Category Archives: Writing, Reading and Publishing

Kirsten Vangness Gets Bamboozled

Wouldn’t you just die if Shemar Moore whispered, “Hey, Baby Girl” in your ear?

Because their characters on Criminal Minds have that flirty will they/won’t they vibe going, Kirsten Vangness gets that every week … and Moore! (See what I did there?)

But she still took time to give Banana Bamboozle a shout-out, which puts me over the moon. Practically as good as if Shemar Moore whispered in my ear.

She’s almost too adorable for the internet, but I’m going to post this anyway and hope nothing explodes.

Kirsten Vangness:Penelope Garcia

My Unlikely Pilgrimage

You’ve probably guessed that I’m a reader, even though I don’t get to read for pleasure or discuss books with smart people nearly as often as I’d like. So about a year ago I begged a friend of mine to allow me to join her long-standing book club.

I like to imagine the vetting process was fierce, involving all sorts of surreptitious background checks, clandestine googling and phone calls to my mother.

I suspect it was less rigorous.

The group works as most book clubs work ”” we sign up for the month we’d like to host, we choose the book for that month then call the caterer to organize a feast related to the theme of the book. I kid. But the host does make a special trip to the liquor store and the bakery.

Members of the group can choose to read the book or not. Attendance at the party, er, meeting, does not hinge upon that decision. Thanks to these marvelous ladies I’ve read many books in the past year I would never have stumbled upon, thoroughly enjoying all but one. [I’m looking at you, BEAUTIFUL RUINS.]

Yesterday I finished the book chosen for April, THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY.

I may never recover.

Harold FryIt’s a very British novel with quirky sweetness and universal truths flowing like so much Earl Grey. The story involves a sad, retired Harold who learns that Queenie, a friend from many years ago, is dying from cancer in a hospice 600 miles away. He writes a letter to her, but knows it’s inadequate. As he’s walking to the mailbox, he decides he must deliver it in person. He keeps on walking, leaving his angry and distant wife, Maureen, behind.

I started dog-earing favorite passages, but soon realized that meant dog-earing almost every page.

• “He watched the squares of buttery light inside the houses, and people going about their business. He thought of how they would settle in their beds and try to sleep through their dreams. It struck him again how much he cared, and how relieved he was that they were somehow safe and warm, while he was free to keep walking.”

• “Maureen gave a shrill laugh that sounded as if she had just emptied it out of a packet.”

• “He understood that in walking to atone for the mistakes he had made, it was also his journey to accept the strangeness of others.”

• “Maureen felt afresh the shame of not getting it. She longed to show him all her colors, and here she was, a suburban shade of gray.”

• “As they pulled away, she saw Harold, this stranger who had been her husband for so many years, with a dog trotting at his side, and a group of followers she didn’t know ”” but she didn’t throw a wave, or toot the horn.”

The writing, as you can see, is gorgeous, and I despair of ever turning a phrase like Rachel Joyce does. But there was so much more for me in this book.

You see, I am Harold. And Queenie. And Maureen. And their next door neighbor Rex. And the characters he meets in his travels.

Like Harold, I have an inexplicable, completely misunderstood friendship, the loss of which I mourn. Like Queenie, I’ve performed extraordinary kindnesses which have gone unnoticed and unmentioned. Like Maureen, I don’t “get” some of the very people I’m closest to, nor am I “got.” I have friends for whom ”” if I thought it would help ”” I’d walk across England.

I doubt I’ll ever be called upon to do that, but wherever I am, whoever I meet, I hope I can accept their strangeness, throw a wave, and toot the horn.

Book Launch Day for Banana Bamboozle!

BananaBamboozle front coverIf you signed up on my mailing list, you’ve already heard that today is National Goof Off Day which is the perfect day to launch a fun, easy read like Banana Bamboozle. You’ve also heard all the merriment we have planned around the launch for the next few days.

And if you didn’t sign up on my mailing list, you’ve done gone and broke my heart! (But you can always redeem yourself by doing it now!)

I can’t tell you all the Super Secret Stuff since you didn’t want to join the club (sob), but I can tell you that we’re having a Comment Contest on Facebook tomorrow, (Sunday March 23) and Monday (March 24). I’ll ask a question, you answer with your funniest, most delightful answer, and votes will be cast by complete strangers* pushing the ‘like’ button. Winners get signed books.

[*Not that you’d be so crass as to manipulate your friends into voting for you or anything, but the most ‘shares’ over the two days wins a prize too. Just sayin.]

If you’re not following me over at Facebook, just click the blue icon that says “Follow” in my sidebar, over thataway→→→→→→→ and probably ↓↓↓ too.

Okay, since you twisted my arm and said ‘purty please’, I’ll tell you one more thing. The electronic version of Banana Bamboozle will be free today, tomorrow and Monday. Click here to download it. All I ask in return is that if you like it, you post a quick review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

The print edition is available here, but if you’d prefer to buy it from your local bookstore or request that your library carry it, just give them the ISBN: 978-1-4944-9471-1 and they can order it easy peasy.

Happy Bamboozling … and thanks for helping make the BANANA BAMBOOZLE Book Launch so much fun!

PS ”” Take a picture of how you spent National Goof Off Day (or any of your personal Goof Off Days) with your copy of Banana Bamboozle. When I get some good ones, I’ll post on my blog. Email jpgs to Becky (at) Becky Clark Books (dot) com … do I need to tell you there are no spaces? I’m never sure.

Bodacious Blurbs for Banana Bamboozle

I’ve been deep in the throes of the launch for my new novel BANANA BAMBOOZLE. I swear, it’s taking longer than birthin’ a baby!BananaBamboozle front cover

But all the moving parts are beginning to clang together so I’m getting happy and antsy. Happsy.

One of the coolest things about writing books ”” besides having complete strangers tell you how much they like them ”” is having peers, people you respect, tell you they like your writing.

I stuck my neck out and asked three writers if they’d be so kind as to blurb my book, for the back cover. These are writers whose books and talent I respect, so I was thrilled when they all immediately said yes. They sent back such perfect responses I wanted to share them here first. Here’s the back cover …

Bamboozle back cover

I want to give them each a shout-out because if you haven’t read any of their books yet, you really should!

stay at home dead

Jeff Shelby writes the bestselling Noah Braddock mysteries (Killer Swell, Wicked Break, Liquid Smoke and Drift Away), which are fabulous. If you like Robert Crais and Robert B. Parker, these are right up your alley. But I love his funny cozy mysteries, Stay At Home Dead and Popped Off, written under Jeffrey Allen, his pen name.

The-Sacrifice-by-Peg-Brantley

 

I’m reading Peg Brantley’s newest mystery The Sacrifice right now. Well, not right now, but you know what I mean. It’s terrific. Suspense with a soupçon of heart. Lots of twists, interesting characters and tight writing.

 

nymphosMy favorite book by Mario Acevedo is The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, because it was my first introduction to the weird way his mind works. I mean, seriously, what kind of person writes so lovingly about a vampire private investigator? It’s hilarious, sexy, unique, and undeniably entertaining. And guess what? It’s a series!

So, thank you Jeff Shelby, Peg Brantley, and Mario Acevedo for saying nice things about Banana Bamboozle. You didn’t have to, but it makes me ridiculously happsy that you did!

Is The Fault Really In Our Stars?

There’s been a conversation in one of my book marketing groups that I’ve been finding interesting. Authors have been discussing their Amazon reviews.

They’ve told some ridiculous, hilarious, and infuriating stories about getting 1-star reviews. Things like, “I bought this book by mistake so I’m giving it 1 star.” Or “I don’t like thrillers” even though the description clearly said it was a thriller. I even heard of one outrageously negative review because the author’s name was similar to her ex-husband’s. Not the same, just similar. The entire review was an ex-husband rant.

My favorite ballsy review starts, “I didn’t read this book, but …”

I wouldn’t be surprised if some poor schlub got a 1-star review on his masterpiece because a cranky reader “missed the bus today.”

Scuttlebutt is that Amazon is clamping down on egregious reviews like these. Hope so. But that’s a topic for another day.

The conversation the last few days swirled around 3-star reviews. Some authors hated getting 3-star reviews, others didn’t much mind. And it led to the question of how authors rated books. Some are brutally honest and will give 1 star to a BFF. Others never review books at all. Ever.

But most of us fall into that hand-wringing middle ground. Much of what we read is written by people we know and we want to love everything with the white-hot intensity of ten thousand suns. But sometimes we don’t. Then what do we do? Many of us, myself included, fall into the ‘if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’ category. Plus, just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean that you won’t. It doesn’t even mean there’s anything wrong with it.

Personally, I don’t think a 3-star review means it’s a bad book. It entertained me for most of the allotted time, didn’t require heaving it against the wall, perfectly solid. Fine. Okay. Average.

But I never give 3-star reviews to people I know.

First, because it will probably bring down their average. No way, no how do I want that on my conscience. It’s hard enough to be a writer without your friends sticking their foot out when you’re lugging packages up a steep hill. Or some writing metaphor.

And second, I don’t know how they view a 3-star review. Everyone knows that five stars means spectacular and one star means craptacular, but what about those pesky middle numbers?

I read the restaurant reviews in the newspaper and am flummuxed. They only have a 4 star system and much of the time the restaurants only earn a one or a two, so I don’t think the food is very good. But when I look closer, one star means it’s good. Two = very good, three = great, four = exceptional.

The nuance is as subtle as their house Chardonnay.

But the book review discussion roused my curiosity. My world revolves around books, authors, reviews, and Amazon in a million different ways. Yours probably doesn’t. So, I want to know …

What are YOUR definitions of the five stars in an Amazon book review? Do you even read book reviews? Do you assume all 5-star reviews are written by the author’s besties and family members? If you were contemplating buying or reading a book and you saw it had a 3-star average, what would you think? Would it be different if it had a lot of reviews and a 3-star average, or just a few reviews and a 3-star average?

That reminds me … must go see if I have new reviews!

Write 10,000 Words* A Day

(*not to be confused with Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory) because I bet anyone can write 10,000 words in 10,000 days.)

Have you read Rachel Aaron’s blog about how she writes 10,000 words a day?

I was reminded of side one of her ‘triangle process’ the other day when I felt overwhelmed by the chapter I was revising. I knew where I eventually needed to end up with the chapter but I had SO MANY WAYS I could get there.

I was stumped. Stymied into inaction. Paralyzed.

But then I thought about what Rachel had tried to teach me. I got out a piece of school paper and started scribbling a truncated version of the scene. I crossed stuff out, added other stuff, drew a lot of arrows. But after about four minutes (yes, I checked), I had it figured out.

Side one of her triangle is Knowledge … knowing what you’re writing before you write it. Even though I knew what I was writing  ”” I mean, c’mon, it’s my fourth revision! ”” I still needed … something.

I don’t know if it is a matter of writing by hand, or free-writing, or simply dumping out the contents of your brain on a simple sheet of paper, but it absolutely worked for me.

The other two sides of her triangle are Time and Enthusiasm, fyi. But if you haven’t read the article, do it now. Anything that helps you write faster should be seriously considered, eh?

How many words can you average in a day? What’s your personal best?

How I Delved Into Online Teaching

I was flattered to be asked to teach my time management class ‘The Faster I Go, The Behinder I Get’ for the very techie, very cool DelveWriting. They just launched a month or so ago, but they’ve already given their members a couple dozen educational classes and interviews, many of which are FREE for anyone to view.

Delve Writing is an online community to support writers throughout their journey. They have different levels of access, starting at just $10/month. I don’t have any stake in this business, but I can absolutely vouch for the integrity, diligence and enthusiasm of the people who run it, all of whom I count as friends.

But enough about them. Let’s talk about me.

Despite the fact I blog, have websites and publish books electronically, I’m kind of a Luddite. Techie stuff tends to intimidate me. So when Aaron Brown and Chris Mandeville asked me to teach this class, I was, how you say, bumfuzzled. Seriously? Teach an online class? Make a podcast? Um, no.

I’m so glad they wore me down!

It was a terrific experience. Aaron held my hand, walking me through the technology, telling me which button to push ”” many, many times. (Apparently I’m not so good at the “remembering.”) But he was kind and gentle, always going off-mic to laugh at me.

We had a training session. And then another. And then one more, at my nervous request. Sure, stand me up in front of 400 people, no problem. But make me sit still in front of my computer for an hour? Ay caramba.

At any rate, the big day finally came and I got ready. I banished my husband from the house, I remembered to turn off the ringer on the phone, I shut down my ice maker, and I put on Real Clothes. Well, mostly. Because of the format, I was able to go with Chris’ recommended clothing mullet ”” business upstairs and party in the basement.

I set up shop at my dining room table in the most ridiculous set-up EVER …

Delve Writing 1Delve Writing 2

You’ll see my Purple Professional Podcast footstool holding my computer which had to be about halfway closed so the camera hit me at, ahem, a flattering angle and didn’t broadcast my wine glasses and deviled egg tray in the hutch behind me … two fat Harry Potter books … holding my notes cleverly printed on the top of the page so I didn’t have to look so far down while on camera (even though I did. A lot.) … scattered bunches of print-outs for various contingencies. And my ice tea (swear!) on my orange Splat Stan coaster.

Pay no attention to that girl behind the curtain because this is how it looks for broadcast …

Podcast for Delve

This is just very, very slick technology. Because I needed a couple of slides for the presentation, Aaron plopped them into an easy format to click through, which he did at the appropriate time. My job was to sit still up in my little box in the corner while talking. Throughout the class, the attendees interacted via the chat box you see there. But they didn’t have to. They could sit quietly sipping wine at their computer at home. They could cook dinner while watching/listening. They could comfort a screaming baby. And their clothing mullet could be party in the basement AND upstairs.

You can see in the screen shot that Aaron kindly included the various links to All Things Becky in the chat box, but more importantly, he kept tabs on the chat for me. Not only would it have been impossible to read the scroll while I was presenting, my computer was far enough away (flattering angle, remember?) that I couldn’t possibly read it, even though he showed me how to increase the text size on my screen. I think I had it set at 525 point. During the class the attendees were able to ask their questions and share their ideas, which Aaron passed along to me verbally.

Everything about it was awesome.

If you’re a writer ”” especially if you’re in an area where it’s difficult to find a good writing community, or that you can’t get to easily ”” I wholeheartedly recommend what Delve has to offer.

If you’re a speaker, I highly recommend offering your expertise to them. Not only will you gain experience speaking in a new medium, you’ll increase your reach and sell some books.

And if you want to sample the technology ”” for FREE ”” and/or get some time management tips and/or see if I was able to sit still for an hour, Delve Writing has graciously allowed me to post the secret link for you. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep the link live (after all, people actually pay me to teach this class!) so if you’re the least bit curious, clickedy-click the link …. HERE … soon.

You don’t have to watch the entire hour (although I simply can’t imagine why you wouldn’t) and you can’t join in the chat ”” because it’s not live anymore ”” but you can see what they were chatting about during the class. FYI, when Aaron pops the timer over my face for the 4 or 5 minute exercises, on the recording it says “15 minutes.” But it’s not; it really is only the 4 or 5. If you’re not doing the exercises, you can slide the bar at the bottom ahead to where the clock comes down.

What are you waiting for? Put on the mullet of your choice, go sit in front of your deviled egg tray and give it a look-see. Let me know what you think!

The Faster I Go, The Behinder I Get ”” Time Management Tips and Tricks

To Do Lists and Schedules

• To figure out how long something takes, time yourself 3x doing it as you normally do to get an average, including any interruptions.

• Decide tonight what your most pressing task is tomorrow and do it first.

• A TO DO without a WHEN doesn’t get done.

• Consider ”” deleting (what’s the worst that can happen if you don’t do it?); delaying (rescheduling for a better time); delegating (is there someone who can do it better, faster, cheaper, or good enough?); diminishing (shortcuts or shaving down)

• One system in one place ”” don’t use a kitchen calendar + electronic calendars for you and your spouse + kid’s soccer schedule posted on the refrigerator. One calendar for everything.

 Dots and Dashes

• Think of tasks as either quick dots or longer dashes

• Learn to concentrate for an hour

• A timer is your best friend

• Focus on completion

• Physical movement improves concentration

• Fuel yourself properly. Eat protein and carbs for breakfast. Drink plenty of water during the day. Move around and stretch every hour.

 Email

• Never check your email first thing in the morning. If you do, you’re letting other people manage your time.

• If you MUST check email first thing, give yourself a short time limit. Delete. Skim for emergencies. Don’t get sucked in.

• Respond immediately to emails that will take you less than 2 minutes. If it requires more time, then schedule it for later.

• If you are overwhelmed by your inbox, declare Email Bankruptcy and delete it all. If it was important you’ll see it again. If you don’t, then it wasn’t too important after all, eh?

• Set yahoo groups or google alerts to weekly digest

• Most email isn’t critical. Say it with me. Say it until you believe it.

• Never feel guilty about your email inbox. It’s a tool for you to use; not the other way around.

Phones

• Only check your phone messages at designated times and make sure your kids/spouse/parents/friends know when that is. If they have a phone, they have lots of people they can call in an emergency. It doesn’t always have to be you.

• Get rid of your call-waiting

• Unplug during mealtimes, in the car, when your kids are around, at the theater, when you’re with friends. Don’t be That Guy.

• Again, your phone is for you; not the other way around.

Facebook

• Don’t play games

• Take shortcuts. Skim.

• Delete or hide boring people and/or people who post too much.

• Set timer

Procrastination

• Bribe yourself

• Focus on the task for 5 minutes. Then 5 more. It’s the same way we get on the treadmill.

• Keep a log for a week. Did you avoid all tasks or just some? See if you can find a pattern.

• Find something fun about the task

• Break job down into smaller bites

• When writing, make it easy to pick up where you left off ”” stop writing mid-sentence when you stop for the day/lunch

• Start anywhere. Lots of writers start with a scene or with the ending. Just start.

• If you don’t want to paint the bookcase, don’t. Either live with the old paint or get someone else to do it.

• Reframe your thinking about the task. Yes, it’s difficult to write a novel, but not TOO difficult; people do it every day.

• We’re grown ups – we do things we don’t want to

Clutter

• Declutter everything ”” all the rooms of your house, all your drawers, car, desk, computer desktop, shelves, cabinets, closets

• Find a place for everything and keep everything in its place. Never waste time searching for stuff again.

• Declutter your brain too. Write things down instead of trying to remember it all. Keep a notebook with you.

• Don’t save stuff because you think it might be worth something someday. Visit eBay and find out.

• Go for a Trial Separation from your stuff. Box it up, tape it, write the date on the box. If it’s still taped shut in 6 months, toss it.

• Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, and … Refuse. As in refuse to buy any more stuff. Like Grandma said, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

• Ask these questions: Do I want this? Do I need this? Do I have room for this? Do I want to pay to store it?

• Don’t focus on your stuff … focus on your space.

• Keep only clothing that fits, makes you look fabulous, and that people compliment you on. Don’t keep outfits that mock you.

• Just because you have the space doesn’t mean you need to fill it.

Prioritize

• Determine your top priority for the day – the one thing you’d sacrifice everything else to achieve. Then do it.

• Tackle your hardest job first and save your favorite tasks till the end so you look forward to them. Helps with procrastination too.

• Prioritize like they do in business ”” which task makes you money?

• If the tasks seem equal, ask: How long will it take? What’s the return on my time investment? When’s the deadline?

Perfectionists

• Learn selective perspective. Which things really need to be perfect (query, manuscript, math) and which can be good enough (housecleaning, store-bought cupcakes for bake sale)?

• Figure out who belongs to that voice in your head telling you stuff isn’t good enough. Then get them to shut up.

• Back away if you’ve worked on it too long. There’s a law of diminishing returns.

• Impose deadlines on yourself. Something done imperfectly on time is usually better than something late.

• Allow yourself the opportunity to do it poorly. Just do it.

• Recognize degrees of excellence. On a scale of 1-10, a 7 doesn’t look much different from a 10 to most people.

• What’s the worst that can happen? If you fail, you never have to do it again and/or you learn something that helps you succeed.

Multi-Tasking

• Multi-tasking is a myth; nobody can do it.

• Don’t confuse multi-tasking with doing a lot of stuff. Multi-tasking is trying to do all those things at the same time.

• Your brain simply can’t focus on two separate things unless one of them is completely mindless. Like breathing. Or pumping blood.

• People multi-task because they’re worried. Seems better to work on everything so 100% of your tasks are 50% done. But you’d feel much more in control if 50% of your tasks were 100% done and you know you have a plan to finish the other 50%.

• Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment

• Focus on one job till it’s done or your time is up. Then focus on another one.

Paperwork

• Identify your problem areas – Desktop? Filing system? Emails? Reading material? Piles of stuff?

• Then prioritize – which is the biggest problem? Which is costing you the most money?

• Every day put things away, write that debit transaction in your check register, add that contact to your database, file that receipt.

• Don’t let your filing pile up. It makes it that much harder to find stuff.

• If you don’t have a file cabinet, go buy one. But set a limit on how many files you’ll keep. When you go over, one has to go. Same with paperwork within each file. Weed those files regularly. When you file this month’s water bill, shred last month’s.

• Put all your papers in one pile then sort into categories. Which category is most important? Put it on your To Do list then tackle the next most important pile.

Delegation

• Insourcing and Outsourcing. It might be more cost-effective to hire someone to do certain tasks.

• Make a list of stuff you hate to do. Can anyone do those things better? What is your time worth?

• Enlist your kids and spouse

• Remember to monitor and mentor; don’t nag and micromanage. Set expectations/parameters then let it go.

• Celebrate their success to breed more success

• Don’t fall for the old trick of pretending a crappy job is the best they can do. Make them do it over as many times as necessary until they hit the mark of the expectations you agreed on previously. Stand firm.

Just Say No

• Decide if a project makes your heart SING or SINK. Even if it makes you sing, say no if it will crack your full loaded plate.

• Acknowledge their request by not laughing in their face; address your own limitations; offer an alternative.

Thank you so much for asking, but I’m unavailable then.

It sounds like a terrific opportunity that I’m going to miss.

I know it will be a wonderful party. I’m disappointed to miss out on the fun but I have a conflict on that date.

Interruptions

• First defense is education. If my door is closed, I’m working.

• Set aside time when people have unconditional access to you, but be consistent and firm. Set timer.

• Give them a head’s up ”””I’m going to shut my door and start writing in 10 minutes. Do you need anything?”

• Practice your catchphrases: I’m in the middle of something. How’s 2:00?This week is impossible, but next Tuesday works.

• Ask how much time they need from you. If you can spare it, set your timer. Otherwise make appointment.

• Keep a log over the next week. Jot down who interrupted, how they interrupted, how long the interruption was, and how important it was. Then, schedule an intervention for them.

• Making yourself unavailable teaches others to think for themselves, solve problems, and make decisions. Empower your loved ones.

• Don’t interrupt yourself either. When writing, never stop to look something up. Don’t give up momentum. Insert a placeholder.

Distractions

• Cousins to interruptions, but instead of being caused by other people, we create our own distractions.

• Focus and prioritize. What’s the one thing you need to get done this month/week/day/hour?

• Keep a log for a week. Note all the times you caved in to the siren call of your distractions, whatever they are. (I don’t use this but it might be helpful to download and try out for a few weeks to track where your time goes … https://www.rescuetime.com/tour_new )

• Then make a plan. If you can’t work because your desk is messy, clean it the night before. If your computer pings every time you get an email, shut it off. If you find yourself listening to your background music, shut it off. You get the idea. Take control.

Lawnmower in My Living Room

I read an interview with Khaled Hosseini in Time Magazine. He’s best known for the haunting ”˜The Kite Runner’ in 2003, but he was discussing his new novel ”˜And The Mountains Echoed.’

One of the things he said really hit home with me. “My first drafts are always rather flat and disappointing. It’s a little bit like when you move into a home. You haul all your stuff and shove it in the house; the things you need are there, but it looks horrible and doesn’t feel like a home at all. The subsequent draft is about saying, OK, this couch belongs here. Let’s get rid of this painting. Let’s put the armoire here.”

I love that analogy and it comes at a good time for me as I’ve just moved a new set of characters into their new home.

There are problems with the analogy, however. For one thing, with your household goods, you see them all at a glance, making it easy to survey your treasures and (re)arrange them. The couch gets too much sun there … try the other wall. Put the torchiere in the corner. Let’s try standing the coffee table on all four legs instead of propped against the wall. Ah, much better.

Second, and more importantly, you knew what belonged in the living room. You didn’t stick a bed in the corner, pile the flatware on a bookcase, and park the lawnmower under the picture window.

This is what my work-in-progress feels like to me right now. A lawnmower in the living room. I know it doesn’t belong there, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what to do with it.

Do I shine it up all sparkly and leave it there? Do I move it to the bedroom? Do I even need a lawnmower? Should I push it into the garage and set it on fire? Should I abandon it on the curb and pray some kind soul hauls it away for me?

Third, when you bought your new house, you knew what you needed. Four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, 2-car garage, fenced yard for the kids and dog. Easy peasy.

My characters’ house has eighteen rooms, no bathrooms, three kitchens and a bedazzled heliport. Plus a lawnmower in the living room.

Anyone want to help me move?