Stop Dissing the Eighties

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What's wrong with the 80's? Everyone makes remarks about the 1980's, and those remarks either poke fun at the big hair decade or scorn the "greed is good" mentality many had, but, hey! I loved the Eighties.

What Happened in the Eighties

That decade brought us the rise of romance novels, the first Star Wars movies, Alf on TV, the collapse of communism, the birth of the home computer, some of the best music ever (Cyndi Lauper, Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Don Henley, Wham! Blondie, The Cars, Aerosmith–just to name a few), the end of the cold war, Hill Street Blues, Cheers, Cagney and Lacey, MacGuyver, Family Ties, The Weather Channel, CNN, and my kids! *g*

Just think of some of those wonderful songs: Tainted Love by Soft Cell, In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins, Funkytown by Lipps Inc., Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, Love Shack by the B52s, Straight Up by Paula Abdul.

Movies of the Eighties

The 80's was a great decade for movies: Indiana Jones, Ferris Bueller, Die Hard, The Terminator, Aliens, Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, Back to the Future, The Princess Bride, Bill and Ted, Vacation, Caddyshack.

So far, the new millennium has been more perilous than fun. So let's give the decade of the 80's a big fat kiss because it was a heck of a lot of fun!

What was your 80's experience like?

Takeaway Truth

Wishing you lots of fun, happiness, and prosperity in the year coming at us like a rocket ship on rails.

Thursday3Some: 3 Great Stocking Stuffers

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I find, with every year that passes, I do more shopping online. I'm usually parked in front of a computer all day anyway, and it's just easier to shop this way than fight the traffic to the mall.

I'm just now getting around to the rest of my Christmas shopping, and I thought I'd share 3 great gift ideas with you on this Holiday Thursday3Some.

1. One year gift membership to JacquieLawson.

 Chances are you've received a Jacquie Lawson eCard in the past. They're awesome, aren't they? I enjoy sending and receiving these cards because they're so creative and the beautifully designed graphics and music are paired delightfully.

Why not give a 1 year gift membership to JacquieLawson. It's only $12.00 for 1 year of unlimited greeting cards. You can go crazy and send a card for every occasion, and the cost is just pennies!

2. Personalized Christmas ornaments.

Many websites offer this. An ornament for the tree is a great, inexpensive gift or stocking stuffer. If you're running late, wrap it as an ornament for next year's tree. Here are a few sites that offer this: Bronners * Front Gate * Christmas PlaceCurrent * World Market.

There are many others. Even WriteWay, my own CafePress shop, has ceramic ornaments designed for those who love words. You can see the Snowflake style at the top of the right sidebar. They come in many shapes.

3. An online gift card in any denomination.

Make it a totally awesome gift or just a stocking stuffer. From an Amazon Prime Gift Membership to gift cards, the following, according to CardHub, are the most popular Gift Cards this year, in order of their popularity:

Visa *Amazon * iTunes * American Express * Netflix * Walmart * Target * Google Play * eBay * Starbucks * MasterCard * Macy’s * Ikea * Sephora * Best Buy * Disney * Gamestop * Fandango * Ticketmaster * Costco * Lowe’s * Dunkin Donuts * Chipotle * Nordstrom.

In addition to books (and just about anything) from Amazon, you can also buy gift cards for books at: All Romance eBooksiTunes/iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.

Don't forget popular shopping sites like CafePress, Kim Komando's Store, and other specialty online stores.

Takeaway Truth

Happy Shopping and Happy Holidays!

12 Authors & Christmas Past

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Little did Charles Dickens know the impact his novella, A Christmas Carol, would have on the world. Published first in 1843, the novella is still one of the most popular Christmas stories, celebrated in book and film.

I've always had a fondness for his Christmas Ghosts: Past, Present, and Yet To Come. No matter how television and movies may adapt the story, those 3 spirits always appear in some form.

Today on SlingWords, we're celebrating Christmas Past. Here are 12 popular Authors sharing their favorite memories of Christmas Past. Each author has brought along a book for your consideration. I've checked all links, and they're all good. I hope you'll check out the books in this post and discover a new favorite author.

Comment & Win Free Book from Joan

I'm sharing the holiday love! If you'd like one of my books as a gift, just leave a comment with your email address (written out, not as a hot link). I'll send you a Smashwords Coupon for a free book! (Offer good from now until Christmas Eve.)

Presenting 12 Authors & Their Respective Christmases Past

Barb Caffrey is the author of An Elfy on the Loose, a YA Urban Fantasy/Romance. Bruno, a magical Elfy from another dimension, is sent to our Earth and must save both his teacher Roberto and his human girlfriend, Sarah, from a Dark Elf.

Barb shares a Christmas memory of her late husband Michael who was influential in the writing of her novel. She said, "Michael was a writer and editor. Without knowing Michael, I doubt that this book would exist."

Barb's Christmas Past

This Christmas memory is doubly precious. In 2001, I was talking with an interesting man named Michael on Christmas Eve. We'd known each other about six months, had been introduced by a mutual friend -- and you'd think nothing of this, except this was a long-distance relationship where we'd only met each other once due to him living in San Francisco and me in Iowa.

Anyway, Michael and I were talking. It was Christmas Eve. My family was far away, and his was  too. So we talked and talked and talked and didn't care about how much money it cost because, hey, it was Christmas Eve. Before we knew it, we'd talked for nearly thirty-six hours in a row about everything under the sun. At the end of that time, he told me, "I hope we can consider ourselves dating now."

That was the beginning of my romance with the love of my life, my late husband, Michael B. Caffrey. It is the most precious memory I have...and it happened on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 2001. (Yes, miracles truly do happen.)

Buy An Elfy on the Loose by Barb Caffrey: Amazon Kindle U.S. * Amazon Kindle UK * B&N Nook

Stephanie Queen is the author of The Beachcombers, Book 4: Scotland Yard Exchange Series. Neither Dane nor Shana want the explosive and unholy attraction that keeps them off-balance.

Stephanie's Christmas Past

I grew up in the sixties, a very innocent time compared to these days. I believed in Santa Claus until I was 8 years old. We had the tree with all the kids' gifts, without wrapping in all their exuberant ready-for-playing glory, crowded around with barely enough room. My parents stayed up late, like all parents everywhere, to make sure everything was assembled and working and piled for each of the four kids.

Anxious and excited as always, I woke up and jumped out of bed and didn't wait to be invited down stairs and didn't wait for the siblings I wanted--no, I needed--to check and see if Santa ate the cookies. I went down stairs and opened the door at the bottom and peeked out. There was my father. Not dressed up as Santa. Not saying ho, ho, ho. But eating the cookies just the same.

Buy The Beachcombers by Stephanie Queen: Amazon Kindle * B&N Paperback or Nook * iBooks

Lily Bishop is the author of Under His Protection, Book 2 City Lights. Candidate for state attorney general, Elizabeth Crowne, hires ex-Marine Lee Thornton to protect her from death threats, but can she protect her heart?

Lily's Christmas Past

I lived with my grandparents and dad growing up, and although Christmas wasn't as material as it is now, we always had a good Christmas. Sure, my aunt gave me clothes, but my Dad always made sure I had that special toy I wanted, no matter how odd he may have thought my requests.

My favorite gift growing up had to be the old Royal manual typewriter, the classic black one. In seventh grade, back in 1982, when typing was something kids took in ninth or tenth grade, I asked for a typewriter. Dad delivered with an old Royal manual model. I had thought he would get electric, but I guess that was too expensive. I wasn't deterred. I found an old typing book that someone had left at the house and taught myself to type.

I'm sure he thought it was odd, but after all, I was an odd child. I always had my nose in a book, and I had all of these stories in my head. That Christmas, it wasn't the typewriter itself -- after all, electric would have been better -- but it was the fact that he knew me enough to know that I would want a typewriter over new designer jeans or that cool "Members Only" jacket. My kids can't even imagine the frustration of typing a class paper on an old manual typewriter, but I remember. I remember it well. And sometimes, when I'm struggling with a manuscript, I pull out the scissors and tape. Sometimes you've just got to cut and paste.

Buy Under His Protection by Lily Bishop: Amazon Kindle * B&N Paperback or Nook * iBooks

Jean Joachim is the author of Champagne for Christmas. A steamy, funny, emotional Christmas romance with a happy ending you'll never see coming.

Jean's Christmas Past

A few days before my first Christmas as a young, married woman fresh out of college, my father had a heart attack. I was beside myself with worry as I tried to focus on going to work every day and taking care of my equally young husband.

Christmas shopping was relegated to the day before Christmas at Bloomingdale's department store. The place was so crowded, I had to wait on line simply to get on the escalators. As frazzled as I was, at some point it occurred to me that when we went to the hospital to open presents, my dad wouldn't have a gift for my mother.

I wracked my brain to come up with something he'd get for her, so it wouldn't look like I did it. I bought three cakes of her favorite scented soap, Maja. When I slipped the wrapped package in his hand and whispered what it was, he smiled at me and gave a nod. Ma was surprised, and he was pleased to be a giver as well as a receiver. The spirit of Christmas was truly alive in that room that day.

Buy Champagne for Christmas by Jean Joachim: Amazon Kindle

Susan Oleksiw is the author of For the Love of Parvati: An Anita Ray Mystery. Anita Ray is expecting a quiet visit with family but instead is caught up in a servant woman's desperate attempt to escape a man bent on revenge who has tracked her into the mountains and doesn't care how many he kills before he reached her.

Susan's Christmas Past

In 1981, my husband and I were living in India, in a city only two or three degrees north of the Equator. I found it hard to believe Christmas was on the way. There was none of the signs I associate with the holiday season--cold temperatures, holiday shopping frenzies, and crowds in the shops. Nevertheless, when I looked around I could see people were preparing for a holiday.

We were staying at a hotel on the beach, and the owners prepared a holiday evening for the guests. We were treated to a buffet dinner on the roof, which looked out over the ocean, and music and dancing. When I sat on the parapet and looked down, I saw strings of lights draped through the coconut fronds. We shared the evening with a family from Germany, a group of travelers from Australia, a woman from France, and a few Americans.

The Indian family joined us for our late-night supper, and, at midnight, Joan Christian, whose family owned the hotel, went to each of us, kissed us on the cheeks, and wished us Merry Christmas. It was the most uncomplicated, simple and genuine holiday I've ever spent. In the morning, Christmas Day, we went for a walk on the beach.

Buy For the Love of Parvati by Susan Oleksiw: Amazon Kindle

Jana Richards is the author of First and Again. With their children’s happiness on the line, how can they risk falling in love again?

Jana's Christmas Past

My favorite Christmas memory is arriving at my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve after the children’s concert at the church. All my aunts and uncles and cousins would gather in Granny and Grandpa’s tiny house, and we’d have a huge meal that we’d have to eat in shifts because there wasn’t enough room for all of us at the table at one time.

The table would groan under the weight of all the homemade goodies that Granny had made. One of my favorites was her strudel. I remember watching her and my aunts make it, stretching the delicate phyllo pastry, all made from scratch, across her dining table. When it was stretched thin as paper, they’d sprinkle it with chunks of apples, raisins and dots of butter and then roll it up like a jelly roll. The aroma of the strudel baking in the oven was heavenly, and always said Christmas to me.

After dinner we’d open presents. We picked names amongst my thirteen other cousins so we each got one gift. Getting gifts was fun, of course, but I can’t remember one gift I received back then. What I do remember was being with my family in that little house and enjoying the warmth of the season. Merry Christmas!

Buy First and Again by Jana Richards: Amazon Kindle * B&N Nook * Carina Press

Shelley Munro is the author of Merry & Seduced. All roads lead home at Christmas.

Shelley's Christmas Past

I live in New Zealand, and for us, Christmas takes place during the summer. When I was a child, we used to have a traditional Christmas dinner with roast turkey and vegetables followed by plum pudding filled with coins for those lucky enough to find them in their portion. One of the relations would dress up as Santa and give out the presents. I recall being highly indignant because Santa stood on my toe and almost crippled me--at least that's what it felt like.

These days we tend to have a barbecue and salads for Christmas dinner, and have a day much like the characters in my book, Merry & Seduced. A lighter meal is much better during the humid, hot weather, although a part of me still hankers for some plum pudding and custard!

Buy Merry & Seduced by Shelley Munro: Amazon Kindle * B&N Nook * All Romance Ebooks

Jina Bacarr is the author of The Christmas Piano Tree. A young war widow rediscovers the magic of the holiday season with the help of a homeless vet and an old piano.

Jina's Christmas Past
My favorite Christmas was in Kentucky when I was in grade school. We lived in a small cottage-like house on the outskirts of town with snowdrifts that came up to my waist. Going into town to buy a Christmas tree was a big deal for us -- seeing the lights and decorations on Main Street and stopping by the general store to buy rock candy. It was a world without the Internet or cell phones which makes it seem magical now when I look back on it.

One Christmas we almost didn’t get a tree. We were snowed in and when the storm cleared, we drove from lot to lot until we finally found a tree and hauled it home. We were all nearly frozen. The creaking heater in the house didn’t work right, so my dad lit the big old fireplace, and I can still see my mom decorating the tree and hanging up our stockings on the cracked mantel. It’s a memory that never fades but glows brighter each year.

Buy The Christmas Piano Tree by Jina Bacarr: Amazon Kindle

Annette Drake is the author of Celebration House. How can Carrie plan a future with a man who has only a past?

Annette's Christmas Past

One of my most cherished Christmas memories is sitting next to my mother on the piano bench, when I was a little girl, and turning the pages of her music while she played during midnight mass.

The church glowed with candle light. The altar was a raft of marble, floating in a sea of poinsettias. The voices of the choir members, all clad in dark purple robes, filled the small church. I felt so special to be allowed to sit up close, but safe, tucked away behind my mother.

Buy Celebration House by Annette Drake: Amazon Kindle * Nook * Kobo

Carole Price is the author of Sour Grapes, Book 2: Shakespeare in the Vineyard. Cop-turned-vintner Caitlyn Pepper just wants to operate her California vineyard and continue to organize her aunt's Shakespeare festival, but someone wants Cait dead.

Carole's Christmas Past

My mother was a professional singer and violinist. She also had a house near The Ohio State University campus where she rented a couple of rooms to male students. Males because they went out for their company.

One happy memory is of her sharing our Christmas tree with the students before they left for home for the holidays. She would sing a few common Christmas songs and pluck on her violin, keeping the music light, not operatic. I don't remember the title of some of the songs, but the way she performed them was funny and amused everyone. We'd sit in our small living room, drink hot chocolate, and sometimes sing along with her. Those were good times.

Buy Sour Grapes by Carole Price: Amazon Kindle * Hardcover from B&N * TowneCenterBooks

Jeanine McAdam is the author of The Bull Rider and the Bare Boycotter, Book 1, The Skirts and Spurs Trilogy. Can an animal rights activist find love with a sexy bull rider while trying to save the bulls and his family at the same time?

Jeanine's Christmas Past

I loved my Barbie dolls. I remember receiving a Barbie pool for Christmas when I was about nine years old. We were visiting my grandmother in Florida, and I set the pool up on her screened in porch. I remember putting Ken in his swimsuit and making him take a big dive into the water. However, his head fell off. A few months earlier the dog had chewed him. So the head was taped on. Unfortunately the tape didn’t stick. No swimming for Ken. Skipper was next. Excluding a few problems with her bikini, she did great. Barbie sat on the deck sunning herself. She refused to swim because she didn’t want to ruin her hair.

Buy The Bull Rider and the Bare Boycotter by Jeanine McAdam: Amazon Kindle * B&N Paperback or Nook * Secret Cravings Publishing

Rebecca Thomas is the author of The Earl's Christmas Colt (Entangled Flirts). Lady Arabella Sutton is stunned to learn her brother has betrothed her to a stranger.

Rebecca's Christmas Past

A favorite Christmas memory for me was when I was 7 years old. I got up early to see if Santa had come to our house. I don’t remember if it was early morning or late at night because Christmas in Alaska is dark no matter what time of day. I just know that when I looked outside and up into the sky I saw a small blinking red light.

I was absolutely convinced it was Rudolph and rushed off to wake my younger sister. We stood on the couch together staring out at the dark, star lit night sky discussing how Santa was making the rounds and how that just had to be Rudolph.

Buy The Earl's Christmas Colt by Rebecca Thomas: Amazon Kindle * Nook * iTunes

Post Script from Joan

I want to remind you of the free book available to everyone. I compiled Holiday Decorating as a companion book to the Christmas on Main Street Romance Collection.

Each of the authors in the Christmas Box Set contributed a favorite craft or holiday decorating idea to the book. You can even watch the YouTube video I created to show you what the craft book is about.

If you haven't downloaded Holiday Decorating, free to all, get it now. It's available at Amazon Kindle * iTunes * Kobo * Nook

Only 99 cents for 12 Novels
Then for only 99cents, buy Christmas on Main Street Romance Collection, a box set of 12 full-length novels, all set during the holidays. My contribution to the box set is Nobody's Cinderella. (Amazon never put the right cover up on the box set so you won't see my name on the cover image, but I've been promised that my book is in the set.)

Buy Christmas on Main Street: Amazon Kindle iTunes * Kobo * Nook

Takeaway Truth

Memories of Christmas past call to mind long ago moments that bring joy to the present. Fill the holidays ahead with joy, making memories with family and friends.

Still Living Happily Ever After

Tomorrow, drop by SlingWords and visit with 12 Authors who are sharing Memories of a Christmas Past that holds great importance for each of them.


I'm out of the office. My darling husband and I took a couple of days to go to our house in the country and celebrate our wedding anniversary.

Thirty-seven years ago in one of the biggest dust storms ever, my darling husband and I were married in a quiet ceremony.

No beautiful white wedding gown and tuxedos and bridesmaids and groomsmen. No rehearsal dinner, no decorated church, no music, no reception. No extravagant honeymoon.

All we had was our love. That's all we ever needed.

Takeaway Truth

That's still all we need to live happily ever after.

How To Create Clean Amazon Links

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When someone asks you for the buy link to your book, do you give them a long rambling link that may break when someone tries to cut and paste it?

(This article reprints every quarter to help new authors.)


The link above resulted from clicking the cover for Still The One in the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" section that appears on every book page.

Professionals give the shortest, cleanest link possible.

Clean It Up

Sure, that link will get you to the book, but why give a potential reader such an awkward link? Clean it up. Everything beyond the B005062SLS/ is referral code that relates to the source URL which you clicked to go to the book page.

In other words, this is the actual URL.

Okay, that's better, but it's still not as short as it can be. Click the SHARE button on each book page--it's on the right side of the page. Today my SHARE buttons appear between an ad for Kindle Reading Apps and a book ad.

The shortest Amazon link is created by doing away with "www" and abbreviating Amazon as AMZN and omitting everything beyond -- .com/ -- except the ASIN which is the product ID number.

So in my Still The One example, the shortest, clean link is:

Everything sold on Amazon has a 10 character alphabetical/numerical identifying number called the ASIN, Amazon Standard Identification Number.

You can create any short clean link by using: ASIN.


1. Set up a easy to access text document (Notepad) or Flashnote file (which is always plain text) with your book title and every buy link for it. List the official URL for the book and the short Amazon link too. That way you can easily cut and paste links wherever you need them.

By the way, do you know why it's preferable to paste from a text file rather than a Word file when filling out web forms? Because sometimes default formats inherent in Word can cause the pasted text to turn out screwy or contain odd random characters.

2. If you want to try to shorten a link even more, you can use any of the popular link shortening services like, TinyURL, Bitly, Smart URL, or which is just for Amazon. I wrote about it in this month's issue of Writing Hacks, and also published the information on the blog. All the link shortening services work basically the same, but each has some pros and cons.

3. If you're going to give your buy link with your Amazon Associate Referral Code added, it's nice to shorten the really long resulting link by using one of the above shortening websites.I use TinyURL and do a custom alias of the link.

Takeaway Truth

Short links are infinitely easier to work with. Try it.

Holiday Attitude Adjustment

Isn't it sad that one of the most joyful occasions in Christendom is also one when so many people suffer from stress and depression?

I think one reason for this sad statistic is that people put all this pressure on themselves to make Christmas perfect -- like a slice of Americana right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Nothing in life is perfect. Nothing. Not in nature, not in something created by man. Beauty is in the imperfection.

Deadend Pursuit

The pursuit of perfectionism, whether in the gifts you buy "from Santa" or the gourmet dinner you plan, or anything, is a pursuit destined for failure. Quit worrying about creating the perfect Christmas. It makes you -- and the people in your life -- crazy.

Tullian Tchividjian, a pastor and theology professor said: "The deepest fear we have, 'the fear beneath all fears,' is the fear of not measuring up, the fear of judgment. It's this fear that creates the stress and depression of everyday life."

So who is that awful judge that announced you're not measuring up? It's you, yourself.


Aim for joy. So the Christmas cookies are lopsided, and the tree lights burn out a nano second after you drape them on the tree. The cookies will still taste good, and the tree light story can become the stuff of legend in your family. "Remember when Dad spent 3 hours arranging the lights on the tree, turned them on, and they all blew out?"

That's not perfect, but that -- and the great laugh everyone had (or the ranting tantrum) -- is what will be remembered.

One Christmas Eve when our youngest was an acolyte at church services that night, the people in the pew in front of our entire family were whispering about how beautiful our daughter was. The music director announced, "Let's sing Joy to the World." Everyone stood, the organist played the introduction then paused. In that silent pause, before everyone started singing, my husband belted out, "Joy to the world..." and the entire congregation dissolved in laughter. (I thought our kids were going to fall off the pew.)

Yes, he was a little embarrassed, but all these years later, no one in the family remembers all the whispered remarks about our daughter. They do all remember my husband's short solo of Joy to the World. Every Christmas when our grown children are together, one has to tell that tale again.

Perfect? No. Joyful? Yes.

Takeaway Truth

This Christmas, and every day of the New Year, aim for an imperfect life of joy, in which you do your best and accept the results, knowing you did the best you can do.

Got Print Books? Have a Book Signing! Part 3 of 3: Have Fun

The most important thing about a book signing is to have fun. If you love books, and you love talking about books, the "having fun" part should be easiest of all.

(This is Part 3 of 3, Got Print Books? Have a Book Signing. If you'd like to read Part 1, click here. If you'd like to read Part 2, click here.

7 Tips to Having Fun at Your Book Signing

1. Go in with the attitude of talking about books with other readers. You're there to meet readers and connect--not to sell books.

2. Take along a candy jar filled with Hershey Kisses or something similar. Nothing breaks the ice like candy. Offer each person who passes a chocolate. A lot of people will steer clear of somebody sitting at a table with a stack of books because they're afraid they might have to buy something they don't want. But just about everyone will take a candy. Put a big sign by the jar that says: "Books are treats--so is candy. Have a free candy." Something like that.

In Part 2, I talked about bringing a friend "to talk you up." The more extroverted and garrulous the friend; the more people who will approach you.  The goal is to get the person to approach so you can start a conversation.

3. Have a poster or sign that explains who you are and what you're doing. Say Hello to Author Ima Writer -- She loves to talk about books! Otherwise, people will be stopping by to ask you the location of Tide or Crisco or dog chow.

4. Have bookmarks or postcards or some kind of print material to hand out to everyone who passes your table. Great conversation starters. Some people may not buy the book, but they may go to the website later to do so.

5. Smile at everyone who looks your way. Don't be afraid to make eye contact. Call out, "Hello! I'm Bea Writer. I write mystery novels, and this is my latest book. What do you like to read?" If you're shy, use your friend to do this.

6. Take along another friend who will sit at the table with you so you won't feel or look lonely. With 2 friends as backup, you're more likely to feel comfortable and friendly to everyone. One friend can steer people to your table. The friend at the table can hand out your printed material and open a conversation. Working the crowd is a learned skill, and a 3-pronged approach is great.

7. Take a camera and have your friend take pictures or video of you signing books, greeting people, or just looking relaxed and happy. These are great for posting on social media and websites. Don't be surprised if people want to have a photo made with you. Ask their permission if you plan to put it online. (In fact, from my freelance days, I urge you to have them sign a simple release form. Example: Author Mary Smith has my permission to use my image and post it (be specific here on her website, blog, Facebook, or whatever... Then have the person sign and date it.)

Takeaway Truth

I've done a lot of book signings everywhere from a corporate boardroom to libraries to WalMart and bookstores. I've always found them to be great fun. Let me know if you have one and how you liked it.