Prevent Windows 8 Woes

A lot of people are being forced to adopt Windows 8 when they buy a new computer. So far, I haven't read one email from a satisfied new user. So, for all of you who are beset by Windows 8 problems, I remembered a Kim Komando article I had saved.

Click the link to find out what notable Kim K. has to tell you about upgrading operating systems and still running your old programs. She offers a setup guide, a Windows 8 Starter Guide, an app compatibility check, and a lot more.

Takeaway Truth

Do yourself a favor and check out the informative webpage to, hopefully, eliminate as many problems as possible in upgrading.

Rejoice in Spring

Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day. ~ W. Earl Hall

Magical Season

Consider me tranquilized by the spring day. Tranquil, at peace, rested. Today has been absolutely gorgeous from beginning to end. Balmy temperature, blue skies, fluffy white clouds, new green leaves adorning all the trees, and golden sunshine.

Larry and I sat by the lake and had our morning coffee. A giant blue heron flew in and landed on Duck Island. About 3 dozen Mexican Whistler ducks are still here along with the resident goose and a trio of white ducks.

I indulged my love of cooking by creating an old-fashioned roast beef dinner with all the trimmings. I don't usually cook big meals unless we have guests so Larry was quite pleased. Like most men, he loves good food, especially if it includes beef--and mashed potatoes and gravy. Oh, and let's not forget the Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes.

Takeaway Truth

Everyone needs a day like today with perfect spring weather, good food, and wonderful companionship. These are the days that make the drab days bearable.

How To Write a Book Review

Writing a book review is a learned skill. That's why I post this how-to article every quarter to help those who are just venturing into review territory. Feel free to pass this post link on to others.

The formal book review with its formal parameters:

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Name; 1st edition (date)
ISBN: number
Book Size: Format, i.e., Trade Paperback
The Review

seems to have gone the way of daily milk delivery, newspaper subscriptions, and the dinosaur.

Now we have reader reviews. Many of them are thoughtful, helpful. Many of them are like snarky cocktail party chatter.

Many readers never post a review. I think there are many reasons why they shun the review process. Here are a few that might apply:
  • they liked the book but they are aware of the nastiness that some reader reviewers heap on those with dissenting opinions
  • they did not like the book but the author has a huge following and they're afraid loyal supporters will subject them to some of the same nastiness
  • they don't want to hurt the author's feelings
  • they don't know what to say
  • they're concerned that they don't have the writing skills necessary to write a review.
I'm sure there are many other reasons, but I think the above are the most obvious. At least, I get emails from readers who love my books, but they never post a review even when I ask them to leave a few sentences about their reading experience.

So this post is for the average book loving reader:
  • who is new to the review process
  • who may not know exactly what to say or how to say it
  • who is wary of attacks from readers with different opinions
  • who don't see why they should take time to do this.
How To Say What You Think

If your friend next door dropped by to visit you and saw a book, she'd probably ask: "What do you think about that book?"

You'd answer her by telling briefly what the book was about and what you liked about it or didn't like. That's how you write a review: in a friendly conversational style as if you were telling a friend about it.

So just jot down what you think on a notepad or in some computer word processing app if you want to be sure it looks good and sounds accurate. If you're concerned about spelling or grammar, do a quick check for that which is easy if you wrote it in MS Word or something similar. Cut and paste it onto the review form on the book's webpage.

What To Say

1. Don't worry about summarizing the book. There's already a Product Description on the book's webpage. If you feel you must give a synopsis, use the gist of the Product Description from the book's webpage.

2. In an online review to be posted on the book's webpage, you just need to say how you felt about the book and why.

If you liked the book, say so. Then say why.

Example: If you were posting a review of Gone With The Wind, you might say: "I liked this novel because it's set on a plantation in Georgia as the North and South are on the brink of war, and I love books set during the Civil War." Or, you might say: "The heroine of this book is Scarlett O'Hara, a spoiled, head-strong young woman, and I like the kind of conflict created by women like that." Or, you might say: "I like to read anything that is historically based and well-researched."

If you didn't like the book, say so. Then explain why.

Example using the same book: "I didn't care for this book because I just don't like books set in the Civil War. Or, you might say: "I didn't like this book because I thought the character was self-absorbed and arrogant. I prefer to read books where the heroine is a likable woman." Or, you might say: "I don't like books about slavery so this book doesn't appeal to me."

3. Never include “spoilers,” elements of the book that are to be surprises, in a review.

4. Give your opinion of the book as it is written, not how you think it should have been written.

5. Do not allow your personal prejudices or attitudes about the author, the premise of the book, the theme of the book, the manner in which it was published, or anything else not related to the writing to intrude in your review.

If you normally don't read romance, but you got a free romance novel, and you didn't like it because it had sex scenes in it or whatever, then do not review it. A review should not reflect your personal prejudices. Instead, make it a policy to review books that reflect your reading taste.

Please don't ever make personal remarks about the author, i.e. anyone would have to be a moron to write a book like this. Or, the author must be a pervert to write sex stuff like this.

6. Summarize your thoughts about the book and feel free to make recommendations such as, "if you like southern humor, you'll love this book."

7. Always be respectful of the author and his time and effort. This doesn't mean suppress your true opinion. It does mean to present your opinion in a respectful, professional manner as if you were talking in person to the author.

To paraphrase what Danielle Steele once said about reviews: "Writing a book, getting it published, and getting bad reviews is like making a beautiful cake and someone comes along and sits on it." So be diplomatic and kind in your review if you did not like the book. The author did not set out to write a bad book, but sometimes all the elements just don't come together.

Take The High Road & Ignore Those Traveling The Low Road

If you post reviews, and someone makes a comment on it, for instance, This person is an idiot if he thinks this is a good book. (Or a bad book.) Don't answer back. You are not required to defend your opinion or to answer any detractors. You have the right to your opinion and to state it publicly. For every person who disagrees with you, there is one who agrees.

Simply ignore any negative comments. A fight can't start without 2 combatants.

Why Post Reviews

Believe it or not, writers try to learn from their reviews. If a thoughtful review mentions something the author is doing particularly well, she'll do more of it. If it mentions something she failed at, she'll try to improve. Good reviews boost an author during the long process of writing another book. Bad reviews may bring her down, but if they contain some insight, then they too are valuable.

Be responsible. Be objective. Be polite.

I think a lot of the acid-tinged reviews I see wouldn't be posted if someone had to say all that to the author's face and/or would have to sign their real name to the review.

Takeaway Truth

Please keep in mind that no one ever sets out to write a bad book. If you see a book in print, then you can bet the author spent long hours working on that book. Authors know that not everyone will like their "baby," but they expect literary criticism to be handled in an objective, friendly way.

Thursday3Some: Secrets of a Mayan Moon by Paty Jager

Today on Thursday3Some, I have award-winning author Paty Jager who is going to answer 3 questions about her book, Secrets of a Mayan Moon.

Paty is never at a loss for story ideas and characters in her head. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it in central and eastern Oregon.

Find Paty Online

Website --
Blog --
Twitter -- @patyjag
Facebook --

When did you write Secrets of a Mayan Moon?

I wrote Secrets of a Mayan Moon two years ago. It is my first trek into writing action adventure and is the first book of a series.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

The spark for the Isabella Mumphery adventure series came after complaining to a fellow writer that I’d read a book dubbed a female Indiana Jones adventure and was disappointed. She challenged me to come up with my thoughts on what a book like that would be, and through brainstorming with her, Dr. Isabella Mumphrey was conceived.

Isabella is a young anthropologist with a genius IQ and a survival tin and vest she wears when out looking for ancient drawings and information on the Native Americans she studies. Because all my other books have either cowboys or Indians in them I made her a specialist in Native American people.

In this first book of the series, Secrets of a Mayan Moon, Isabella meets Tino Constantine an undercover DEA agent and sparks fly!

Why do readers buy Secrets of a Mayan Moon?

Most readers are intrigued by how different it is from the usual romantic suspense novel. This is what a few of my readers have said:
  • “I just have one word to say and it's WOW!!!”
  • “Look out Indiana Jones, there is a woman vying to take your place and she will do it with emotion, style, and intelligence.”
  • “…will keep you turning the pages until the very end and then thanking the author she has book 2.”
  • “This is the first book I have read by this author but it will not be the last.”
  • “Isabella and Tino are a spicy combination.”
Buy Links




Windtree Press

Takeaway Truth

The weekend is approaching. Kick back and relax with a good book.

6 Good How-to-Write Books

I'm late posting today. Been a bit under the weather plus trying to finish a novella for an anthology.

I've had a few emails from readers who want to know more about writing. I think a good place to start is with a list of books for writers. Any of these will help you write better. Here are a few for you to consider.

Dare to Be a Great Writer: 329 Keys to Powerful Fiction by Leonard Bishop

Solid, no-nonsense writing instruction, dispensed out in 329 easily digestible portions, to help fiction writers polish their skills and support their talent with cultivated craft.

Writing and Selling Your Novel by Jack M. Bickham

The late Mr. Bickham sold more than 80 novels in his career. In this book, he shows how to write publishable fiction.

Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham

Whether or not readers will keep turning the pages depends on how well a writer structures the story, scene by scene.

Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

How does plot influence story structure? What's the difference between plotting for commercial and literary fiction? How do you revise a plot or structure that's gone off course? This book answers those questions and helps you create a believable and memorable plot.

Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card

This book helps you create believable characters who will "live in your memory, your imagination and your soul." This book helps you develop and present characters and helps you with viewpoint.

The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes by Jack M. Bickham

When you write fiction, you must master so many elements--some you may not even be aware of. This book points out the most common mistakes writers make in their fiction.

Takeaway Truth

Writing is a learned skill so give yourself an advantage with some great how-to books.

Audio Review: Bad Luck and Trouble

This past weekend, darling hubby and I finished the audiobook Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child. I think this book ranks in our top 10 of Jack Reacher tales.

About the Narrator

Again, Dick Hill is the narrator with the Golden Voice. He's truly amazing. I don't throw around the label Golden Voice in a generic way. Hill was named a Golden Voice by Audiofile Magazine. He's the recipient of 3 Audies and dozens of Earphone Awards.

About Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher grew up on military posts all over the world. It's no wonder that he joined the U. S. Army, serving as an officer in the Military Police. Mustered out a decade ago because of cutbacks, he embraced the idea of not having anyone tell him what to do, when to do it, where to go, or any of the other orders he'd lived his life by.

He travels the country, usually by bus, with only a folding toothbrush in his pocket, the clothes on his back, and an ATM card. He's as much off the grid as any man can be. No cell, no home, no car, not even a driver's license.

If you watched the Jack Reacher movie with Tom Cruise, which turned out to be a pretty good action flick, you'll really like Child's books because his character is nothing like Cruise and is much larger than life, physically large which Cruise, no matter how talented, just couldn't pull off. Reacher's size intimidates most people.

About the Book

The book opens with a horrific action sequence. Let's just say that Child has a way of dropping a bomb in the opening pages.

Reacher is contacted by Frances Nagley, a woman from his old unit. She's tracked him down in a unique way. Fans of arithmetic puzzles will liked this. Nagley tells him of what's happening to the men in their old unit. She and Reacher try to reunite with the rest of his old team, but they're almost too late.

Reacher's unit had the motto: "You don't mess with the unit." The people who have targeted Reacher and his team learn this truth a little too late.

Bottom Line

Nonstop action. Larger than life characters whose camaraderie seems genuine. Despicable bad guys. Intricate plot. Edge of the seat suspense. If those characteristics appeal to you, grab Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child.

Takeaway Truth

If you like your action detailed and brutal--albeit understandable in the context of the story--Lee Child's Jack Reacher books are for you. If you haven't read the Reacher books before, Bad Luck and Trouble is a good one to begin your acquaintance with ex-MP Jack Reacher.

New Report on Publishing

After reading the results of this latest report from the Association of American Publishers, you may need to get a copy of my book Little Book of Sunshine: For Readers and Writers to chase away the gray cloud of dejection some stats may render.

Of course, sales are cyclical. Most statistical reports aren't published quickly so what happened in 2013 is already news that's a few months old. I guess if anything is true it's that statistics show trends, but there are reasons behind those trends.

AAP Stats

The Association of American Publishers released a 2013 study that showed ebook growth was slowing. In some cases, ebook sales are declining. The study showed 32% of adult fiction was sold as an e-book, but only 17% of adult non-fiction was sold as an ebook.

My Commentary

If ebook growth is slowing, that may be a good thing. In the last 2 years, more ebooks than ever have been published. Traditional publishers are dumping backlist into the stream, and more authors are following the indie path. Not just authors but everyone who has a computer and a word processing app. I can't count the number of times I've heard someone say: "I'm going to publish a book to make a bunch of money." Or words to that effect.

All that translates into thousands more ebooks on the market. If the percentage of ebook sales declined, that's understandable given there are so many more ebooks now than in 2011 when I started.


Books for kids to teens, 15% are sold as e-books, and that number was down from 2012. The AAP study showed that teens actually prefer print to digital. The most popular genres for teens? Just see what's playing at the local theater: adventure, fantasy, and science-fiction.

Point of Purchase

Books are still purchased in stores more (62%) than bought online (27%) with a much smaller number of book sales (13%) from mail order. Even though Barnes and Noble still sells the most, purchased in stores doesn't mean bookstores so much as the big discount stores like WalMart, Target, Costco, etc. The supermarkets, airports, independent bookstores, Books-A-Million, thrift and discount stores--all have a small chunk of the book business.

Hot YA Market

The AAP study surprised many with the revelation that Young Adult books were purchased by people older than the YA target audience: 34% of the time YA books were bought by those 18-29 and 21% of the time by those 13-17. Extrapolating, that means 45% were bought by those 30+, and even those over 55 were responsible for 1 in 11 YA sales.

Interestingly enough, I have evidence of this 55+ age trend of YA readers. In the retirement community where we have a weekend home, the women's book club here just finished reading Hunger Games. I think the age range of this group is 60+ to 90+.

My Commentary

What can you take away from this study of book sales last year? Just some commonsense things.
  • ebook market is glutted so sales are declining
  • readers buy books from places so they're shopping for best price or perhaps for a specific book not sold everywhere
  • readers don't let arbitrary designations about target audience age affect book buying decisions.
Takeaway Truth

The study shows what you may already know, but it also shows there's a shakeup coming. More books and more choice mean readers will be more discriminating. The study also shows possibilities for growth in many areas.

Pollen: That Yellow Curse and Blessing

It's spring. Ahchoo! Pardon me for sneezing. Here's an impromptu haiku for today.


Windblown yellow dust--
Nature's blessing or a curse?
Actually, it's both. Right?

I love spring, but sometimes the pollen is overwhelming. We live surrounded by tall trees. Yellow dust blankets everything. When it rains, a yellow stream washes into the street.

Of course, the pollen, while a nuisance, means life is stirring in the plant world. It may seem like a curse to those with allergies, but it's also a blessing. Like most things in life, you have to take the good with the bad.

Takeaway Truth

Spring is such a wonderful season that I'll gladly take allergy meds each day in exchange for blue skies, the greening of the earth, and wildflowers popping up.

Review: Smart Phone Wallet with Shoulder Strap

I have a complaint about women's clothing. I wish it were designed like clothing for men: with pockets. It's hard to find slacks, skirts, shirts, etc. with pockets. Fashion gurus say even if a woman's clothing has pockets, she should never put anything in them because it spoils the lines of the clothing.


I want a pocket in which to stash my cell phone so it goes where I go. Instead, I'm constantly leaving my cell phone around. If I'm in the kitchen, I set it on the counter. Half the time, I walk out with it still on the counter. Same thing if I'm in the office. The phone gets placed on the desk. If I have to run downstairs for something, the cell phone stays on the desk. I can't hear it ring if I'm down and it's up.

Just keeping up with the darn thing is frustrating. I'm not the only woman who has trouble with this. You see women juggling cell phones, car keys, handbags, etc. in restaurants, stores, and other places.

After missing several calls last month, I decided there had to be a better way to keep up with it. So I searched Amazon and found cute little cases with shoulder straps or ring clips. I ordered 2 of the cases with a shoulder strap large enough to place it across my body.

Why 2?

The first one I ordered was the Universal Smart Wallet/pouch with Shoulder Strap which came in several colors. It cost only $7.99. I liked the way it looked, but I was afraid the photo might make it look better than it actually was. So I decided to order another more expensive one as well. I found one for twice the price that was black.

The first to arrive was the blue one (cheap at $7.99) in 2 days. It was packed nicely in a box. It looked great. Nice material, well-made, and well-designed. I admit I was surprised. I tucked my iPhone into it immediately. Even in its gel case, the phone fit well. Every day I put the strap across crosswise and wore the phone all the time. When I walked to the mailbox, I could even hook my mail box key ring on the strap. Loved it!

Finally, the black one (expensive) arrived. What a cheap product. The material was the cheapest vinyl. The stitching was uneven. The clasp wasn't centered. The strap was thin and fragile. Oh, and it arrived in  a brown mailing envelope with no padding or order slip or anything.

I contacted Amazon immediately. They started the return process. I taped on the return label Amazon sent me. The next day UPS showed up and took the item away.

That's one reason I order so many products through Amazon. They are the best at fulfillment and in customer service for returns. So I guess this is a review of Amazon as well--and I'm a satisfied customer. Amazon Prime Membership is totally worth it.

Takeaway Truth

So, ladies, if you have a problem keeping up with your cell phone, order this cell phone wallet with shoulder strap.

Best Buy Practices for Audio Books

This week I blogged about library circulation statistics for ebooks and audiobooks. I heard from a lot of people who do not listen to audiobooks. Why? Because they can be rather expensive.

I've listened to audiobooks since they were on cassettes. I switched to CDs then to iTunes downloads. When my first book, Just One Look, was produced as an audiobook by ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange, an Amazon company, and distributed by Audible (another Amazon company), I joined Audible.

Audible offers a great membership plan. I now have 7 audiobooks available--here comes the commercial (hope you'll get one of my audiobooks whether or not you become a member):

Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones

Just One Look

Nobody's Cinderella

Old Enough to Know Better

Romeo and Judy Anne

Still The One

The Trouble With Love

Currently, one of my favorite narrator/producers is recording the audiobook edition of Scents and Sensuality.

Become a Member

Audible offers several introductory offers for membership. Click here to get the first 3 months for only $7.49. When the Audible membership fee goes to regular price, but that's only $14.95 a month. Each month on the basic plan, you get 1 credit per month. If you don't spend the credit, they rollover. For 1 credit, you can buy any audiobook, regardless of retail price. Now that's a deal!

Plus, there are special sales for members throughout the year--sales like BOGO or $4.99 sale prices. I stock up during the sales.

So there are alternatives to paying high retail prices for audiobooks. I'm sure there are other audiobook sites with membership fees, but I'm most familiar with Audible which also offers another benefit to readers.


The added benefit to buying an audiobook from Audible is that you can pick up the Kindle book and switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book edition and listening to the Audible audiobook. Often, you get a discount price for this.

You can check the ebooks in your Kindle library to see if they're WhisperSync enabled. Not all are, but all of mine are. Learn more about WhisperSync here.

With Audible, you can download a book in just about any format so you can play it on your iPod or MP3 player, your computer, or even burn a CD and play it in your car if you're still listening to CDs.

Audiobooks Embraced

The popularity of audiobooks is growing by leaps and bounds. If you read my post about library circulation statistics for audiobooks and ebooks, you saw the staggering increase in audiobooks. In retail sales, there was a 20% increase from 2011 to 2012 even as all book sales declined during that same period.

Once audiobooks were enjoyed mostly by the blind. In today's world, audiobooks have risen in popularity because they make books accessible to anyone--people who love to read and people who are marginal readers.

Save Time & Still Be Literate

Time is at such a premium in today's world that readers often don't have the time to devote to their passion. Being able to listen to an audiobook allows readers to indulge their love of books. Audio books can take away the tedium of commuting, traveling, mundane chores and tasks, and entertain you all at the same time. When chitchat at a social gathering turns to the bestsellers, audiobook listeners can hold their own.

Takeaway Truth

About 5 years ago, a little more than 4,600 audiobooks were released. Fast forward a couple of years, and the audiobook releases increased to more than 13,000. It's only going to keep growing which is very good news for authors--and readers too.

Thursday3Some: Rules of the Game by Elaine Raco Chase

Today on Thursday3Some, I have contemporary romance novelist Elaine Raco Chase answering 3 questions about her romantic comedy, Rules of the Game. You can find Elaine on Facebook and Twitter: @ElaineRaco.

When did you write Rules of the Game?

The original Rules of the Game was written in 1978 -- published by Dell for their Candlelight Romance line in 1980 -- and, shut the front door, hit really big for them which made them offer me, a 4-book contract.

After getting my rights back, I updated the book, enhanced the characters and the story line by over 15,000 'new words' (LOL) for the ebook. I added in (the hero) Adam's two tours of duty in Fallujah as a marine plus the Wounded Warrior Project, that I proudly support. The ebook hit equally big: #1 Amazon bestseller for contemporary romance & romantic comedy as well as winning #1 Erotic Romance by the readers of Turning Pages Magazine for 2012.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

I created a sharp, sassy heroine who was not looking for a man to complete her life. She had a great career, was taking more classes in the area of consumer law, and was busy succeeding in life in general. That was not the norm in 1978 when all the romance heroines needed help crossing the street. Today, I love the fact that women in books and those who read them are strong, sexy, and not afraid to be themselves -- whether 'they' are in fashion or not!

Why do readers buy it?

Then -- because it was different and set in the US versus Britain or Australia (did I mention the only romance read in 1980 was Harlequin). Today -- well according to the reviews:
  • "Wow! Just absolutely Wow!"
  • "The bantering between Adam & Samantha is hysterical."
  • "Steamy and more than a few chuckles. Far, far better than many e-books I've read."
  • "well written, funny, and sexy..I am now a fan for life."
  • "You will love this book & the ending!"
Buy Rules of the Game

All Romance Ebooks

Amazon Kindle

iTunes Books

Audio Edition from Audible

Takeaway Truth

The weekend is approaching. Kick back and relax with a good book.

Writing Prosperity and Mary Caelsto

This morning, I'm having coffee with Mary Caelsto. Of course, I'm enjoying my morning cup of java in my home office in Houston while Mary is having her favorite beverage at her home in the Ozarks.

Mary, who has written romance for over ten years under a variety of pen names, makes her home with her partner and a menagerie of animals, including two spoiled horses, an opinionated parrot, a wiggly puppy, an office bunny, and the not-so-itty-bitty kitty committee.

She's still writing romance, but she's also taken on the persona of The Muse Charmer, using her lengthy experience in publishing to coach authors. She tries to show authors the building blocks to create the careers they desire.

On March 21, Mary begins teaching a class with an intriguing title: Writing Prosperity Into Your Publishing Plan.

Mary Caelsto, thanks for being here. Why don't you tell us about your class?

Writing Prosperity Into Your Publishing Plan
by Mary Caelsto

For most of us, we never got into publishing out of a desire for dollars. Yes, being published and having sales are great; we certainly won’t turn down royalty checks. But, when it comes to being published, most authors I know, including myself, started with the need to tell stories. As we grew as writers, so too did our stories, and once we became published, our backlists began to grow as well.

Authors today have far more choices and as a consequence know far more than many authors who started out several years ago, and still, they don’t begin with a prosperity practice, or plan, in mind. It’s only after being published, sometimes multiple times, that authors begin to think about prosperity and how to grow their income. It’s at this point, when authors start thinking about prosperity practices.

What Is Prosperity Practice?

Simply put, a prosperity practice is something done repeatedly that helps increase an author’s sales and income—their prosperity. As authors, it’s easy to do things, such as social media, blog posts, chats, etc., to boost our prosperity. Our marketing efforts are part of a well-rounded prosperity practice. It’s the inner author that takes work, and it’s also the part of our writing that is often neglected.

For me, a prosperity practice is a blend of spirituality, new thought, healing techniques and modalities, and some good old fashioned goal setting. Others create practices that nurture the inner author and work with their own beliefs and interests. There is no one “right” way to create a prosperity practice.

Time To Analyze Yourself

If you haven’t, take some time to think about how you nurture and care for yourself, and also how this affects your thoughts on money, income, royalties, and prosperity. Sometimes a bit of soul searching is all that’s needed to find the shift necessary to help us move forward with our dreams. Other times, this introspection can lead us down paths we might not have thought about and open doors we never imagined.

It is time that authors start to write their prosperity into their publishing plans. It can be as natural as plotting a book, creating a marketing plan, or making a timeline for a series. Even authors who don’t plan, who write by the seat of their pants, can still incorporate prosperity work into daily writing and personal practices to help them grow. When it comes to thinking about all aspects of our writing careers, it only makes sense to think about the prosperity too. Because whether we like to admit it or not, that’s an important part of our careers and deserves the same level of attention we give the rest of our writing.

Want To Know More?

Want to learn more about prosperity practices? Join Mary for Prosperity Practices For Writers, a six week class beginning March 21. Learn about personal prosperity practices and how you can integrate them into your writing and your life to help support and energize you toward your financial goals.

Takeaway Truth

This was food for thought for me. I've not thought of writing prosperity into my career plan. Maybe I should? Readers, what do y'all think of this?

Staggering Library Ebook & Audiobook Stats

In February, I published an Update on Ebooks in Libraries. Since I have ebook editions of 8 novels and 2 nonfiction books, with 7 of the novels offered as audiobooks--the 8th is currently being produced--I have a vested interest in the future of books--print, digital, and audio.

I was thrilled when Gerard Saylor, Library Director of the L. D. Fargo Public Library, commented on the post and offered to send me circulation statistics on the Overdrive ebooks from his library.

Gerard had me at hello when he said, "Romances made up 40% of the circ's last time I did a thorough look at the stats."

Gerard sent those circulation statistics on not only ebooks but also on audiobooks through Feb. 25, 2014. What an eye opener that was! The libraries in the California Library System, which I wrote about, may have difficulties, but other libraries are stepping up to the plate and serving the needs of their library users who want ebooks and audiobooks.

About Wisconsin Libraries

Gerard's library, the L. D. Fargo Public Library in Lake Mills, Wisconsin, serves about 10,000 people and includes the City of Lake Mills and the Towns of Lake Mills, Milford, and Aztalan. In Wisconsin, public libraries are locally run and funded. The state is split into several library systems which provide various services to each system's member libraries. Systems do not provide direct services to library customers. Gerard's library system, Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System (MWFLS), is a three-county system.

Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System, MWFLS, is a member of the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium, or WPLC. WPLC administers the ebook services with Overdrive which is currently their only vendor for ebooks. Other individual libraries and library systems do provide eBooks through other services like Recorded Books OneClick.

(Side note from Gerard: "I used to be on the WPLC technology committee that evaluated vendor products and no other vendors had as many titles and ease of use as Overdrive. The Committee's most recent reports are not up, but here's a link to the previous report: I liked OneClick when I used it during a trial period.")

Staggering Circulation Stats

I'm a big fan of audiobooks, but I had no idea they were so popular with library users. Gerard sent statistics from August 2005 to January 2014. I don't have the room here to publish all those stats so I'll give you a year by year snapshot so you can see the tremendous growth in circulation numbers.

Month -- Circulation: Audiobooks

August 2005 - 231
August 2006 - 3,128
August 2007 - 6,907
August 2008 - 11,955
August 2009 - 16,680

Now, still in 2009, we'll add in ebooks which made their debut in this library Nov. 1, 2009.

Month --- Audiobooks ----- Ebook

Nov. 2009 - 17,521 --------- 776
Nov. 2010 - 20,100 ------- 7,127
Nov. 2011 - 24,872 ------ 33.846
Nov. 2012 - 32,336 ------ 81,794
Nov. 2013 - 48,774 ----- 135,842
Jan. 2014 - 57,672 ----- 191,303

I was floored by these statistics, and immensely gratified as well because I have a deep and abiding respect and love for libraries. When I was growing up, the library was my idea of heaven. I could happily have spent every hour of the day and night in the public library.

Technology Challenges

As I previously reported, libraries face many challenges from setting up their internet infrastructure to the actual ebook license acquisitions. In California's case, funding for the economically beleaguered state played a big role in delaying their ebook program.

In Wisconsin, Gerard said, "There are always tech challenges. In regards to eBooks the initial problems were: 1) staff training and 2) learning how to use and upload eBooks to different devices. Integrating the titles into the library system's online catalog took some time. Getting a download link from the catalog took more time."

In Gerard's library, he reports: "Like most public libraries children and adult women checkout the bulk of materials. Over the past 25 months women checked out 2.5 more print books than men. Ebook stats cannot be broken out by age or gender."

How Easy Is It?

Unfortunately, the answer with most libraries seems to be, "Not very." But library users persevere because the rewards of checking out ebooks from a library are tremendous with the ever-growing inventory of ebooks.

I asked Gerard about the checkout process for ebooks in his library system.

"Checkout process has improved but can still be onerous and problematic. The WPLC eBook website is run through Overdrive. Customers authenticate with their library card and PIN, select titles and then checkout. Kindle downloads are usually easiest to get started. I have had trouble helping Nook users to first register with Adobe, download Adobe software, and transfer titles onto their reading device. Kindle checkouts send you to your account and you then send the library title(s) to your Kindle.

"No matter the delivery method there are usually a couple extra steps between checking the item out and loading it onto a device. Using an app does seem to solve a lot of this trouble but I have not experimented with the apps. The explanations I have heard to explain the convoluted checkout process is that publishers are afraid of pirating and require extra roadblocks."

Ebook Inventory vs. Print Book Inventory

"Overdrive primarily started as an electronic audiobook vendor. Not until 3-4 years ago did eBook demand really rise. WPLC has focused on in-demand titles. The WPLC hold to copy ratio is 5:1 (I think...) [Note from Joan: Hold to copy ratio means the number of holds--requests for the items--to the number of available items.] WPLC orders copies that are available statewide. Overdrive also offers a program called "Advantage" where individual libraries and library systems buy extra titles or copies to fill local demand. Those Advantage copies are not available statewide.

Although Gerard couldn't get the statistical reporter to breakout the availability of WPLC titles statewide, he did say that: "MWFLS and another library system share print collections. Among that shared collection are about 2,340,000 items (excluding DVD, CD, microform, etc.). Through MWFLS there are 18,212 FIC and 6174 NONFIC eBook titles."

Obtaining Ebooks

As he said before, Overdrive is their only vendor at this time. Gerard's public library system, MWFLS, had looked at different products including the aforementioned OneClick, but the major problem is that each vendor has their own lending procedure. Customers usually have to leave the library catalog and log into the vendor website and then learn a new download procedure. MWFLS recently integrated Overdrive downloads into the library catalog. Unfortunately, Gerard said when he tried that method, he received error messages.

Acquiring the ebooks, as I said before, is a problem for most libraries because ebook licensing can cost as much as or more than a print book. In Wisconsin, as in other states I imagine, libraries operate within set parameters and are required to follow spending policies.

"In Wisconsin individual public libraries must share everything with other system libraries. MWFLS has a pool of money to spend on Advantage titles through Overdrive and has been supplementing demand. An individual library cannot sign onto a separate vendor service without the headaches of trying to provide access to those titles.

My research showed that "Ownership" of the purchased books is a problem. Gerard concurred.

"A major dig I have with electronic titles is ownership. The libraries "buy" the books but ownership is determined by the vendor agreement. If a contract is not renewed will the library still own the titles? If so, how will the titles be distributed? Will the library computers hold the files? Douglas County in Colorado has dealt with this [by] directly buying from publishers and housing the titles on library computers. I just received an email on this topic from WPLC : The WPLC Open Content Committee is seeking members to expand our working group. We are exploring various platforms to house locally owned materials including self-published regional authors, local documents and materials of interest to Wisconsin public library patrons.

"A major obstacle to eBook access is the publishers. Several publishers still refuse to sell to the library market. Other publishers are [taking advantage of us] on cost and "metering." Random House will charge $83 for an eBook and Harper Collins has a 26 checkout limit. I suppose that is better than not making the titles available at all."

Calling All Libraries

If you are a librarian and want to send your stats about ebooks and audiobooks, I'd love to hear from you. Email me: Joan at JoanReeves dot com. In the subject box, put REAL LIVE PERSON--circulation stats.

Takeaway Truth

Readers and writers should not scoff at ebooks in libraries. They're there, and they're growing by huge numbers. Is Back

Once upon a time, I created a playlist, or soundtrack as I preferred to call it--like a movie, you know--for every book I wrote. I used Playlist to do this.

Then I noticed that some of the songs I'd chosen would disappear from the soundtrack. This became so frustrating that I gave up on Playlist and looked for another app to which I could direct readers so they could listen to the same music that played when I was writing certain chapters. I never really found anything I liked as well.

It's Baaccckkk

Guess what? Playlist is back and, if the beta version is any sign, it's better than ever. All my old playlists are still there, and they offer new options to make them competitive with Pandora--but commercial free and with better stations!

Currently, there are some restrictions on playing back the old playlists, but for new users, this won't be a problem.

Sign back in if you're an old user, or sign up if you're new. They'll be making Playlist go mobile, and eventually, they'll bring back "on demand" where you can play what you what, when you want.

If you're a former user, they're no longer using Logon names. Contact support with your former user name. Or try signing in with your email address and click Forgot Password. That's what I did after I received the email from them.

Takeaway Truth

Everything old is new again.

Meet Elaine Violette

I'm happy to welcome Elaine Violette to SlingWords this morning.


Elaine's first published works were poetry, book reviews, and articles. In 2007, she published her first romance novel, Regal Reward, a Regency that finaled in the New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf contest and received excellent reviews. Last year, her second regency, A Convenient Pretense, was published, and it "illustrates not only her ability to create emotional depth in her characters and an intriguing plot, but also her skill at writing poetry that can be both heart-wrenching and humorous."

Next month, her third novel, A Kiss of Promise which continues the story of the Blackstone brothers, will be published.

Elaine, who teaches public speaking at a community college, is a veteran English teacher with a BS in English Education from the University of Connecticut and an MS in Educational Leadership from Central Connecticut State University. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and lives on the Connecticut shoreline with her golfing husband, Drew. Elaine says that she delights in being a wife, mother, and grandmother to her six grandchildren.

Find Elaine Online




Book Details: A Kiss of Promise, Available April 3, 2014

A Kiss of Promise -- Amazon Kindle

Ellora's Cave

All Romance eBooks

Now, Elaine answers...

The Fab 14

1. In which genre do you write and why that particular genre?

Historical Romance is my favorite genre to read and the one in which I am most comfortable writing. I love the language, dress, culture, and peerage formality of England as well as the history and independent spirit of nineteenth century America. My first three novels take place in England but in the third, A Kiss of Promise, my main characters venture to America. The manuscript I am presently working on takes place in New England in the early 1800s.

2. What's your most recent book and what's it about?

A Kiss of Promise continues the story of the Blackstone brothers, introduced in my debut novel, Regal Reward. It will be released on April 3rd, 2014 by Ellora’s Cave Publishing under their Blush imprint and is presently available for pre-order on Amazon.

Adventurer Martin Blackstone escapes the stuffy rituals of England to seek his destiny in America. He leaves the scandalized Alaina Craymore behind, believing she is better off without him. Suffering under the disreputable circumstances surrounding her father’s death, only Alaina’s love for Martin and the memory of their one stolen kiss have kept Alaina steady. But she hasn’t heard from Martin in far too long and cannot wait forever in the hopes that he will return from America. Just as Alaina begins to recover, one of her father’s associates emerges from the shadows with a choice—she must pose as his fiancée in America or he’ll send her brother to prison on charges of forgery. Willing to endure ruin and an uncertain future, Alaina agrees—she can do no less for the brother who’s spent his entire life protecting her. Only the man who spurned her can save her from the black mailing scoundrel and a ruined reputation.

Martin hasn’t forgotten Alaina or the kiss they shared. When word of her sacrifice reaches him, he’ll move heaven and earth to find her and make her his, no matter the cost.

The strong-minded, independent Alaina, however, would rather choose ruin over the fear that a marriage proposal has been offered out of duty rather than love.

3. As an author, what can readers expect when they read one of your books?

Delicious, intriguing plots, historical accuracy, and flawed characters. Love and healing may not be the initial goals that my heroes and heroines seek, but as they deal with traumas, betrayals, treachery, and their own brokenness, love finds a way into their hearts.

4. How did you "become" an author? For instance, was there a moment when you said: "I think I'll write a book."

As a small child, I was a story teller and a very amateur poet. As a high school English teacher and part time college adjunct, it was difficult for me to find time to write. The desire to write a book, however, was ever present. I was too busy correcting my student’s work to considering writing anything longer than a poem or an article. Reading historical romance was my guilty pleasure when I wasn’t studying the must-read classics for my profession. One day, after reading a lukewarm romance that didn’t draw me in, I decided that I could, perhaps, write a better one.

With my mom’s often repeated saying, “You can do anything you put your mind to,” in the corner of my mind, I began the long, sometimes frustrating author journey. I realized that God had given me the gift of patience and perseverance, that I could stick with it and complete a novel. When my first regency, Regal Reward, was released, I was thrilled. When excellent review followed its publication, I was hooked. Of course, I learned that the craft of writing takes more than desire. It’s a constant learning experience. And, it’s become an obsession. I love my hours creating stories!

5. What is your writing schedule like?

I try to put in a minimum of two hours a day. On great writing days, I can get in four hours. I admit there are many days that I only have time to revise my previous day’s work or write a single page. I also have many days when I don’t get to the computer. Sometimes I’m too busy with work or family issues but often, to be really honest, I am finding excuses not to face a difficult scene or juncture in the story. Of course, the cure for those days is just to sit down and write. Eventually the scene creates itself when I finally take it on, but I admit I have escapist tendencies when I get stuck.

6. Are you a "write by the seat of the pants" or a plotter or a combination of both?

I am a panster but with a vague plot in mind when I start tapping at the keyboard. My preliminary attempts at plotting might create a sketch of situation, but it is usually dry and more a mental exercise than a passionate one. Once my characters develop their personalities, their desires dictate the twists and turns of the plot. Their dialogue and behaviors-- often a surprise to me as the story moves forward--create tensions that deliver much more than my preliminary plotting mind could have imagined.

7. What's the best thing about being an author?

The love of creation, the drive to create the best story, and the excitement when my characters take off and seem to create their own journeys.

8. What's the worst thing about being an author?

Probably the lack of exercise from sitting for hours and, at times, the isolation. I can become so obsessed with the twists and turns of a story that I don’t always know when it would be healthier to stop.

9. Do you have editions of your books available other than ebook editions?

My first regency, Regal Reward, is available both in print and ebook format.

10. Do you listen to audio books? If so, what device do you use?

I seldom take a long drive without having an audio book playing in the car.

11. What device do you use to read ebooks?

I have a Kindle.

12. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Never, never, never give up if you have a spirit within you that calls you to write. It doesn’t matter if you are ever published. You can write for yourself, for your family or friends. Creating stories for grandchildren is a wonderful gift to them. If God has blessed you with a gift of words and the desire to write, don’t waste it. Find the best avenue to create, block out time and a space, and write!

13. If you could tell readers one thing, what would it be?

My characters can’t come alive unless, their stories are read. I hope that readers will come to know my characters, enjoy my books, and contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

14. What are you working on now and approximately when will it be available to readers?

I am very excited about the manuscript I am working on. I’m not ready yet to divulge the title yet, and it’s a real departure from my previous novels. The story that has been waiting to be written ever since I found an inscription in a cemetery that touched my heart. I hope the first completed draft will be finished before summer and it can be sent off by September 2014.

Takeaway Truth

Thanks, Elaine, for helping us get to know you, and good luck with A Kiss of Promise -- Amazon Kindle.

Clean Up Your (Twitter) Act

I hit that magic Twitter threshold of not being able to follow anyone new because the number of people I was following was greater than the number following me.


This happens frequently because some users follow anyone and everyone, knowing that those they follow will probably follow them back. I try to. But then as soon as they rack up bigger numbers of followers, they start unfollowing so they have open slots to follow more, rack up bigger numbers, and keep repeating the process.

I never really pay attention to that because I'm mostly a casual Twitter user. I tweet about my friends' books and events, and I Tweets about what I'm doing. I get a kick out of the #FF hit parade. It's fun to give a shout-out to those I like and admire. Hitting the Twitter ceiling forced me to reassess my Twitter habit.

What To Do

The answer was to run Just Unfollow, an app that checks your Twitter account and lists your Unfollows so you can remove them. What an easy way to stay on top of the situation, which I hadn't realized was important to do.

Just Unfollow offers a free version and a premium version. The free version limits how many Unfollows you can remove each day. The app can also track those who recently unfollowed you so you can see who they are--and get the jump on deleting them I guess. It also can list those who are inactive Twitter followers.

Takeaway Truth

I guess it pays to stay on top of your social network accounts since they're supposed to not only be for fun but also be a marketing asset.

March Roars In

My grandfather, an amateur meteorologist like most people of his generation, always proclaimed: "If March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb, and if it comes in like a lamb, it goes out like a lion."

I have to admit there's a lot of truth in that old aphorism. This first week of March has been bizarre and lion-like. The temperature was in the 20's here in Houston. I can't remember a March when it's been that cold.

Again, we had wind and ice. Ice sheathed the towering trees near me. In fact, I began to wonder where I should park our ranch pickup truck that sits in the driveway most days. If a big branch fell, the truck would be flattened. Fortunately, the weather warmed above freezing for the rest of that drizzly day.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "Our life is March weather, savage and serene in one hour."

Takeaway Truth

We're all tired of this long, cold winter. Wishing you--and the rest of the country--more of the serene and less of the savage--in weather and in life.

Rent Books? Try Booksfree!

Ebook reading offers 2 big benefits: low prices and convenience of shopping for a book at any time, day or night. But what do you do if you still prefer print books over ebooks?

There are some options for print book readers who want the benefits mentioned above. Check out Booksfree, the oldest book rental service in the country, which offers the best classics and the latest popular books delivered right to your door.

Launched in 2000, Booksfree offers low prices, great selection, convenience of web shopping at any time, and free shipping. They have delivered over 3 million titles to their members, and they're the only service that offer books and audiobooks.

Think of them as the Netflix for Books, which is what they've been called by many. Their membership levels have various tiers, but the basic level offers Paperback books, 2 at a time, with an $8.00 initial membership fee for the first Month. Thereafter it's $15.99.

You can pretty much build your membership level according to what you want and what you're willing to pay for it.

Even better, Booksfree donates overstock titles to Walter Reed Medical Center to support our wounded warriors. They also donate books to various libraries.

Takeaway Truth

Happy reading!

Can't Live Without (Free) Music? 3 Apps

Who would have thought that music would become so important to everyone on the planet that we would feel as if we must have access to our music at all times on all devices? Oh, those guys who developed the iPod.

In today's world, we have Smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, Smart TVs, and wrist devices just to name a few. Who knows what devices will be coming our way in the future?

3 Apps for Free Music

Pandora for Mobile Device

Everyone knows Pandora. Here at the casa, we have new Smart TVs so we put Pandora on that too. While I was at it, I put it on a tablet and a Smartphone.

Pandora lets you access all of your stations from a mobile phone, tablet, or e-reader. You can also create new stations, and rate songs using thumbs up and thumbs down. You can sync all your devices via the web.

Pandora is available for Google, iApps (you know, iPhone, iPad, iPod), Kindle Fire, Nook, Windows Phone, and Blackberry.

TuneWiki for Android

Android phones come with a music player, but TuneWiki is a nice alternative. Like similar apps, TuneWiki streams music and video to mobile devices, plays music you’ve stored on the memory card, and streams songs and YouTube videos.

The social networking features make TuneWiki different. The app shows the lyrics of the song that's playing and shows charts of music played around the world. You can post comments on the songs on the Shoutwall.

Available as a desktop app MAC and PC as well as for Android, iApps, Nokia, and Windows Phone.

Our Stage

This lovely little app for iPhones lets you stream music on the go without cost. If you like new music, this app is for you. Although it doesn't have a big inventory of "classic" music, it makes up for that by offering new music from indie and major labels as well as from unsigned bands. You can rate the new music with a thumbs up/thumbs down. Your faves are saved in a playlist. Not only is it free of charge and free of ads, but also it gives away thousands each month to indie artists with the highest user ratings.

Takeaway Truth

Free is good. Rock on.

Pop Culture History: Hula-Hoop

Today is a big day in pop culture history. Way back in 1963, on this day, Arthur Melin patented the Hula-Hoop.

Melin, co-founder with Richard Knerr of Wham-O, had been selling the Hula-Hoop since 1958. Yes, the famous toy company Wham-O which also sold a flying plastic disc called the Pluto Platter, designed to capitalize on the UFO fascination that was also sweeping the country. Oh, that plastic disc was later renamed the Frisbee.

In the first 4 months of production, the Hula-Hoop, developed after Melin and Knerr saw Australian children twirling a wooden hoop in a gym class, sold 25 million units. The way the hips had to be rotated to twirl the hoop reminded them of the Hawaiian hula dance, thus it was dubbed Hula-Hoop.

The Hula-Hoop reigned supreme for several months, but then another pop culture fad shoved it aside. Still, the hoop has never really faded away. In today's digital entertainment world, you don't even need a plastic hoop to get a hip workout. The WII Fitness has Super Hula-Hoop as one of its games. I know because I do five minutes just about every morning.

Takeaway Truth

Toys may come and go, but fun never goes out of style. Just give a Hula-Hoop to a kid and see for yourself.

Read An Ebook Week: Free Books!

It's that time of year again: Read an Ebook Week is here. To celebrate, I'm offering free copies of any of my books from now until Thursday.

Just email me Joan at JoanReeves dot com (in subject box, put REAL LIVE PERSON--Read Ebook Week).

In the email give me your Smashwords account address and the title of the book you'd like to have. I'll email you a code for a free book.

One lucky recipient will also receive a free audiobook!

Takeaway Truth

Don't you just love celebrations that include something free?

Petition About ACX Royalty Cut

In case you haven't heard, ACX plans to cut the royalty rights owners receives for audio books produced through them by 10%. That's a whopping big pay cut. Anyone out there with a 9-5 job want to take a 10% pay cut? No, I didn't think so.

There's a petition circulating and being signed by narrators and authors asking ACX to reverse their position on this issue.

Hey, I'm a big ACX fan. I think they are a great company staffed by helpful people, but I'm hoping they will honor the hard work done by authors and narrators/producers that's more or less done on spec and halt this proposed royalty downgrade.

Please read the petition and sign.

Takeaway Truth

With every day that passes, it becomes harder and harder for artists to make a living.

Farewell, Old Tree

American poet Ogden Nash, known for his often-amusing verses put his own spin on Joyce Kilmer's poem "Trees."

Kilmer's poem states, "I think that I shall never see / a poem lovely as a tree."

Ogden changed poem to "billboard" so that his verse read: "I think that I shall never see, a billboard lovely as a tree."

Why am I writing about trees? Because the old twisted tree on the golf course here was cut down since the last time we were here.

I found the old gnarled tree with all its twisted branches to be beautiful. True, the only thing that remained of its once green grandeur was the trunk, but it was still beautiful.

Takeaway Truth

A Chinese Proverb says: "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now." Next week, I'm planting a Meyer Lemon Tree in the courtyard of my new townhouse, and a live oak tree here at our weekend home.

Everything is Fodder for Writers

Everything a writers hears, sees, smells, or touches gets stored in the brain to be called upon when needed no matter how much time may pass between the storing and the retrieval.

Here's a perfect example of a tidbit tucked away in my brain years and years ago. I'm researching a character for a novella that I'll be writing after I publish Cinderella Blue. In the novella, this woman character is an etiquette snob who disdains anyone who doesn't meet her standards.

Let's Use the Wayback Machine

In my general research, I discovered that manners, defined as a set of rules that allow a person to engage in social rituals--or to be excluded if their manners aren't good enough--date back to 2500 BC. On a clay tablet, The Instructions of Ptahhotep, from the Old Kingdom in Egypt, offers this advice on how to ingratiate oneself to a superior: "Laugh when he laughs."

I guess that's good advice if all the forced laughter at company social gatherings is any indication.

Anyway, this character is loosely patterned on someone who made a comment many years ago about everyone in our community and our hostess in particular. That comment struck me as so ludicrous, so arrogant, that it stuck in my brain all these years. Up until that moment, I thought the woman was a "lady," but a lady doesn't dismiss someone hosting a social gathering as being a "hayseed like the other hayseeds who live here. None of them know that 3-tine forks should never be used as dinner forks."

Much Ado About Nothing

Okay, by now, you're probably bewildered and possibly snorting in amusement. In case you don't know, back in the oh, so, formal days of yore, a dinner fork was designed with 4 tines, and a salad fork with 3. So when one bought flatware, one always picked proper sets that had dinner forks with 4 tines and salad forks with 3, not just smaller forks that were the same number of tines as the dinner forks, or, even worse, I guess, a dinner fork made with 3 tines like a salad fork.

To this woman's thinking, if someone failed the fork design test, then that person wasn't worthy of her friendship or respect. I may know the proper dinner fork design, but I abhor so-called etiquette Nazis like that woman. Real manners mean being gracious to all and making them comfortable in social situations, not shining a spotlight on what one perceives is a social transgression.

That one comment so many years ago provides the underlying characterization for a wealthy widow with her own agenda to marry off her stepdaughter.

Takeaway Truth

They say that elephants have a long memory. Heck! That's nothing compared to a writer's memory.