for one project and a deadline is shifted on another.

My best advice to you (and the advice I follow myself) is to take the long view and have a career plan before you try to reinvent yourself. Then go for it...

Find JoAnn Online


Buy Amish Homecoming by Jo Ann Brown
Amazon Kindle * Amazon mass market * Barnes and Noble mass market * Nook * iBooks

Takeaway Truth

Authors, print this out and read it when you feel as if a publishing door is closing.

7 Websites Like Canva

The Trouble With Love (Amazon Kindle & Other Sellers)
See the graphic at left? You can create teasers like this using programs like Canva or some of the other websites listed below.

These websites/apps help you turn ideas into designs, usually incorporating text and images.

You can create blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and just about anything for web or print designs.

Most, like Canva, are free or offer a level that's free. Some offer free memberships for a limited time then you switch to paid. Most of these work with multiple platforms.


Free 30 day trial offered for you to evaluate the ease of making graphic/text designs with PicMonkey.


Easily add retro effects to your photos and create images with the vintage look. 

Create and share visual graphics. Their interactive layouts allow you to embed charts, photos, etc., or you can customize a prebuilt template or build it from scratch. Comes with a lot of icons, shapes, and objects that you can drag-and-drop into your editor.

Recite This

Take quotes to the next level by creating images from them. With Recite, enter your quote into the editor on the homepage, choose a layout from the list of templates, and click create.


Another website to create an image from text. Just as easy as Recite This.


Produce stunning photographs and captivating designs with fun, easy-to-use editing tools.


Create visual graphics using templates or from scratch.

Takeaway Truth

Try these free websites/apps to create stunning images. You might find a few you love.

Thursday3Some: Winter Madness by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Thursday3Some welcomes back award-winning author Pamela S. Thibodeaux. Pam is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Find Pamela S. Thibodeaux Online

Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter

About Winter Madness, A Short Story Romance

Sienna has survived what most succomb to - the death of a spouse and child and has maintained her faith despite her troubles. William has never met anyone who actually lived out what they say they believe. Is it true love between the faithful optimist and broody pessimist or simply winter madness?

When did you write Winter Madness?

Winter Madness was written and published in 2008 by White Rose Publishing, an imprint of Pelican Book Group.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

After a visit to Snoqualmie Falls in North Bend, Washington, I had this dream or vision of a woman standing on the edge where the falls converge into the swirling stream of water contemplating suicide. As one who has suffered from depression periodically, the emotions my heroine Sienna felt were very real to me, but I knew God wouldn’t want that of me, or her. As a writer the question WHY always follows after a thought or vision. The story evolved from there.

Why do readers buy Winter Madness?

All of my stories offer hope and healing through a relationship with God. Winter Madness shows that regardless of how hopeless you feel or horrific the circumstances, God has “plans for a hope and a future and an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11) for your life.

Add Winter Madness to Your Library

Amazon * Pelican Book Group

Takeaway Truth

If you're looking for a different kind of inspirational romance, try Winter Madness by Pamela S. Thibodeaux.

6 Tips To Introduce Characters

Have you mastered the techniques of introducing characters in your book? In the September edition of Writing Hacks--just click to subscribe--I gave these tips in the Beginner's Corner.

Introducing Characters

I read a book recently that prompted this tip.Before I reached the end of the first chapter, I was flipping back in an effort to figure out who all the characters were. It was like an old movie advertisement: "A cast of thousands."

Always remember that simplest formula for a story: a compelling character strives against great odds to achieve a worthy goal. Your goal is to make your characters compelling.

Take care when introducing characters. Here are a few tips to help you.

1. Introduce your main characters one at a time and give enough "space" for the reader to acquaint himself with that character before moving to introduce another.

2. Give enough description to cement the character in the reader's head.

3. Make it apparent who your main character is. I've judged a lot of manuscripts in contests where I'm trying to guess who the story is about. Smart writers make it known from the get-go.

4. Beware of introducing a character, making that character compelling and fully realized--and then killing that character off to turn the story over to a different character. This seriously annoys readers.

5. Give your compelling character believable obstacles to overcome. See the simplest formula above.

6. Give your character a worthy goal and make it plain enough that the reader remembers what the character wants. Nebulous character wants equal an unremarkable, unmemorable character. (Also from the simplest formula above.)

Takeaway Truth

Master the art of making good character introductions, and readers will stick with your book to the end.

 Authors, learn from my mistakes. Subscribe to WritingHacks, my free email newsletter with tips and tricks of the trade, and receive a special report.

Readers, subscribe to WordPlay, my free email list/book chat newsletter, and receive a free book.

Review: WWII Spy School

When World War II broke out in Europe, President Franklin Roosevelt knew it was just a matter of time before the United States became involved.

He knew the U.S. needed special agents to gather intelligence about what was going on. There was only 1 problem. The United States had no spies or covert operatives or anyone to train any volunteers.

Britain Was Well-Versed in the Spy Trade

Roosevelt turned to Winston Churchill because the Brits were all too familiar with the need for spies and intelligence gathering. They faced a problem though. There could be no training facility or school for spies in the U.S. because our country wasn't officially at war. So the British experts in the spy world started Camp X, a school for spies located near Toronto, Canada, and America began sending likely candidates there for training.

The Mysterious Camp X

World War II Spy School is the story of Camp X and its graduates, Americans who learned how to do the dirty jobs sometimes necessary in defending their country and gathering intelligence against the enemy. The OSS, a top-secret spy agency hatched by Roosevelt and Churchill was the forerunner of the CIA.

With excerpts from the manual that served as its training bible, this documentary is riveting and makes no apologies about the brutality needed to succeed at modern espionage. As an example, they quote the passage on how to search someone. "First, kill the person then search them. If that is impractical, make him lie on the ground and hit him in the head with the butt of your gun."

Yes, this is what warfare is sometimes. Kill or so you have 1 less combatant to worry about. Through declassified information and firsthand accounts from those involved, the story of the covert war within World War II will captivate you.

Legacy of Camp X

It comes as no surprise that several early directors of the CIA were graduates of Camp X.

Check your local listings for air dates. I watched WWII Spy School on Netflix. The documentary was produced for the Smithsonian Channel so check your listings or visit the link above for local air dates.You can also purchase the documentary from the link above.

Takeaway Truth

For students of recent history, especially WWII and/or military history, this is a must-see documentary that will have you talking about it for days.

5 Tips: Writing & Publishing Children's Books

I get a lot of mail from beginning writers. Just about all have the same general questions. Today's post is advice I gave recently to an aspiring children's book author.

Truths About Publishing Children's Books

1. It's harder to get published in children's books than any other kind of writing. Why? Because successful children's books last forever. That's why everything from Poky Little Puppy to Curious George, though many decades old, continues to be published. So the children's market is one of the most competitive niches of all.

2. Children's books are divided into specific groups based on the age of the reader. They begin with books for children aimed at the parent who will read the book to the child and end with books aimed at the teen market with many areas in between. Do you know where your book falls? If not, learn the various classifications of children's books so you'll know where your story fits.

3. Some writers are now self-publishing children's books as eBooks either through the Kindle platform or another platform. Most call self-publishing, indie publishing, akin to the indie film label used by independent film producers. Being an indie publisher and using an eBook format isn't especially lucrative yet because children don't usually use eReader devices like iPad and Kindle to do more than play games even though Kindle Fire and iPad support color illustrations. The number of children reading ebooks will continue to grow, albeit slowly.

4. The more successful way to publish for children, other than traditional publishing, would be to indie publish a print book using a publisher like CreateSpace. This allows you to more easily and economically incorporate color illustrations.

5. The bottom line? Seriously study how to write for children. Read some of the books on the market that are aimed at this genre. Writers Digest Books has published dozens. I think they still publish a market guide for writing children's books.

Takeaway Truth

Abandon the mistaken assumption that children's books are easier and quicker to write. Embrace the genre if that's where your heart leads you.

5 Minute Chocolate Cake in a Cup

This cake? Harder to make than mine!
I can't believe it's Friday. It's almost midnight, and I'm in the kitchen. Why? Because I want chocolate. There's nothing in the pantry except some Hershey's Cocoa powder and chocolate chips.

So I'm going to make a chocolate cake. At this time of night? No, I'm going to make a chocolate cake in a cup. Lucky you! I'm going to share the recipe which I've had for a couple of decades.

5 Minute Chocolate Cake in a Cup

You'll need microwave-safe mugs or cups or small Pyrex baking dishes.

You can make this recipe in 2 or 4 cups depending on how large a cake you want. I actually use 4 cups and serve them on their matching saucers. Cute little small cakes to serve.

Add some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top of the cakes for a really yummy dessert.

  • 4 tablespoons self-rising flour
  • 4 tablespoons any kind of sugar (white, raw, brown)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons oil (canola, safflower, sunflower, or generic vegetable oil)
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Into a small mixing bowl, place flour, sugar, and cocoa. Mix together. Add the egg and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Add the vanilla and mix well.

Place mugs in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts power. The cakes will rise beautifully. Remove from microwave and allow to cool a little. You can tip it out onto a plate or serve the cup with its saucer and a spoon.

Takeaway Truth

Delicious, easy, and a quick way to get a chocolate fix! What's not to love?

2015 Judge a Book By Its Cover Contest Now Open

Announcing the 2015 JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER CONTEST (JABBIC), sponsored by Houston By Area RWA, is now open for entries. This is JABBIC's 11th anniversary! Join the celebration by entering your cover where you know it will be seen by booksellers and readers alike!

Your covers will be judged by booksellers around the world, and the winning cover in each category will be featured in a full-page color ad on the inside front cover of the April 2016 Romance Writers Report, as well as on our web site.

While the booksellers are judging, we will open up the Reader's Choice portion of JABBIC. The Readers Choice Winners from each category will be featured on our web site. Last year thousands of readers logged on to view and vote for the JABBIC 2014 covers during the Reader's Choice portion of the contest!

If your book is self-published, you will be able to give credit where credit's due--your cover artist or yourself! If traditionally published, recognize your publisher or their artists!


Deadline: Entries must be received by January 15, 2016.

Entry Fee: $15

Eligibility: Published in 2015

Enter: The cover of your book, novella or short story published by a traditional house, self-published, ePublisher, or POD during 2015

Entry Format: Electronic files (JPG or GIF) only

Categories: Short Contemporary (56,000 words or less), Long Contemporary (over 56,000 words), Historical, Romantic Suspense, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Paranormal, Sexiest Cover, Young Adult and Inspirational

Judges: Booksellers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia

Top Prize: Winners will be featured in a full-page color ad on the inside front cover of the April 2016 Romance Writers Report.

For more information, entry form and rules, visit the contest website or contact Contest Coordinator Leslie Marshman: judgeabook @ hbarwa . com (delete the spaces in the addy).

By the way, have you LIKEd the Houston Bay Area RWA Facebook Page?

Takeaway Truth

This is the original cover art competition, and it is highly regarded in the industry. Enter today.

Life Is, Plus a Giveaway

Leave Comment with Email to enter Giveaway
I'm playing catch-up, and I noticed a couple of things that frustrate and irritate me that keep popping up.

Made me think about what Edna St. Vincent Millay once said.

It is not true that life is one damn thing after another - it is the same damn thing over and over.

Giveaway for Over the Hump Day

How true. Got any of those frustrating life repeats happening for you?

If so, leave a comment with an email address to be entered to win an audiobook edition of Scents and Sensuality. Winner decided by Random Draw on 11/07/15.

Review, Scents and Sensuality

Great fun to read, this novel crackles with delicious sexual tension and humour. Joan Reeves has a flair for snappy dialogue and creating characters that come alive on the page. Vivid descriptions make you feel like you're in the room watching it all unfold. A satisfying romance.

Takeaway Truth

Audiobooks are a great way to "read" when you don't have time. Listen while driving, exercising, or doing housework. Happy Over-the-Hump Day!