I love this post by Barbara Froman, and I share it here. (By the way, I have been known to curse quite frequently.) Happy 2018!

From the Keyboard

Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 4.21.16 PM “…if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”  (George Orwell)

I’ve tended to use profanity the way many people do—as an exclamation point. Hit my head on the freezer door (freezers on the top? Not a good idea), or bang my leg on a chair? Curse.  Break a plate or glass (I am very bad with glass), knock a goblet of wine on the rug? Definitely curse. Or find a mess left by a pet? Curse, curse, curse.

On occasion, my curses have been directed inward—when I couldn’t believe I’d been dumb enough to make this or that mistake, or when I disappointed people I loved; and on other occasions, I’ve hurled them outward, generally at the TV during football games.

When I was teaching, my football curses were a convenient way to let go of pent up frustration, and the hundred times I bit my tongue to keep…

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Going Hi-tech

This pedometer geek has been wearing a pedometer since early 2001. I have gone through countless pedometers (well, if I really thought about it I could probably figure out how many of them I have owned (and then lost, broke, or otherwise had to replace for various reasons), but I digress).

I have always resisted the idea of a Fitbit despite the ravings of friends and family. I didn’t wish to be tracked that thoroughly through Bluetooth. Despite this, I have succumbed. I now own a Fitbit, thanks to my husband.

I haven’t quite figured it out. The technology is still confounding me. As I don’t have a smart phone (nor do I want one, but I digress once again), syncing the Fitbit to my Kindle Fire has been difficult.  The various bells and whistles may take me some time to understand. And being “buzzed” every so often is a weird sensation.

Because of this, I don’t trust the data I am obtaining. I am currently wearing both my current pedometer, an Omron, which counts steps, aerobic steps, calories burned, and mileage, and the Fitbit, a Flex 2, which requires some input.

According to my current data, there is a discrepancy in the number of steps. My Omron shows 5,768 steps with 2,503 aerobic steps obtained through 22 minutes on the treadmill this morning while my Fitbit indicates 7,237 steps with 10 minutes of “active” steps. Ironically, I know many of my first steps of the day weren’t recorded by the Flex, or at least they didn’t seem to be because of the syncing issue.

Why the discrepancy between the two? Which of the two results is the more accurate? And totally unrelated to the number of steps, but still perplexing to me is how does the Fitbit know when I am sleeping (and waking briefly, etc. which seems kinda spooky to me)?

I know eventually I will figure out all the bits and bobs to the new hi-tech pedometer, but for now, I will trust my traditional Omron results while wearing both for some time. Will I abandon my trusted pedometer soon? Only time will tell. In the meantime, helpful tips or tricks, suggestions, and information about dealing with the Fitbit by those who have utilized theirs would be greatly appreciated. Now, gotta run; my Fitbit is indicating I need to move.

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The Journey of a Thousand Miles… (and November reads)

…begins with a single step. A friend in Great Britain mentioned a challenge to walk a thousand miles in 2017. I believe it was to raise funds for a charity, and she encouraged others to participate. In solidarity with her, this pedometer geek decided to do the same. At the end of November, this pedometer geek had added another seventy-one miles, leaving thirty-seven miles to go. As of the 16th, the goal was met, and each day’s steps just add to the total.

On the other hand, November’s step totals were not impressive. Only 187,79 steps were logged on the pedometer throughout the month, and there was only one day when the goal of 10,000 steps was met. There were twenty days when aerobic steps were obtained (a total of 58,654 steps).

Fortunately, reading went a bit better than walking. Ten books of various genres were read. Mainstream, mystery, romance, fantasy, and suspense novels were in the mix. Five of the authors were new to this reader, and four of the books were read in an e-book format.

This reader participates in two challenges. The first is a quarterly challenge, the Set-it-yourself (SIY) challenge. The other challenge is the yearly pages-read challenge. In the former challenge, there needs to be a correction to the number of books. Only twelve books were actually chosen for this challenge instead of fifteen reported in October’s post. Four of the twelve were completed in November leaving seven books to be completed by December 31st. It may be difficult, but not impossible to complete this challenge with twelve days to go.

The pages-read challenge is nearly complete. In November another 2,932 pages were added, bringing the total to 39,131 of the 40,000 pages challenged. As of this date, the challenge has been met. If the books chosen for the SIY challenge are completed, there will be an additional 1500 to 2000 pages.

In November, the following books were read:

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd   *

How the Finch Stole Christmas by Donna Andrews

A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron

The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan  *

Big Girls Do It by Jasinda Wilder

The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom   *

Snared by Jennifer Estep  *

Death Comes eCalling by Leslie O’Kane

The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

When looking back over the books read during the month, this reader can see that there was some diversity among them. Except for the two books (The Sunlight Pilgrims and Snared)  reviewed on (my review site), all will be briefly discussed.

Sue Monk Kidd’s third novel rivals her first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, for having a powerful, compelling story. It is a novel of two girls who grow up together during the time of slavery. Both are trapped by the institution, and both hate it. One becomes an abolitionist; the other is her slave. It is thoroughly engaging and well worth reading.

Donna Andrews continues her bird-themed mystery series. Always humorous, Meg Langslow solves another murder during the Christmas season. For a lighthearted mystery series, check out the adventures of Meg and her crazy family. Each builds on the former books, but each could be read as a standalone.

A Dog’s Journey is the sequel to A Dog’s Purpose, and it continues the story of the dog who keeps being reborn as different dogs. With each new identity, the dog, known mostly as Bailey in the first book, remembers the lessons of past lives. This novel, like its predecessor, is a bit of tearjerker. While the second could be read without having read the first, too much would be lost in this reader’s opinion.

Jasinda Wilder’s contemporary romance is really four short stories/novellas that are combined into one book. Read as an e-book, the stories merge seamlessly into a unified whole, but the fourth story ends with a cliffhanger. There are more stories in the series, and the fifth one definitely answers the cliffhanger, but so far, this reader hasn’t had the opportunity to know what happens next.

Mitch Albom’s novel has, like his previous ones, a spiritual component. This one features a group of people who are receiving phone calls from loved ones who have died, but one person has his doubts and considers it his responsibility to figure out the hoax. The effect upon the people, near and far, is the gist of the story.

Leslie O’Kane’s novel is a cozy mystery story featuring Molly Masters, an amateur sleuth and entrepreneur of a small business. Having recently moved back to her home town, she is then accused of killing one of her former teachers and must prove her innocence.

The Blackbird Season is a suspense-thriller about a dying town and angsty teens, a teacher-coach, lies, infidelity, and a troubled marriage. Blending that all together is one girl’s assertion of an affair and her subsequent disappearance.

J.D. Robb, a pseudonym for Nora Roberts, is the author of another suspense-thriller, Naked in Death. It is the first in a futuristic series that features Eve Dallas as a high-ranking detective. She is investigating  a series of murders of officially sanctioned prostitutes.

That’s it in a nutshell. Now, to get back to the books this reader hopes to finish before the end of the year.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and may all your reads in 2018 be enjoyable and your steps be counted.


* SIY books

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My thoughts to myself for the day

Sound advice from Jane Wilson. File this under the category:I wish I had said this!

Box o' Ducks

  1. It’s very easy to talk about people without mentioning their names. Those who know them will know exactly who you’ve referred to, and a fair number of others will be certain you’re talking about themselves. Avoid talking about others at all costs.
  2. Those who care about us often make well-meaning suggestions for ways in which we can improve our circumstances or our state of mind. Sometimes we welcome the advice, but more often we feel as though we’re being told what to do. Always thank them for their advice, even if you have no intention of following it, and remind yourself to give unsolicited instruction only in exceptional circumstances, such as when someone is about to injure themselves.
  3. Laugh to yourself whenever you can.

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Cologne, not the City

It is obvious that the holidays are rapidly approaching. There are several reasons for this observation.

The first is the proliferation of catalogs in the mailbox. Catalogs, both familiar and unfamiliar, have shown up in our mailbox. From Harry & David to Lands End to Jackson & Perkins and others too numerous to mention, they have arrived. Frankly, a few of these arrived because orders have been placed in the past, but most aren’t.

The second is the proliferation of television specials that feature a holiday theme. Shows like A Charlie Brown Christmas and Frosty the Snowman air almost daily. And, of course, even PBS switches out their traditional programming for pledge break programs, often with a holiday theme. Of course, PBS has pledge (break) shows even when it isn’t the holiday time, but I digress.

The last reason (and the reason for the title of this post) is the proliferation of glitzy perfume and cologne commercials. While they are shown at other times of the year, it is prior to the holidays that advertisers really bring them to the forefront.

How do you recognize a perfume commercial? It’s simple. They are artistic without much to determine what the product is. The people in the commercials are dressed sumptuously, the women often wearing jewels. They are almost like mini-movies selling class and wealth. Often, for the woman, empowerment. At the end, the perfume is showcased with a breathy voice announcing the name of the perfume.

One, in particular, has caught my husband’s and my eye. The first time we saw it, I immediately said that it must be a perfume commercial.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because it’s too artsy,” I said. “Too wild, too unrealistic…”

After viewing it a few too many times, we started bantering back and forth, making a mash-up of it with another product.

First, the synopsis of the commercial: A girl is bound in strips of fabric, and she runs away breaking her bonds as she goes. The strips cling to her, trailing behind her, as she runs and breaks through a wall, setting her free. It ends with her standing on a balcony as the sun rises (or possibly, sets). Then a picture of the bottle is shown as the breathy voice-over mentions the name of the perfume. All of this to sell a new generation on this brand.

Okay, now for our warped mash-up. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a mash-up is combining two or more unrelated things together (toy manufacturers actually make toys like this). To us, the strips of fabric really look more like toilet paper. By combining a current toilet paper commercial with this one, a bear, who complains about the poor quality of the hotel’s toilet paper, is chasing a young woman down because she has the good stuff. As she runs away, she breaks free of the paper wrapped around her, escaping from the bear as he collects his toilet paper. No wonder the mother bear is justified in bringing her own toilet paper on vacation.




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Poetry Going Mainstream?

Apparently, it is. When I think about books of poetry, I don’t think of them as selling well. A few copies here, a few copies there, and maybe, just maybe, a hundred or so copies will be sold or given away (and those are generally well known poets like Billy Collins, Maya Angelou, or Robert Frost).

Because I volunteer at the local library, I spend more time there than most people, and I noticed that for more than a month two poetry books (The Sun and Her Flowers and Milk and Honey) have been on the New York Times bestseller list.

Frankly, most of the time the list is made up of thrillers, mysteries, and mainstream fiction written by authors who are familiar to all.  Names like John Grisham, David Baldacci, Nora Roberts, and James Patterson populate the fiction list so to see Rupi Kaur (or any poet for that matter) still on the list is just plain cool because it means that someone is purchasing a lot of poetry books, and it gives hope to those who write poetry.

As of this week, The Sun and Her Flowers‘ rank on the list was # 7, up from # 10, and Milk and Honey‘s rank was # 12, down from the previous week’s # 11 spot. Still, to have not one, but two books of poetry on the list is a real feat especially since the latter was originally published in 2014.

In fact, I was in the local bookstore the other day, and I leafed through The Sun and her Flowers, reading one or two of her poems. The poems had great range of emotion, and I suspect I may be reading more of her work. For what it is worth…


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Goodreads Has Not-So-Good News for Indie Authors

Eva Lesko Natielle, the author of The Memory Box, wrote this, but it is definitely worth reading her post about the new (and not improved in my opinion) Goodreads giveaway program. Thanks, Eva, for reminding us.

Eva Lesko Natiello

Copy of Eilmeldung

Anyone familiar with my book marketing coaching for indie authors, knows that I love Goodreads. After all, Goodreads has been critical to the success of many self-published authors who want to get their books noticed in a very crowded playing field.

Indie authors know this site is a great place to interact with readers. I met the readers of my very first book club on Goodreads. My self-published book was only out for a few weeks, and a reader in Oregon contacted me through Goodreads to tell me her book club was reading it (insert author fainting). Being an author from New Jersey, I was ecstatic that not only did I have a reader who was not a blood relative, they did not even live in my town! Or state! This was exciting stuff. I was so thrilled, I offered to attend their book club via Skype. The book club…

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