Kay: A Blurb for a Blurb

I got nothin’ this week. I spent a long, difficult Saturday having endless problems uploading a new cover (yay!) and newly formatted interior (double yay!!) for a paperback edition (triple yay!!!) of an old novel to Amazon, which necessitated tweaking my book blurb, among other refreshes. Nine hours later, I had a carpal tunnel flare up. So I’m typing briefly with two fingers. Nothing but good times ahead!

But in an effort to be useful (and mercifully short), I’m adding a link to an article about writing blurbs and teasers. Some of you might find it useful, as I did. (Full disclosure: I’m a columnist on the Writers Fun Zone site.)

Kay: Finding New Authors with StoryBundle

One of the four books offered in the “Glitter and Hope” StoryBundle

One of the four books offered in the “Glitter and Hope” StoryBundle

I recently fell onto the mailing list of an outfit called StoryBundle, an organization of which I had never heard until then. They’ve been operating at least since 2017, so that’s my bad. And while I’m not one to promote shamelessly (and full disclosure: I have no connection to these folks whatsoever and have not benefitted from their program), their operational model is an interesting one.

StoryBundle groups books by indie authors and sells them for a short time at a low base price (usually $3), inviting purchasers to pay what they will, as long as it’s at least that base amount. In the current bundle, you’d get four books for that $3. If you pay a minimum of $15, you get 11 books—the original four, plus seven more “bonus” books.  You choose how much of your payment goes to the author and how much goes to StoryBundle, and a portion of your payment can go to a charity of your choice, as well. Continue reading

Kay: Quiz for Y’all–Which Cover Works Best?

The “calm” one

I’m sorry to plague you all with yet another cover query, but I’ve been looking at this thing for so long that I’m not sure what I’m seeing any more.

The new cover for Betting on Hope is essentially done. The copy has been tweaked since you saw it last, and the last thing to be decided is the color saturation. I have three variations, and they vary only slightly: One is the “calm” one, one is the “hot” one, and one is “the other one.”

The “hot” one

I’d like to know what you think: Which one is easiest to read? (I realize that if you’re looking at this post from a phone, none of them will be easy to read—it’s scarcely readable from my computer screen.) Does any of them appeal to you more than the others? What about the color on that back cover?

Any thoughts on these or other matters gratefully received.

The “other” one

Kay: Getting Unstuck

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Father Tim Pelc of St Ambrose Church in Detroit, Michigan, blesses parishioners by shooting holy water into their car windows. He’s been a little concerned about how the Vatican might react if these photos reach the Pope, but so far, no word from the pontiff.

Things are tough all over, but I’ve been happy to see that the Catholic Church seems to be doing a good job at improvising during the pandemic.

In other news, the folks at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) have nagged me relentlessly the last couple of weeks, begging, exhorting, cajoling, and threatening me to join JuNoWriMo, the summer version of Novel Writers Torture Month. I have easily resisted this call, because I tried the November version once.

But when I was thinking about what to post today, I bumped into the blog of author Sarah Wynde, who talks about participating in this event. I’m sure otherwise she is a sane person. I’ve seen her comment on Jenny’s blog, and she always strikes me as intelligent and thoughtful, as well as amusing and kind. Continue reading

Kay: Whatcha Readin’?

The last time I checked in with how I was spending my time during our corona virus stay-at-home spring, I whined that I’d watched everything on TV, and did you all have any suggestions? And I was watching TV because I couldn’t find anything I wanted to read for more than, say, fifteen minutes.

Well, since then, my friends, I’ve subscribed to Netflix streaming and am busy checking out your suggestions. Also, I’m reading like a fiend. And what I’m discovering, to my amusement, is that in the books I’ve recently enjoyed the most, Our Heroine works in publishing, my former occupation.

In the truism that fiction has to be better than real life, these characters are enjoying fruits of their labors that I never saw. But in the book that I’m currently whizzing through (The Flatmate by Beth O’Leary), Tiffy, Our Girl, is an editor in a small magazine publishing company (ditto), whose authors are eccentric (ditto) but knowledgeable (double ditto), who are willing to do pretty much anything to show potential readers how cool their thing is (ditto). The fact that Tiffy works for a niche publishing company that publishes do-it-yourself craft magazines, and I worked for a publishing company that published niche computing titles (artificial intelligence, anyone? Okay, big now, but it was niche back then) doesn’t make the comparisons less relevant. Continue reading

Kay: How a Romance Author Helped Save the Jews

Ida and Louise Cook on their way

Sometimes people ask themselves—or tell others—why they write. Sometimes people decide that their writing will take a different path than they’d expected. (See Elizabeth’s post from yesterday.)

Ida Cook wrote to save Jews from the Nazis just before World War II.

I don’t think that was Ida’s plan, though. Many years later, she said: “The funny thing is, we weren’t the James Bond type. We were just respectable Civil Service typists.”

Born in the early 1900s, neither she nor her sister, Louise, ever married, as was common with many women of their generation after the deaths so many young men during World War I. Instead, they lived at home with their parents in south London. Continue reading

Kay: Wild Hair (That’s Entertainment!)

My friend Eileen

Shetland pony

How long have we been social distancing now? It feels like forever, right? Most of us haven’t been out to a hairdresser—or really, anywhere else—in all that time. And let’s face it: we aren’t really looking our best these days.

A friend emailed me that it’s been so long since she last had a haircut, she looks like a Shetland pony. I thought that was ridiculous, but then she sent me pictures of herself and a Shetland pony. And holy cow, she was right. She looks just like a Shetland pony!


Weird chicken

This made me wonder what I look like. It turns out, I look like a weird chicken.

I asked the other Ladies what they were doing about their hair in these stay-at-home times, and what they were looking like these days. As you might expect, some of the Ladies are cutting their own hair, or are letting it grow long. Some are dying it for the first time, or missing a coloring treatment.


Highland cow

Elizabeth has fairly long hair, so missing a trim, if she were so inclined, might not be so noticeable. In answer to the question of how long the stay-at-home has been going on, she says, “two hair cuts’ worth.” And she’s taking the current state of affairs as an indication that it’s time to let nature take its course, hair-wise.

She says it would appear that “Scottish Highland cow” best describes her “out-for-a-walk, shelter-in-place” hair. Looking good, Ladies!



Some of the Ladies think that their hair most closely resembles plant life. Jeanne thinks she’s looking most like a dandelion.






Jilly reports that she’s been cutting (and thinning) her own hair, too—at least two hair cuts’ worth. She says that the term most often used to describe it at her house is “haystack.”

(For the curious, the photo of that beautiful haystack was taken in County Clare, Ireland.)



Michaeline lets go

Michaeline’s hair is long enough that she can adapt two styles to her hair. When she lets it go, she looks like a mini Goldendoodle. (photo: picuki.com/tag/banglecats)




Michaeline sleek

Araripe Manakin

When Michaeline’s hair is pulled back, though, then it’s a bird of a different feather! (This photo of the rare Brazilian bird Araripe Manakin was shot by Rick Elis Simpson via Wikimedia Commons.)




Finally, Justine thought she’d try something new, coloring her hair a beautiful purplish-red just in the front. And then she brushed it out, and her husband said “Oh my God” when he saw it. (She says she NEVER brushes out her hair, and she has to thin it to keep it manageable. I wish!)

What does she look like? A lion, of course.

Younger son

Golden Lion Tamarin

Her younger son wanted to get in on the act, so we’re adding him in. He, too, went for a little color in front and a little shorter in the back. I thought that beautiful color most resembled a golden lion tamarin.

And that’s what we’re looking like these days, over at Eight Ladies Writing! How are you all holding up out there in the hair department?

Kay: Today’s News, Yesterday

“Liberty Leading the People” by Eugène Delacroix (1830)

I struggled to find a topic to write about this week, and I decided to go with an old chestnut idea: find out more about an unknown literary figure who was born on today’s date. Initially, the only person I could find was Anna Robeson Brown Burr, whom I located on some wacky web site. She was a wealthy socialite, married a wealthy socialite, wrote books, volunteered at the library, and died at age 68 of pneumonia.

Not that interesting.

However, her obit ran on the front page (!) of the Chester (Pennsylvania) Times of Sept 11, 1941, which was fascinating, although (full disclosure) I read and catalogued 18th-century newspapers for my research grant when I was in grad school, so I admit I might have a stronger-than-usual interest in old newspapers.

In any event, Sept. 11, 1941 was before the United States entered World War II, of course, and the front page was full of war news. But there was a lot of news about polio, too. Continue reading

Kay: Still Entertainment!

It’s another stay-at-home Monday, and I’ve been feeling a little bit blah, I don’t know about you. I’m happy to say that people have been sending me stuff for amusement, so I have a few things to share that you might enjoy and help you get your week off to a good start.

First up is a heartwarming clip of a music teacher who wrote a song to express her feelings about the coronavirus epidemic. Her song is a fantastic expression of her talent. She’s on one of the morning talk shows, so you have to get past the intro.

The next one is an oldie but goodie: the late, great Johnny Carson, former host of The Late Show, had the (mis)fortune to have a “talking” parakeet on the show. Two of Carson’s greatest talents were his ability to ad lib and his poker face. See how he makes out with the bird.

Finally, for something a little less mainstream, we have the Drag Queens in Quarantine (DiQ) performing to Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again.” (Vera Lynn made this song a hit in 1939; today she’s 103!) In this clip, 26 drag queens in five countries are raising money for the charity Age UK, the UK’s largest charity for older people. The song is lovely as well as timely, and while you listen, check out the eye makeup. Truly amazing.

So until we meet again, I hope everyone has a safe, healthy, happy week. May the 4th be with you!

Kay: That’s Entertainment! (p. IV)

So, how is everyone holding up out there? I hope you’re all staying safe and feeling fine. If you’re bored and have time to spare, you might enjoy a little harmless fun on the internet.

I don’t know about you, but I love old Hollywood musicals. The singing! The dancing! (Fun fact: Fred Astaire’s audition notes read “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Can dance a little.”) So the first thing I have here is a mashup, which I’ve bookmarked because I love it. Check out these Golden Era Movie Stars Dance to Uptown Funk. Give it a whirl, just for fun, and see if you don’t feel better afterwards.

If puzzles are more your thing, as I know they are for many people, you might want to check out a special one for a special time. This puzzle is written by Kimberly Harrington and brought to you by McSweeney’s: The Working From Home During a Global Pandemic Bingo. You might have to figure out how you’re going to play Bingo on Zoom, but I’m sure it’s possible.

Finally—because who doesn’t like to watch some brilliant sketch comedians doing what they do best?— it’s bloopers from the Carol Burnett show. The entire clip is a little long, but I’d advise sticking with it until you see the sketch with Tim Conway playing the clumsy dentist (around 5:39).

And that’s all for this week, folks! Stay well, and stay amused, my friends.