Friday, October 31, 2008 Announces November Novel Writing Contest

Here's an email I got from Ivory Madison, founder and CEO of -- an author/reader website to which I belong:
Whether you’re a successful author about to miss your next book deadline, an aspiring author who’s been “meaning” to write a novel for years, or a non-writer who wants to do something crazy, have I got the month for you: November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! I’m encouraging all of my friends and colleagues to join me and write a novel between November 1st and November 30th.
Can I Really Write a Novel in 30 Days?
Yes. Really. That’s all it takes—Stephen King does it. And, before I founded Red Room, I was a writing coach (named San Francisco magazine’s “Best Writing Coach” in 2005), when I realized that most people type about 1,000 words an hour and can write a first draft of a short novel of 50,000 words in about fifty hours.
But How Do I Win?
All it takes to “win” NaNoWriMo is for you to write a novel. Another way to win: We’ve added our own contest. Red Room will randomly select one NaNoWriMo winner of a one-hour coaching call with me after I personally review his or her manuscript for a few hours. I used to charge $2,000 for this, but it’s actually “priceless” since I don’t coach writers anymore. Now I only do it for good causes, like getting you to do some writing in November.
I Love Winning! How Do I Enter?
It’s easy to participate — just write a novel in November and blog about it on I look forward to finding out who’s joining me!
If you've been thinking for the longest time about writing a novel, it's time to do it! Go to and join now for free and hit those computer keys! (And if you're already an author, apply to be a Red Room author.)

And if you do write a novel in November, I hope you'll check out my new website whose launch I'll be announcing in a few days -- -- because strategic book marketing should start when the novel is finished and not when the novel is published.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Google Deal Will Bring Us Millions More Books to Add to Our Reading Pile

The October 29th Wall Street Journal article by Jeffrey A Trachtenberg and Jessica E. Vascellaro announced “Google Deal Opens Web to Millions of Books.”

This deal is the result of a large settlement between Google and the publishing industry and will “make many millions of digital books available on the Web, with payments to authors and publishers for their use.”

I had mixed feelings when reading the article. As an author, I thought this sounded like a good deal to possibly have an additional revenue stream for one’s books. As a researcher, I thought this sounded like a good deal to have the contents of more books available at the click of one’s computer. As a reader, I thought “oh, no, more books to read.”

I recalled to mind a New Yorker cartoon showing a man sitting in an armchair surrounded by his bookcases. On the floor stands a single book facing the man and saying “Read me.”

Now there will be “many millions of digital books” at our fingertips saying “read me.”

Read the whole Journal story at

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Monday, October 27, 2008

CDC Votes Unanimously to Recommend Pneumonia Shots for Ages 19-64 with Asthma

At the doctor’s office today I asked the doctor about pneumonia shots for young people with asthma. (I already knew that pneumonia shots were recommended for people 65 and above.) My doctor carries his laptop from examining to examining room and here’s what he pulled up dated a few days ago:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted unanimously yesterday to recommend that adults ages 19 to 64 with asthma receive pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23), known as PNEUMOVAX® 23 (Pneumococcal Vaccine Polyvalent). Merck & Co., Inc. is the sole supplier of PNEUMOVAX 23 in the United States. The ACIP based this recommendation on study data that showed an increased risk of pneumococcal disease among people with asthma.

My doctor was pretty impressed that he had this info literally at his fingertips. And I was pretty impressed to have such a timely answer.

And now I’d like to pass this timely info on to you, with the hope that you will pass it on to people with asthma whom you know. We all don’t see the same news releases, so most of us depend on the kindness of friends to keep us in the loop on important info that can impact our lives. Be a good friend and pass this info along because pneumonia can be a life-and-death matter.

Here’s the link to the whole article:

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ode to the Lowly Quotation Mark in Literary Novels

I very much enjoyed Lionel Shriver’s essay “Missing the Mark” in the October 25th Wall Street Journal. Shriver bemoaned the fact that several current literary writers have given up using quotation marks, thus making it even harder than ever to read literary fiction. He says:
According to the National Endowment for the Arts, nearly half of Americans do not read books at all, and those who do average a mere six a year. You’d think literary writers would be bending over backwards to ingratiate themselves to readers – to make their work maximally accessible, straightforward and inviting. But no.

He then goes on to give several examples of dialogue passages without quotes from bestselling authors – passages that make very little sense. In one case I thought a sentence was a description of the weather when it was actually dialogue from one of the characters.

As the author of a (non-literary) novel with quotation marks, I was upset to learn that several bestselling literary authors are making it harder for readers to enjoy novels, thus perhaps discouraging reading of all novels.

I hope that all of these authors are shown this essay by Shriver. And that they then make a pact to use quotation marks in their next novels.

And, oh yes, I love these sentences of Shriver’s:
Reading heated dialogue without quotes is like watching chase scenes in “The Bourne Supremacy” with the sound off …. Surely most readers would happily forgo “elegance” for demarcation that makes it easier to figure out who’s saying what when their eyelids are drooping during the last few pages before lights-out.

Do you have any opinion on the use of quotation marks in novels?

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Friday, October 24, 2008

USO Revisited: Supporting Our Troops

Here's how my Mrs. Lieutenant blog post begins today:

I have to admit that the first thought that comes to my mind when I think of the USO is scenes of USO-sponsored dances in World War II films. So I found the email from the USO asking for a donation particularly moving as it included the text of a letter from a wife whose husband was deployed to Iraq:

I hope you'll find the rest of the post interesting -- read it at

And if you're a celebrity performer, please consider performing for our troops.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bike Helmets: Adults and Children Should Wear Them

Have you ever noticed a young child riding a bike and wearing a bike helmet followed by an adult riding a bike WITHOUT a helmet? It always amazes me for two reasons:

• Doesn’t the adult realize what behavior he or she is modeling?

• Doesn’t the adult realize that he or she can also fall off a bike and break open his/her head?

Several years ago my father was riding a bike in Santa Monica and was hit by a car coming out of an alley. Luckily he was wearing a helmet when he was sent flying to the ground.

And it’s not just bikes. Anytime a child or adult is on anything with wheels a bike helmet should be worn. That means when on a skate board or scooter, too.
Of course, it’s important to wear the helmet correctly. It can’t be pushed back off the forehead but must come down firmly over the forehead to protect that forehead.

If unsure whether your bike helmet fits correctly, ask for guidance at a good bike shop. Or check out the info of the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute at

You know the old saying “better safe than sorry”? When it comes to protecting your head and your life, a bike helmet should be an absolute necessity.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Email In-Box: How Many Emails – Let Me Count the Ways

Last night I deleted approximately 950 messages from one of my email accounts. Some of these messages I had clicked on and then saved for later reading. Others I hadn’t opened yet.

What made me take this drastic step? In recent days I had repeatedly reached 1000 messages, in which case my email account bounced back additional messages.

Therefore, I bit the bullet and said to myself: “You will never give your full attention to those 950 messages. Just delete them and take the risk that you’ve deleted something important.”

Most of the time I can’t understand people who don’t use email at all. Yet sometimes, such as when I force myself to delete 950 messages, I ponder how much simpler life was before the advent of email, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Friendfeed (the most recent social media platform for which I’ve signed up), etc.

In a nod to fair disclosure, I have also been unsubscribing to all the email advertisements for which I usually just click delete. I’ve decided to take the extra time to click on the unsubscribe buttons, some of which work and some of which don’t. I’m not at all sure I ever agreed to get many of these emails. So now I’ve taken the active step of getting rid of them.

Recently I got two different emails announcing a new book. Each of these emails was quite long, going on and on. I skimmed the emails, then decided to do a good deed:

I replied to these emails suggesting in each case that the person write a much shorter email with a clear headline and bullet-point benefits as to why we should act on the email. I explained that we are all so very busy that long emails are just way too much. Both people responded with thanks, so apparently PZ the Do-Gooder Scrooge didn’t step on any toes those times.

But, honestly, that’s why Twitter with a maximum of 140 characters is so great – it keeps all of our tweets short. Who’s the famous writer of the 19th Century (or 18th Century) who apologized for writing a long letter because he didn’t have time for a short letter? It’s true that I often have to rewrite my tweets to stay within 140 characters. And I’m grateful for that limitation.

If only email had a limitation of 140 characters – or I’d even settle for a limitation of 280 characters.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Child’s Cough Can Be Sign of Serious Health Problem

I was perturbed today when I saw a reporter query about what to do when a young child gets a cough.

I couldn’t help myself. I switched to my do-gooder hat and emailed this response to the reporter:

I'm not responding to be included in the article. I just wanted to warn you (in case you don't know this) that a cough can actually be a sign of asthma and can indicate a serious health issue that, if left untreated, can lead to death.

If you want a resource on this subject, I highly recommend

I’m not arguing with the latest cough syrup recommendations for children under age four, I just want parents to understand that sometimes a cough – with no other symptoms – can actually be an indicator of a serious underlying cause. And sometimes pediatricians do not recognize this. Parents need to educate themselves in order to ensure that their children have the best medical help.

See this video for an explanation of Cough-Variant Asthma:

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Honor a Veteran Event: Read About World War II Veteran John Savery

Have you posted a description, photo or video at to Honor a Veteran? I hope all of you will do so.

The photo above is of John Savery -- a medic in Patton’s army -- in front of Notre Dame in Paris in 1945. His daughter Loretta Savery wrote such a beautiful description on the Facebook Honor a Veteran event page about his World War II experience that I posted her description on my Mrs. Lieutenant blog.

Check out this post at
for an example of what you could write about a veteran you know.

And spread the word about this opportunity to Honor a Veteran.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

World War II Veteran: My Father Albert Zimbler

As I announced in my previous post, I'm sponsoring through the Facebook group MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL the event Honor a Veteran in recognition of Veterans Day on November 11 at

Spread the word about this event -- five people (chosen through will receive prizes for participating. I want to encourage people to Honor a Veteran.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Veterans Day Event on Facebook

I've just created my first Facebook event -- Honor a Veteran -- in recognition of Veterans Day on November 11th (through my Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel Facebook group page).

I hope you'll add a veteran to honoor at

Five submitters (as chosen by will win prizes for participating in the event.

Tell your friends about this worthwhile online event.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Presidential Election Thoughts: Our Goal Should Be to Think of Others

Presidential politics are something I don’t discuss – either in writing or in person. But yesterday, in a Yom Kippur sermon, I heard something about the Presidential election that does not come under the category of taking sides. And I want to share this thought with you:

The speaker, a well-known academic, said that in the coming year we need to look outside ourselves; we need to consider the effect of things on others. He urged us that our decision who to choose for President should also be based on the needs and concerns of others and not only on our own needs and concerns.

While he didn’t give examples, I could clearly see what he meant. For example, one candidate’s proposed tax policy might be great for us but not very good for the country as a whole. Given the times, the speaker warned us that we must think of what is often called “the big picture” rather than our miniscule part of that picture.

And there’s something else I’d like to say about the current U.S. economic situation: One of the most important things I learned in my MBA program at Wharton was how perception can actually make things happen. In other words, every time a newspaper headline blares “recession,” that headline adds to the possibility of an actual recession because people act in reaction to that headline.

While I realize that there’s very little chance of stemming the newspaper headlines screaming “recession” and therefore adding to the possibilities of a recession, I do hope that all of us can be careful about what we say in connection with the current U.S. economic situation. We should remember that perception can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies. Let’s try not to add fuel to the fire by what we say – or do.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Forgive Me for I Have Sinned

After reading Big Tobacco’s heartfelt Yom Kippur blog post (, I wanted to write one myself. Clearly I can’t write one as dramatic as his, so I turned to the High Holiday prayer book for the prayer that we chant repeatedly during Yom Kippur:

Here is only one sin from the long list of sins for which we publicly and repeatedly ask forgiveness:

And for the sin which we have committed before Thee in speech

How many of us are guilty of this every single day? I’m sure I must be. No, I’m not talking about the intentionally mean things we say. I’m talking about the everyday things we say carelessly or impatiently – the “take out the trash” barked commands and the “can’t you ever remember to put the remote control away” peeved outbursts.

I often read the sayings on the teabags I buy which give the advice to appreciate each moment of life. And I do believe in viewing the glass half full rather than half empty. Yet how many of us consciously work to make the glass half full?

The Wall Street Journal today (October 8th) has a front-page story about how Iraq is still dangerous for U.S. military personnel even as the country is stabilizing. Do we who are safe at home in the U.S. appreciate that Americans are risking their lives every moment for our security?

On Rosh Hashanah, as my husband neared our synagogue, he passed a Marine major in full uniform. My husband said: “Thank you for your service, sir.” The Marine said: “You’re welcome. Shana tova.” [Good New Year]

In my husband’s case he used speech in a positive way – to express gratitude for the Marine’s service to our country.

If I can only improve greatly in one area this coming year, I’d like it to be in this area of speech: To reduce the amount of negative things I say and to increase the amount of positive things I say.

What about you? In what area would you most like to improve in the coming year?

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

One Iraqi Soldier's Attempt to Fight Harder

I don't usually cross-reference my three blogs. Yet a guest post on my Mrs. Lieutenant blog is so powerful that I want to share it with you.

So here's Big Tobacco's guest post from Iraq at

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Asking Forgiveness Publicly on Facebook and Blogs

A woman I’ll call Joan posted the following update on her Facebook page:

Joan is wondering how legit it is to make teshuvah [repentance] on FACEBOOK? In case it is o.k. I apologize for any time I wronged, offended, slighted, ignored, or hurt you!

In preparation for Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement, Jews ask forgiveness of people for any wrongs committed against those people during the year.

How interesting to think about extending this concept of asking forgiveness of others into the workplace. Because, although Facebook is a social media platform in which you have “friends,” in many ways the Facebook environment is more like a workplace – a place where you get together with others to achieve a mutual purpose.

And if we all carried around the sense that once a year we would have to ask forgiveness from all the people in our online and offline lives, perhaps we would be kinder to others, think more before we speak, and try harder to consider things from the other person’s point of view.

I hope that I can move closer in the coming year to achieving these goals. And I, too, publicly apologize for any wrongs or offenses that I may have committed during the past year to anyone in my online or offline life.

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Social Media Site TwitterMoms.Com Has Opportunities for Members

Thanks to being on Twitter I just learned about the website Megan Calhoun, the creator of this website, has assured me that you don’t have to be on Twitter to join the social media platform

If you fall into the general category of this website, check it out. Through October 15 members have the opportunity to submit their products to be included in a holiday catalog. The site is also looking for people interested in being featured contributors.

And note the site’s interesting groups. I’ve already joined The Twitter Moms Book Club, and there are several other groups I’m planning to consider.

P.S. Maybe I should start the group Twitter Moms Whose Children Are Also on Twitter. Both my daughters are on Twitter as is my husband.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Social Media: Are You Letting Your Best Face Shine Forth?

For my blog Flipping Burgers and Beyond -- which gives advice for college applications, internships, jobs and careers -- I frequently post about social media mistakes concerning profile photos. In other words, I'm talking about the photos people use on Facebook or Twitter or other social media websites.

I just posted a new commentary on the profile photo, and since it is also a brief wrap-up of previous posts, I'd like to share this information with you.

Here's the link to the Flipping Burgers post about choosing the right photo of yourself:

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Facebook: Join the Group INFORMATION MAVENS

If you're on Facebook already, consider joining the new group I started -- Information Mavens. The idea behind the group is to share info that can help make people's lives easier. Some of the info I post on the group may also be written about here as a blog post. Yet the info on the Facebook group is only a link with a brief comment.

If you have friends on Facebook, invite them to join the group. The more people we have offering info to help others, the better we'll all be.

And if you're not on Facebook yet, consider joining it. Once you get the hang of the privacy settings and the other control options you have, I think you'll be glad you joined. Just remember NOT to post anything you wouldn't want your mother to see. (For free tips on protecting your image on Facebook, go to

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