Buzzwords and Dating Trends of 2021

I was surprised and a bit disappointed to discover that I was unfamiliar with the latest dating lexicon. In a recent interview on Cityline, celebrity matchmaker Carmelia Ray shared the following buzzwords and dating trends of 2021:


Going on a dinner date with someone purely for the free food. (a.k.a. sneak eating)


Hovering on the edges of a dying relationship waiting to swoop in and claim him/her as yours.


Act of going full tilt into a relationship, getting super into it, and then quickly realizing that it’s not for you.


Dating like a CEO: not messing around with partners who aren’t serving you. Many singles are busy professionals who don’t have time to waste. Hardballers ask direct questions and set strong boundaries.

When asked if there is a right way to hardball, Carmelia suggests that singles date with intention. They can ask the important questions, but it shouldn’t feel like interviewing. Questions should be peppered into the organic conversation. Watch your tone!

Slow Dating

Spending more time getting to know a potential partner and working to create a deep connection before taking things to the next level.

This is how many people have been dating since the pandemic. They are more cautious and spending more time in meaningful conversation. Dating apps are seeing an increase in messaging, video dating, and longer time spent talking to each other.

New Dawn Daters

These are the people who broke up with their long-term partners during the pandemic. They are eager to start over and excited about what’s next for them.


Looking for compatibility based on your zodiac sign.

Any others to add?

Where to find Joanne…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

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Happy Book Birthday to The Widow’s Walk

I was delighted when Debbie Gilbert sent me a contract renewal last spring for The Widow’s Walk: Book Two in the Unfinished Business Series. That will keep it smack in the middle of the prequel, Breakwater Beach and the Sequel, Storm Watch.

It was July 4th weekend circa 2006 when I was opening up a summer cottage, vacuuming up flies and pulling dust covers off furniture that I had an inspiration to write a short story about a woman who finds a trunk full of old clothes in the attic and is left wondering who the owner was, and how they came to be there.

I missed most of the celebrations that weekend, but the 13,000 word short story Breakwater Beach had been born. My beta readers liked it, but wanted to know what came before. So, after much angst, I finished the very complex dual story line of Breakwater Beach: Book One.

I thought that was it, but one day after yoga (on the real Breakwater Beach in Brewster (Cape Cod) Massachusetts, an image of fisherman beached on the flats at low tide patiently waiting for the water to rise ignited a spark. Storm Watch continues the story, and gives more depth and dimension to some of the secondary characters. I have started on Book Four, as yet untitled, but I’m waiting for the lightning to strike again to help it along. My vacation is coming up on August, so just maybe….

This is pretty typical of my writing, both fiction and non fiction. Even the most mundane experience or encounter can lead to inspiration for a plot, or a character, or a scene. There have been a lot of distractions this past year and half, but now that life is getting back to a new normal, perhaps inspiration will once again strike.

I’ve enjoyed reading the Soulmate Author’s Blog this past few months, learning how my fellow authors’ stories are brought to life. What triggers your imagination?

The Widow’s Walk: Book Two

Was getting out, getting away, enough?

Mike and Liz Keeny are newlyweds, new parents, and the proprietors of the Barrett Inn, an 1875 Victorian on Cape Cod, which just happens to be haunted. By their own ghosts. The Inn had become an annex of Purgatory, putting Mike, Liz, and their infant son in danger. Selling the historic seaside bed and breakfast was the only answer, one that Liz and her own tortured specter refused to consider. Were they doomed to follow the same path that led to disaster in their previous lives?

An excerpt from The Widow’s Walk: Book Two in the Unfinished Business

Silk rustled as she ran her hands over the dress. The lavender scent deepened as Elisabeth swirled around inside, Her mind went numb as the ghost took control. She slipped out of her clothes and stood naked in front of the mirror. She put up her hair, preening for her husband, before she stepped into the middle of the deep green skirts and pulled them up over her waist, slipped her arms into the sleeves, and twisted them behind her back to fasten the buttons. She used the buttonhook to do up the shoes, then peered out into the hallway.

Liz bundled the sweat suit into her arms, along with the soap and paper goods, and hurried to the attic door. It wasn’t until she placed her hand on the banister and started up the steep staircase to the roof that Elisabeth’s needling eased. Like an addict in the throes of withdrawal, just the promise of being up there, her spirit communing with the long lost sea captain, offered relief.

Breakwater Beach: Book One

Would you take a second chance?

Liz Levine is convinced her recently deceased husband is engineering the sequence of events that propels her into a new life. But it’s sea captain Edward Barrett, the husband that died over a century ago, who has returned to complete their unfinished business. Edward’s lingering presence complicates all her plans and jeopardizes a new relationship that reawakens her passion for life and love. What are Captain Barrett’s plans for his wife, and for the man who is the new object of her affections?

Storm Watch: Book Three

One last chance, their only choice.

Mike and Liz thought they’d gotten control of the specters haunting the Barrett Inn. But things get very complicated when they’re the ghosts from your past life. The Category Five Hurricane bearing down on Cape Cod appears to be headed directly for them–or has it been spawned from inside them? Knowing it’s their last chance to end the hauntings, they face an impossible choice. Will they survive the storm?

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Gratitude – An attitude I needed to revisit.

I am truly grateful for Dr. Katy, a dedicated veterinarian who took my chestnut, Lance, from the scary photo of him lying down, to the peaceful photo below of him grazing with a buddy. When the hot weather hit (high 80s), the vet attended to three horses with colic in 18 hours. Colic is often deadly with young horses, and my boy is 31.

Lance survived this serious stomach issue last weekend. Today’s temps (Saturday) will reach the high 90s, hot for June in Seattle. They’re forecasting upwards of 105 for a couple days. I am grateful that the barn sits near a creek with plenty of open land, so it stays cooler. We live on a lake (currently 78) and have invited anyone to join us for a refreshing dip.

I’m also grateful for my family, all of our health and many, many other blessings in my life. Spending three hours next to Lance while waiting for the vet, when I thought I’d lose him, gave me quiet time to think. Riding Lance and writing are integral parts in this chapter of my life. I’m going to treasure moments spent with him, reread the other four books I’ve written, and figure out which one I’ll polish before offering it to Sharon to be published next. Let me know how you are doing and what you are grateful for… Happy trails, Sally

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The ever shrinking TV universe

In my day job I am part of a team that does what we call “window management.” Basically, what window management involves is tracking a title released or acquired by my company through its various first “windows” (theatrical, EST, Home Entertainment, TVOD, Pay TV/SVOD and Free TV). I’ve been doing it for a long time and enjoy the work. We get to be part of a movie studio while working on the administrative side where there is less churn job-wise. Or, as the guy who cleans up after the elephant says— “at least I’m in show biz.”

In prior decades there was a substantial lag between the theatrical release of a title and its first showing on television. Back then the Home Entertainment market was a thriving business, partially because people had to wait to see the title on their small screens. That is all different now. I remember years ago I used to say “one day we’ll all have the same avail date throughout the world.” That’s almost true now. I watched the UK version of RuPaul’s Drag Race after it premieres in the UK, and the same is true from the US to other countries in the world. Gone are the days when the US goes first and the other countries way later. We are truly becoming a global television marketplace.

As I slide more and more into the streaming world, I am amazed (and grateful) at the amount of content that is available. I watched Beauty and the Baker on Network television and then found the Israeli original version on Amazon. The international versions of Sing On are a great deal of fun. As the time between theatrical and first airing on television gets shorter it becomes easier for folks like me to get what they need through the small screen.

Streaming has been a lifesaver over this last year. While I didn’t go to the movies that often pre-pandemic (except for big Marvel and other 3-D/Imax titles), the inability to have that as an option did put a damper in my weekends. Being able to see Wonder Woman 2 and other movies, even though they didn’t have the same impact as they would have on the big screen, helped fill the void.

Now that things are getting back to normal I wonder how things are going to change. I still haven’t ventured into a movie theater, but you never know! I may! Then again, I have lots of streaming services available. Whatever it is you choose to do, enjoy!

Below is a little about my Soul Mate books and me.

My fourth Universe Chronicles book, titled Generating Gravity, is slated to be released in September. Lori, my amazing editor, is helping to craft it into another fast-paced installment in this series. In the meantime, my third Universe Chronicles book, Storming Time, is available now. Here’s a blurb and a buy link—if you’re interested!

Storming Time blurb:

A fast car, a little weather manipulation to cover his tracks, and Zared Hersh’s emergency extraction job is done. But when Hannah Nickels dives into his front seat, something about her aquamarine eyes strikes him like lightning.

Hannah’s been groomed to join Universe from the moment her time-freezing talent emerged. But recently, her power’s been glitchy.

In the relative safety of Universe HQ in Richmond, their relationship grows. But Hannah has a second, more dangerous power. And as her control slips, someone with a hidden agenda sets her up to fall—straight into Whisper’s trap.

Claire Davon

Claire Davon has written on and off for most of her life, starting with fan fiction when she was very young. She writes across a wide range of genres, and does not consider any of it off limits. Her novels can be found in the paranormal romance and contemporary romance sections, while her short stories run the gamut. If a story calls to her, she will write it. She currently lives in Los Angeles and spends her free time writing novels and short stories, as well as doing animal rescue and enjoying the sunshine. Claire can be found at:

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Not So Perfect

It is interesting to give some thought to the physical aspects of a character. We have become accustomed to heroes and heroines looking perfect, with bulging muscles and flawless skin. So many movies demand of their actor’s perfection in face and form, particularly if they are a love interest. For who could love a beast?

I think it’s time we moved beyond that impossible idea of perfection. Does a heroine need to look like Barbie or a hero like an Avenger? Sure, they might have a few issues to sort out, but their form is never in question. I won’t deny the appeal of eye candy, but it sets up standards that are impossible to achieve without the budget, genetics, and time that few can access.

I have a few heroes in my books, but because they live in the past they are scarred. One modern day character yet to be finished has a limp and a scraggly beard that covers a harelip scar. Yet the limp was obtained by falling out of a tree – a lifelong love of animals that has shaped his character as much as his body and indeed, his future.

While novels are escapism, it might also be nice to bond with a character that isn’t perfect. The heroine who can’t cook is not bad, but maybe she has a burn scar hidden by a sleeve that shows you why she hates the kitchen? Is the man who is of heroic proportions a villain in waiting as the steroid rage bursts out? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a book boyfriend who doesn’t look like a Ken doll, but someone you might meet in real life?

Let’s pretend and imagine some not typical meet cutes – where the characters are not the remote beautiful people of the movies. She trips over at the airport, and the ex-marine darts forward catching her on his lap in his wheelchair. A woman of size happily baking attracts the nose of the millionaire who had a love starved childhood. Two emergency workers covered in sweat, grim and muck work side by side in a disaster, learning to love how the other really is as they solve problems and save lives. A perfect android and an elderly woman spend her last days together.

I guess it’s a little too easy to write and read perfect, beautiful characters. Easy to write – and easy to forget. But it’s harder and yet more interesting to write and read characters that grab your heart and claim a place in a reader’s memory.

About Cindy

Cindy Tomamichel is a multi genre author, with her SMP series Druid’s Portal a time travel action adventure romance set in Roman Britain. Short stories of fantasy, scifi and romance can be found on her website, where she blogs on aspects of world building. Her latest release -The Organized Author – provides much needed help for authors trying to navigate social media and build an author platform. Doing NaNo this year? Check out her free book NaNoWriMo Ready.

Contact Cindy on






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Heading into Summer

Today is the Solstice which means that in the Northern Hemisphere, where I live, it is the longest day of the year and the official start of the summer. We’ve already had some warm days including a scorcher of a weekend, though I’m sure there are even hotter days in store. Today is also the first day of summer break for my kids, and I’m so ready to be in vacation mode, that I almost forgot to post!

I’m really looking forward to having a more normal summer break this year. We already have plans to go to California for a delayed family reunion, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to do some other weekend getaways as well. Normally I really enjoy traveling, so this past year has been a strange one. I’ve been trying to encourage my family to hike more, or at least go on wild walks since we are so blessed with natural trails nearby.

I’m slowly easing back into other activities as well, now that I’m fully vaccinated. I plan to get a long-over due haircut soon, and I’ve been eying the local movie listings since that’s one activity I really missed last year.

What about you? Do you have summer plans? Is there anything you missed doing last year that you want to be sure to do this year?

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The Torture of Comparison

By Jeanine Englert

Okay, here it goes. I’m going to dive into a pool of discomfort for this month’s blog as it has weighed on my mind and been a talking point with more than one of my writing friends over the last few months: the soul sucking torture of comparison.

If you are above the dregs of comparison, then this may not be the blog for you. If you suffer from comparing your writing, books, sales, career, and any other green eyed monster frailty, you might know exactly what I’m speaking of. As a writer, it’s so hard, I daresay impossible to rid yourself of comparison whether it is with your own books, other books, other writers, or your writing career, but I have found something that has worked to lessen the grip that comparison (and the following downward spiral) has on me this year. Does it work all the time? Absolutely not. Does it work sometimes? Absolutely. Which for me is enough.

When I start anything new, whether it is a writing project, ad, or writing related activity, I give myself a personal goal that I’m working toward. For example, it could be a sales goal for a new book, a number of interactions on a social media post, or number of “want to reads” on a Goodreads Giveaway. It could be as small as getting more link clicks on an ad in a different age demographic. Whatever it is, I make my own personal goal for that, and most importantly, I commit it to paper and write it down somewhere, so I can see it. Usually, it is on a sticky note within eyeshot of my writing desk. Once I set it, I try to forget it until the results of that goal arrive.

While this doesn’t prevent comparison, it helps to anchor me back to my writing goals when it starts, which helps me remember that my journey isn’t someone else’s. It helps me stay in my own lane, most of the time anyway. Because we all know what a soul sucking, horrible feeling it is to compare your sales, reviews, book deals, social media likes, or awards to other writers. Nothing can get me into a darker whole of self-doubt faster. Having a visual goal written down helps to shine a light on my progress, as I find I reach 90% of the goals I set for myself. If my goals were comparison based, I’m not sure I would even be in the double digits. As I’ve heard many times before: someone is always doing better than you and someone is always doing worse. Some people will love your books, while others will give you the dreaded one star review and the longest explanation ever along with it. Setting personal goals will help you remember that being an author is a journey and a personal one.

My critique partner (Thanks, Tanya!) loaned me Becca Syme’s Dear Writer, You Need to Quit, and it could not be a more timely read for me. Wow. I’m only about 100 pages in, but I feel seen, and I’ve found it helpful as it encourages you to question the premise of many of the things you hear about writing and accept as truth. If you are hunting down an “out of the box” craft and/or career book, you may want to give it a read. You may want to also try setting some personal goals for yourself over the summer months to see if they work as well for you as they have for me. And, if you do begin to fall into the green eyed monster of comparison, just know you’re not alone, but also remember someone else’s journey doesn’t matter nearly as much as your own.

This is your writing career, not theirs.

Care to share a personal goal you might set for yourself this summer or your own ways to escape the clutches of comparison? Drop me a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Jeanine Englert is a double VIVIAN ® FINALIST, Golden Heart ® Finalist, Silver Falchion Award Winner, and Daphne du Maurier Award Winner in historical romantic suspense. After years of writing in secret, she joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. She writes Scottish Highland historicals and historical romantic suspense novels.

When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved pups, and of course mysteries with other readers on Twitter @JeanineWrites, Facebook, or at her website

Her debut novel, Lovely Digits, released in June of 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing, is a Victorian romantic suspense that won the 2020 Silver Falchion Award for Best Mystery and the 2020 Maggie Award for Best Romantic Suspense. It also won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award and was named a 2018 Golden Heart ® Finalist for best unpublished romantic suspense. It is currently a double VIVIAN ® FINALIST for Best First Book and Best Romantic Suspense-mid.

Where you can find me:







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When Life Kicks You in the Teeth

What’s that saying? People plan, God laughs?

Four years ago, almost to the day, my life changed forever. I was up early in the morning, preparing to take over a Facebook page I had with a group of authors. My posts, games, and pictures were ready. I was excited and eager to begin.

But fate had other plans.

A sound from the bedroom alerted me something was wrong with my husband. He’d awakened
paralyzed on the left side of his body. I called for an ambulance and he was rushed to a nearby hospital. He’d had an ischemic stroke. Totally unexpected.

I spent the next two months sitting by his bed, watching him struggle to retrain cells and muscles to move his leg and his left arm and hand. Thankfully, his mind was not affected, although speech was a bit slurred in the beginning.

But there are chilling elements in this story.

Earlier that month, my husband and I had driven to the state of Washington to begin our summer trip aboard Sea Bear, our 32-foot boat. We planned to cruise in the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands. But the boat yard, doing a few minor repairs, had discovered a glitch and the boat would not be ready for two more weeks. We left the car in Seattle and flew home to Las Vegas. If we’d been at anchor in a remote area, or underway at sea when my husband’s stroke happened, we might have had a different outcome.

There is a happy ending. My husband learned to walk again—a bit shaky and with a sturdy cane—but it’s walking none-the-less. His left arm movement is good and he can grip with his hand if something is put in it. But the best part is his speech was fully recovered and his brain activity still remains unaffected. Sadly, our cruising days ended, but we have a good life with lots of memories and we have each other. We are truly blessed.

Lessons in this? Take nothing for granted. Your life can change in an instant. Asleep one minute, in a hospital the next. Live one day at a time and enjoy what that day brings. It might not be what you expected, but you can find small positives in almost every situation.

And tell your loved ones how much you care every day. Don’t wait. They might not be there tomorrow.

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Have you seen the poster of Garfield, the cat, holding a running chain saw over a computer? He has a look on his face that I have had the last few weeks while trying to get my computer and printer to talk. The caption above Garfield’s head reads: “Compute This”. Oh yeah!

Finally, after days of trying all Google and I know, I called a computer expert. We set up a time for him to come to my house. NO SHOW. I could hear Garfield’s chain saw running and the words compute this, expert, were dancing around in my mind. It’s been another frustrating week I still can’t get my computer and printer to make friends. Guess I’ll have to pack it up and take it to the Geek Squad. No joking, that’s their name and they know what they’re doing. I just hate to be without my computer for a couple weeks-they are that far out.

My Yorkie kids lay on their pillows, worried looks on their faces while mom punches keys, checks out google again, then fumes and mutters under her breath.

But today I’m putting all that aside. My latest book, HEART WHISPERS, will be out this July. I’m finishing the last read for errors then it’s SoulMate’s baby. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the thrill of seeing my books in print. Makes you want to pinch yourself to see if you’re dreaming. So if I could give any advice to beginning and hopeful authors it would be to keep at it. Don’t give up. If you are like me, you couldn’t anyhow. The writing gene is there from birth and it won’t be ignored.

Sorry this blog is short but I have to load up the sick computer and take it to the Geek Squad. Hopefully, it can be fixed and not cost bundles. Hopefully, I don’t have to buy a new one. And hopefully, you will enjoy reading HEART WHISPERS as much as I enjoyed writing it. The hero is a very handsome, mind blowing, strong, compassionate, dynamic, did I mention handsome, cardiologist. He is also mourning the loss of his wife two years ago. He needs a beautiful, patient psychologist to. . .well I’ll let you read what transpires.

The Geek Squad doesn’t accept phone calls so keep your fingers crossed for me that they’ll take my ailing computer and release it from the hospital before many weeks go by.

The Yorkies and I wish you summer days of curling up with a good book.

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A Few of My Favorite Things: Buttons

Long before I started writing romance, I was (and still am) an avid romance reader.  I’d like to share some of my favorite elements from romance novels and the reasons why I think they work so well.

Today, I want to talk about buttons (and not just buttons, but also hooks, ribbons, lacings, and other fastenings).  Specifically, I want to talk about the anticipation and tension that an author can create with each careful, deliberate undoing.

Buttons really are the equal opportunity pinnacle of seduction.  They work regardless of gender, social status, and subgenre.  They can be the potent symbol of attraction in a chaste romance, perhaps by one character leaving a single button undone and thus driving the love interest to fervent distraction.  Torn buttons that require a jury-rigged fastening can create a moment of powerful physical awareness in a romantic suspense while also emphasizing the dangers the characters face.  Paranormal shifters undoing buttons are often a sign of deepening trust and intimacy as they reveal their other forms to their love interests.  And, of course, historical romance novels are the reigning champs of seductive fastenings, with a plethora of options for the eagerly debauched.

Most romance readers have their preferred button moments, whether it’s an artful strip tease or a passionate tear.  It’s an easy way to encourage people to wax eloquently about their favorite scenes.  But why do we have such a strong visceral reaction to them?

I believe there are two reasons.  First, the way buttons are dealt with can be an effective symbol for the developing relationship.  A tender, tentative undoing leaves a very different impression than a frenzied bursting.  The former is an expression of trust and building intimacy while the second emphasizes passion and impulsiveness, a letting go of expectations and boundaries.  Buttons allow an author to demonstrate the emotional connection without having to be jarringly explicit.

The second reason that buttons work so well is because they are familiar.  Even in today’s world of T-shirts, almost everyone has experience with buttons.  It’s a part of the romance world that can be easily and safely recreated.  We might never enjoy the real life thrill of a CIA-trained assassin protecting us or a thousand year old vampire sweeping us off our feet, but we can have the satisfaction of undoing our lover’s dress shirt one button at a time between dizzying kisses.

There’s also the element of undercutting formality.  In today’s world, buttons tend to be associated with businesswear and formalwear.  The garments are designed to shift emphasis from the private to the public.  By returning the reader’s attention to the private, the author creates a stronger impact.

This is also one of the reasons why lingerie designs often deliberately echo the garments of the past, using lacings and ribbon fastenings to evoke a sense of the taboo.  By creating an association with unconscious links with a time which is assumed to be more sexually restrictive, the garment increases the tantalizing pleasure of crossing social boundaries.  It also emphasizes the importance of intimate connections by requiring the participants to take more time in donning and removing the clothing.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that romance novels emphasize buttons and other fastenings.  It’s part of the centering of mutual pleasure that makes romance so satisfying.  The intimacy isn’t just to be yada, yada, yadaed past.  It’s a significant part of the whole experience, one that is celebrated and allowed to be enjoyed in all its little moments.  One button at a time.

I write paranormal romance full of suspense, action, and adventure (and buttons, promise).  My first book with Soul Mate is Deadly Potential (Federal agent Ben will do anything to protect songwriter Katie from a supernatural stalker who can hide in plain sight), available on Kindle Unlimited.  Or there’s my original series about a secret society of superheroes living among us.  Begin with Revelations for free!

Or check out my previous Favorite Things post about the powerful drama that happens when a main character believes their love interest has been killed.

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