January Musing

I find it difficult to believe that the first month of 2017 is now waning.

The days have flown by. Rather than having the snow much of the country had, we had mostly wind--sometimes cold and sometimes unseasonably warm.

I like what George Ellis called the months of the year.

January was Snowy--and it was for a lot of our northern and western neighbors. Blowy--as our January was--shouldn't actually be here until March.

I guess Texas weather has to be contrary as usual. Here's what Ellis named the months in case you don't remember:

"The twelve months...
Snowy, Flowy, Blowy,
Showery, Flowery, Bowery,
Hoppy, Croppy, Droppy,
Breeze, Sneezy, Freezy."

January's Promise

The waning month began with lofty aspirations and inspiration.

Henry Ward Beecher said: "Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first day of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past."

We celebrated the passing of the old year and vowed to leap ahead into the new. I don't know about you, but I stumbled into the New Year rather leaping.

If you, like me, found January to be a difficult month, you may identify with what the Lakota Sioux called it: The Hardship Moon.

Takeaway Truth

Wishing you a February even better than January!


I'm working late tonight.

Not because I goofed off today. I worked hard all day too.

I just have more work than I have time to do it in. So I persevere.

It's like Newt Gingrich once said: "Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did."

How very true. Fortunately, I have more perseverance today than I have attitude about blowing it off and joining my husband for a movie.

Takeaway Truth

The year is young, but I think I already need a vacation.

Sights That Strike Fear--and Loathing--in the Hearts of Urban Drivers

I've been driving around Houston a lot this January, from the northwest part of the county to the medical center hospitals and beyond.

As I'm stuck in traffic, I find myself musing about things I see.

This morning when I was frantic to get somewhere on time, I was stuck on FM 1960, aka Cypress Parkway, as the driver of an 18-wheeler attempted to back into a driveway bordered by a 2 story building on one side and tall street lights on the other. The driveway he was attempting to access was about the width of a single-car driveway.

For 20 minutes, all 3 lanes on the eastbound side were blocked as he repeatedly reversed, stopped, pulled forward, reversed again at a slightly different angle stopped, pulled forward, etc. Finally, he succeeded.

As I watched, I made a mental list of things that strike fear in the heart of the urban driver. Here's my list for your consideration.

Sights That Strike Fear--and Loathing--in the Hearts of Urban Drivers

1. An 18-wheeler crossways in the street on which you're traveling. (Of course! What else would be number 1?)

2. Surveyors making measurements on a street you're forced to drive every day. (Oh, no! That always means they're going to tear up the street, shutting traffic down to a trickle as they attempt to "improve" the street.)

3. Drivers going slower than the traffic. (When you get even with them, you'll always see that they're either: texting, punching in a phone number on their cell, or checking the GPS app on their cell. My husband insisted I add, "Or putting on makeup.")

4. Drivers zooming along at NASCAR speeds. (When you get even with them, you'll see that they're doing the same as #3!)

5. A construction truck setting out traffic cones that tell you when you drive the route going home, the lanes will be closed down to one. (Never fails!)

6. Drivers who seem to be terrified of the traffic in this metropolis. They're SO cautious you begin to think that they're just a wreck looking for a place to happen.

7. Drivers who are aggressive speed demons. You find yourself wondering why a cop is never around when you want one. (These jackasses drivers need to be ticketed. Better yet, confiscate their tank-like SUVs, and pull their licenses!)

8. Drivers attempting to read while they drive. (Contractors, if you need to read the work order where you're needed, pull to the side of the road! Don't try to read anything when you're driving. Not a text. Not directions. And for heaven's sake, not a book! I saw a woman holding a paperback book across her steering wheel!! Her eyes were on the book more than the road.)

Come on, people. Distractions kill. You might as well be blind drunk and behind the wheel as to be texting, reading, phoning, or any of the other distractions in which too many drivers engage. Keep your eyes and your mind on the road. Everything else can wait. It's not just your life at stake, but the lives of all the drivers around you.

Takeaway Truth

After hours in that kind of traffic, it's a relief to get home.

Book Spotlight: Cowboy Sanctuary By Michelle Hughes

The SlingWords Book Spotlight is shining on Michelle Hughes and her new release Cowboy Sanctuary.

Michelle has had an exciting life that sounds like that of a romance novel heroine. Find out more about the woman behind Cowboy Sanctuary.

About Michelle Hughes

I grew up thinking I'd become the next great country singer of our time. I began singing at three years old, after being bribed by our insurance man to belt out a song, and that was it. My life was set in stone.

I pursued that dream for many years, and also wrote songs. I had the pleasure of singing on the Midnight Jamboree in Nashville, and touring the US performing at state fairs, nightclubs, and a myriad of other events.

My first son went on the road with me, my mom and manager and it was an exciting, but sometimes crazy life.  When I got pregnant with my twins, I knew my days of touring were coming to an end.

Writing books didn't even occur to me until I was laid off many years later from a job in respiratory. For six months I stayed home raising my, by that time, fifth child (yes I wanted a huge family and had one), I was going stir crazy. I loved hanging out with my little man, but for someone who had worked hard her entire life, there were too many hours in the day.

A Writer Is Born

One day I sat down at my computer and started writing a book just to curb my boredom. Eight years later I have over twenty books in my library and still can't believe how writing became a career!

I'd always been an avid reader.  The kind of kid that would look up words in the dictionary for fun. Yes, a true nerd. My granny Louise was responsible for that. She grew up on a cotton farm and didn't get a chance to finish her education, so I helped her with what I was learning in school. Granny never put down a book, except to cook, after that and she got me hooked on  Harlequin romance novels that came four at a time each month.

When I started writing that's what I wanted to do, write those happily ever after love stories with the virgin and strong alpha male character.  I loved reading historical romances, but quickly realized that type of writing wasn't for me, so I modified my books to be modern day bodice rippers (which I know is an oxymoron). That's me, in a nutshell!

Find Michelle Hughes Online: Facebook * Twitter * Website * Sign up for her Mailing List.

Cowboy Sanctuary by Michelle Hughes

Dana Waterfield’s well-organized life gets tipped upside down when the brutal murder of her twin sister Danielle threatens to unravel everything she’s worked so hard to achieve.

Having found herself the sole guardian of her sister’s newborn lovechild, Jeremy, and at the receiving end of her ex-brother-in-law’s unchecked rage, Dana flees to the safety of Dixon Ranch and the strong, muscled arms of Brock Dixon.

In order to protect the baby from the wrath of Danielle’s husband and murderer, Dana must assimilate into the daily routine of ranch life, and rethink who she really is. When the wrath of a madman threatens the life of her nephew and everything she holds dear, will Dana put her trust in Brock or let the winds of change tear her family apart?

Falling for her sister’s lover was never part of the plan, but there’s something about a cowboy that no woman can resist. After all, the safest place to be is in a cowboy’s arms…

Watch the Video

Takeaway Truth

Add Cowboy Sanctuary by Michelle Hughes to your Romance Library.

You'll find it at all Kindle shops including: Amazon US * Amazon UK * Amazon CA * Amazon FR * Amazon AU * Amazon DE. Get it in Paperback.

7 Security Tips to Avoid Online Scams

I was reading my weekly email NL from Vipre, my security software, and thought this advice about the Newest Phishing Scams was important enough to pass on.

(If you visit the home page for Vipre, you'll see they have home and business versions. I've been a Vipre customer for many years. They protect you without the bloatware so many other security softwares inflict upon your computer that slows your speed down to a crawl.)

Phishing, Scams, and Malware: Oh My!

Yes, we all know that thieves lurk all over the Internet, but it's good to be aware of the existing scams and any new schemes cropping up. The newsletter said the new ones specifically target PayPal and Amazon users.

However, these are not new scams. They've been around forever, but it's good to remind you of good security practices.

Scams Target PayPal Customers

A phishing email alerting the receiver that his or her PayPal account has been limited for security reasons is sent to unsuspecting PayPal users. The email contains a link. If you get this email and you click on the link in the email, you may be taken to a site that looks very similar to PayPal, but it's a spoof site. If you continue and submit your PayPal username and password as requested, your PayPal account and whatever bank account may be linked to it will be emptied. Probably faster than you can say phishing scam. Any credit card linked to it will be maxed out as well.

What To Look For

On many of these phishing emails, PayPal may be misspelled. Check any email out thoroughly for mistakes and typos.

If you right click on the email sender's addy, you may notice that the email domain is something besides @ PalPay dot com. Also, remember this, NO website at which you have a registered account will ask you for your login and password information. They already have this!

Scam Targeting Amazon Customers

Again, the hook for unsuspecting customers is an email designed to steal personal information and/or to install malicious software aka malware.

These emails may look as if they are from Amazon, but they're designed to fool you. One might be an order confirmation for something you didn't purchase. It might be an email with an attachment to an order confirmation.

The requests in these various emails could ask for: username, password or other personal information; updated payment information for your Amazon account; or is an email with links to fake websites that look like Amazon but opening the email actually starts a download of software.

Again, these fake phishing emails usually contain a forged email address from an Internet Service Provider and have many typos or grammatical errors.

What To Do

If you get an email about an order, and you know you didn't place that order, don't click anything in the email. Close the email. Open a new tab on your browser, and go to your Amazon account to check. Everything you've ever ordered is shown there.

If you get an email asking for your account information or personal information, do NOT provide it. Amazon already has that information for you.

Never open an attachment purportedly from Amazon because if they were going to send you an attachment, you would know about it because they would have discussed it with you.

In all the years I've been an Amazon customer, I've never received an email with an attachment from them. If I need a shipping label from them to return something, they send an email--after I've already discussed the return with them--directing me to the Amazon page to print a shipping label.

Security Tips

1. Never respond to any unsolicited e-mails like these.

2. Never click a link if you do open an unsolicited email from a business. 

3. Never open any attachments on an email unless you know the person and you know they were sending you something. Businesses do not send attachments if they email you unless you have corresponded with them and they told you they would email you something.

4.Never respond to an email or pop-up message asking for personal or financial information. Companies with whom you have a relationship already have your information.

5. If an unsolicited email causes you concern about your account, contact the organization in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine. Or open a new tab on your browser and go to their Internet address. If you want to alert them to the phishing email, do NOT copy and paste the link from the suspected fake message.

6. It's not a good practice to ever email personal or financial information to anyone because email accounts can be hacked. Email is not considered a secure means of sending confidential information.

7.If you do make an online transaction and need to personal and/or financial information through the company’s website, make sure the URL begins with https: that s in http stands for Secure. You may also see a lock icon on the browser status bar. The S in https and the lock icon mean the transmission is secure and encrypted.

Mea Culpa

I've got to admit that a few times I carelessly clicked a link (in a friend's email that had been hacked which I did not know at the time), and my Vipre Internet Security immediately stopped the website from opening.

A message from Vipre popped on the monitor saying that the website was unsafe. On one such occasion, I contacted Vipre because I thought they were wrong. *LOL* They promptly got back to me and explained that the URL was correct for that website, but that it had been hijacked.

Takeaway Truth

A little paranoia is a darn good thing when it comes the Internet. Be safe and secure.


The 45th President of the United States, Donald John Trump, was inaugurated today.

Regardless of what you think about him, pray that he will be good for America.

Takeaway Truth

Peaceful transition of power is what this country's democratic process is all about. May that never change.

Happy National Popcorn Day & Many More

I was going to write a blog about the things I've seen on this gray, cold day in the country, but my darling hubby made popcorn.

Earlier I'd seen on the Internet that today is National Popcorn Day.

Historical Tidbit

This addictive snack rose to popularity in the United States in the middle 1800s. Charles Cretors, a candy-store owner, was the one who brought it to the masses when he made a machine that popped corn with steam.

By 1900 he had horse-drawn popcorn wagons traveling the streets of Chicago. I imagine the smell lured customers to the wagons. I know the smell of popcorn is calling me now. I'm shutting down for the day and going to watch a DVD with my hubby.

What Some of My Favorite People Say About Popcorn

"I am a big popcorn fanatic. I love popcorn. In fact one year for my birthday, my husband bought me one of those big popcorn machines like they have in movie theaters." ~Debbie Macomber, Author

"Humans love sex, we need sex, it's how we connect, it reminds us we're alive, it's the third most basic human need, after food and good movie popcorn." ~Billy Crystal

"Others may prefer mindless entertainment, but on Sunday nights, you'll find me parked right in front of my television, munching popcorn and improving my intellect by watching Masterpiece Classic." ~Teresa Medeiros

"I love to go to a movie, get a Diet Coke and a barrel of popcorn, and sit there with my kids and watch a film." ~William Shatner

"I really wanted the MTV Award the most, It was a golden popcorn container and it looks really neat." ~Kirsten Dunst

Takeaway Truth

Have a little fun this evening and have some popcorn while you're at it.

Wine Making, Our New Adventure

December - Primary Fermenter
We drove to our country house to check on the merlot that's been fermenting since December.

Racking wine basically means siphoning it from one vessel to another, leaving dead yeast and other sediment behind.

The primary fermenter, shown in the photo at left, is actually a food-grade plastic bucket with a tight-fitting lid and an airlock to let the carbon dioxide out and keep oxygen and anything else out.

Last time darling hubby was here, he removed the oak chips and the elderberries we'd used to "soften" the merlot then he racked (siphoned) the wine from the primary fermenter (plastic bucket) into a 6-gallon glass carboy.

3 Weeks Later

Now we're here to rack it again because the fermentation should be completed. Just to make sure the fermentation is completed--the yeast has consumed all the sugar and turned it into alcohol--we'll let it stay in the carboy another few weeks before bottling it.

Carboy of wine before we racked it tonight.
I didn't want to do it tonight, but darling hubby was excited to test it and taste it. So we got started about 7:00pm. We had to sanitize everything just before using it. Then we had to clean and sanitize another carboy since we were racking from 1 carboy to another.

Turns out the second carboy we brought for the job was not the same capacity. Our mistake in grabbing the wrong size. So we ended up racking twice since we had to clean and sanitize the original one and rack back into it.

Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness

Remember that old saying? My mom used to say it all the time. She would have made a good winemaker because you have to be vigilant about cleanliness and sanitation. I tell you cleaning these big glass carboys is a job!

Thankfully, we got it all done including the final cleanup.

The Taste

The smell is very fragrant--just like wine! The taste? It's very young now. We'll rack it again in a month or more and taste again.

I imagine we'll age it another 6 months after that before we taste again. Maybe by New Year's it might taste good enough to have a glass even though it will still be young and will get better with more aging.

Hobby Can Take Over Your World

My darling hubby Larry has been interested in wine making for several years. Because he's interested, I'm interested.

This year we're having land prepared and will do a grape planting. We've been buying wine grape juice for wine making, but we want to eventually experiment with our own grapes. Or so we think. Of course, it will be a few years before our grapes may be wine worthy.

Would Love to Sell Movie Option

*LOL* That would pay for our next wine maker needs: a building. Our wine making utensils and supplies are scattered all over the kitchen and the laundry room here. I think we'll need to make a decision this year on whether we also want to have a dedicated building erected for this hobby that is taking over our world.

Not only do we need space for supplies and fermenting, racking, and bottling, but we also need storage space. This batch of merlot will add about 30 bottles to our "cellar" which is really the back of the very large pantry here.

At home, we have a wine experiment in a primary fermenter. It's a small batch of apple wine from a wine recipe I found in an old wine making book. The apple wine is supposed to be like a dry white wine when finished. It will yield 5 bottles. I'm hoping it will taste similar to a Blanc du Bois.

Takeaway Truth

All in all, this is a great adventure. I'll keep you posted on how our little boutique winery grows. Eventually, we hope to have some wonderful "sunshine in a glass" that we made, bottled, and aged.

Love Audio Books? Stretch Your Money

I love audio books. Whether you call them audio books or audiobooks--I write it both ways--they're growing in popularity.

Audiobooks make it easy to stay up with what's popular in fiction and nonfiction when you don't have much time for reading.

Time Is Biggest Factor

Audio books have zoomed in popularity. I think this is because time is at such a premium in today's world. Readers often don't have the time to devote to reading.

Being able to listen to an audio book allows readers to indulge their love of books. Audio books can take away the tedium of commuting, traveling, mundane chores and tasks, and entertain you all at the same time. When chitchat at a social gathering turns to the bestsellers, audio book listeners can hold their own.

To Get Most for Your Dollar, Join Audible

Audible offers several introductory offers for membership. Basically, you get a free trial. After 30 days, the Audible membership fee goes to regular price, that's only $14.95 a month.

Each month on the basic plan, you get 1 credit per month. If you don't spend the credit, it rolls over. For 1 credit, you can buy any audiobook, regardless of retail price. Now that's a deal! Click here to learn more about Membership Plans.

Plus, there are special sales for members throughout the year--sales like BOGO or $4.99 or less sale prices. I stock up during the sales.

There are alternatives to paying high retail prices for audiobooks. I'm sure there are other audiobook sites with membership fees, but I'm most familiar with Audible which also offers another benefit to readers.


Another benefit to Audible membership is WhisperSync. If you buy the Kindle ebook edition first then the audiobook can be purchased for a reduced rate. You can switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book edition and listening to the Audible audio book. It will sync to the farthest read point automatically.

You can check the ebooks in your Kindle library to see if they're WhisperSync enabled. Although all of mine are available through WhisperSync, not all Kindle books are. Learn more about WhisperSync here.

With Audible, you can download a book in just about any format so you can play it on your iPod or MP3 player, your Smartphone, computer, or even burn a CD and play it in your car or home if you're still listening to CDs.

Audio Books Embraced

The popularity of audiobooks is growing by leaps and bounds. Once they were used mostly by the blind.

Now, they have risen in popularity because they make books accessible to anyone--people who love to read and people who are marginal readers. Plus, you can "read" an audiobook while traveling, commuting, working out at the gym, cleaning house, or weeding a flower bed.

Takeaway Truth

About 5 years ago, a little more than 4,600 audiobooks were released. Fast forward a couple of years, and the audio book releases had more than doubled. Their popularity is only going to keep increasing which is very good news for authors--and readers too.

My Audiobooks

I've had 8 of my romance novels produced as audiobooks.

Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones
Just One Look
Nobody's Cinderella
Old Enough to Know Better
Romeo and Judy Anne
Scents and Sensuality
Still The One
The Trouble With Love

Transfer Smashwords Book To Kindle eReader

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

(I try to run this post at least twice a year so new ebook readers can learn how easy it is to get a free book with a Smashwords Coupon and send it to their Kindle device for reading.)

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

How To Transfer a Smashwords Book to Your Kindle or Kindle Fire

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

For a Kindle, there are 2 ways to accomplish this either through a USB Connection or emailing the ebook file to your Kindle Email Address.

USB Connection

First, purchase the book. Purchase includes "buying" a free book with a Coupon Code.

Plug your Kindle into one of the USB slots on your computer using the cable that came with your Kindle. When you attach your Kindle to your computer with the USB cable, it makes your Kindle appear as a drive on your computer.

Go to the book's Smashwords book page, click to download the "Kindle" which is a .MOBI format.

Go to where you see the Kindle show up as a drive on your computer and drop the book's file--file name will end in .mobi extension--into the Kindle's "documents" folder. (It’s just like transferring a file to an external hard drive or a thumb drive, etc.)

Disconnect the Kindle from your computer. The book is ready to read. By the way, if you've already downloaded the .MOBI file to your computer instead of to your Kindle, Smashwords advises in their how-to instructions to view the YouTube video (not a Smashwords produced video) that shows how to drag the file from your desktop to the Kindle's documents folder.

Note: If you have a Kindle Fire, the process works the same, but you'll need to purchase a cable because it doesn't come with one.

Email Ebook to Kindle Email Address

For both the first generation Kindles and the newest Kindle Fire, you can email your Smashwords .mobi files to your Kindle email address. You just send an email with the .mobi file as an attachment.

If in doubt as to what that email address is, login to your account / Manage Your Kindle. In Left sidebar, you'll see Your Kindle Account and below that, a number of choices, one of which is Personal Document Settings. Click that. A window opens, and you'll see at the top Send To Kindle Email Settings.

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

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

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

Actually, it takes less time to buy the book from Smashwords and transfer it than it took to write this.

Takeaway Truth

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

Waiting Room Survival Kit

Have you ever had to spend time in a doctor's office or hospital waiting room?

I have done this more times than I’d like.

In fact, I spent most of yesterday at the Texas Women's Hospital downtown. I have a kit I take along that helps me survive these interminable days.

This waiting room survival kit is good for any occasion that finds you waiting for more than a couple of hours.

Whether you're headed to a surgery waiting room, a big clearance sale, or the DMV, take your kit along.

Here's how to put together...

A Waiting Room Survival Kit


First, you'll need a comfortable backpack. Don’t carry a purse especially if you're going to walk any distance from parking lots to a hospital. Put your cell phone, basic purse necessities, etc. in a backpack. It’s more comfortable and safer than a purse hanging off your shoulder. It's easier to manage a backpack than a giant purse or maybe a purse and a tote bag that holds your entertainment for the day.

I like a backpack that has netting bottle holders on the sides. I actually use a backpack from a European tour I took a few years ago. The bag should be roomy enough to hold the following things you'll need to survive comfortably.


Winter or summer, most waiting rooms are either freezing cold or over-heated. Take a jacket in case it's the former. Wear layers in case it's the latter. If you don't need the jacket, roll it up and put it in the backpack.

Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Seriously. You’ll be surprised how dry your mouth will get and how nasty after a day of eating snack foods and drinking bad coffee.


Bring something to do to pass the time. Televisions in waiting rooms are usually pre-set to CNN or something similar. The volume is turned off so you have to read the captions if you insist on watching the tube. A Kindle, cell phone with the Kindle app, iPad or something similar is great and lighter weight than print books. Stock your cell phone or ereader with plenty of books in case you get bored with the first one you select. If you want to play games or watch Netflix movie
s, be sure and bring your earbuds. You’ll get ejected if you try listening without earbuds.

Notebook and Pen

You may want to take notes when the doctor talks with you or write down the name of the snippy clerk who waited on you. Or you may think of questions to ask the doctor. Write it down because in the emotion of the moment, you’ll probably forget.


If you need to take something throughout the day, bring it along with a snack if you need to take it with food.


Focus your snacks on protein like raw nuts, peanuts, cheese sticks, whole grain crackers with peanut butter or cheese, raisins and other dried fruit, Lara snack bars or granola bars, apples, Clementines, and grapes. Bring enough to get you through the day in case there are no convenient snack kiosks or cafeterias available. Avoid really salty or sweet snacks because they'll make you feel worse in the long run.


Take at least 1 bottle of water--2 if you're expecting more than 2 hours wait time. In today's world, water fountains can be few and far between.

Cash and Major Credit Card

You may burn through your snacks and water and need to purchase items from a vending machine or tip the valet. Most parking garages and valet service take credit cards so Visa or Master Card will handle that.

Cell Phone and Charging Cable

Many waiting rooms now have charging stations where you can keep your phone, iPad, etc. charged up. Most of them are fast chargers. Just keep an eye on your devices though.

What To Wear

Comfortable clothing. You want something comfortable and loose enough that you can spend 1 to 12 hours in it, probably sitting in an uncomfortable chair. Remember to dress in layers.

Comfortable shoes. Leave the heels and sandals at home. You may do a fair amount of walking. Even if you valet park at the hospital entrance, you’ll still have to walk a distance to the elevators and you’ll walk several long corridors.

Once in the waiting room, you’ll be taken to the pre-op room for some last words with your patient. Then back to the waiting room. Post surgery will find you walking to recovery then to another room after that then back to the waiting room.

At other places, like movie box offices or the Social Security office, you may find yourself standing in really long lines for long wait times until your feet feel as if they're on fire. By the end of the day, you’ll be glad you wore socks and walking shoes.

Good Manners, Attitude, Smiles

I've listed this last because it's not something you can actually toss into a backpack, but it's something that will get you through the ordeal of waiting with style and grace.

It will also help out the people you run into during your wait time. Smile. Be friendly. Avoid the easy response of frustration and ill-temper.

No one likes waiting, and no one likes dealing with ill-mannered people who take it out on the employees who meet the public.

Recap of Backpack Contents List

Purse with cash--dollar bills for vending machines--and major credit card
Cell phone, devices, and cables
Travel-size toothbrush and toothpaste
Notebook and Pen
Good manners
Good attitude

For Your Consideration

If you’re looking for a book to give you a laugh when you’re in a waiting room and feeling tense, consider my romantic comedy, Just One Look, about two doctors in a comedy of errors courtship.

Just One Look is available at Amazon and other ebook sellers. This romance is also available in audio at Audible and iTunes.

"I loved this book! If you haven’t read JUST ONE LOOK, you’re missing out on a great story. It’s humorous, sexy to the max, and just plain entertaining. ~ Amazon Reviewer

Takeaway Truth

Like the commercial used to say: "Never leave home without it."

MOB Tour: The Beast Within by Jacquie Biggar

Mended Souls, book 2
by Jacquie Biggar

Genre: Thriller
Content Warning: 18+ But the enclosed Excerpt is General Audience.

She didn't expect to land in the crosshairs of a serial killer.

Can two displaced angels save a woman from the clutches of a vicious psychopath?

When Julie Crenshaw is offered a news reporter's job on beautiful Vancouver Island she didn't expect to land in the crosshairs of a serial killer.

Connor O'Rourke has seen his share of human depravities during his fourteen years as a homicide detective, but is still sickened by the murderer terrorizing his island shores. And threatening his key witness.

As the stakes rise, can two people get a second chance at love?

Or will a killer become the winner?

Julie pulled into the paved driveway and parked in front of the single car garage just as the school bus stopped down the street and let off a rag-tag bunch of laughing, talking kids. All except her boys, last to step down from the vehicle. They barely glanced up from their inspection of the sidewalk when the doors slid closed and the bus signaled away from the curb.

She sighed and waited while they trudged the half block to their front gate. There were no waves or yelled plans to join the other kids in a game of street hockey after their dinner. No suggestions of an impromptu basketball match using the hoop above the garage door, or a bike ride to the nearby park. Nothing at all. In fact, Dustin looked like he had another of his perpetual mad-ons happening, with hunched shoulders and downcast expression. Meanwhile, Freddie tagged along behind, casting envious glances at the neighbor boy running down the street toward the others setting up for the hockey game.

“Why can’t we, Dusty?” Freddie tugged on his older brother’s jacket, barely slowing him down. “I want to play.”

Dustin stopped short, glaring at the laughing kids down the block. “They’re a big bunch of dummies.” He kicked at a stray pebble, sending it skittering down the walk.

Julie hiked her satchel higher on her shoulder and closed the car door. Dustin glanced her way, then trudged into the house without a word.

Julie’s welcoming smile flat-lined, her son’s continuing anger creating a hard ball of tension in her gut. She’d taken him to counselling after his father’s death, but it hadn’t done much to alleviate the guilt he carried. He felt the accident was his fault and nothing Julie could say would change his mind.

“Mom, can I go play?” Freddie giggled as the neighbor’s dog dropped a beat up ball glove at his feet.

She forced a cheerful expression and held out her arms. “Do I get a cuddle first?”

Young enough not to care who might be watching, he ran into her embrace, his chubby arms wrapping her waist in a bear hug. She held on a moment too long, reluctant to give up the scent of bubblegum and sun that clung to his soft skin.

“Mom, you’re squeezing me to death,” he laughed into her chest.

She gave one last clench, half teasing, half desperation, and let him go. “Be back in an hour, and watch out for traffic.”

“Okay, love you, Mom,” he said, grabbing the glove and heading for the street, his attention already half a block away.

“Love you, son,” she answered, and he was gone. Leaving her alone. Deflated.

She turned for the house, coming to a halt when she noticed Dustin standing on the other side of the screen. There was that knot again. Much as she loved her eldest son, Julie hated the undercurrents that ran between them like a tide of noxious gas. He’d been daddy’s boy, had followed Mike wherever he went, questions flying a-mile-a-minute. They’d often joked that the only time Dusty was quiet was when he was asleep.


She missed her husband every day.

Restitution begins with the truth.

Lucas Carmichael and Scott Anderson had it all, money, fame, and fortune. But one night's stupid mistake takes everything they thought they cherished and dumps it upside down.

A car accident ends Lucas' life and leaves Scott injured and bitter.

As the local ME, Tracy York, investigates the case, discrepancies begin to point to more than a simple drunk driving incident.

When threats are made to Tracy's life can Scott and his guardian angel, Lucas, protect her, or will she become another casualty?

JACQUIE BIGGAR is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males who know what they want, that is until they're gob-smacked by heroines who are strong, contemporary women willing to show them what they really need is love. She is the author of the popular Wounded Hearts series and has just started a new series in paranormal suspense, Mended Souls.

She has been blessed with a long, happy marriage and enjoys writing romance novels that end with happily-ever-afters.

Jacquie lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her family and loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. She swears she can't function without coffee, preferably at the beach with her sweetheart. 🙂

Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her website. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter or email her via her web site.

Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!

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12 Blog Tips for 2017

As you can tell, I've been doing other things since the first of the New Year instead of blogging.

What Things

1. Packing away the Christmas decorations. Every year I cull the holiday decorations. Once I had enough Rubbermaid containers to fill a small room.

Now I have it down to 6 large containers, and one of those is labeled Archive and a smaller one is labeled Retired Angels for the part of my Christmas Angel collection that has become too worn and fragile over the years.

2. Getting ready for tax season. We have the forms and returns for our LLC, my writing business return, and our personal income tax return. That's a lot of accounting and requires a lot of organization to make sure everything can be filed as soon as possible.

3. Deciding on the books to write this year.

4. Making a list of items that need to be done like updating my website and blog.

Updating SlingWords

So that brings me to what I want to talk about today. I need to clean up the various pages and make sure the links are still good. I also need to make out an editorial calendar for the year.

A blog is a lot easier to maintain and a joy to write if you just do a little of planning. So here are...

12 Blog Tips for 2017

Take 1 tip each month and work with that tip. You’ll be surprised how much your blog will improve and how your audience will grow with just a few changes in your blog habits.

1. Start a blog if you don’t have one or if you have learned that the one you have doesn’t serve you well. If you already have a blog, then give it a makeover. A blog, when carefully structured, will draw in visitors who are not just other authors.

2. Make a commitment to blog a certain number of times each work. More is better.

3. Write about things that stir your passions, not things that you think you should cover.

4. Set up an editorial calendar that lists the topics you’ll cover. You can keep this private or post it on your blog. This will keep you from wondering what you’ll write.

5. If you want to keep expenses low, use a free blogging platform. Blogger is easy to customize and maintain. Others say the same thing about WordPress. I've used both and find Blogger more user friendly.

6. Use your name as your blog URL. Example: http://YourName.blogspot.com. I learned this lesson the hard way. By the time I realized I should have used my name for my blog title, SlingWords was already too well-established to make the change. A few years ago, I tried to switch it over to my name, but I abandoned the effort when I realized how many portals run my blog feed and how a name change messes that up.

7. If you want to shell out a few bucks, buy your own domain name and set it up to point to your blog. Make sure it’s your name, not something descriptive.

8. Be consistent. If you say you’re going to blog 3 days a week, then follow through. Consistency builds a blog audience.

9. Although the bar is set lower for blog posts, do proofread your posts carefully.

10. Interact with your audience. Always respond to a comment left on your blog.

11. If you have Comment Verification turned off, then check every day to make sure you’re not getting spammed.

12. Avoid using elements on your blog that are listed as “most annoying” by web visitors: music, wacky fonts, black or very dark backgrounds with white or light-colored fonts, broken hot links, and content that isn’t formatted correctly for web reading.

Blogging should be fun. Adopt that attitude. Never look at blogging as a chore. It should be like sitting down with a friend for a nice chat. Build your blog that way, and you’ll build an audience fast.

Takeaway Truth

Blogging should be fun. Adopt that attitude. Never look at blogging as a chore. It should be like sitting down with a friend for a nice chat. Build your blog that way, and you’ll build an audience fast.

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