Facebook Eternal


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Back in June, I logged onto my Facebook page and saw a birthday reminder for a friend and former co-worker. I clicked on her page and read the birthday greetings on her Facebook wall.    

Posting birthday wishes on someone’s FB wall is nothing new, but my friend died two years ago. I still receive updates on my wall from her FB apps. It’s a cruel reminder that she’s gone, but I can’t bring myself to unsubscribe. 

I used to follow a blog written by a young Army captain stationed in Afghanistan. He asked his followers to donate school supplies and soccer balls to the children in his area of operation. I made a run to Target to pick up balls, ball pumps, and other care package essentials. The next day, I checked his blog for any updates. 

The first sentence of his post read…If you’re reading this that means I’m dead.

I read on thinking it was a joke. Tragically, it wasn’t. In a beautiful, heart-breaking post, he thanked his family and friends. He professed his love for his wife and stated that he always knew he didn’t deserve her. At the end of the post was a brief note from a friend who had filed the final post on the captain’s behalf.  

I had surgery earlier this summer. Mindful of my late friend’s FB wall and the captain’s final post, I gave my crit partner and friend, Carrie, the password to my FB page just in case I left the party early.

Had I made an early exit, I guess Carrie would have posted details of my demise on my FB wall…something funny (I hope) in keeping with her sense of humor and mine. (Thanks, Carrie!)

What about you? Do you have a Facebook directive in case of the inevitable?


It’s editor week at Romance University!

Monday/Wednesday – October 15th & 17th….Lucia Macro, executive editor at Avon/Morrow, talks about publishing opportunities (print and e-book) with Avon. If you write contemporary romance or series, Avon might be the right fit for you. Drop in and ask a question and get the skinny on submission requirements.

Friday – October 19th…RU’s resident editor, Theresa Stevens, is back with her column, “Ask an Editor”. Here’s your chance to ask questions and read Theresa’s critique of an entry submitted by one of RU’s readers.

Everyone (romance and non-romance writers and readers) is welcome to join us. Hope to see you! http://romanceuniversity.org




A Quickie Post on Goodreads Marketing for Authors


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Patrick Brown, Goodreads Community Manager, was a guest at my local RWA chapter meeting a few months ago. I’ve finally translated my scribbles into a semi-coherent fashion. I’m posting it on my blog today because I’m having issues with posting this information on Facebook for one of my writers’ groups. It’s a quick overview on stats and author promotion.   

Goodreads statistics: 

8 million members

19 million monthly visitors

280 million books “shelved”

Every second, 2 books are added to someone’s shelf.

An average of 5.75 million books added every month. 

The Romance Genre:

There are more than 85,000 shelved under romance making romance the top genre. Romance claims the largest share of chat and critique groups on Goodreads.

According to a Goodreads survey, 25% of romance readers read more than 6 books a month.

60% of romance readers read both print and e-books.

8% only read e-books.                             

40% of romance readers purchase books based on reviews, lists and group chats found on Goodreads.

How to get readers to discover your book:              

Take advantage of the Goodreads Author’s Program. 38,000 authors have signed up, including John Grisham, Diana Gabaldon, and Jennifer Cruisie.

Reviews are extremely important in the early stages of marketing your book.

  • Help new readers discover your book.
  • Help readers decide to buy your book.
  • Spread the word beyond Goodreads. Goodreads syndicates reviews to distributors such as Powell’s, Google and other e-tailers.

Tips for authors:

1.    Build your community.

  • Add a high quality photo and a bio to your author page
  • Shelve some books (What are you reading?)
  • Add an influence shelf (Books that influenced you)
  • Add the Goodreads widget to your website
  • Talk about what you’re reading
  • Periodically check to see that your meta data is correct. (ISBN/Publication date, number of pages)

2.    Ways to reach new readers – Giveaways

  • Goodreads giveaways (for print books only)
    • List a minimum of 10-20 copies for your giveaway. The more books you give away increases the chance of reviews.
    • Be sure to use the giveaway widget. (available on the author dashboard)
    • ARC giveaways increase buzz which translates into early reviews.
    • Start another giveaway after publication.
  • According to Goodreads, an average of 850 people signup for giveaways, however, 500 is a decent number.
  • The biggest mistake authors make is to run the giveaway for a short time, i.e. a few days. Goodreads recommends running the giveaway for a minimum of 2 weeks to a month.
  • Expanding the timeline of your giveaway allows more potential readers to enter. More readers means more reviews.
  • Giveaways generate community for your new book. Goodreads stats show that 60% of giveaway recipients write reviews.
  • Giveaway strategies:
    • Start the giveaway on the third day (example only) of the month instead of the first day of the month like most authors.
    • Be sure to use the giveaway widget on your blog, website and Facebook.
    • Add the book to your shelf.
    • Disregard the release date. Create buzz for your book as soon as possible.
    • For books in a series, it’s recommended to giveaway book #1 in the series and state that everyone will win the same book.
    • Goodreads does not recommend that you send thank you emails to people who have won your book in a giveaway.
    • 500-1000 reviews and recommendations are needed before the Goodreads rating algorithms will kick in.
    • Take advantage of the self-serve ads on Goodreads
    •  Target fans of the genre or similar authors
    • Giveaways with ads attract 58% more entries than giveaways without ads.

 Engage your fans

    • Join Goodreads groups  
    • Start your own group
    • Organize a group chat with 4-5 authors who write the same genre. Free form topics allow for broader discussion.
    • Use an iPhone app to send messages to group members
    • Create polls
      • This allows “lurkers” to participate

3.    Measuring Your Success

Track the number of people adding your book to their shelves.

Take advantage of the book statistics page. 

Miscellaneous notes:  

What are the top ten methods readers utilize to buy books? (Results from a Goodreads poll)

1. Known author

2. Goodreads recommendation

3. Recommendation from a friend

4. Browsing in a bookstore

5. Amazon

6. Library

7. Browsing on Goodreads

8. Newspapers

9. Author website

10. Radio, NPR (Who knew?), and television 

96% of readers read an author they already know. 

According to Goodreads studies, Twitter is dead last in new book discovery. Facebook is a more effective marketing tool.    

For those of you who aren’t on Goodreads, it’s a fantastic way to reach readers. And while I’ve got your attention, I’m going to shamelessly promote Romance University’s post on Marketing for Authors. Indie YA author, Jillian Dodd, uses Goodreads and social media to promote her books. Be sure to check out her post.

I’m always interested in what others are reading, so feel free to friend me on Goodreads!

Write On


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The handful of readers who follow my blog may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything since April. I have no excuses except life gets in the way. Sometimes, in a big way. Aside from pages of notes, I haven’t added any new pages to my current ms, but I am writing.


I write two to three letters a week to my friend Nan. She’s always been a faithful letter writer. Our correspondence began during summer breaks when we were in college. I remember looking forward to mail call when I spent the summer abroad in Taiwan. A newsy letter from Nan was something I could count on.

Three decades later, her missives are still arriving in my mailbox. I should point out that my friend is a stationery aficionado, so the numerous letters she sends me may only serve to justify her obsession to add to her ever-growing collection.

I’m obsessed with paper, too. I always note of the quality of cardboard shipping boxes that arrive on my doorstep, and I have a weird interest in food service paper and containers. (I will address that subject in a different post.) But as far as stationery, I’m partial to New Yorker cartoon cards, funny postcards and discounted card sets from Paper Source and Papyrus. 

Nan prefers the good stuff from venerable sources such as Mrs. John L. Strong, Smythson of Bond Street (paper purveyors to the Royal family), and Dempsey and Carroll. 

The clank of the mailbox flap next to my front door heralds the possibility of another letter. Among the bills, catalogs and junk mail, I search for an envelope of heavy, quality stock paper.

The envelope is like a carefully gift-wrapped package. The return address is never hand written, but denoted by a custom made stamp or label. Even the postage stamp is carefully chosen to match the style of the stationery. The envelope is almost always lined with tissue or paper. The notecards, either letter pressed or embossed, are filled with her familiar scrawl written with a fountain pen.

I know it’s easier to pick up the phone or fire off an email to someone. We live in an age where we maintain personal connections via Twitter and Facebook. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer snail mail. I appreciate that someone has taken the time to write me a letter, apply a stamp, and mail it when they could have easily fired off an email. Writing a letter is fast becoming a lost art.

Over the years, Nan has gifted me with notecard sets, Italian blotting papers, letter openers, and even a Waterman pen. While I am a grateful recipient of her generosity, it’s her letters I treasure most.

When was the last time you wrote a letter?

Dinner Theatre


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A couple years ago, my husband took me to a swanky restaurant in the City for my birthday. After the impeccably dressed host greeted us, we were whisked off to the dining room. The dining room manager pulled out my chair, unfolded my napkin, and placed it on my lap. Menus appeared. Another member of the waitstaff filled our water goblets.

The “bread girl” arrived. Her sole job throughout the evening was serving rolls with silver tongs. Our meal was as impressive as the service.

But apart from the restaurant’s much photographed interior and the carefully orchestrated service, I can’t remember what I had for dinner.

We have certain expectations when we walk into a restaurant. We expect to be treated well. We want good food and value for our money.

So you’ll wonder why I was saddened today when I heard that a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, with a reputation for cheap eats and rude service, was closing. After 100 years, Sam Wo Restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown will fire up the wok one last time this weekend.

Sam Wo is an institution. A destination for tourists and generations of Bay Area dwellers. Housed in a narrow (I mean narrow, like twelve feet wide), three story building, customers entered through the kitchen on the first floor. After navigating your way past the cook and kitchen helpers chopping vegetables, you’d hike up the stairs to the second or third floor to get a table.

Ambience? Zero. No white linen tablecloths here. Beat up stools and worn wooden tables line the dingy walls of the dining area. I suspect the tables date back before the war. (WWI)


I was a college student the first time I ate at Sam Wo. Upon arriving on the second floor, my friend and I were greeted by the restaurant’s infamous impressario Edsel Ford Fong. He pointed to a table and barked, “Sit down!” We sat.

He tossed a grimy menu, an order pad and a stubby pencil on the table, and told us to write up our order. We were too intimidated question him.

Edsel returned a few minutes later and scratched off all but two of the items we’d scribbled on the pad. “Too much food.” He laughed maniacally, handed me a teapot, and told me to pour tea. For the other diners.

I poured.

As I went from table to table refilling tea cups, I observed Edsel moving a startled couple, mid-meal, to another table with two strangers because he needed their table for a party of four. Is this guy for real?

Orders from the kitchen arrived in a dumbwaiter. My beef chow fun was delicious, with just the right wok char to meld the flavors. While we ate, we watched Edsel slam plates onto tables and blast diners for leaving paltry tips. He’d scowl and let loose a stream of Cantonese curse words. Some customers looked shell-shocked. Others seemed indifferent. They must have been regulars.

Arriving customers were treated with the same glaring disdain we’d experienced. Diners would have their plates whisked away before they were finished with their meals. More table switching. A new victim pouring tea.

I sat back and enjoyed the show. I guess you could call it bargain dinner theater.

As my friend and I were leaving, Edsel slung his arm around me and kissed my cheek. My shock was tempered by his friendly grin. I smiled back. Happy and full, I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about this place.

I’d never been treated so badly in a restaurant. And yet, it was one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever eaten.

By the time I paid another visit to Sam Wo, Edsel had passed away. Still, the restaurant remained a popular destination. Open until 3 a.m., it was the perfect spot for a late night snack. The same yellow walls greeted me in the shoebox-sized dining area. I’d order a noodle dish or have the jook (rice porridge) with sticks of yao jia gwei, a fried bread, which is one of my earliest taste memories. The food was good, but without Edsel, it didn’t feel the same.

I know I’m not the only one with fond memories of perfect chow fun and the man with a scowl…and a smile.

Do you have a favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant? A particularly memorable meal?

Been There Done That


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Sometimes, I question my ability to create believable characters from a different generation, especially those who are younger, like a twenty or thirty-something year-old.

I posed this question to my best friend. Nan rolled her eyes and said, “You can because we’ve been there. Done that.” 

Maybe she’s right.

I’ve been a kid. I remember the joy of riding without training wheels. Holding a sparkler in my hand on the Fourth of July. The magical tinkling of an ice cream truck. Years of skinned knees. I know how it feels to be bullied.

I’ve been a teenager. Babysat other people’s children. Fought with my mother. Got my driver’s license. Stayed up all night at slumber parties. I remember being invisible to boys I liked. 

I’ve been twenty and thirty. I’ve shopped til I dropped. Drank too much. Stayed out too late. I know how it feels to attend a wedding without a date. I’ve braved the barrage of well-intentioned questions about my love life. I’ve endured a few “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” evenings.

I’ve been on blind dates, bad dates, double dates and triple dates. I’ve had my share of good boyfriends, toads, and dabbled in that special “what the hell were you thinking?” category of men. I’ve waited by the phone. I’ve wondered if I’d ever find Mr. Right. (I did. Eventually. And I’m damn glad I waited.)

I recall the excitement of renting my first apartment. Buying my first piece of furniture. My first car. I’ve had jobs I hated, worried about money and eaten lots of Top Ramen.  

I have life-long friends and lost touch with others. I miss loved ones who are gone forever. I’ve had my heart broken. I’ve made bad decisions. I’ve learned the hard way more than I care to admit.

The world has changed since I was twenty-something. But many of the emotions I’ve experienced are timeless. Joy and pain. Love and loss. For hundreds of years, writers have used their own experiences to create characters. 

I’ve gained the wisdom that accompanies age. I’ve drawn from my experiences and used them in my stories. I can be ten or thirty again. Even if it’s only on paper.

Have your life’s experiences found their way onto a page?

The Knife


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I received a lovely letter the other day from a young Marine lieutenant thanking me for the packages of Girl Scout Cookies and coffee I sent to his unit in Afghanistan. Hearing from them makes me grin all day and puts things in perspective.

Later the same day, I received an email from my cousin Alec about an impromptu visit he had with a friend. I grew up with Alec and his four brothers. He taught me how to tie my shoes and shoot rubber bands.

We pay homage to our military in different ways. I send care packages. Alec wrote a touching essay that made me think of the thousands of veterans, each of whom have their own story to tell.

Alec has allowed me to share his email with you. It’s about his friend Dave and Dave’s friend, Herman, both of whom fought in Vietnam.

Kind of a salute to all war veterans through a first hand account or actually second. I guess as you get older, history affects you differently. I had to get this story out as it was fresh in my head.

Yesterday around 2:30 p.m., I was pretty much done with all I could fake that had anything to do with work, so I decided to drop by to see my buddy Dave at his shop. Dave is in his mid-sixties and perhaps the last of a breed that can still do blacksmith work the old-fashioned way. Every so often I get the opportunity to include his work into my jobs, and it always add a certain level of depth to the final product.

He was carrying on in his usual colorful, loud way about how the world is going to hell, the lack of good work, politics, etc. Of course he does tell me what he’s up to now and shows off the work in progress. As I was trying to leave, he started telling me about his neighbor and how he made some throwing knives for him. I told him I had friends that would have liked to have seen them. The conversation turned to knives which is when brought up his friend.

This story really isn’t so much about Dave or me but more about his friend. I will tell you a little about myself later.

Herman Lawrence Woods grew up in Florida with Dave. They did the same kind of crazy things I did when I was a teenager–double dated, worked on cars, you get the picture.

Dave, drafted in 1967, became a submariner who spent most his time covered in grease in the engine room. His view of the war differed from Herman’s, who was drafted a year later.

Herman eventually landed in the Army’s First Calvary division and rose to the rank of sergeant. Before I go any further, I wanted to mention that I did think about Googling his name to get some historical accounting, but then decided not to. These accounts are from Dave, who was Herman’s life-long friend. I didn’t want my research to influence my story so I’m just telling it pretty much from listening to Dave, who got it first hand from Herman.

By 1970 Herman was a well-known bad ass with years of combat experience. But he couldn’t move up in rank because he was a non-conformist and liked doing things his way. Rather than the standard Army issue, he carried a 357 Colt Python, a shotgun, and his knife of choice, The Randall. His duties were to find and clear out the enemy from tunnels and hidden posts, which is how they got the nickname Tunnel Rats. In Cambodia tunnels were more like trails of thick jungle undergrowth that had to be cut through. 

Herman’s platoon was out on patrol one day in Cambodia. Herman was on point, his usual spot. As he quietly worked his way through the jungle, he noticed what appeared to be an unnatural jungle canopy. Using the point of his shotgun, he slowly picked up the cover and saw a North Vietnamese soldier setting a trip wire at the entrance of the tunnel.

Herman instantly lowered the shotty and let loose, taking out the soldier but not before he was able to yank on the trip wire. The ensuing blast blew Herman straight up into a tree. Stuck in the tree with no legs, more North Vietnamese soldiers came flooding out of the tunnel. They shot him out of the tree. He hit the ground. His patrol started losing ground and was about to get run over until the air support they’d radioed in for showed up. When his platoon was able to get to Herman, he was shot up, blown up and bleeding to death. But still alive.

A routine Army patrol meant sending out patrols to shake out the enemy. Once you find them, you engage them and expose as much of them as possible. Then they call in the gun ships which would riddle the place to pieces and also provide cover for the medevacs that came in almost right behind.

It’s my guess that this procedure is what saved Herman because they were able to get him evacuated quickly. The base did not have the proper medical facilities for such an injury so they packed Herman into a bathtub full of ice and flew him to Japan where they patched him up best they could. He ended up losing one leg below the knee and one above the knee.

Now Dave and Herman really never saw or heard of each other since they were drafted until one day in 1982 right here in Petaluma when Dave walked into Dan’s Auto Parts and there of all people was Herman. He had been outfitted with two prosthetics and was able to get around pretty well. He had a car with hand controls and participated in the Wheel Chair Olympics.

Fast forward again to about 2008 or 2009. At this time I’ve known Dave for only about eight or nine years. I had just start hearing about his friend Herman who was now on the downhill slide. He had always been hard to get along with and at this point, had no one left to care for him.

Though Dave tried to help him and cheer him up, all he could do for the next six months was to watch his friend slowly will himself to death. During this time, I was only getting bits and pieces of the story because I was up to my ears with work and stress. But from what little I observed, Dave had the daunting task of helping with the funeral and cleaning up the years of stuff Herman had collected.

This brings me full circle to yesterday and why I’m telling you this story. One of the items left to Dave was Herman’s combat knife that he’d carried with him on every campaign.

The knife feels like about a pound and a half of heavy metal. If you look at the handle it has wire wrapped around it. I’m told this was used as trip wire. The little pocket on the sheath is for a sharpening stone. I’m also told that this knife had a lot of action, which kind of gave me the shivers as I held it. When you hold the handle and put it into the sheath it has the feel like it’s been through this routine many times.

After holding the knife for awhile, I suddenly felt the urge to write this down so I wouldn’t forget it. I got my camera and note pad, jotted down the notes and had Dave take this pic of me holding The Knife.

Not only is he a bad photographer, but I wish I wasn’t smiling so much.

I graduated from high school in 1972. Unlike most hippies, I dutifully went down and got my selective service card. Like every guy in my situation, I waited to see what my lotto number would be. For you kids out there, this wasn’t about winning money. All three of my other older brothers had lotto numbers in the 300’s and when I finally got mine it was 27. Here we go. Or not.

It might have been the election year or that the country just had enough of Vietnam, but that was the year when the draft ended. I started at the junior college down the street for the next three years. (Yep, three years.)

Dave also had an Army helmet that looked well used. He wanted me to put on so he could snap a pic. I didn’t feel like I deserve to wear it.

It’s been forty years since I registered for the draft. I’ve never had to pick up arms or fight other peoples’ wars. I’ve never had to lose a pound of flesh–or more. But I’ve been enjoying the freedom that some people are unable to understand.

Perhaps passing on the story of Herman’s hard-won life and his sacrifice is a small contribution to his memory.

If you’ve read this far, I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I did writing it.



The next time I see a veteran, I’ll think of Herman’s story.

A Lot of Lotto Fever


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As of ten minutes ago, the Lotto Mega Millions jackpot stood at $640 million dollars. People have spent in excess of $1.5 billion so far in hopes of owning that winning ticket.

It’s rather mind boggling if you think about it. Six numbers could change your life.

Years ago, I worked with a man who won $1 million on the Big Spin. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Charlie worked nights as a billing clerk. He had eight kids. After his televised appearance, he began getting calls from people he hadn’t heard from in years. No surprise there. The net amount of the winnings was enough for him to retire and put his kids through college.

In Taiwan, lottery numbers are printed on sales receipts. Drawings are held every two months. The Taiwanese government came up with this idea in order to keep retail outlets honest. Customers want a chance of winning the lottery so they’re likely to ask for a receipt. This means sales transactions stay on the books. 

I’m not really a gambler. I like to shoot craps whenever I’m in Las Vegas. (Craps has the best odds in the house.) I did buy five tickets. If I won, I wouldn’t want anyone to know, assuming I didn’t have a chest grabber and keel over upon hearing the news.

I’d pay off my family’s bills. Help friends in need. Make sure everyone I knew had health insurance. Travel. Money could change my life. But I’m pretty happy with the way things are. Money won’t turn back time. Money can’t bring back the loved ones I’ve lost. Money won’t make me a better writer. 

I’m a true believer in karma. If you don’t give back, karma will bite you in the ass. Money would give me the power to help others. And hopefully change their lives for the better.  

If you won, would you tell anyone? What would you do with your winnings? Would having so much money change your life?

Winner! Winner!


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No chicken dinner.

I’m late in announcing the winner of the “Finish the Sentence” contest from my guest post on Traci Bell’s blog. Many thanks to Traci for hosting me!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented. Howard was full of surprises!

The winner is…Diana Murdock! Diana, email me your snail mail addy so I can mail off your prizes! jentan888@aol.com

Wait! There’s more…

My friend and fellow Romance University blogger Kelsey Browning is holding her monthly Cracker Jack writing prompt contest over at her Straight Up, a Little Twisted blog.

Rhona stared at the grave mounded with fresh dirt. Was it true only the good died young?

Here’s your chance to write with abandon, push the boundaries and break all the rules. Head on over there and give it a go. I know Kelsey will give you a big Texas welcome.

How Do You Keep Yourself Motivated?


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Good morning!

Please help me in welcoming my first guest, fellow blogger and paranormal romance author Traci Bell. Traci was gracious enough to host me on her blog on Monday as part of a blog hop we’re doing with our social networking class.

Traci’s going to talk about a topic that speaks to both writers and non-writers.


First, I’d like to thank Jen for having me on her blog today.  I must admit that reading her blog, she’s forced me to put Downton Abbey on my list of television shows to watch.

My list of shows to watch and books to read grows faster than I can keep up with it.  I’m currently reading Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink.  Drawing on four decades of scientific research, Pink claims that “humans have an inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise their capacities, to explore and to learn.”

Pink tells the story of how Mike Cannon-Brookes, the founder of a successful Australian software company named Atlassian, came up with an idea to ensure his programmers had fun at work.  He gave them permission to spend a day working on any problem they wanted, even if it wasn’t part of their regular job.  The day of freedom gave birth to several ideas for new products, as well as repairs and patches on existing ones.  It was so successful, Cannon-Brookes made the practice a permanent part of Atlassian culture.

Ever used a Post-It note?  The sticky little note pads most people can’t live without at work were created out of the fifteen percent time 3M’s Chairman William McKnight told employees they could spend on projects of their choosing.

Now I don’t know about you, but the organization I work for isn’t that in tune with motivating employees, which means I only have the choice for where to spend my free time.

And where do I spend it?  Writing.

I love to write.  The world falls away when I write, and I swear time speeds up.  So why is it so hard on some days to motivate myself to do what I love?  There are days that after taking care of my family and working full-time, I need motivation to write, simply because I’m so tired.

Pink has several suggestions for how individuals can motivate themselves.  Some of the ways are:

  • Ask yourself at the end of every day whether you were better today than yesterday.  The act of looking at small measures on a daily basis will ensure that by day three thousand, you’ll be closer to mastery.
  • Make a ‘to don’t’ list.  Do you have trouble spending time on your passion because you’re too busy taking care of other things?  Make a ‘to don’t’ list at the same time you make a ‘to do’ list.  A ‘to don’t’ list can help you identify the things you want to stop wasting your time and energy on, so you can better spend them on your passion.
  • Create your own motivational posters.  This idea is fun.  The websites http://bighugelabs.com/motivator.php and http://wigflip.com/automotivator allow you to create your own motivational posters.  You can be as silly or as serious as you want.  Only you know what words or images have meaning for you.

I’m about four to six thousand words away from the end of my current work in progress, and I’m struggling to finish it.  I find what works best for me is to push through whatever I’m struggling with.  For example, if I’m exhausted, I move my focus from how tired I am, how heavy my feet are, and how much my head hurts, to concentrate on just doing it.  Even if I only get one hundred words on paper, it puts me one hundred words closer to my goal of finishing my work in progress.

And I’m currently brainstorming what to put on my own motivational poster.

So what passion do you follow during your free time?  How do you motivate yourself to do it when the daily grind wears you down?


Traci’s first book, ENTANGLED, is available in paperback and Kindle formats.

Alexos de Werner, exiled prince of a land now under Republican rule, is searching for the woman that can help stop the disasters devastating his home province of Ennis, in his world of Caedmon.

Alex will do anything to save his people, even if they don’t want his help.

Unnerved by the connection she feels with Alex and the new abilities awakening inside her, Cassie refuses Alex’s request for help as ludicrous. A demonstration of his otherworldly abilities convinces Cassie her only choice is to help him.

Once on Caedmon, Cassie must learn to trust Alex and accept her gift before Ennis is lost. Can she open her heart and mind and become the student instead of the teacher?

You can contact Traci via her website:  http://tracibell.net/

Why I Like Pinterest


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Yesterday, my husband noticed an ink spot on our new sofa. The next words out of his mouth were “It wasn’t me!” Ha. Five minutes later, he’d cleaned the spot by gently blotting it with a damp paper towel, a method he said he’d learned from the movie American Gangster.

I was dumbfounded because he never cleans anything, yet he remembers a scene from an action movie about spot cleaning carpets?

Okay, so he gleans his cleaning tips from a mob flick. I get some of mine from Pinterest.

I’m a Pinterest newbie, but when I log onto my account, I can usually tell who’s been busy pinning without checking the pinner’s name.

Japanese food and books-Larissa. Scottish Terriers and French Country-Pat. Sparkly nail polish, tea sets, and thatched cottages-Becke. Stilettos-Angela. Cats and anything orange-Carrie.

Like many Pinterest devotees, I’ve discovered the site is useful in many ways.

1. Pinterest has great cleaning tips. Who knew there were so many uses for a coffee filters and dryer sheets? I learned how to remove the cap from a Swiffer bottle and refill it with the cleaning solution of my choice. I run a seam ripper along the roll bar of my vacuum cleaner to clear the carpet fibers and hairs. I’ve been using Dawn dishwashing detergent to treat grease stains on clothes for years. But it’s much more effective if you mix it with hydrogen peroxide. Shazam! Stain gone! All tips from Pinterest.

2. Pinterest saves me from tearing out pictures from magazines and bookmarking stuff I see on-line. I can pin pics of interiors, fabric swatches and furnishings on my Habitat board that will help me re-do the upstairs bedrooms. The front garden is a mess. I’ve pinned some ideas I want to run by the landscaper under Gardening.

3. Pinterest is like owning a virtual closet. I love clothes, shoes and handbags. I’ve followed my favorite department stores and fashion designers. It’s my idea of Fantasy Land.

4. Pinterest helps me plan menus for dinner and gives me great ideas for entertaining. I made the crock pot cheesecake and the mushroom and onion grilled cheese, both recipes I found on Pinterest. And as soon as I get a new oven installed, I’m going to make that coconut lime cake. (Thanks, Marcia!) It’s also very convenient to have recipes with pictures and in one central location. Bon Appetit Magazine is on Pinterest!

5. Pinterest allows me to connect with others who share my interests. I never knew there were so many vintage typewriter geeks, lovers of Mid-Century modern furniture and fans of vintage posters.

6. Pinterest is a handy tool for story boards. I’ve got two boards for both of my books. New York, London, an abacus and a child’s pink stuffed dinosaur all play a part in my stories.

7. Pinterest IS social media. I’ve linked my blog posts to a board. If you’re a published author, create a board for your books. Pinners are prospective readers!

8. Pinterest is inspiring and creative. It doesn’t require a lot of effort. I think that’s why I like it so much. I don’t need to write a witty one-liner for each image I pin. The images speak for themselves.

Yes, Pinterest can be addicting. But everything in moderation, right?

My fellow blogger Marcia Richards wrote an informative post about Pinterest on her blog.

Sixteen Reasons Pinterest is Worth Your Time

And here’s two more blogs about Pinterest that might interest you.

Six Lessons for Pinterest

Ten Tips for Authors Using Pinterest

Are you resisiting the Pinterest craze or are you already madly pinning? I’d be glad to send you an invite! Feel free to follow me.

My fellow WANA blogger author Traci Bell is hosting me on her blog today. Drop by and complete my sentence for a chance to win something sweet.