You Do NOT Have To Write A Review

I swear it’s almost gotten to the point where you wake to an alarm, and after you quiet the alarm it shows a message asking you to write a review of it. (And if there are alarms that actually do that? Please don’t tell me about them. I think it would finally drive me smack over the edge.) Can’t do anything these days without the product’s manufacturer pestering you to write a review. And, brother, authors are some of the worst offenders. But I’m gonna break the mold here by telling you that you do NOT have to write a review of my books. Ever.

Juli Page Morgan - You do NOT have to write a review

It all started with Amazon. (Doesn’t everything?)

When it started they invited consumers to leave reviews of the products they’d purchased. And in the beginning all those products were books. A lot of consumers were delighted with this because it was the first time they could truly recount their experience with a product and be heard. Amazon played it up, too, by sending emails reminding people to rate the product they’d bought. They made it appear they paid attention to reviews when what they actually pay attention to is how many times someone clicks onto their website. They’ve got a lovely layout, so when you visit Amazon, particularly if it’s for something you’ve bought already, you’ll probably find images of things that make you want to buy them, too. Those peeps at Amazon aren’t fools. They know how to market, and they know how to get people to click on their website and products. And pandering for reviews is one way to do it.

It didn’t take long for authors to jump onto the review train. Someone somewhere started a rumor that if a book had a large number of reviews Amazon would market that book in its emails to customers. I don’t know if that was ever true, then or now, but I’ve seen indie books with thousands of reviews get no attention from the ‘Zon at all, so there’s that. Again, Amazon isn’t run by fools. They market the big names and the authors who publish A) with them exclusively, like with Kindle Unlimited or Kindle Select or B) publish with Amazon itself through one of its imprints. What, you didn’t know about those? Not many people do. But Amazon runs a large publishing company of its own with fourteen or so imprints like Lake Union, Montlake, and Thomas & Mercer. Stands to reason that they’d push their own books instead of indie authors, no matter how many reviews they have. After all, Amazon is a business. They’re in it to make money.

Then the book newsletters saw a golden opportunity to increase their own standard of living, so they offered authors a chance to advertise reduced-price or free books in their newsletters for a small fee. Can’t blame them. Again, it’s a business. They aren’t working for free. Didn’t take long before they were swamped with requests, so they raised the fee, and raised the fee, and raised the fee. Still, authors were desperate to get their books in front of potential readers, and ponied up hundreds of dollars for one day’s mention in one of those newsletters. (Yes, I said hundreds of dollars, anywhere from $400 to $1,800 for one listing, depending on the book’s price. Of course, two to three million people will be sent the newsletter, and you could realistically sell 2,000 books. Of course, if the book is free, or priced at 99¢ you’ll lose money. Even if a reader bothers to look up your regularly priced books and maybe buy one.) So the newsletters decided to require a certain number of reviews before a book could be listed. Some book bloggers, who are inundated every day with hundreds of  review requests and who are working for free, also started requiring certain numbers of reviews on Amazon before they’d agree to read a book. And, boom! Authors started pestering their readers.

Juli Page Morgan - You do NOT have to write a review

Actual photo of readers digging for words with which to write a review.

Lord, it’s everywhere.

Facebook posts that range from embarrassed pleading: “Would you consider leaving a review? Here’s a link.” to outright guilting readers into it: “My book will never be seen by anyone else unless you all leave a review!” Memes started to crop up about the “care and feeding” of authors that included writing a book review as essential to the author’s continued existence. Then the links appeared in the back of the books. “Thanks for reading. Won’t you consider leaving a review?” And, yes, that’s right smack-dab at the end of each of my books, too. I own it.

But so many reviews have stopped being actual reviews. A reader gets pissed at the author for his or her political leanings and leaves a one-star review on a book. A reader buys the book and leaves a one-star review that reads, “Just bought it. Haven’t read it yet.” Another author gets miffed because a book blogger gave her book three stars (which is still good!) but the author is furious because it’s not five, so she rallies her street team to attack the review sections of an author the book blogger really, really likes, and the street teams run out and leave one-stars on all the innocent authors books, books they’ve never read. Or a reader emails an author and says, “I really loved this book. I’d like to read the rest of your books, but I can’t afford to buy them all, so from now on you need to make all your books free,” and when the author shares this (without naming names) as a What-The-Actual-Hell moment, the reader (who has apparently never heard of a library) starts a flame war and one-stars all the author’s books and gathers a bunch of other trolls to help her because the author won’t give away all her books for free. Every one of these things has happened, and within the past three months. We won’t even get into unscrupulous and/or desperate authors who sink so low as to pay for fake reviews.

And regular readers? Those who don’t read two or three books a day? The ones who buy a book with lots of thought beforehand and take a week or so to get through it? Those readers? They’re being pestered to work for it now by writing a freakin’ review that, frankly, doesn’t mean much today.

Juli Page Morgan - You do NOT have to write a review

Son of a bitch. It ain’t worth it.

So guess what? You don’t have to write a review when you read my books. You don’t have to feel guilty for not writing a review. I do not expect you to write one, and I will not mind one teensy-tiny bit if you don’t. I promise. When you read one of my books all I want you to do is enjoy it. Then when you’ve finished, put it aside and read something else. (It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if it was another of my books, but, you know. 😉 ) This isn’t Mrs. Waldon’s 10th Grade Literature class, and you do not, nor will you ever, owe me a book report/review. You don’t owe me anything, my dear readers! Reading should never feel like it comes with strings.

Juli Page Morgan - You do NOT have to write a review

Now, am I going to leave those links at the back of my books? Yep. Not because I expect a review, but just for the convenience of those so inclined. I truly appreciate every review my books have, because I know people wrote them because they wanted to. And, too, I’m afraid I’ll get thrown out of the I’m-An-Author Group if I take them out. So just ignore them. That’s the beauty of those links — you can scroll right past ’em.

And scroll away, because remember: You do NOT have to write a review!

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Be sure to sign up for my newsletter and be the first to know when a new Romance that Rocks comes out or if there’s something special going on. You’ll get a FREE e-book of my bestselling Song Without Words just for signing up! Your email address will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Plus, there are special giveaways of books and/or swag that are only available to newsletter subscribers!

You can also follow my blog by email. You’ll get a notification in your inbox whenever a new post is ready. And, as always, you can unsubscribe at any time. The subscribe button’s right over there to the right somewhere.

 

 

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Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

I really didn’t intend to give you an earworm this morning, but Sly Stone said it best and who am I to mess with perfection? Although, just between us? My favorite song by Sly and the group has always been “Family Affair,” but it just didn’t work as the title of today’s blog post. Again, not gonna mess with perfection. And I wanna say Thank You. You know, for lettin’ me be myself. Again.

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Sly and the Family Stone. Yep, people used to dress like that. Still do.

Why am I thanking you for letting me be myself again?

Well, mainly because those of you who follow me on Facebook didn’t A) unfriend me, B) come to my house with baseball bats, or C) call the men in the white coats when I dipped my toe my whole foot into responding to political and/or societal posts with my own opinion, no matter who I pissed off in the process.

See, when Crimson and Clover was first published in 2013 I read lots and lots of advice from people who know what they’re talking about that authors should not talk about and/or engage in discussions about hot-button topics, including politics, religion, and the like. It was pretty good advice, because who the hell wants the political opinion of a romance author? If I wrote a political column for a newspaper or magazine or something? Well, yeah, then people would expect me to spout off. But all the people who know about this stuff said it’s a bad idea to even hint at that kind of stuff if you don’t write about it because you’re bound to piss off readers. Some authors got all huffy and said they felt it was their “duty” to write blog posts about politics, et al., because they thought they had “a voice” to “effect change.” They may have been authors of how to arrange flowers, but they really thought their readers would hang on their opinions on the political topics making headlines.

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Yeah, that’s what I thought, too. So I kept my mouth shut. Tight. I did not want to be those people.

However.

After three years of stifling myself and restraining myself from making any comment whatsoever about the hateful shit going down in the world today, I snapped. I started by responding in comment threads. Hey, if I was going down the rabbit hole I was going to make sure it was the express hole to hell, right? Got into some down and dirty fights with other trolls, too. Yes, I said other trolls, because I was just as mean and awful as they were. Except I could spell. (Sorry. Not sorry.) I then graduated to posting inflammatory things on my Facebook newsfeed and sharing posts I knew would make everyone who didn’t think exactly like me either hurt or raging mad. And it felt so good. At first.

Yes, at first it felt good to finally let go, to stop holding everything in, to pretend that I was dancing through life without letting any of this bother me, even when other authors who I follow and/or am friends with on Facebook posted snarky, passive-aggressive things that subtly called me (well, people who think and believe as I do) a moron, a fool, an idiot, wrong about everything and everyone. And I wanted to strike back. Take that! And that! You’re the idiot. You’re the fool! You are so, so, so wrong about everything. Let me laugh at you now. Not so smug now, are you? But then it hit me one day.

What was the use? 

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Their hateful memes with quotes from Samantha Bee or Joy Behar or other talk show hosts hadn’t changed my mind at all. It just made me think less of those who posted them (and also made me wonder why they were getting all their political views from “talk show” hosts, but I digress. And I also couldn’t help but get in one last shot. Again, sorry. Not sorry.) So it stood to reason that my posts weren’t changing their minds, either, even though they came from people who actually knew the laws. (Sorry. See? Politics. Bad to talk about. We should just do our talking at the polls.) Besides, though it felt freeing in the beginning to finally let loose, now it was just making me mad all the time. While I felt hurt and insulted by the things others posted before, once I started responding in kind I felt personally attacked by them. I was turning into one of them — one of those people who think everything they see is about them! No!

So I’ve dialed it way, way back. I started by unfollowing a crap ton of people on Facebook. I hated to do that, because I genuinely like every one of them. But their passive aggressive crap was making me feel bad all the time. Maybe after the election I’ll see about following them again. Plus, I’ve hidden all posts from a lot of source posts I see from people I didn’t unfollow. Some are things with which I don’t agree, but not all of them. The majority of these things are political opinions with which I agree, but they’re still couched so hatefully that they made me feel bad, like they left a light coating of anger over my whole newsfeed. It’s made for a much lighter newsfeed, both in content and in tone, and I feel a whole lot better, this time in a good way.

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Does this mean I’m going back to the hide and stifle routine? Nope. Look, if a reader decides to not read my really good books just because I’m a conservative who votes Republican 99% of the time and owns firearms, then their loss. Myself, I think that’s a petty reason to not read an author, but hey, whatever floats anyone’s personal boat. Ain’t no politics in my books, but that’s their prerogative. No skin off my nose. Ouch to my bank account, I’m not gonna lie, but oh, well.

No, I’m not hiding anymore. I am who I am, and I think what I think, and I believe what I believe, and I think you should do the same. We just don’t need to beat each other over the head with it. But before I completely shut up, there are a few things that have bugged me, and I’d love to get them off my chest. Indulge me for a minute, would you?

Am I the only one who

  • didn’t think the lady in the Chewbacca mask was drop-dead hilarious? I watched about a minute and a half of the video and thought it was mildly amusing, but then she got on my nerves and I hit “stop,” but then everyone was sharing it and talking about how “cute” she was, and I was all, WTF?
  • doesn’t care all that much for Betty White? I liked her in The Golden Girls, but now she seems to just be a coarse broad with no class. JMHO, y’all.
  • doesn’t think the guy on the Got Talent (or whatever it’s called) show who did the cover of “Somebody to Love” was very good? Everyone was posting the video and gushing over his performance, and so I watched it and thought, “Meh. I’ve seen intoxicated people do a better job of it on karaoke night.”

Am I the only one who felt that way?

Okay, done. Just a few things I held in because I was all bewildered that everyone’s reaction to these things was so opposite my own. I was afraid to say anything contrary because people were freakin’ passionate about that stuff, especially that Chewbacca lady.

So thank you. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin). 😉

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Be sure to sign up for my newsletter and be the first to know when a new Romance that Rocks comes out or if there’s something special going on. You’ll get a FREE e-book of my bestselling Song Without Words just for signing up! Your email address will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Plus, there are special giveaways of books and/or swag that are only available to newsletter subscribers!

You can also follow my blog by email. You’ll get a notification in your inbox whenever a new post is ready. And, as always, you can unsubscribe at any time. The subscribe button’s right over there to the right somewhere.

 

 

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13 O’Clock Is A Strange Place

13 O'Clock - Juli Page MorganI can hear you. “13 O’Clock is a place? Shouldn’t it be a time?” You’d think, wouldn’t you? But no, 13 O’Clock is a place. In fact, 13 O’Clock is a strange place. I was there for a while, and though I’m glad to be out, there were some things that, strangeness aside, were quite comforting.

 

It’s quiet in (or at) 13 O’Clock.

That’s the main thing I liked. The quiet. I went to 13 O’Clock because I needed that quiet. I chose isolation for self-care, and it helped immensely. Of course, like anything else, it got to be too much, and too much of anything isn’t good. The quiet started to hurt my ears, and it hurt my brain because my characters had stopped talking. I missed hearing them play out their stories so I could write them down. And I missed hearing real live voices, too; missed the exchange of ideas and jokes and sympathies and love and irritation and everything else that makes human interaction so enjoyable.

Another thing in (or at) 13 O’Clock was that not a lot was expected of me.

That may sound like a huge excuse to be lazy and not produce, but it’s really relief that the pressure to do stuff didn’t actually crush me. Believe me, I was in crush mode before I slipped into 13 O’Clock.

While 13 O’Clock is a strange place, the strangest part of it is the way you can look out and honestly feel you’re back in the real world, moving at real time, when in fact you’re still cocooned in the quiet, non-pressure atmosphere. I think that’s how 13 O’Clock becomes so comfortable. You think you’re moving, but you’re standing still.

depression 2But I’ve pulled myself from that warm nest and have rejoined the rest of the world. My friends have been amazing in letting me isolate until I finally, finally felt ready to come back. In fact, one friend, after emailing to ask what was up with me, told me (after I explained the situation) to take my time and to contact her again when I could. That was so precious to me. She didn’t need to know much, just that I was okay, and then she generously and graciously stepped back. That’s what people who self-isolate need. They need to be left pretty much alone for as long as it takes.

Now that I’ve shaken the dust of 13 O’Clock from my heels, I’ve opened files and started writing. I have to tell you, though, that Heart of Gold, the wrap up to Rhys and Rhett’s story, is going to be delayed a while. There are three other books that want to be written more than Heart of Gold does, and I’m going to write them. See, one of the things I remembered during my sojourn is that I’m my own boss. As such, I set my own schedule, make my own production decisions, and write what I want when I want. It’s one of the reasons I left traditional publishing and went indie. I’d forgotten that, and taking it back is such a relief! So I’m going to joyfully dive into those two other Illicit novels and the third book waiting to be written that doesn’t yet have a name, but does have some kickass characters and a fantastic story!

This doesn’t mean Heart of Gold has been shelved indefinitely. Shoot, once I get going I may decide one day in the next month or two to jump in and finish it. Now that I’m no longer sequestered in 13 O’Clock I can do anything I want.

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Be sure to sign up for my newsletter and be the first to know when a new Romance that Rocks comes out or if there’s something special going on. You’ll get a FREE e-book of my bestselling Song Without Words just for signing up! Your email address will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Plus, there are special giveaways of books and/or swag that are only available to newsletter subscribers!

You can also follow my blog by email. You’ll get a notification in your inbox whenever a new post is ready. And, as always, you can unsubscribe at any time. The subscribe button’s right over there to the right somewhere

 

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Is Anyone Paying Attention Anymore?

In case you missed my post last week, I’ve recently quit smoking and am indulging a side of me that rarely makes an online appearance—my bitchy, gripe-about-what’s-bugging-me side. Today I’d like to bitch about address the current trend of no one paying attention anymore.

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Is it the internet that’s sucking out our attention spans? Is it some sort of death ray from a cloaked alien spaceship? Is it the preoccupation with eating kale? (I vote kale, just in case you’re curious. That stuff is disgusting enough to render anyone senseless.) Because something is causing too many people to just go jumping to conclusions in a single bound and then get all up in arms with other people about it. Here, let me cite a few examples.

My local television meteorologist is really rather good as weathermen go. He gets it right about 99% of the time, and he’s always really good about informing people in this area when the weather is about to change or do something interesting. A couple of weeks ago we were in for some wintry precipitation. We don’t do well with that stuff around here, and any mention of it gets everyone’s ears perked up. Our weather dude was quite precise with his forecast, telling us that yes, we’d get some ice and sleet with some areas seeing some snow, but nothing would be overwhelming and the temps would rise in the following couple of days and it would all be over. He even has this tongue-in-cheek thing called The Panic-o-meter with levels like “Social Media Chatter,” “Get Milk & Bread,” “Bring Out Sleds” and, of course, “PANIC!” During the wintry forecasts he kept this hovering just a bit above “Get Milk & Bread.” We got our sleet, some ice, and a few towns even saw snow. In two days it was gone, melted. But there were people waving pitchforks and torches and claiming the weather dude had predicted a winter armageddon. One chick posted a rant on his Facebook page in which she stated that his forecast had caused her to blow her budget and purchase two weeks of groceries instead of just one, and now she couldn’t pay her bills.

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No, what caused her to blow her budget was the fact that she didn’t pay attention. She heard wintry precipitation and listened no further and she panicked. She was an idiot, but she blamed the weather dude instead of admitting her head was up her ass (or glued to her phone, more likely) instead of tending to business.

Here’s another example. One of the writing blogs I follow had a recent post that took exception to an article in a large daily newspaper that said Amazon was just a terrible place to buy books, and that had led to a resurgence of used bookstores. The writing blog quite correctly pointed out that used books can only come from new books, and authors shouldn’t be gleefully praising this newspaper article because they were, in effect, telling their readers not to buy their books and therefore depriving themselves of royalties, also known as “income we use to live on.” (You sure didn’t see me praising that article. Amazon is the only place you can get a paper copy of my books, so I don’t think it’s a terrible place at all. Especially since it’s currently impossible to sell used e-books. But I digress.) Another blogger skimmed over the writing blog post and proceeded to write and post that the writing blog advocated authors get paid royalties for used books. The original writing blog author pointed out that she’d never said any such thing, and the second blogger was all, “Oh. Okay. But I totally inferred it.” Which was a bunch of horse hockey which meant she never read the first blog, just skimmed it, because there was nothing in it which would cause her to “infer” anything of the sort. And all hell then broke loose. (And no, you won’t see me mentioning the names of either blog here, because that second one’s regular readers were those unctuous sorts of people who swan around acting like they’re so intellectual and knowledgeable about all subjects ever (even if they can’t be bothered to do more than skim an article before they write and post an entire blog about it) and I don’t like them and don’t want them over here. Dig?)

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Both of these examples got my dander up because the brouhahas that resulted could have been avoided if the grocery buying chick and the second blogger had just paid attention in the first place.

So let’s make a resolution, shall we? I know we’re past the New Year and all, so let’s do a Leap Year Resolution. That’ll work. Let’s all resolve to stop skimming, stop listening with half an ear, stop dividing our attention between what’s going on in front of us and what’s being gossiped about on our phone’s screen, and pay attention! Let’s do that, okay? Then we won’t miss important information, or misread something that has to do with our jobs and our livelihoods. Let’s pay attention, shall we?

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Heart of Gold, the sequel to Sister Golden Hair, is now available for pre-order at select retailers! Reserve your copy today for just 99¢. You’ll find the buy links and a bit more about the book on my Heart of Gold page.

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter and be the first to know when a new Romance that Rocks comes out or if there’s something special going on. You’ll get a FREE e-book of my bestselling Song Without Words just for signing up! Your email address will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Plus, there are special giveaways of books and/or swag that are only available to newsletter subscribers!

You can also follow my blog by email. You’ll get a notification in your inbox whenever a new post is ready. And, as always, you can unsubscribe at any time. The subscribe button’s right over there to the right somewhere.

 

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I Quit Smoking, and Man! I’m Pissed Off!

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After my older brother died suddenly of a heart attack two days before Thanksgiving, my nieces joined up with my daughters and ganged up on me en masse about my smoking. I knew I needed to quit for my health, and I needed to quit so my husband (who has been a heavy smoker since he was a teenager) would also quit. My daughters had been begging me for years to stop, and when their cousins joined them, the pressure (not to mention five pairs of sad eyes) got to me and I gave in. I quit. It’s been a month since I quit smoking, and man! I’m pissed off! That’s not what you usually hear non-smokers say, but right now it’s how I feel.

I quit smoking quite a few years ago, and it didn’t bother me a bit. I decided one day I didn’t want to smoke anymore, so I put down the cigarettes. Never craved one, never missed it, never had a problem. I was a non-smoker for about ten years until an upheaval in my personal life sent me running for my husband’s cigarettes. The thing is, the time I quit before was because I really wanted to. I just didn’t want to smoke anymore. This time? Though I did kind of want to quit, at the same time I didn’t. And I miss it. Oh, how I miss it.

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It’s not the nicotine I miss. Most, if not all, of it is gone from my system. It’s the smoking itself I miss. I miss the relaxation of lighting up with my first cup of coffee each morning. I miss the breaks during the day where I’d sit and smoke and think about where my story is going. I miss topping off a meal with a nice, leisurely cigarette. And not having those is having a profound effect on my personality.

Even worse? I don’t feel better. You know how everyone says, “Oh, you’ll feel so much better if you quit smoking!” Yeah, but when? I know it’ll take a while for my body to adapt, but it’s a right pain in the ass to give up my pacifier and not get any immediate good effects. And before anyone says anything smart about how whiny I’m being, let me remind you that I’m only a month into being a non-smoker.

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Look, I know I’ve made a smart, healthy decision, one that very well may add lots of nice years to my life. And to my husband’s, because he’s quit smoking, too, God love him. It’s been even harder for him than me, but he’s hanging in there. He doesn’t seem to be as homicidal as me, but then again, he’s always been the calm one. 😉

I’ll get through it eventually, but right now it’s no walk in the park. So if I’m extra-bitchy for a while, you’ll know why.

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Heart of Gold, the sequel to Sister Golden Hair, is now available for pre-order at select retailers! Reserve your copy today for just 99¢. You’ll find the buy links and a bit more about the book on my Heart of Gold page.

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter and be the first to know when a new Romance that Rocks comes out or if there’s something special going on. You’ll get a FREE e-book of my bestselling Song Without Words just for signing up! Your email address will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Plus, there are special giveaways of books and/or swag that are only available to newsletter subscribers!

You can also follow my blog by email. You’ll get a notification in your inbox whenever a new post is ready. And, as always, you can unsubscribe at any time. The subscribe button’s right over there to the right somewhere.

 

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Apparently I’m Super-Mega-Awesome Woman!

Heard of the newest trend? The Underboob Challenge? It even has its own hashtag, but I won’t use it. No sense in giving this thing more traction. It started in Japan, and is now spreading across the globe. Its premise is that if you’re able to hold a pen under your boobs then that means you’re a “real woman.” Uh-huh. Well, Mother Nature gave me a heapin’ helpin’ of boobage so losing holding a pen under them is no problem. Hell, a pen is no challenge for me; I can probably fit an entire office supply store under there, so apparently that makes me Super-Mega-Awesome Woman!

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Of course it doesn’t. There are guys who have larger boobs than me, and being able to hold a pen with them doesn’t make them women of any kind. There are women whose boobs aren’t large enough to require a bra, but the fact that those boobs won’t hold a pen doesn’t mean these aren’t real women. And what about breast cancer survivors who have had mastectomies? Their courage and determination make them much more real women than anyone who can hold a pen with their boobs.

And who came up with this, anyway? Boobs aren’t meant to hold anything. They’re there to nourish babies and drive men crazy. That’s it. No, this “challenge” is nothing more than yet another way girls are trying to feel better about themselves by making other girls feel awful. Probably someone who doesn’t have a “thigh gap” started it. She was told if her legs meet in the middle (which 99.99999% of legs do) then she is fat, and therefore worthless. So she looked at her average-sized boobs, found out they’d hold a pen, and then proclaimed that only “real women” had that ability. Make other girls, those with smaller chests, feel awful just so she could feel “real.”

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So now Instagram and Snapchat and those other apps I don’t know about and am too old to give a rat’s ass about are full of photos of the bottoms of the breasts of idiot girls with ink pens snuggled up under there. There are insecure girls who look at them and feel bad because their boobs won’t do what boobs aren’t meant to do anyway. But most of the photos are being ogled by men who don’t even notice the pens. (Seriously, boobs should just be detachable, right? That way you could pop ’em off and throw them to your man. “Here, play with these for a while. I’m trying to read over here.”)

Yes, it would be nice if women would feel good about themselves without tearing down other women to make that happen. But girls aren’t going to do that as long as they believe and/or start these “Because-My-Body-Does-This-And-Yours-Won’t-Then-That-Makes-Me-Better-Nanny-Nanny-Boo-Boo!” challenges, like the Thigh Gap Challenge, or the Reach Around and Touch Your Belly-Button Challenge, or Hold An Egg with Your Collarbone Challenge, or the Underboob Challenge.

I don’t have the answer. I don’t know—maybe women are just wired that way. We’ve been doing awful crap like this to each other since the dawn of time, and now with the internet we can do it faster and in larger numbers.

But I don’t believe these girls who can fit a pen under their boobs really believe that makes them “real” women. After all, if they did believe that then they’d believe I really am Super-Mega-Awesome Woman.

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Heart of Gold, the sequel to Sister Golden Hair, is now available for pre-order at select retailers! Reserve your copy today for just 99¢. You’ll find the buy links and a bit more about the book on my Heart of Gold page.

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter and be the first to know when a new Romance that Rocks comes out or if there’s something special going on. You’ll get a FREE e-book of my bestselling Song Without Words just for signing up! Your email address will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Plus, there are special giveaways of books and/or swag that are only available to newsletter subscribers!

You can also follow my blog by email. You’ll get a notification in your inbox whenever a new post is ready. And, as always, you can unsubscribe at any time. The subscribe button’s right over there to the right somewhere.

 

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Rock Fiction Primer, Part One: The Tour Bus

This is Part One of a series I’ve entitled Rock Fiction Primer. I’ve read some head-clutchingly inaccurate descriptions of some of the basics of the world of rock ‘n roll, so I thought I’d give you a peek at what some of it’s really like. I’ll be covering the tour bus, custom jets, backstage, the itinerary, and the crew. If there are any subjects about rock bands (on tour or not) you’d like to know more about, just shout out in the comments.

Ah, the mythical rock band tour bus. I decided to begin the series with it since the majority of the inaccuracies I’ve seen in rock fiction have to do with the bus. For some reason it’s often described as a much more spacious area than it really is, with ample room to stretch out, rehearsal rooms in the back, bathtubs, and hanky-panky going on in the sleeping berths. In reality, tour buses are cramped, they often don’t smell that great, and as for that bathtub? On a real tour bus you’d better not use more than a cup of water for anything or you’ll have your head ripped off and thrown out the door onto the highway.

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After a moment, the car came to a halt beside a row of three identical buses. Well, Rhett supposed “bus” was a good enough term, but to her they looked more like enormous RVs. Painted a deep, iridescent purple, they had swirling designs of electric blue along their sides and front. Rhett was a little surprised that there was nothing on them to indicate they were Illicit’s mode of transportation, but she kept her mouth shut. Even though she was sure she was going to end up looking like a fool before the evening was over, she didn’t want to speak up and remove all doubt. — From “Sister Golden Hair,” ©2014 by Juli Page Morgan, All Rights Reserved Carey On Publishing LLC

Though the outside of most tour buses are fairly fancy (the photo above is what I used for the band’s buses in my Illicit novels; I just changed the colors), nine times out of ten you won’t find anything to identify who’s inside. True, some bands do feel the need to advertise their presence, but most of them would rather go unrecognized. After all, these buses are big and fancy enough. You see two of three of them rolling in tandem down the highway and you know there’s someone famous on board.

A solo artist will travel with the least amount of vehicles. He or she will have one bus, usually to themselves, or maybe with their head of security along, or their family if they’re mean enough to torture the ones they love by making them live on a tour bus. A second bus will be for wardrobe and makeup people, lighting techs, and instrument techs. A band will usually have two buses for themselves, and one or two more for the crew members that travel with them.

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Sara exited the car, and climbed aboard the middle bus, and Rhett followed close behind. Once inside, she tried to keep her gawking to a minimum, but it was hard. Not that the interior was Liberace-worthy, but it was still pretty damn nice for a bus. Except for …

“Really?” she asked Sara. “Leopard print walls?”

“Cheesy as shit, isn’t it?” Sara shook her head. “But they just rent ’em, they don’t decorate them. Just drop your bag and coat there.” She gestured to the cream colored couch that stretched along one wall. “I’m not sure if you and Rhys will get the back, or you’ll have to make do with one of the bunks. But it’s only about three hours to New York anyway, so I don’t guess it matters, does it?” — From “Sister Golden Hair,” ©2014 by Juli Page Morgan, All Rights Reserved Carey On Publishing LLC

Like the artists themselves, their tour buses come in all styles. Some are tricked out with neon lighting, plush carpet, and space-age furniture. Others could almost double for your aunt and uncle’s RV. The photo above is a shot of the interior of Amy Grant’s tour bus, and it’s the closest thing I could find to how I envisioned Illicit’s bus. Except for the leopard print walls. I took those straight from the buses used by Motley Crue one tour. (NOTE: Amy’s bus has a slide-out that expands when the bus is parked. When it’s rolling, that couch takes up most of that aisle space.) Since Amy is a solo artist, though, her lounge area is a little more spacious than one used by a band. Behind the door in the center of the photo, Amy had a bathroom with a sink, toilet and small shower, and a bedroom. The kitchenette is tucked into the front lounge, and it’s tiny. There will be a small countertop with a sink, a microwave, and tucked under it a mini-fridge. Usually there will be a one or two burner stove top, used for heating up the occasional cup of tea. No gourmet meals will be prepared aboard a tour bus.

A band’s lounge area is smaller, because their buses are equipped with sleeping berths. The number of berths depends on how many band and/or crew members are on each bus, but the minimum number is usually four, and can go up to six or even eight. The berths are normally right behind the lounge area, and cramped doesn’t even begin to describe them. There’s barely room for one person in a berth, and even if you cram two people in there they won’t have room to move, much less get up to anything. See for yourself:

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Black Stone Cherry on their bus. Image via Getty Images

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The bathroom is usually tucked behind the sleeping berths. It’s always small, with a sink, toilet and tiny shower. The shower never gets used, though. Bands have ample access to much roomier showers at the venues and in their hotels. Besides, no one’s going to waste water on a shower. Yeah, we’re back to the water thing again. Buses have to carry their water in holding tanks, and when you’ve got four to six (or even more) people aboard, that water doesn’t last long. Nor does the room in the holding tank where all the used water (and everything else) goes. Even the biggest diva in the world doesn’t want to be caught on a long haul and run out of water, to say nothing of having an overflowing waste tank. So, no, you’re not going to find a bathtub on a bus. And even if someone was stupid enough to install one, no one would use it.

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Jonathan gritted his teeth. Tonight had been his turn to have the spacious bedroom built into the rear section of the bus. He’d rather been looking forward to sleeping sprawled-out in its custom-built king-sized bed, but he also understood all too well his bassist’s hunger for flame-haired beauties. For Tony, this was a major score indeed. Tonight was sure to be reminisced about for many tours to come. — From “A Million Miles Away,” ©2014 by Elizabeth Corva, All Rights Reserved

Most of the time the back of a tour bus is reserved as a bedroom, the only one on the bus. A solo artist won’t have to fight anyone over it, but it’s a different story for bands. Schedules are made for who gets the bedroom on which night, and these schedules are jealously guarded and adhered to. Occasionally someone will trade nights (as Jonathan and Tony did in Elizabeth Corva’s book) but you can be sure that whoever gave up the bed for a night will make sure it’s noted so he or she can get that night back later. If you had to make do with one of those berths for several nights, you’d fight over the bed, too.

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Sometimes the bedroom is absent, replaced by a secondary lounge area. The couch in this space is always larger than the one up front, and sometimes will curve around all three walls. It’s good for napping, or getting away from everyone else for a while.

So there you have it, the rock band tour bus. I hope I didn’t demystify it too much. But hey, it’s still the mode of transportation for rock bands, and as such those buses could tell some tales. One of these days we’ll talk about the Yard-High Club, sometimes called the Mile-Long Club. 😉 Next time I add to this series, I’ll take you up in the air on a charter jet used by those bands for whom tour buses are too lame.

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Heart of Gold, the sequel to Sister Golden Hair, is now available for pre-order at select retailers! Reserve your copy today for just 99¢. You’ll find the buy links and a bit more about the book on my Heart of Gold page.

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter and be the first to know when a new Romance that Rocks comes out or if there’s something special going on. You’ll get a FREE e-book of my bestselling Song Without Words just for signing up! Your email address will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Plus, there are special giveaways of books and/or swag that are only available to newsletter subscribers!

You can also follow my blog by email. You’ll get a notification in your inbox whenever a new post is ready. And, as always, you can unsubscribe at any time. The subscribe button’s right over there to the right somewhere.

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Drink Plenty of Fluids

I’m getting over the ‘flu. If there is such a thing as a “mild case” then I guess that’s what I had. I mean, I didn’t have to see the doctor or anything. I just stayed home and did what most medical professionals recommend—stay home, try to rest, and drink plenty of fluids. That last bit of advice is kind of odd, by the way, drink plenty of fluids. What else are you supposed to drink? Solids? But since my bout of ‘flu coincided with one of my husband’s frequent business trips to Mexico, I was alone for much of the duration, and it allowed me to make a few observations.

It’s a good time to do your nails. Housework was right out the window since all my muscles felt like they’d been replaced by ground glass, so I didn’t have to worry about wrecking my manicure with rinsing off dishes or anything. Plus, doing your nails doesn’t require much movement, and a stuffed up nose means you can’t smell the polish. So even though the rest of me looked like the dog’s dinner, my nails were fabulous. I went through three different colors while I had the flu, and it was quite calming to sit quietly and buff my nails, paint them, and seal them with a shiny coat of Seche Vite.

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It’s impossible not to feel sorry for yourself. I don’t know what it is about being sick, but it seems to bring out the most maudlin moods. I mentioned that my husband was in Mexico while I had the ‘flu, but my youngest daughter’s vacation from work also occurred during that time, so she was out of state visiting first her grandmother, and then her best friend. This left me feeling completely abandoned. It didn’t matter that I still had a daughter, son, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and two nephews still here in town. I still wanted everyone who lived close to be close. I wouldn’t have let them near me had they been here, because I didn’t want them to get sick. But I still wanted them handy just because. So I guess being sick also makes you selfish.

You come up with cool inventions. My best idea was for a portable shower operated by remote control. Never mind that I had no idea how to keep everything else from getting wet. I’m not an inventor, I just come up with the ideas. It’s up to someone else to figure out the logistics.

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You’re not over the ‘flu when you think you are. After feeling so horrible for so long, it’s easy to mistake the first day you feel less horrible for being well. I was so thrilled to be able to stand upright without it bringing on a bout of exhaustion that I engaged in a flurry of activity. I changed the sheets on the bed, ran around wiping down all the light switches and surfaces with anti-bacterial cleaner, and unloaded the dishwasher. Of course, an hour later I felt worse than ever and ended up sleeping for 16 hours straight in my recliner which left me with a stiff neck and pissed off pets that hadn’t been fed for 16 hours.

I’ve finally gotten over the ‘flu, for real this time. Yesterday was the first day I woke up and felt really rested. I’m taking it slow, though, and trying not to overdo things. My muscles are still in protest mode, but they’ll come around. Plus, my husband is home, and that always makes everything better. 🙂

I hope you don’t get the ‘flu, but if you do then stay home, come up with cool inventions, do your nails, and don’t drink solids.

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Heart of Gold, the sequel to Sister Golden Hair, is now available for pre-order at select retailers! Reserve your copy today for just 99¢. You’ll find the buy links and a bit more about the book on my Heart of Gold page.

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter and be the first to know when a new Romance that Rocks comes out or if there’s something special going on. You’ll get a FREE e-book of my bestselling Song Without Words just for signing up! Your email address will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Plus, there are special giveaways of books and/or swag that are only available to newsletter subscribers!

You can also follow my blog by email. You’ll get a notification in your inbox whenever a new post is ready. And, as always, you can unsubscribe at any time. The subscribe button’s right over there to the right somewhere.

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Saying Farewell To My Magazines

Ever since I was a teenager I’ve had a love affair with magazines. I love the slick, glossy pages, the smell of the ink and the perfume samples, and the joy of crawling into bed with the newest issues and losing myself in the dreams of wearing those clothes, or visiting those locales. But today I’ve decided to give that up. I’m saying farewell to my magazines.

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Image via Coco Perez

I still remember the day I read my first issue of Seventeen. It was 1975 and I was in 7th grade. This was the same year I discovered Led Zeppelin. It was a banner year for me, for sure! The issue of the magazine was in the school library, and I picked it up because of the outfit the girl on the cover was wearing. Back then Seventeen was a large magazine. Instead of the 8 x 11 issues we see today, it was a nice big 11 x 17. When you bought it you knew you were getting something good. I remember I sat at the table in the library and was utterly captivated by the clothes these girls in the magazine wore, the way their hair flowed down their backs, the way they applied the blush to their cheeks. After that day I always made sure I had 75 cents each month to buy the new issue.

These days I still buy fashion magazines. I subscribe to three, along with Southern Living because, well, I’m Southern. But I’ve noticed something lately when I read them. Instead of the joy I used to feel, now I get irritated. I mean, seriously annoyed, y’all. It’s not because I compare myself to those models or anything. I never did that. After all, I had unruly, impossible hair, huge glasses, and I was taller than every other girl my age in the known universe. I wasn’t ever going to look like those magazine models and so what? I just took the ideas from their clothes and makeup and tried to make them my own on my limited (read: non-existent) budget. No, it’s not comparisons to airbrushed and now Photoshopped pictures that irritate me. It’s the attitude of the magazines themselves that send my blood pressure rocketing. Take the issue of one I read last night for example.

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Image via Ariana Bell

It’s one of those yearly “Women In Power” issues that all the women’s magazines now seem to have. From the editorial to the back of the magazine, it simultaneously celebrates the women they think are powerful and bemoans the fact that women don’t exclusively rule the world. It’s page after page of cheering, bitching and moaning; cheering, bitching and moaning. But here’s what really annoys me. In between all these articles about “empowered” women are things that marginalize women. Here’s an ad for a designer handbag, but the model holding that bag is nude. Really? I just can’t see any of these “powerful” women marching into work in their birthday suits with their purse held strategically across their crotch. Oh, look—here’s another nude woman, this one selling perfume. Yeah, way to empower women by using the titillation of their naked bodies to sell stuff.

Also in this issue is an interview with an actress. I’ve never been a huge fan of this chick, but I was bored so I read it. The interviewer brought up a statistic that was quoted earlier in the magazine regarding salaries in Hollywood, and asked if the actress thought women in Hollywood “have it bad.” This actress fired back that she thought women in impoverished nations have it bad. She pointed out that having to carry 25 buckets of polluted water from a river to cook with was bad, that genital mutilation was bad, and the fact that the highest paid actress in Hollywood last year only made $20 million per film compared to the highest paid actor’s $80 million wasn’t even in the realm of “having it bad.” I sat up and was cheering this woman on until she stopped and apologized for what she’d just said. She thought it was too harsh. Are you kidding me? And even if she did apologize, why did the magazine feel the need to point it out? It completely took away the power of what she’d said.

I won’t even go into the one-sided politics in these magazines, the navel-gazing pieces written by whiny people wondering why their high-six-figure incomes aren’t satisfying anything “deep” within them, the book reviews of the latest memoirs (more navel-gazing), and celebratory pieces of the latest music that refers to women as whores or trophies, take your pick. Seriously, if I tore out all the pages of these magazines that I find stupid I’d be left with about 20-25 pages of stuff that interests me.

Even Southern Living is letting me down. Now its pages are filled with throw pillows that cost $295, wildflowers in a glass vase that costs $85, bracelets for $1,295 and food it would take a week and Ina Garten assisting to prepare properly (and no Southerner would eat it anyway. Sage and lemon aioli grits, anyone?) Even my first love, Seventeen, has changed (though I’ve not read an issue in decades.)

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So I’m done with my magazines. I’m going to let the subscriptions lapse and won’t pick up any from the newsstand. If I want to know what clothing looks to try to copy I’ll log onto Net-A-Porter or Polyvore before I go peruse the clearance racks at Cato and Belk for something similar. For makeup looks and research I’ll stick with Angie at Hot & Flashy on YouTube.

I thought it would be a hard decision to let go of my monthly addiction to slick, glossy paper, but it’s not. Instead, I feel like I’m ending an abusive relationship. And with the money I save by not buying magazines I can buy more pairs of boots! All the better to kick irritating crap to the curb. 🙂

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Heart of Gold, the sequel to Sister Golden Hair, is now available for pre-order at select retailers! Reserve your copy today for just 99¢. You’ll find the buy links and a bit more about the book on my Heart of Gold page.

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter and be the first to know when a new Romance that Rocks comes out or if there’s something special going on. You’ll get a FREE e-book of my bestselling Song Without Words just for signing up! Your email address will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Plus, there are special giveaways of books and/or swag that are only available to newsletter subscribers!

You can also follow my blog by email. You’ll get a notification in your inbox whenever a new post is ready. And, as always, you can unsubscribe at any time. The subscribe button’s right over there to the right somewhere.

 

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I May Be Slow But I’m Catching Up

Instagram, y’all. I love it, but I am so bad at it! I’m doing my best to do better, though. I may be slow, but I’m catching up.

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I think I’ve figured out why it’s been difficult for me to jump on the Instagram bandwagon. Allow me to elaborate.

I’m not ancient or anything, but I do remember the time when photos were kind of a big pain in the hiney. And that time wasn’t that long ago, either.

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You had your camera, then you had to have film for it, and then you either had to take your film to be developed or send it off to be developed. There was no delete function, either. If you took a photo of your finger accidentally covering the lens then you received a photo of your finger covering the lens. And you paid for it. Oh, and if you wanted to take photos inside where your subjects wouldn’t be squinting into the sun you had to have flash cubes. These fitted on top of your camera and went off with an almighty flare of light when you took the photo, so your subjects ended up squinting anyway. That, or looking like they had laser pointers for eyes. (No, there were no laser pointers back then.)

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Not long after I was born my dad bought a Polaroid Land Camera, so that’s what I remember the most from my childhood. This thing was cutting edge, y’all. After the photo was snapped you pulled the picture out from the side of the camera, laid it on the table, and sat there and waited. Seemed like it took forever, but I think it was really only a minute or so. Then you carefully pulled the cover off the square and had your picture! God, they smelled horrible. Polaroid even provided sturdy pieces of cardboard with a sticky side so you could mount your photos on it. The back side of the cardboard had designated areas to write down who was in the picture, where and when it was taken, and even your address. There was also this pink cylindrical thing to roll a sticky paste over the surface of your picture after it developed. This was supposed to keep the photos from fading, and it made them curl up into tubes if you didn’t have them stuck on that cardboard backing. That paste smelled horrible, too, and it got everywhere.

I remember Polaroid Sun Cameras, too. They also had self-developing photos but without the bother of peeling or pasting. They took awful pictures, no matter how talented the photographer. Then Stephen King wrote that story about that evil dog coming out of a Sun camera, and I moved on to the Kodak Disc. The Disc film actually was a disc, and it had to be sent off to be developed. Then the pictures came back and you realized the quality was even worse than the Sun’s was.

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Digital cameras made an appearance not long after this, but they were pains to use. Yes, you could have your photos immediately and delete crappy shots, but downloading them was anything but easy. Memory cards? Ha. No such thing.

And now we use our phones.

But, see? I grew up when taking photos wasn’t easy or fast, and so I kind of forget to take pictures with my phone a lot of the time. Yes, I have the thing in my hand 95% of the time and can take snaps of everything from my pedicure to what I’m having for lunch to the blooms on my hibiscus. I don’t think about doing it, though, because a part of me still thinks I have to save my photo-taking for the right time or something.

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See what happens when I try to take a nice selfie of myself on top of the Pyramid in Memphis with the Mississippi River in the background? Some dude walks behind me wiping his nose! And my hair looks terrible! This is why I rarely do selfies.

And have y’all seen some of those photos on Instagram? They’re all so nice and neat and staged. That’s another reason my feed is sparse. If I’m not wearing makeup then I’m not taking a selfie. And I don’t wear makeup while I’m sitting around the house. Wanna see a photo of my bookshelf? I’m going to have to haul out the Pledge and dustrag first. And as for those nice looking shots of a morning cup of coffee? I’d have to go to someone else’s house to take one of those because behind my cup you’ll probably see where the dog has scattered the pillows on the couch and is now lying there on her back with all four legs in the air, or one of the cats shredded a roll of paper towels all over the living room rug. Hey, it’s early—I’m not going to clean house before I’ve had my first cup of coffee just so I can take a photo of my cup of coffee. You know?

But I’m trying, I really am. I’m working on training myself to just go ahead and take the freakin’ pictures and delete the truly awful ones. I’m even learning to use hashtags! Look at me, all in the 21st century and everything. 😉 So if you’d like to follow me on Instagram, feel free! I apologize in advance about the shredded paper towels.

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Heart of Gold, the sequel to Sister Golden Hair, is now available for pre-order at select retailers! Reserve your copy today for just 99¢. You’ll find the buy links and a bit more about the book on my Heart of Gold page.

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter and be the first to know when a new Romance that Rocks comes out or if there’s something special going on. You’ll get a FREE e-book of my bestselling Song Without Words just for signing up! Your email address will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Plus, there are special giveaways of books and/or swag that are only available to newsletter subscribers!

You can also follow my blog by email. You’ll get a notification in your inbox whenever a new post is ready. And, as always, you can unsubscribe at any time. The subscribe button’s right over there to the right somewhere.

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