You Had ONE Job…

I love where I live. We have four seasons, big trees, enormous green biomass, plenty of surface water… all the features that make me feel safe and happy. I can deal with the ice storms and power outages (all hail the wood stove). I don’t mind having to get after the yard for months on end. For me, the pollen rotation is bearable, but there is one characteristic that I positively loathe about life in the Maryland countryside, and my neighbors are partly to blame.

I’ve had the same neighbors (or their kin) for decades. They are mostly quiet and family-oriented; they keep to themselves. Their favorite pastime is to loaf in the shade, though the kids often get together for play dates. I wouldn’t want any other neighbors, but being bovine neighbors, they tend to POOP in the FIELD and this draws FLIES by the SWARM.

I cannot abide house flies. Hate them with an irrational passion and will turn up violent in my efforts to keep them from my domicile. A house fly lands on me and I am rage personified. I, who can be philosophical about a mosquito needing protein to reproduce, who have been bitten by both European hornets and a brown recluse spider (in the same summer), don’t lose my buttons nearly as quickly over those bugs as I do over house flies. I’m not phobic about a flies–my reaction isn’t fear-based–I HATE them.

Flies are dirty, I know that, but it’s the feel of them I can’t stand. The little buzzing sound, the random flight patterns. My brain knows they are just going along trying to have a decent little fly-life, and that civilization would stop without the work that flies do, but my heart is determined to win the battle of the house fly at all costs. I know all the tricks–fans, light off, repellents, sprays, candles, colors, AC if your carbon-conscience can go there–and still they invade my space.

And wouldn’t you know it, one of the effects of the pandemic supply chain disruption for me has been a scarcity of the little cans of room-bomb (I did stumble upon a stash at Target). These are environmental anathema to me, but a sure fire last resort in knocking back the fly population. That they have become a little scarce upsets me inordinately.

There will one day be a character in my books who hates flies, and you will know why I have afflicted him thus. Authors are supposed to give characters quirks, because quirks lead to interesting backstory, and in this case, the backstory stops here. I think the War on Flies has special weight for me now because it has brought the reality of the pandemic closer to me. I did OK without milk, I conserved TP well enough, I have been masking up since mid-April no problem, but to be without my fly-killing bazooka of last resort… it maketh my blood to boil.

Are current events pushing any special buttons with you? Has the pandemic found or exposed any buttons you didn’t know you had? Keep it civil (cussing is OK, though), and I will send a signed copy of Too Scot To Handle (on ebook discount for $3.99 this month) to two readers.

 

I Rest My Case

My response to the pandemic lock down was mostly to look around and think, “Look at all this WRITING TIME!!!” I finished Lord Stephen’s book in draft, polished my third Lady Violet mystery (finally sent ’em to the copy editor, because somebody might want to read them some day), wrote a couple novellas, got Ash and Della squared away, and then Daisy Dorning announced that SHE wants a happily ever after…. Wheeee!

And I promptly gave myself a case of DeQuervain’s Disease. This is a big brother to carpal tunnel syndrome, involving tendons and ligaments as well as (in my case) nerves. My left wrist and thumb are quite peevish with me. Surgery is a last resort, and after surgery, you have to wear a brace 24-7 and rest the hand for at least a month.

Being fundamentally averse to surgery, and suspecting most of the benefit to the surgery is in those weeks of inactivity, I decided to splint up and seriously rest my paw. How hard can THAT be?

It’s nearly impossible, for me. I ice my wrist when I’m on my tread desk, playing cribbage and getting in my steps. I wear my brace when I’m at the keyboard plying my trade (half the usual word count). I slap on the wogonin cream when I have to take the brace off to get ready for bed (and then the brace goes back on).

My conclusion is that I have a lousy play ethic–or rest ethic, to use a more grown up term. I mostly know how to work, and thank the celestial ministers, I have a job I love. But the idea that I am Not Allowed to keep writing until all the available scenes in my head are documented, that I have to stop just because I’ve reached a certain number of words…. this is no fun. This is no way to get crankin’ on the book. Whose brilliant idea was this?

So I tell myself, “Don’t be ridiculous. Two thousands words is plenty. You’ve been up since 6 am, go upstairs and lie down, get off your feet and take a break. Siestas make us more productive.” I finally bought a Nook so I can at least read while I’m off my feet, though I’m mostly reading historical mysteries because I need to crack that code.

I have in short, turned into a low-RPM version of the perpetual motion machine that was my mother. Her excuse was seven kids and a “traditional” husband who was mostly away doing big science. Fine for her, but why do I find it so hard to just rest, to indulge my passing whims? If I had to list ten things to do by myself at home purely for frolic and detour (legal term for fun), I’m not sure I could.

But as a kid, I had a list a hundred items long: Make a dam in the stream, look for wild flowers, climb a tree, entertain a cat with some string, draw a picture, color, play toys (usually proto-Breyer horses), write a letter, try to circle the whole living room by climbing from one piece of furniture to the next without setting foot or face upon floor, pick cherries/raspberries/apples so Mom can make a pie…

I need to re-learn these restful pastimes, or I suspect a peevish wrist won’t be the worst of my woes. How do you play? Are any of your play modes left over from childhood? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of A Lady’s Dream Come True.

PS: Beckman: Lord of Sins has joined the earlier Lonely Lords at $3.99 in the web store!

Lord of the Lies

There are two books I wish I had never read, or never been made to read, more accurately. Sir William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was still a curriculum favorite when I was in eighth grade, because, “Boys will read it.” There is not one female character in the whole tale, not even off the page. (Rant of choice goes here.)

LOTF is small (about 60,000 words) which means cheap to buy in quantity. At the time I was forced to read it, the book was already more than 20 years old, but like the same old thing for breakfast each day, it was still slopped into the educational  hog trough year after year.

This dark little story purports to chronicle the descent into murderous savagery of a group of British schoolboys marooned on a tropical island. Three of them, including the lone inherently decent character, either die or are killed by their peers. The surviving  boys finish out the book wishing human nature wasn’t so gosh darned awful.

Golding was a depressed, anti-social, alcoholic who’d endured two world wars and a pandemic. He had reasons for publishing this grim little allegory, and in 1954, with Cold War well under way, they were probably pretty good reasons. That context wasn’t provided to me as I stumbled into his work at the age of fourteen. The message the came across was: People are basically violent, selfish, and stupid. Even children are violent, selfish, and stupid if left to fend for themselves.

Golding did say the book would never have worked with girls, which is puzzling, because as far as I was concerned, the book didn’t work with boys. Turns out a group of six boys were in fact once upon a time (in 1965) shipwrecked on a tiny desert island and stranded for fifteen months. One of them even broke his leg.

They were rescued by merest happenstance, and found to be in great good health if a bit shaggy. The busted leg was perfectly healed. When squabbles broke out among them, the combatants would go to different corners of the island for a few hours, then come together to talk out their differences. They shared all of the work, developed a routine that included music, prayer, exercise, and food gathering, and generally set up a mini-civil society under very trying conditions. One guy figured out to get a fire going and they did not let that flame burn out once in 15 months.

You can read about them here, and I’ll have more to say next week on the book from which that article was excerpted. This was the rebuttal I wanted to make to William Golding: Most people are basically good. We want good things for others. We love much more effectively than we hate. Reality TV isn’t reality. It’s poison masquerading as entertainment.

Back in eighth grade, all I could do was shrug and pronounce Golding’s book stupid. (Fourteen is not the most analytical age.) Maybe the story can now be read as an indictment of toxic patriarchy rather of human nature. I don’t know and I’m not planning on re-reading it any time soon. All I know is, Golding was wrong, love is the answer, and every one of you is welcome on my desert island.

Are there books you wish you could un-read, movies you wish you could un-watch? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of A Lady’s Dream Come True.

The Bright Thing to Do

I’ve tried a little different twist this week to my end of day journaling. I usually, in addition to recounting my illustrious doin’s (laundry can be illustrious, right?), also list five things about each day that I’m grateful for. This isn’t hard, most days. You good folks continue to buy my books–I am endlessly grateful for that! I get to do work I love. I have the physical ability to do playful things I love to do. Life on a day-to-day basis is, all things considered, pretty sweet.

But life from a larger perspective is daunting. The pandemic is winning in too many states and nations, politics is an ongoing roller derby that doesn’t seem to be solving any of our real problems, and grappling constructively with racism will take courage, integrity, luck, and tons of persistence.

Through my early adulthood, the Fairness Doctrine meant news organizations dealt in facts and truth, but that stopped being the case when the Fairness Doctrine was repealed (1987, at  President Reagan’s direction). Now? The profit motive means that those same organizations present us with material that engages, whether it’s true, relevant, important, or ridiculous. And what engages us? Negativity, that’s what.

If you are Og or Oggette Caveperson, strolling forth from your camp into the glorious dawn of the new prehistoric day, and you are faced with the choice of wallowing in the beauty of the sunrise, or scampering away from that cobra curled in the grass, you either get to scampering (and give that place in the grass a wide berth ever after), or you don’t live to appreciate too many more sunrises. So we notice trouble, we recall trouble, and we watch for trouble. The media thus feeds us a constant diet of trouble, threats of trouble, and possible trouble.

It makes me cranky and down, to be on red alert all the time, so I back away from social media, from untrustworthy “news” sites, and so forth, but lately I’m doing something else. I’m concluding my day with a little inventory of What Went Right.

Anything is fair game for this list. I found one healthy orange kitten on my porch. Healthy is good. A litter of one (appears to be) is very good. I-could-catch-him is a hat trick, because anybody I can catch I can get fixed. What else went right? Maryland’s COVID numbers are trending downward and folks here wear their bleepin’ masks. Daisy Dorning (Fromm) wants a book (Sorry, Sycamore. Wait your turn). My boogered-up wrist isn’t getting any worse. Love and Other Perils is on ebook sale for $.99 and folks are buying it (both stories have kitties in them). Captain Sharpe survived Waterloo!

The immediate effect of inventorying what’s going right is a mood boost, but it’s also a form of conditioning. I’m telling my brain: Find a bright side. Look until you find one. Find five, in fact. Find fifteen. Focus on that. And I am gaining temporary immunity to the negativity that flows in a toxic flood from too many directions.

So what is going right for you? Where is your bright side? To three commenters, I’ll send signed copies of A Lady’s Dream Come True.

Mirror, Mirror…

In genre fiction circles, many authors and writing coaches ascribe to the idea that in the middle of the book the protagonist will come to what is called at “mirror moment.” Sometimes this is a scene where the character catches sight of themselves in an actual mirror, a store window, or somebody’s photo album–it’s a physical image held before the character’s eyes.

Other times, it’s the ghost of Mufasa reminding a disaffected adolescent Simba, “Remember who you are…” (after Simba sees his reflection on a moonlit pond.) The question posed is: Do I try to go back to the person I was 150 pages ago, coping, not exactly happy, but not taking on impossible quests, or do I grab my courage in one hand and my dreams in the other, and make a run toward the better person I have a once in a lifetime chance to become?

In romance, the mirror moment often comes after all hope is lost. There’s Tremaine St. Michael, riding into the sunset, when he hears somebody bad-mouthing the woman he loves. He and Lady Nita couldn’t find common marital ground, but Tremaine now knows that the almighty pound sterling has been allowed to define his life for too long. If he loves Nita, he’ll stick up for her and for the truth. He calls out the ne’er-do-well criticizing Nita’s healing gift, and starts on the path to the happily ever after that a more mercantile guy didn’t deserve.

The mirror moment for Tremaine was hearing a pair of shallow, insecure men casually talking smack about a decent woman whose medical expertise and courage saved lives. How shallow was Tremaine, to expect Nita to set aside her gift, for the privilege of giving him babies? He fretted that her medical activity would put his children at risk for contagion without acknowledging that simply bearing those children would put Nita at risk of death.

We have sympathy for Tremaine’s desire for safety–for him and for his children–but we respect him when he calls BS on Nita’s detractor, and later puts aside his pride to apologize for his narrow thinking. A smug, misogynistic jerk held up a mirror that started Tremaine rethinking his own values. (And then I gave him a nudge too!)

Last week, I asked how you protected the quiet, strong, loving place in your heart, and got some great answers. My question this week is, have you ever had a mirror moment, when you had to decide who you were? I’ve had several–choosing to become a single mom, leaving the corporate world for private practice, giving up on the lawyer job, firing agents, changing publishers… In each situation, I had to look at who I was and what I stood for. It’s a  scary exercise, but I like that life has occasionally handed me a chance to take stock and reorganize my priorities accordingly.

The great day having arrived (A Lady’s Dream Come True hit the shelves on Tuesday), I will send signed copies to three commenters, anywhere in the world. So, have any mirror moments come your way? Who or what guided you through them?

A Place to Start

I am feeling overwhelmed lately, though not despairing. Far from it. The confluence of factors bearing on us now is unique, and that means the potential for truly creative, unprecedented solutions is great. As a society, we can’t heal what we won’t feel, and we are doing some big, long overdue feeling now.

I am preoccupied not with the conundrum of “What should I say?” because words are cheap and they come to me easily. I’m more concerned with, “What should I do?” This article had some helpful ideas for white people who want to do something about racial justice. I find activities like donating to effective organizations much more worthwhile than bleating on social media, when we know those platforms propagate lies six times faster than they do truths.

It’s also well documented that when we “speak out” on social media, we’re less likely to do anything else on behalf of a just cause. We make a gesture and lose motivation to do anything more.  But if the Twitterverse is your thing, go for it.

I’m struck by how many issues have been ignited in recent months. Racism, police brutality, public health, personal freedom, voter suppression, mass telecommuting in all its messy glory, distance learning, media ethics, and of course, politics, politics, politics. The litany is a bomb cyclone of hot buttons, such that there’s something in the mix to stress everybody.

This reminds me of the first lesson taught in the study of conflict management. You boost the chances of any difficult situation coming to a constructive, consensual conclusion if you can approach it calmly. A non-anxious presence–which is very different from standing passively by–signals to all involved that we can tackle our differences without attacking each other. Done right, the non-anxious presences models civility, hope, respect for all, and personal responsibility.

It’s an exhausting role. I used to take it on as a divorce and family mediator, but also in interminable meetings at Social Services. My youthful clients, their families, and a bunch of social workers would try to thrash out a plan for moving a kid’s situation in the right direction. While advocating for the child, I would try to keep track of everybody’s body language and nonverbal cues, do a lot of re-framing, listen much more than I spoke, and intercede if somebody tested the boundaries.

A good conflict manager can herd cats without the cats knowing they’ve been herded, and it all starts with being able to find the quiet, strong, loving place inside, and offering that place for others to share. Winning arguments starts with facts, logic and rhetoric but winning hearts starts with kindness, patience, and focus.

Says me, and some good conflict managers. So how do you protect and nurture the quiet, strong, loving place inside in these daunting times? (And yes, oh by the way, A Lady’s Dream Come True downloads from the major retail outlets starting Tuesday, and you can already buy the ebook from the webstore and the print book from Amazon).

I’ll donate $50 to the charity of one commenter’s choice, so starting chiming in!

 

The Element of Surprise

Once upon a time I published Once Upon a Dream, a novella duet with Mary Balogh. Mary’s readership is large and loyal (and includes me!), and never have I ever published a novella as successfully as I did that one. Once upon a dream, indeed!

But all good things must end, and by agreement we de-published the duet when momentum slowed. I tossed the story, Duke of My Dreams, onto the Get Around To It pile to be repackaged and republished some fine day. The companion tale, May I Have This Duke, had been sitting on the same pile for a year or so. In January of this year, I dusted off both stories, and packaged them as A Duke Walked Into a House Party.

I wasn’t expecting much. Both stories had sold well in their respective bundles, and the reader appetite for novellas isn’t what it was five years ago. Then too, I’d taken a A Duke Walked into a House Party by Brace Burrowesdifferent direction on the cover for the repackaging, just because the image appealed to me. The title was a little silly but it fit the stories and the cover.

For these re-packaging efforts, all I’m really looking for is to break even and keep some stories in circulation. I hope to pay for a cover, another proof-read, formatting, uploading, and website wrangling. My second repackaging effort–A Lady Without Peer–conformed to my expectations in that regard. But A Duke Walked In exceeded the job description by an order of magnitude.Wheeee!

Other surprises haven’t been so cheery. There are a few authors will bash other authors and even include it as part of their reader-relationship brand. That one honestly caught me unaware. In all my years of small town lawyering, I can’t think of any instance when one lawyer bashed another personally without getting severely chastised by other bar members or by the bench–or eventually disbarred–for violating the Code of Professional Conduct.

There’s a human tendency to normalize surprises, to shrug them off if they are unpleasant–“Live and learn…”–or to treat them as anomalies if they are sweet. But the book business is so unpredictable and complicated, that I don’t think that’s wise. I want to try more covers like A Duke Walked In, because whatever I did, readers liked it. Or maybe they simply noticed it, or maybe I hit publish in a window when no other dukes were strutting around.

My attempt in Lady Without Peer to strike the same cover note didn’t achieve the same result, so I’m not sure what clicked, but something did, and I want to investigate that something so I can make it click again.

When I’ve minimized a surprise–a boyfriend behaving badly, a backstabbing work environment–I’ve regretted it. Surprises can hold good information, or at least make us ask good questions, and that’s an opportunity for insight I want to take advantage of.

Have you been surprised lately? Can you recall a surprise that made you think or change course? To three commenters, I’ll send out e-ARCs of A Lady’s Dream Come True, which is available now in the webstore, and in print, and will start downloading from the major retailers on June 9.

Are We There Yet?

In its infinite wisdom, Amazon is now allowing readers to provide “quality assurance feedback” on ebooks, line by line, word by word. Readers can also provide input on plotting problems, and all of this ends up on an author’s brand spankin’ new QA dashboard. I got the email from Amazon mid-week, gleefully announcing that this great new feature is now live. I was cheerfully directed to please go through the 217 identified issues affecting seventeen different books, and let Amazon know how I’ll resolve each one.

This helps improve Amazon’s automation! [Insert muttered profanity of your choice here.] Occasionally, readers are genuinely typo-spotting, but mostly…

The day had not gone well before that little bombshell. Running errands in a Phase One opening state, where nobody knows which rules are in force and which ones have been lifted, made for a tedious day. I was also tired from a pretty bad night’s sleep, and then Amazon–who keeps 50 cents for every dollar I make at that site–drops 217 action items on me. If I don’t clear those action items, Amazon will put Mr. Yuck QA stickers on my books, and tank their rankings.

My mood sure tanked. I am normally pretty even-keeled, see-the-humor, this-too-shall-pass, but I got into a grumpy, overwhelmed, to heck with this, place. To a degree that it unnerved me a little, and I bethought myself: Well, what are you going to DO about this, Grace Ann? What can you do?

I did three things (besides make of a cup of tea and have some chocolate): First, I went for a ramble around the yard. I own the nucleus of a farmstead, so my property includes a pretty little bank barn, and I love that barn. I just like to behold it. For a few years, I kept horses in that barn, and that’s a happy memory. I love all my big trees, the sheer abundance of greenery around me, the endless potential for flower beds. Love it, love it.

Second, I picked myself a bouquet of German irises from the yard and put the bouquet where I will see it often.

Third, I went to YouTube, and loaded up on 80s dance tunes. Jump (Pointer Sisters version), Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Little Red Corvette, Sharp-Dressed Man, Never Gonna Break My Stride, I’m So Excited, and of course, It’s Raining Men, among others.

I chair-danced, I got up and shook it, I hit rewind, and I shook it some more. I looked ridiculous, of this I have no doubt, but the cats won’t tell anybody, and so what if they do. I’m of age, and it’s my caboose to do with as I please in the privacy of my own kitchen. I was not instantly ebullient, nor do I have much good to say about Amazon’s business values, but I did raise my spirits enough to get past the day’s speed bumps.

How do you boost your mood when the Undertoad tries to steal your fire? I’ll add three commenters to my ARC list for A Lady’s Dream Come True.

The Sound of Beauty

I like quiet. I like to write in an environment so devoid of aural clutter that I can hear the florescent lights in my kitchen (and then turn them off), or–when I’m sitting at my kitchen table–I can hear the stream burbling through my yard fifty feet from the kitchen door. Quiet R Me.

I also like FRESH AIR, and tons of it. My little old (about 170 years old) house has a footprint of maybe 400 square feet. On the ground floor this footprint is punctuated with three doors to the big world, and nine separate windows. I like to open them ALL UP, and be one with the birdies and breezes, while hiding behind my computer or tromping along at my tread desk.

I have always been this way. My mother was this way. Fresh air is a cardinal virtue.

As a voracious reader of fiction, and somebody who has doubtless heard a lawn mower or two, you can see the conflict brewing. My closest neighbor is a farmer, and Dwayne–exceptionally nice, hard-working guy–never met a muffler worth maintaining or an engine that couldn’t be gunned. My other neighbor–Mike, another all around good fella–is yard proud–weed-whacking, leaf-blowing, riding mower wrangling, yard proud.

And my yard requires a lot of maintenance too, being a couple of acres, full of trees, surrounded by nature green in leaf and limb, and dotted with my oddly placed flower beds. For thirty years, I’ve had the same yard guy, and while I valued this man’s contribution to keeping me out of dutch with the weed control officer, I wasn’t so keen on his timing. Eric had the knack of riding up on his zero-turn just as I was sitting down to write a hot scene.

Or a big black moment.

Or the first kiss.

There I’d be, with His Grace of Hunklyness poised to put that taciturn mouth of his to good use offering something other than snappy repartee, and along comes Eric with his Pratt and Whitney UL approved weed-whacker right outside my window. Nary a weed dared remain standing in the face of such determination, and His Grace usually turned tail and ran too.

Eric retired last year, after decades of faithful, uncomplaining, utterly reliable, and conscientious-as-hell service. I wished him well–what else was there to do?–and scrounged around until another mowing service agreed to tame the jungle for a modest fee.

They came once, did a half-assed job. From there, it was no call/no shows, followed by rescheduling texts and more no-shows. My yard began to resemble a vacant lot, and I could hear the mountain getting ready to drag my property back to the wilderness, complete with cat-eating coyotes and Grace-menacing snakes. My house is at best a fixer-upper, and for the yard to go to knee-high weeds was surprisingly hard on my morale.

I don’t put much nevermind on gray hair, extra pounds, or wrinkles, but for my yard to fall apart felt like the forces of chaos were winning.

Eric came to the rescue, got the place in trim, and is lining up a successor who someday might come close to the level of expertise Eric brought to the yard work. The day Eric showed up to do battle with the jewel weed, I heard him fire up his lawnmower, and rejoiced greatly. A sound I had HATED, for years, became the sound of order, of a man’s kindness, of peace and repose in the place where I live and work.

Have you had any changes of perspective like that? Where you saw an old foe in a new and more constructive light? I’ll add three more commenters’ names to my ARC list for A Lady’s Dream Come True.

Corona Time

For 25 years, the rhythm of my life was defined by a full day in court on Thursdays. I had court on other days–sometimes every day of the week–but Thursday was the courthouse’s designated day to hear child welfare cases, for the whole day.

I’d start my week on Monday, focusing on the cases to be heard the two or three Thursdays out, and catching up on lose ends for the cases coming up that week. As court approached, children, parents, and foster parents would often get stressed, and sometimes do dumb things–run away, get arrested, relapse–that changed the whole posture of the case. What fun. Not.

Fridays I would be pretty worthless. I could read reports, return phone calls, or work on accounting tasks, but Friday was for decompressing. The weekend was for housework and family time, and then Monday, I was back in the saddle. I am still aware of the echoes of this routine. I take particular delight in not being on court on Thursdays, and some Fridays I find myself unaccountably without traction.

When I’m even aware of the day of the week. Nothing–nothing at all–marks my days of the week now. I don’t have riding lessons on Monday and Thursday, don’t have a kid in school five days a week, don’t have Sunday services, or a weekly virtual movie night. I’m a happy little asteroid floating loose in the universe of time.

For the most part, I am enjoying the lack of structure. I get tons done, and I do mean tons. I’m happy to frolic in my book tasks the livelong day/week/month/whatever, and I think this must have been what life was like for Og and Ogette, back when we lived in caves. I do what needs doing next, I lay down for twenty minutes in the middle of the day if I get the urge to stretch out.

If I can’t sleep, I get up and write, without a thought that, “Well, three hours of sleep isn’t going to work. You’ll be worthless by afternoon and that when Something Scheduled Has to Happen.” I do the writing and then nap, if that’s how the day goes. Am I lucky, or what?

When I need to play in the yard for a few hours, I do that. When the shelves are getting bare, I make a raid on the grocery store. My life is not driven by anybody else’s schedule, except in a general way by the season of the year, the weather, and my penchant for flower gardening. I like this. This is something I want to recall if life ever returns to What Was Before.

Is there anything you’ll keep from your pandemic life? Anything better about it? I’ve started making my ARC list (both ePub and mobi this time) for A Lady’s Dream Come True, and I’ll add at least three commenters to it!