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When the body of a social worker is found on the stairway inside the building where she works, a mouthful of Scrabble letters tells Detective Valentine that this is not a random killing.

And it’s not.

A brutal killer with a sinister connection to Child Protective Services is prowling the streets in Detective Sydney Valentine’s jurisdiction. More letters are needed to piece together the puzzle, but that means more people will die.

A dead juvenile court judge, a single mother – the body count climbs.

Detective Valentine becomes a target and the stakes rise. Her sister is attacked and Valentine realizes she needs to step it up before it’s too late. Her courage and investigative skills are put to the test. She must protect her family and take down the killer before any more people die.

A fast-paced novel of mystery and suspense, The Protector will grip you from the very beginning, so hold on tight and leap into the dangerous world of Detective Sydney Valentine. She’s a sassy, contemporary cop with an edge and an attitude. Tough and potty-mouthed, she’s going to see justice served—no matter what.

Sydney Valentine is the friend you wish you had. She’s the cop you’d be wise to fear if you’re walking on the wrong side of the law.

Posted in books, mystery, Sydney Valentine, the protector | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Kindle Unlimited: The Key Questions

Danielle Lenee Davis:

David Gaughran has some interesting thoughts on the new game in town (Kindle Unlimited).

Originally posted on David Gaughran:

amazon_kindle_unlimitedAmazon launched Kindle Unlimited on Friday, giving self-publishers a big decision to make.

The long-rumored subscription service will allow users to download unlimited books for $9.99 a month, and reader reaction has been, from what I can see, overwhelmingly positive – especially because they will be able to test the service with a month’s free trial. Writers have been a little more cautious, for all sorts of reasons I’ll try and tease out below.

The main stumbling block for self-publishers is that participation in Kindle Unlimited is restricted to titles enrolled in KDP Select – Amazon’s program which offers various additional marketing tools in exchange for exclusivity. Author compensation will be similar to borrows under the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library – a percentage of money from a fixed pool. The only real twist is that payment will be triggered when 10% of downloaded books have been read.

At the…

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Do you always trust your instincts?

GasPump_iStock_000004144395Small_400x266I stopped at Sam’s Club yesterday to get gas after work. If you’re familiar with how Sam’s Club operates, you know that I had to first swipe my club card and my payment card before the pump was operable. I swiped both, filled my tank, and replaced the nozzle. While I was twisting my gas cap on I saw a man walking toward me from his car, which was parked at the pump ahead of mine. Initially, I thought he was going to ask for money. Surprise, surprise. He didn’t. Here’s how it went.

Man: “I forgot my membership card at home. Can you swipe yours for me?”

Danielle: “I can’t do that.” I was frowning and shaking my head. “That doesn’t seem right to me.” I walked behind my car, heading to the driver’s side. My mind was made up. No can do. End of conversation.

Man: “You just have to swipe it. I’m using my own money.” He followed me. “I’m paying for the gas.”

Danielle:  I looked around for the attendant. Where are they when you need them? I kept walking and said, “I can’t do it. That just doesn’t seem right to me.” I opened my car door and hopped in. As I drove away, I saw him heading to the other side toward another woman who was pumping her gas.

I don’t know if he was telling the truth, but it was suspicious to me. It’s not that I’m super honest, or anything. But, this situation was odd. Also, I think it’s highly unlikely that someone who bought their gas at a warehouse club would not have the card with them at all times. Why didn’t he just go to a different gas station? Was he looking for less expensive gas? Who knows.

Maybe I’m becoming as suspicious with people as my main character, Sydney Valentine. Sometimes, I think you’ve just got to go with your gut.

Posted in random thoughts | 2 Comments

e-Book Cover Design Awards for June 2014

I recently entered Joel Friedlander’s e-Book Cover Design Awards contest. I didn’t win, but I received feedback, which I agree with.  What do you think?  Agree or disagree?


Posted in books, promotion, the protector | Tagged | 2 Comments

Sunday Bits – July 13, 2014 – Let Amazon donate to your favorite charity

Several weeks ago, I signed up for an Amazon program called AmazonSmile. If you haven’t heard of this program, I’m going to tell you about it today. Be happy!

The charity I chose is Boxer Rescue Los Angeles.  Here’s their AmazonSmile link.
They do good work there and it’s where I found Mocha. Remember her?

Mocha - Dec 27, 2010

Mocha – Dec 27, 2010

The program contributes .5% of your purchase price. The percentage is the purchase price minus rebates, gift-wrapping fees, tax, S&H, service charges, bad debt, and returns. The donation is paid to the charitable organization of your choice at no cost to you or the charity. That’s a win-win, in my opinion.

Half of a percent might not seem like much, but it adds up. Amazon indicates the charity is paid 100% of the donation amount on a quarterly basis. Can’t beat that, can you?

I elected to have the AmazonSmile taskbar app installed on my taskbar.AS2

When I hover over it, I see the AmazonSmile page I’m currently on.

Charities registered with the IRS as 501 (c)(3) organizations who are in good standing are eligible to participate in the program. There’s more information about that here.

Like, there are millions of products available for purchase on AmazonSmile. Recurring subscribe-and-save and subscription renewals aren’t eligible at the time of this post. To determine if a product is eligible, notice they are marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation”.

Purchases made from the Kindle E-reader device through the Kindle store and those made using the Amazon Shopping App aren’t eligible for donations. However, purchases made through your desktop or laptop computer, mobile phone, and tablets (including Kindle Fire) are eligible for donations.

When you create registries on they will appear on AmazonSmile, and vice versa. However, only purchases made on AmazonSmile will be eligible to receive donations. Be sure to tell people to make their purchases on AmazonSmile if you want the charity of your choice to receive the donations!

You can change your charity selection at any time. Click on the dropdown box in ‘Your Account’.
Or by going to ‘Settings’ in your account. What could be easier?

If you have a favorite charity, check out AmazonSmile, sign up, then look up your charity and select them. From that point on, make your purchases from AmazonSmile instead of You’d still login as you normally would. Your Amazon Prime membership is also available to use on AmazonSmile.

If you do not have a favorite charity consider selecting Boxer Rescue Los Angeles as your charity. They could sure use the assistance. I’ll be writing a blog post about them soon. Again, here’s their AmazonSmile link. They also have an AmazonSmile button on their home page near the bottom.

If you know of a charitable organization who isn’t registered, let them know about this program. You can still donate to them if you find them on AmazonSmile, but the charity will not receive the donation until they register themselves. Only authorized representatives can register the charity.

If you’re using for purchases anyway, why not sign up for AmazonSmile and help out a charitable organization? As I said previously, there’s no cost to you or the charity. Win-win!


Can I deduct the contributions on my federal tax return? No, silly. You’re not the one making the charitable donation.

Are the products different from the items available on  No.

If I make my purchase on will that count towards a donation?  Nope. The purchase must be made on AmazonSmile (

Posted in Pets, Sunday Bits | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Sunday Bits – July 6, 2014 – Share As Image

For this edition of Sunday Bits I’ll talk about a web tool that enables you to save any web text as an image, quite easily.  It’s called Share As Image and it’s easy to install. Just follow the instructions.

After installation, the bookmarklet (their term for it) appears on the toolbar, ready for use. ShareAsImageStep1

I used one of my earlier blog posts, My Other Shadow, as an example. Be patient. Now we’re cooking! The highlighted text is displayed within Share As Image. The fun begins! ShareAsImageText

I chose a different background color. ShareAsImageBackgroundColorChange

A new color for the font. My favorite color, of course! SaveAsImageChangeFontColorPhotos can be selected as background.  Choose oneShareAsImage_PhotoEmbedI selected a photo.ShareAsImagePhotoChoiceHovering shows a plus sign, which means you can use this one if you don’t have the PRO version. As of this post the fee is $8 per month or $72 annually.SaveAsImage_PhotoSubscriptionNeededI’ve added the photo and I like it! I’m not crazy about the purple font now, though.ShareAsImagePhotoIsEmbeded

This is better!ShareAsImage_WhiteFontPatterns. As you can see, I chose the United States flag. The white font doesn’t look so good anymore.ShareAsImagePatterns_USFlagI uploaded my own background image. This is one I took of a squirrel a few years ago.ShareAsImage_PhotoUploadI used the blur filter. The effect is interesting, but I can barely recognize the squirrel.ShareAsImage_PhotoUpload_BlurFilterUsing your own watermark or turning off theirs is not available unless you’re a subscriber.ShareAsImageWatermark
One more image: I removed most of the text and moved the rest down. It’s been over a year since the My Other Shadow post, so I corrected Mocha’s age. She’s 11 now. I uploaded a new background photo and applied the blur filter. It’s Mocha — caught while yawning in her bed!

I created a free account, then was able to save and download my creation.ShareAsImage_SavedNotDownloaded

This is the final downloaded image.

I closed the application and clicked the ‘Login’ link. It brought me to a page with links to my saved image and account.

Issues: When I clicked the ‘Try’ link (free version), it displayed a message that the app was only available for desktops. I’m using an HP Notebook. I was offered the tablet version to use. I’m not sure which version of the app I was using for this post! Tablet, perhaps?

Although some features are unavailable in the free version, I still think this application is a viable option for those who’d like to grab text online, convert it to an image, and enhance the heck out of it. Give it a try if you don’t mind their watermark on your images.

I can see Share As Image being used for Pinterest, Twitter, and blog posts where someone wants to take a quote or photo and make it their own.

Posted in Sunday Bits, tools, writing | 6 Comments

Editing, cleaning, and the simplicity of layers

Yeah. I wish!

Yeah. I wish!

Earlier this week, my eight-year-old daughter and I discussed the lack of cleaning in her bedroom. She usually comes up with an excuse. The most recent, which was probably the most believable I’ve heard lately, was “I don’t know where to start.” She grabbed her head for emphasis and said, “My head is confused!” That’s because the room looked like a bomb had exploded in there! Really.

Once we established that she would not receive any assistance from me (this time), I told her my plan. This was not the first time I relayed this idea to her.

The first step in our my quest for a tidy room was for her to pick up all of her clothes and drop them in the hamper, which was a few feet away. Yes, I know. Why not drop them in there in the first place? I have no clue.

Step two involved picking up all toys from the floor and placing them in the toy box.

Lastly, she was to pick up anything else that remained on the floor.

I thought the step-by-step clean the room layering system would help make this big project into something more reasonable. I told her that focusing on one thing at a time would be easier for her than trying to do everything at once. Layering.

Later that evening, I thought about how cleaning a messy room in layers was similar to editing a manuscript. Have you ever printed out a first draft, pen in hand, and marked it up? What a mess!  When I edit I use colored gel pens. My mess is colorful. You probably trash parts of your manuscript. I know that I do! Perhaps you rearrange paragraphs or scenes. My daughter could do the same by tossing toys or dirty clothing into their proper, and nearly empty, containers.

Writers might choose to edit as they go or wait until the first draft is finished, then tackle one task at a time. Layering. The first layer could be an overview of your plot and story structure. Perhaps your characterization would be next. Or maybe you’d check your dialogue. Are the characters distinguishable from one another? Does it sound stilted? Would you proofread for grammar, spelling, and punctuation next? What about too much narrative or skimpy scenes without enough conflict? All of these could be viewed as a layer in the editing process. Each time you peel back a layer, you get closer to a polished manuscript. Your characters would be three-dimensional, your scenes vivid, and your plot riveting!

How do you peel the layers of your work-in-progress? Do you rip them all off at once or one layer at a time?

Posted in books, Children, Humor, random thoughts, writing | 8 Comments