Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year’s Eve, or, you know, whatever

Other than Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve has to be the most nerve-inducing holiday on the calendar. Because if you don’t have something awesome planned with the coolest people on the planet, you’re the world’s biggest loser.

Is there anyone who’s had a better New Year’s Eve than Sally Albright? Right before the clock strikes midnight, the love of her life runs up and gives her the most romantic speech ever. And I know that it is, because I have spent many, many New Year’s Eves watching it. That’s usually because my husband Tom can rarely make it past ten o’clock, so I end up watching movies and the ball drop on the couch.

But I’m happy to give the protagonist in my work-in-progress THE SEESAW EFFECT, Erin Murphy, an even worse night…. Erin’s been having a tough few months. She lost her job as a Democratic advisor after the election, only to have her husband Jack become a TV star on a famous Republican network. Here are the highlights on her last day of the year:

Ordinarily, Jack and I have a low-key New Year’s Eve, just hanging out with the kids, watching TV until the ball drops. That isn’t because we don’t believe in parties, or that we love our kids so damn much. It’s because we rarely get invited anywhere. And I’ve always been too nervous to throw a party on my own. What if no one came? What a nightmare that would be.

“Guess what? We finally got invited somewhere New Year’s Eve,” I told Jack. “Wendy Kaplan’s having people over, and she wants us to come.”

“You can’t go,” Jessica said. “Nina’s having a party, and you have to take me and pick me up. Plus someone has to watch Michael. He can’t stay home by himself.”

“We could probably take Michael,” I mused. “He can hang out with Stephen. And you can spend the night at Nina’s house.”

“It’s not that kind of party,” Jessica started to explain, but Jack cut her off.

“Actually, I already have plans for New Year’s Eve.”

Three heads whirled around and glared at Jack.

“Hey, I’ve been here all week, haven’t I? And haven’t I given you the greatest Christmas ever? Fox is having a thing, and I know your mother would rather cut off her own head than go, so I thought I’d go stag. We never do anything New Year’s Eve anyway, so I didn’t think it would be a big deal.”

“I did not get married,” I hissed, “so I could spend major holidays alone.”

“You won’t be alone, Mommy,” Michael said. “You’ll be with me.”

For a second, I thought about attending Wendy’s little dinner party by myself. But honestly, it would just be too awkward. People would ask about Jack, and then they’d probably say mean things about him behind his back, and I’m the only one who can do that.

“Do you really want to get all dressed up and pretend to be someone you’re not for five hours?” Jack asked.

“Mom can wear that big coat you got her,” Michael said.

“She’s not wearing it,” Jessica said. “She returned it. Didn’t you, Mom?”

“Well, I haven’t exactly gotten around to it,” I admitted.

“But you’re going to, right?”

“Absolutely,” I assured her. “As soon as the mall isn’t so crowded.”

New Year’s Eve found me doing the grocery shopping, cleaning up more dog mess, driving Michael to and from practice, and dropping off Jessica at Nina’s house. When I got home, Jack was dressed in his fancy, expensive tux.

“Wow,” I said. “Looks like you’ve got a hell of a night planned.”

“It’s just work. You know they expect us to look good.”

Glancing out the window, I saw Scott’s car puttering down the road, dropping off Michael from soccer practice. I ran downstairs and met them in the driveway.

“Thanks for the ride,” I said as Michael climbed out of the back seat, all sweaty and grubby from soccer practice. “I hope it doesn’t make you late for your New Year’s plans.”

“We’re just going to Wendy’s. She said she invited you, but you already had other plans?”

“Jack has other plans,” I clarified. “The Fox party. I’m persona non grata.”

“I can’t believe he’s leaving you alone on New Year’s Eve for work. That’s crazy. You should come to Wendy’s by yourself. Everyone would love to see you.”

“I’m okay. Michael and I have the whole evening planned.”

“You all ready for the tournament?”

“I’m all ready not to go,” I said. Was it my imagination, or did Scott look disappointed? “Jack’s taking Michael. Jessica has a riding show.”

“That’s too bad. Laura can’t go either. Now I’ll have no one to hang out with.”

“You can always hang out with Jack.”

Scott made a face. “I think my politics are to the left of yours. So probably not a good idea.” He reached over and squeezed my hand briefly. “Happy New Year, Erin.”

Jack was walking down the stairs when I returned. Michael made a beeline for him, arms outstretched, but Jack held his hands up.

“Whoa, buddy. This suit cost thousands of dollars. I don’t need any sweaty paw prints on it.”

“But you’re leaving. I just wanted to give you a hug goodbye.”

“How about a handshake. Then we’ll call it even.”

Jack stuck out his hand. Michael grabbed it and shook. Jack grimaced.

“Resolution for the new year: teaching you how to shake hands. Weak and clammy isn’t going to cut it, son.”

Michael turned red. “Whatever.” He headed into the kitchen.

“Do you have to criticize everything he does?” I asked.

Jack shrugged. “Sorry. Guess I picked up the habit from you.”

A horn honked outside. Jack glanced out the window. “That’s my ride.”

I looked out. A stretch limousine idled out front.

“You’ve got to be kidding.”

“The network takes care of me.”

As he headed toward the front door, I saw that Tucker had left a liquid present on the landing. I guess it was a good sign that he was having his accidents closer to a door. The training must be starting to infiltrate his tiny puppy brain.

And did I say anything as Jack stepped right in it? Of course not. Happy New Year.

I tried to convince myself that having my third-grade son all to myself was all the New Year’s Eve a woman could ask for. Michael had showered and changed into his pajamas, and we ordered pizza and watched Batman movies. When he fell asleep on the couch at ten, I channel-surfed till I came across “When Harry Met Sally.”

Watching that movie only made me feel worse. There would be no declarations of undying love at midnight for me. I couldn’t remember the last time I had spent New Year’s Eve without a date, even if that date was just Jack trying to comfort a colicky Michael while Jessica threw Barbie dolls all over the living room floor. It must have been high school. I had always had good luck finding someone to spend the evening with, even before Jack came along.

I tried not to picture Jack kissing someone as the ball dropped. But everyone would be drunk and pretty and Jack was the hot new Fox star. The women would probably be lining up to kiss him. I hoped they were ugly.

I wondered if Kylie were there. Of course she was. She worked for Fox, too. I could only hope she had brought a date.

What if Jack were her date?

It suddenly hit me that it was extremely suspicious that Fox would have two holiday parties in a row where spouses were not invited. Not just any spouse – me.

It didn’t look like the new year was lining up to be a very good one. My husband and I were going in two different directions, and if that continued, next year could find me even more alone on New Year’s Eve. Jack was turning into a completely different person, but I had to admit our issues weren’t completely his fault. I had become a wife he couldn’t take to his office party because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. What was more important, having a good marriage or speaking up every time someone said something offensive?

When the movie ended, I changed the channel to watch the coverage at Times Square. I thought about waking up Michael to watch the ball drop with me, but he was snoring so loudly, that seemed mean. But as the ball hit the platform and the numbers of the new year lit up, my phone vibrated with a text message: Kiss! Kiss! Big Kiss!!

The message made me feel a little better. But not much. I knew what a good multi-tasker Jack was with that phone. He could be sending me virtual kisses while giving his assistant the real ones.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Christmas excerpt from my work-in-progress!

With my last post before Christmas, I thought I’d write about my favorite Christmas books. Then I realized I didn’t have any.

Instead, I decided to post an excerpt from one of my works-in-progress, a scene that takes place Christmas morning. “The Seesaw Effect” is about Erin Murphy, a Democrat an important job, a loving husband and two kids. She ends up on the wrong end of the seesaw when she loses that job and her husband Jack becomes a famous talk show host on a right-wing TV network. This is their first Christmas since Jack became famous, and in addition to their kids Jessica and Michael, Jack has invited his entire large Catholic family to celebrate.

I hope you enjoy it! Merry Christmas!


With everyone scheduled to arrive at eight, that meant getting up at seven. Michael, of course, had been up since five, bouncing off the walls and begging to go downstairs. But we had already agreed to hold off on opening any presents until the entire family got here, a decision I regretted as soon as Jack announced it. I really didn’t want everyone looking at what we got each other. Especially since Jack liked to buy me sexy lingerie that embarrassed the hell out of the kids.

I had to drag Jessica out of bed, which was a big surprise. Last year she and Michael were both up at five, which is when we opened gifts. Then we went back to bed until ten. Last year was a very good year.

But I got everyone downstairs and ready right at the stroke of eight. Charles and Mary Margaret had been the first ones down, and they looked as excited as Michael.

We waited for the rest of Jack’s family to arrive.

And waited.

Peggy and company were the first to get here, pulling in at eight fifteen and looking confused that they were the first ones here. They had boxes and boxes of presents loaded up in expensive shopping bags. Michael nudged Jessica and nodded excitedly at the packages. I couldn’t help but notice, though, as Peggy spread them around the tree, that each gift was marked for someone in her immediate family, save two small packages for her parents.

Peter and Melissa showed up at eight thirty. They had presents for their four kids – Tommy, Brianne, Stephanie, and Patricia – but nothing I could see for anyone else.

Then Elizabeth and Tony showed up a half hour later. They weren’t carrying any gifts, and I heard their daughter Meg tell Stephanie that they had opened everything in the hotel before coming over.

I could tell by the looks on their faces that Jessica and Michael were starting to realize that all these extra people were not going to translate into extra gifts for them, after all. They were polite enough to keep their mouths shut about it, but I felt their disappointment as well.

I was starting to get a little worried about the time. Not only was everyone starving, but my parents and sisters were coming over around eleven in order to get started on dinner. It would be embarrassing if we were still opening our gifts and eating donuts. Assuming the donuts would ever get here.

Finally, Chuck and his brood arrived around 10:30. Their arms were filled with presents and donuts. His wife, Allison, apologized for being so late.

“The kids were starving last night,” she explained. “Somehow we ended up eating all the donuts before bed. And then we had to drive around all morning trying to find a store that was open.”

Surprisingly, the kids attacked the donuts before heading to the presents under the tree. I only managed to snare half a cake donut before they were all gone.

Jack made a big deal of playing Santa Claus, doling out gifts one by one and insisting that only one person open a present at a time. The gifts were all the usual things – clothes for the women, sports memorabilia for the men, gift certificates for the kids. Jack’s family was too polite to say anything about the books I bought for them, but I could see that Jack was inwardly seething. But Jessica was truly excited about the new riding gear I’d gotten her, and Michael was impressed that I’d managed to track down some obscure European soccer merchandise.

“Santa has taken the initiative to save the best for last,” Jack announced. He still hadn’t given his parents, the kids, or me his presents, so I guess that was his definition of “the best.”

He pulled an envelope out from under the tree and handed it to his mother. She immediately tried to pass it off to his dad.

“You open it.”

“He gave it to you, M.”

“I guess we’ll just have to open it together.”

Gingerly, the two lifted the envelope flap and unfolded the piece of paper inside.

“Oh, Jackie,” Mary Margaret breathed.

“Son, this is too much,” Charles said. “We can’t accept this.”

I peered over my mother-in-law’s shoulder. Jack had given them a two-week European cruise.

“After everything you’ve done for this family, nothing is too much,” Jack proclaimed. “You deserve a little better than the Jersey Shore.”

“The Shore’s fine,” Mary Margaret said.

“I think Barcelona’s going to be a little better,” I said. I put on a big fake smile, but inwardly I was seething. I’d never been to Europe. I’d always wanted to go. But with work and the kids’ activities, we’d never had the time – or the money.

Chuck and Peter exchanged annoyed looks. Their amazing gift of a home theatre system – which wasn’t nearly as good as ours – was seeming even stingier by comparison.

“Oh, wait,” Jack said, reaching under the tree again. “It looks like there are more envelopes down here.” He pulled out another one and handed it to Jessica.

“If that’s another European cruise, there better be one under the tree for me, too,” I said. I was only half-joking. Okay, maybe I wasn’t joking at all.

Jessica tore open her envelope. Inside was a picture of a horse. Not a picture from a magazine, just a picture off a home printer.

“Dad,” she asked in a shaky, low voice, “why are you giving me a picture of Banjo?”

“Who’s Banjo?” Michael asked.

“Your sister’s favorite horse at the barn. According to her riding instructors, anyway. Well, no one’s going to be riding him except for you, kiddo.”

“You bought me a horse! You bought me Banjo!” Jessica shrieked in that high-pitched tone that only teenage girls could achieve.

“She’s all yours, honey.”

Jessica threw herself into Jack’s arms, and just like that, the last six weeks were completely forgotten and totally forgiven.

“Wow, a horse,” Amanda said with thinly veiled sarcasm. “I got a riding lesson once.”

“Yeah, Dad, thanks for the jeans,” Stephanie added.

“You can ride on him whenever you’d like,” Jessica said. “I’ll teach you.”

“Whatever,” Amanda said.

Jack’s entire family was furious, and he didn’t even have the decency to look embarrassed. He’d made his brothers and sisters look bad to their kids. Who does that? I wanted to pull him aside and give him a piece of my mind, but it was Christmas. The lecture could wait till tomorrow.

The doorbell rang. My mother must have been early, for once. I sprung up and answered the door. Instead of one of my blood relations, though, it was Bruce, our next door neighbor. He was carrying a large, wrapped box.

“Santa dropped this one off at our house by mistake,” he winked. “Michael better open it in a hurry.”

I carried the heavy, wiggling box into the house and placed in front of my wide-eyed son. I had a bad feeling I knew exactly what was inside.

“Hurry up and open it, son,” Jack instructed.

Michael tore off the wrapping paper and opened the box. Gingerly, he picked up its contents – a tiny English bulldog puppy. The dog immediately began licking Michael’s face. Michael giggled in delight.

“If I get one kid a pony, I have to get the other one a dog,” Jack said. “I think that’s the law or something.”

The dog peed all over Michael’s pants.

“Gross!” Patricia exclaimed.

“Glad I’m not the one who has to clean that up,” her mother chimed in.

“It’s just a little bit,” Michael said defensively. “He’s just a baby. What do you expect?”

“Jack, is that a pure bred?” Melissa asked. “Did you get him from a breeder?”

“Yep,” he replied. “I wanted the temperament, the English bulldog look. Got him from a great guy. Farm in Virginia. Only has ten dogs, only breeds the females once a year. ”

Melissa whistled. “That’s not cheap.”

Michael put the dog down, and he skidded all over the floor, going from person to person. The kids laughed. The moms all shot me sympathetic looks.

“Well, I thought I was done with potty training,” I said. “I guess not.”

“And middle of the night feedings,” Melissa said. “He’s a baby. He’ll be up crying all night long.”

“Oh, this is Michael’s dog,” Jack said. “Michael will take care of it. Teach him some responsibility.”

“When he’s not at school, or soccer, or doing his homework,” I said.

“I can be responsible,” Michael argued.

The dog peed on the floor.

“You can start that responsibility right now,” I said. “Grab some paper towels and some Pledge, and clean up the floor. Then you can change your clothes.”

“Okay.” Michael ran off to get the cleaning supplies. He seemed eager to prove himself. I wondered how long that would last.

“Did you get a crate?” I asked Jack.

“Crate? For the dog? That’s inhumane!”

“There’s nothing inhumane about it,” Melissa said. “Dogs like confined spaces. And crates are the best way to train.”

“We’re not putting the dog in a cage,” Jack declared.

I wanted to put him in a cage.

Michael cleaned the floor and changed his clothes. I put some old newspapers in the box the dog came in, setting up a makeshift crate. Too bad it didn’t have air holes.

“Dad,” Michael said, “what did you get Mom?”

“Yeah,” Jessica chimed in. “I thought you had a big box for her.”

“That I do,” he said. “Thanks for reminding me.”

He opened the hall closet. The wrapped box he dragged out was absolutely huge, and, judging from the way Jack handled it, pretty heavy. He dropped it at my feet with a flourish.

I tried not to get my hopes up too much.

“Open it, Mom,” Jessica urged. “That looks enormous!”

Eagerly, I tore off the professionally wrapped Christmas paper. The box was from Nordstrom’s. An entire new wardrobe could have fit into it.

“Come on!” Michael said.

I pulled off the top. And then I just stood there, because my brain literally couldn’t believe what my eyes were telling me.

My husband had bought me a full-length mink coat.

“Oh, my Lord,” Mary Margaret breathed. “Is that what I think it is?”

“It sure is,” Jack boasted. “One hundred percent pure mink. The real thing.”

“It’s gorgeous,” Peggy said.

“Take it out,” Jack urged. “Model it for us.”

I was so numb, I did what I was told. The mink certainly felt nice – incredibly smooth and warm. And the coat fit like it was made for me.

Jessica watched me, her eyes filling with tears. “You don’t actually like that thing, do you, Mom?”

“What’s wrong with it?” Jack demanded.

“It’s murder!” Jessica shrieked. “Do you know how many minks they had to kill to make that coat?”

“They would have died anyway!” Jack said.

“No, they wouldn’t have,” I said. “They are specially bred on mink farms for the sole purpose of being made into coats.”

“Then their lives had meaning after all. I don’t know what you’re getting so worked up about. Minks are just bigger rats with nicer fur.”

“Mom can’t ever wear that coat,” Jessica said. “People will throw blood on her!”

Jack laughed. “Jessica, we love her and all, but your mother’s not exactly famous. And only famous people get blood thrown on them.”

“You’re famous. Doesn’t that make her famous, too?”

“She’s the wife of a Republican. And Republican women can wear fur. And eat meat. And drink ginormous cups of soda. It’s good to be a Republican.”

“It’s Christmas,” Mary Margaret said. “Jack has given us all some wonderful, wonderful things. Let’s not argue.”

“I’ll second that,” I said. “There’s plenty of time to argue later.”

“And I need someone to help me come up with a name for the dog,” Michael added.

I pulled Jessica into a one-armed hug. “Don’t worry,” I whispered. “As soon as the holidays are over, I’m returning that thing.”

She smiled and wiped her tears away. And a small, petty, evil part of me was glad that Jack was the bad guy in her eyes once again.

Tune in next week, when Jack and Erin celebrate New Year’s!

Monday, December 16, 2013


Congrats to Ruth Mancini!

Formerly independent author Ruth Mancini is relaunching her upmarket women’s fiction novel, Swimming Upstream, with Booktrope Publishing.

Ruth Mancini was born in South-West London and educated in London and Cambridge where she gained a Bachelors degree in languages and a post-graduate diploma in law. For several years she worked in the publishing industry before becoming a practising lawyer, author and freelance writer. She now lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two children. With the success of Swimming Upstream, she recently quit her full-time job and plans to combine writing her next book with working freelance as a lawyer and helping run her husband's business.

About Swimming Upstream.

“I once read that the end of a relationship is like being involved in a road traffic accident. Which is quite fitting really, given what happened.”

After seven years, Lizzie wonders whether she’s truly happy with her long-term boyfriend. When one wrong step and a chance meeting set off an unexpected chain of events, her life begins to unravel. On the same day that she meets Martin, an attractive lifeguard, her old friend, Catherine, re-appears. But is Martin really all he seems? And what is the secret that Catherine is hiding? As Lizzie struggles to confront the ghosts of her past, can she survive the shocking twist that will change the course of her future?

Swimming Upstream is a life-affirming and often humorous story about a young woman’s pursuit of happiness. It is also a story of female friendship, love, and divided loyalties – and the moral choices that we find ourselves making when the chips are down.

Praise for Swimming Upstream

“I really enjoyed Swimming Upstream. There is a nice rhythm and pace…credible dialogue, compelling protagonist, recognisable settings and good supporting cast.” – journalist and award-winning novelist Eloise Millar.

“Gripping, pacey…I truly enjoyed Swimming Upstream. This is thinking women’s chick lit!” – Catherine Amey, author.

Buy Swimming Upstream on Amazon

Buy Swimming Upstream on B&N

Ruth’s website

Ruth’s blog

Follow Ruth on Twitter

Like Ruth's Facebook page

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Recipes from Darlene Fredette

Please welcome contemporary romance writer Darlene Fredette, whose Christmas novella One Sweet Christmas is now out!

I was going to chat about writing a novella, the appropriate lengths for a novella, and the publishing opportunities for novellas, but it’s Christmas time and nobody wants to read about all of that stuff while your rushing about with Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, and baking those delicious treats. Instead of boring you with a writing post, I’m sharing two recipes that my heroine, Candy Cane, makes in this story.


Candy Cane Vanilla Fudge

1 package vanilla milk chips
1 can of Pillsbury Vanilla Creamy Supreme Icing
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
4 drops red food colouring
2 tablespoons of peppermint candy canes (chopped)
Place vanilla chips in a pot on the stove at medium heat. Stir until the chips have melted.
Add icing to the pot and continue stirring.
Remove from heat and add peppermint extract until dissolved.
Pour mixture into a pan.
Add one drop of food coloring in each corner of pan.
Use a butter knife to swirl the food coloring into the fudge for a swirl effect (don’t overdo it).
Add chopped peppermint pieces to the top of fudge.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until the fudge has hardened.
Cut into small pieces.

Chocolate Mice

These cute chocolate cherry mice have a pointy chocolate kiss face, a cherry stem tail, two little almond slices for ears, and bright red candy eyes.

About Darlene:
An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loved to put a pencil to paper and plot out stories of her own. Her writing is a combination of contemporary romance with chick lit flare, and a main focus as a plot-driven page-turner. When Darlene isn’t writing, editing, or reading she enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and Yellow Lab.

About One Sweet Christmas:

It’s going to take more than a few pieces of chocolate to fill this Scrooge’s heart with Christmas cheer. Luckily Candice Cane has a whole shop full...

Candice Cane is not proud of the way she acted after her last encounter with Jackson Frost. Sure revenge was fun, but it’s left Jackson standing, angry and looking for answers, on the welcome mat in her chocolate shop. Now he’s after some revenge of his own.

Jackson returned to his small hometown for one reason and one reason he’s not sure how he’s ended up in a Santa suit in the middle of a chocolate shop, at the behest of its beautiful owner, instead of high-tailing it back to the city as fast as he can.

Web Blog:
Purchase Links:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Rose by any Other Name...

Would be kind of confusing and a little more complicated.

My 19-year-old son has discovered words. Not just your regular, everyday words – he pretty much discovered most of them when he was three – but those polysyllabic ones with Greek or Latin roots that are more often found in the vocabulary portion of the SAT than in the real world vernacular (is “vernacular” one of those words?)

I’m proud and impressed at his initiative. He’s looking up about 15 words a day and using them every chance he can, both in regular conversation and in his writings for school. Sadly, his brand-new complicated words usually don’t fit as well as the ordinary ones he’s replaced. Moreover, while he thinks that using them makes him sound smarter, it doesn’t. Either he’s misused the word so the sentence just sounds odd, or he hasn’t, and he just sounds pretentious. I’ve tried to tell him there is certain vocabulary that is specific to certain industries or circumstances and sounds weird outside of that context, but like every college student, he prefers not to listen to his mother.

But it does bring up a question: When did we decide that good writing automatically meant the use of long, complicated, obscure words? Because it’s not just my son who thinks this.

I remember Mrs. Mitchell’s ninth grade English class, in which every new piece of writing – an act of Shakespeare, a Carson McCullers novel – was preceded by a vocabulary list (and test) consisting of words that would be found in the text. The message was subtle but clear – good writers used words that their readers would need to look up to understand. That is, if their readers were high-school students. (Ironically, I did poorly on most of those weekly vocabulary tests, but somehow those words made it into my brain over the years anyway, which goes to show the best way to learn words is organically.)

I don’t believe that good writing makes readers head for the dictionary. I tell my son to communicate to be understood, not to impress. That the ideas he seeks to convey matter more than the words he uses to convey them. Still, he persists in trying to force those words into writings where they don’t belong.

This is a trap that many writers fall into. It may not be specific to long, complicated words, but oftentimes new writers think they have to sound different – smarter, older, more sophisticated – in order to be taken seriously. Or those who are writing for a younger audience go out of their way to sound more current, sweating over the latest slang and asking every teenager they know if their work sounds like it comes from one of their peers.

It’s a trap because, over the course of a 65,000 word novel, writing in a voice not your own is exhausting. Writing in your own voice is hard enough as it is, but when you’re pretending to be someone you’re not as a writer, the phoniness shines through.

I’m not saying that you should excise any word from your writing that has over three syllables. If you’re a logophile and you know it, then your writing should surely show it. And many writers are very well-read, and have picked up sophisticated vocabulary naturally.

But if you can’t get through a paragraph without clicking on the “thesaurus” button…. Stop. That first word that came into your head was the right one. Trust your instincts. Trust your gut. Trust that any reader who needs a dictionary to get through your first page is