Category Archives: Help me!

Caught by the Internet Quiz …

I am supposed to be writing, or doing laundry, or cleaning …

Instead here I am, caught by an Internet quiz.

How many of us have been derailed from truly important tasks — like loading the dishwasher or sweeping the floor — by an enticing headline? Such as …

Which Jane Austen Suitor Should You Date?

As a married woman, I should keep scrolling.

But that question … 

… Mr. Knightley? Oh, yay! As written by our Barbara Cornthwaite, the man is an absolute delight.

And wouldn’t you know it? Now I’m tempted to pull out Charity Envieth Not and start reading.

Go ahead, go get your man, m’dear. Take the quiz



Confessions of a Reality TV Lurker

Photo Credit: (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: (Creative Commons)

As a teacher of teens, you’d think I’d have my fill of freakish behavior. Like I need to watch more on my own time? Ah, but I do.

Reality TV is, like, a lurker’s Shangri-la. Yes, these shows are scripted and heavily edited. Yes, the contestants are chosen because of their entertainment value. But the mix of personalities makes a fascinating study in human behavior.

Years of essay writing have me listing these in reverse order, with my favorites at the bottom. The first three I surf, watching only snippets. Because too much drama is too much. But the last three? Those I go to school on.

SayYes-LogoThe right dress can make all the difference to a woman. As a “non-girly” girl, I marvel at how this works. And at how much money some gals can blow through–other people’s money! As for their opinionated friends and family, oh my word. Get over yourselves, people. You’re not the one wearing the dress. And is airing your fine opinions worth damaging your relationship with the bride?

ProjectRunway-LorealLogoThe designs that contestants come up with fascinate me. Combine a bolt of cloth, accessories, and attitude. Voila, an outfit. Not necessarily an attractive outfit or something I would wear, but still. The something-from-nothing is a hook, and also the fact that the designers must actually do work. I tune in for the final 15 minutes.

TopModel-LogoI watch to see the photo stills at the end. How is it that the camera loves certain faces? And how can an image be so vastly more glamorous than the actual girl? And how important is it for an attractive young woman to keep her petty complaints to herself?

Treehouse-Masters-LogoBecause Pete Nelson is just so likable. The camera work is excellent, the locations are easy on the eyes, and who doesn’t want a tree house? This is another show where the “stars” are workmen, not drama queens, and they love what they do. This one I watch from start to finish.

DirtyJobs-LogoDitto for Mike Rowe. He delights in being Everyman, is comfortable in front of the camera, can toss off one-liners with ease, and willingly puts himself in shiver-worthy work situations. Plus the man’s a darn good writer.

SharkTank-LogoThis one is my current favorite. I like the banter, the crisp intelligence, and the practical advice. Again, I’m watching working people who have learned by doing, and the questions they ask are excellent. In the process I’ve come to realize that I am more than just in business for myself. I am an entrepreneur–a scary word! –both as the creator of my fiction and its promoter. As a marketer, I kind of stink!

In our social media-driven world, what I need to learn about getting out there–being likable, being real, being myself–is a lot. So this teacher is going to school, Reality School, with Pete Nelson and Mike Rowe and the six Sharks. And I’m reminded about what NOT to do from the others.

Are you a Reality TV lurker like me? Which shows are your favorites? Ah, but are there some you love to hate?

Help Us Help You Help Us

writing infographicAre you laughing yet? You should be. The title is a blatant attempt to get you to read this post, but there certainly more to it that that.

According to Psychology Today, “Neuroscientists have discovered that reading a novel can improve brain function on a variety of levels,” and, “researchers found that becoming engrossed in a novel enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function. Interestingly, reading fiction was found to improve the reader’s ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes and flex the imagination in a way that is similar to the visualization of a muscle memory in sports.” The article further states that passive activities, such as watching television, don’t help people to visualize. The work is done for the viewer, and he merely watches the action.

Athletic reading. I like it. That’s my kind of a workout.

Smart people read, and reading actually makes them smarter. Take that big word “Neuroscientists,” I already knew what that meant. Impressive, huh?

Are you ready for another fun fact? The Daily Infographic says that “writing can serve as a calming, meditative tool. Stream of conscious writing exercises, in particular, have been identified as helpful stress coping methods. Keeping a journal, for example, or trying out free-writing exercises, can drastically reduce your levels of stress.”
Austen variations

Stay with me here. Conclusion: Reading our books will benefit you in several ways, and it will encourage us to write more books for you to read. Writing those books will help us to reduce our stress levels, leading to longer, happier lives. You can feel good about taking some time for yourself, because you’ll know that you are being a true humanitarian, ministering to others.

And love will be showered all around. God bless us every one.

I need your help!

I had a very interesting afternoon yesterday. After posting the latest chapter of Forever Yours (Yours by Design, Book 3) on, I taught piano lessons. Just after 6 PM, my younger daughter and I went to First Baptist Church in Lancaster to do a photo shoot for Sincerely Yours, Book 2 in the series. The Accidentally Yours (Book 1) cover emphasized the Regency Darcy’s accident by showing the woods through which he was riding when his horse threw him. For the second book, I used the same template but changed the art drastically. I used the model for my modern Elizabeth – my daughter Melanie.

Cover for Accidentally Yours (Yours by Design, Book 1)

Cover for
Accidentally Yours
(Yours by Design, Book 1)

Tentative cover for Sincerely Yours  (Yours by Design, Book 2)

Tentative cover for Sincerely Yours
(Yours by Design, Book 2)

I thought I would use the huge white columns as a stand-in for the porch at The Oaks, Will Darcy’s plantation style home just outside Atlanta, Georgia. However, when my daughter and I went back through the pictures, we both decided on a playful shot which I could have made in my own front yard. We both think it expresses the personality of the modern Elizabeth – playful, independent, and unconventional.

What do you think? I know the print on the back cover virtually disappears, but I sell mostly e-books, and the back cover doesn’t show on Amazon or other sites. I can have only one font color, and the book title and author name are more important than the blurb on the back. The present font color is lime green, but I could change it to teal (to match her sweater), and eliminate the print on the back cover.

Sincerely Yours  (Yours by Design, Book 2)  book cover with teal font color and no back blurb

Sincerely Yours
(Yours by Design, Book 2) book cover with teal font color and no back blurb

I could also use the green font and eliminate the back cover print.

Opinions, please?