Monday, June 29, 2009

What summer means to me

My favorite thing to do in the summer is go back home to the tiny island of Guernsey in the British Channel islands. It's quite a trek to get there from Detroit, involving either three (or four) changes of planes, or two planes and one change of airport, and leaving Guernsey is even more complicated.

Guernsey can be fog-bound even in the height of summer. You never know when planning a trip whether you'll be trapped on the island, diverted to the boat, or what.

The sounds of my summers are a concerto of distant foghorns; the shushing of the sea on pebbles at high tide, the buzz of someone somewhere mowing a pocket handkerchief sized lawn, or trimming a hedge, the cackle of seagulls on the roof (where my mother tosses fish and meat scraps for recycling via gull digestion), and the drone of honeybees and flies in the honeysuckle that covers my mother's pergola. (Which hides the compost heap, which hides a den for the hedgehog.)

As for the sights, there's the ever changing sea, which redistributes beach sand around the scoured and weathered groynes on the local beach, creating and eradicating deep shore pools in which one could catch wrist-watch sized baby sole and halibut in ones hands. There are the rocks... I love the rocks... of pink "Cobo" granite, and the distinctive blue-grey granite from which many local homes are built. The sunsets aren't spectacular--the air is too clean--but the light quality can be breathtaking.

They claim that "the sun lingers longer" in Guernsey, and perhaps it does. The pace of life is much slower. The island speed limit is 35 mph, and one wouldn't have to be a Lance Armstrong to break the speed limit on a pushbike. Not on the steep Vauxquiedor in the parish of St. Andrews ("Valley that is of gold", by my translation) or on the Dos D' L'Ane. Most street names are in Guernseyaise, which is similar to French, but not French.

When an island is only nine miles long and six wide (and triangular) it never takes very long to get anywhere. No roads are straight. There are legends that the route a road should take was determined by the meanderings of a pig or donkey. It makes no less sense than Punxsutawney Phil (and his descendants) giving us a long range weather forecast.

Although the roads meander, and some are so narrow that if two cars meet, one has to back into a field, and others are designated "Ruette Tranquile" which means that cows and pedestrians have the right of way, if you keep going, eventually you will come to the coast road.

If you look up, apart from seagulls, and con trails in the sky, you might see strange ledges on the chimneys. They are seats for passing witches who might be sore from sitting too long astride a broom.

In fact--if I can say so without offending anyone--apart from the large hairy feet, Guernsey is very much like the Hobbits' idyll in the Shires in Lord Of The Rings. With internet cafes... in one of the biggest supermarkets.

We have an excellent library, the Guille Alles (it has internet, too) which is well stocked with John Grisham, Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer novels, also Asimov and Heinlein, and when I am at home, I indulge in a positive orgy of re-reading my old favorites.

I've also been known to take a garden spade down to the beach, all the better to construct dragons and castles in the sand.... And if I do one this year, I'll be sure to take a photograph.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Space Snark™
A blog by Rowena Cherry: Twenty-Five Ways to Buzz A Book

Space Snark™ <br> A blog by Rowena Cherry: Twenty-Five Ways to Buzz A Book

Penny's Featured Article - 20 Simple Ways to Drive Massive Traffic to Your Web Site

Do you lose emails? I do. That's one reason I love blogspot, because I can share stuff I really want to remember here, and I can always find it!

The same applies to my notes on, which I also love.

I've just received a new issue of Penny Sansevieri's (free) marketing newsletter... Sign up to get your own at Author Marketing

Featured Article - 20 Simple Ways to Drive Massive Traffic to Your Web Site
Embarking on an Internet marketing campaign doesn't have to be difficult, tricky, or complicated. Here are a few simple tips (twenty in fact) that you can easily implement to get tons of traffic to your site right now!

1) Write articles: believe it or not this is an incredible tool for driving traffic. Writing good, well-written, relevant articles can net you quite a bit of activity to your web site. Don't forget to add your URL in your byline. Articles should be 500 to 2,000 words in length. You can send articles to sites like:,, and

Interjection by Rowena
You can also find great articles on Promotion and Marketing at

Back to Penny:

2) Social bookmark *everything* - and I do mean everything, you can bookmark each page of your site and each blog entry you post. While this might seem tedious it's worth it. You'll see a strong increase in traffic if you social bookmark each page on your site and each of your blog entries.

3) List yourself in the best directories - you'll have to pay for this but since most people don't do this (since everyone's looking for a freebie) you could really enhance your traffic by getting a listing:,,

4) Get yourself listed at: - it's not easy to get listed there but worth the effort.

5) Review: if you can review hot new products or books within your market, head on over to and start positioning yourself as an expert. In order to do this effectively you'll want to create an Amazon profile and make sure and sign each review with a reference to your URL (your web site). You can also go to and to review products as well.

6) Offer a freebie on Craig's List: you'll be amazed at how much traffic you get from a single Craig's List ad. They key here is to send people to a page on your site and make sure they have to sign up for something (like your email newsletter) before they can grab their freebie. That way you're not just getting traffic, you're also building your list.

7) Create a "recommended by" list on your page - you can do this by logging on and creating an account at and then tagging articles, blogs and other content you think is important to your readership. Then offer this page as a resource site. You can add a link to this page in your email signature line or on your web site.

8) And speaking of your email signature line - do you have one? If you don't, create one. Believe it or not people do follow these links. You'll be amazed how many folks read email signature lines. I have one and change it several times a year depending on what we're doing or promoting or what books I have coming out.

9) Lend a helping hand: you can be an answer person at Yahoo Answers, - you don't have to spend hours on there but maybe a few minutes a week. Make sure and include a link back to your site by your answers.

10) Set up a social networking site using,, or Squidoo. It's free and easy to do, just don't forget the all-important link back to your site!

11) Make sure your blog has an RSS feed so if you capture a reader you don't lose them if they forget to bookmark your site or blog

12) Join relevant groups at Yahoo groups, You'll find everything from groups on growing your small business, writing books, finding your passion, even underwater basket weaving. I dare you to find one that isn't right for what you're promoting. When you do find the right group, join and participate as you can!

13) Podcasting is another great way to drive traffic. Start a podcast by going to AudioAcrobat, - yes, this is our affiliate link. There are other programs you can use, but I love AudioAcrobat. You can record the podcast over the phone quickly and easily and then hit the "send" button on your computer once it's recorded and the system will syndicate it to 27 podcast directories including iTunes. It's a great way to let people know about you and your web site!

14) Start a blog and then once you do, start commenting on other people's blogs, linking to them from your site or adding them to your blogroll.

15) Inbound links: don't squander your time (or a perfectly good link) on smaller low-traffic sites. Instead spend your time going after high traffic, high quality sites. Good sites should have a PR (page ranking) of 4-6 depending on the market. You can find out what a site's page ranking is by downloading the Google toolbar which comes with a PR feature built in.

16) Start an email newsletter: while it may not seem like a newsletter that you email can drive traffic to your site you'd be surprised at the effectiveness of this type of promotion. If your newsletter (like your articles) is interesting and relevant to your audience you'll find that it has a huge pass-through factor. Meaning that it is passed from one email subscriber to another. Also, if you have an email newsletter you should never, ever go to a single event without your handy signup sheet. Yes, you can even use offline events to drive traffic to your web site.

17) And speaking of offline efforts: if you're ever quoted in a magazine or other publication, make sure and mention your URL as it's appropriate to the topic. Don't be too pushy about this but do not forget to tell folks you have a web site that may be a great resource for the topic of your interview.

18) If you have products to sell why not get a store on eBay? This site gets a tremendous amount of traffic and on your sales page you're allowed to list your URL. Another great way to get an inbound link and a way for people to find you.

19) Load a video on YouTube and 57 other video sites - if you don't have a video or don't know how to create one contact us and we'll refer you to our fabulous book video people!

20) While this isn't a tip per se it's still important. If you're going to go through all the trouble of getting traffic to your site, make sure your site is converting this traffic into something. Get folks to sign up for something, your newsletter, the RSS feed on your blog. Whatever it is, getting their email address will help you remarket to them when the time is right. Studies show that visitors landing on a site often don't buy the first time. That's ok! You want to get them into your marketing funnel so you can market to them again and again - not in a way that's obtrusive, offensive or downright annoying but in a way that is helping them with their own mission. An example of this might be an email newsletter. A helpful, informative newsletter is a fantastic funnel. A blog is another great way to keep people in your marketing loop without bombarding them with "please buy my stuff" email messages. Also, make sure you know what your traffic numbers are before you launch into any Internet marketing campaign. By traffic numbers I mean how many people are visiting your site. You want to know this so you can gauge a before and after view of your marketing efforts.

Penny's Reprint permission
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~
You are welcome to reprint any items from "The Book Marketing Expert Newsletter." However, please credit us as a source with the following paragraph:

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Penny Sansevieri explains Anchor Text

As you know, I receive Penny Sansevieri's Author Marketing newsletter, and there's usually something I'm passionately interested in.

Featured Article - Savvy SEO: What is Anchor Text and Why it Matters
If you ask any Search Engine Marketing Expert they will tell you the importance of anchor text. So what is this exactly? It's the hyperlinked text that you click on to follow a link. Most people overlook this text, using words like "click here" or other nebulous terms. If used correctly, anchor text can really help with your site ranking. It's not that difficult to implement really, you just need to understand a few basic concepts.

First, anchor text should be descriptive. It should describe the link you're sending people to using keywords that reflect the page you're recommending.

Second, if you know the high traffic keywords for your market you can use those as well to describe the link (but only if the keywords relate to the page you're sending visitors to).

Third, knowing where to use anchor text is almost as important as the text itself. All external links should be anchor text, but often web designers forget internal links (i.e. links leading to pages within your site) although they are equally as important. Your home page is also critical for anchor text links. If you have a blog (and you should) make sure that any article, web site or blog you reference has anchor text in the hyperlink.

Creating these hyperlinks is easy, especially if you're using them in a blog. Most blog software has some very simple one-click anchor text creation widgets.

So take some time and go through your site, make sure that anything you have hyperlinked is anchor text. Stay away from nebulous terms like "click here" or "follow this link" because you won't get picked up by search engines that way. Make sure the text is focused and specific. How long can anchor text be? It doesn't have to be long, but if need be, it can be multiple words. Keep in mind that as long as the words are relevant to your topic, the anchor text verbiage is all that matters.

More Social Networking Sites
If you're ready to collaborate with some local businesses in your community, you'll love You can also find local events here related to your market. Their tag line is: business networking that doesn't suck. You gotta love that! lets you create a profile, blog and listing for your products. They also have some opportunities to participate in virtual trade shows. another neat little networking site that lets you connect with other business owners and promote your product and services.

Reprint permission
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~
You are welcome to reprint any items from "The Book Marketing Expert Newsletter." However, please credit us as a source with the following paragraph:

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

Thank you, Penny!

Rowena Cherry

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

President Obama, this is my health care plan

I am a totally ignorant housewife with experience of the British NHS, the British BUPA system of private supplementary health insurance, the German Health care system (limited) and the American system.

So... this is the way I think it ought to be.

1. Private Pay. Walk-In clinics.

If anyone wants to see a doctor in the walk-in system for cuts, scrapes, colds, flu, bronchitis, drug testing, rashes, broken toes/fingers, flu shots, prescription refills, (the sort of things that the uninsured take to the Emergency Room, and everyone else "walks in" and claims on their insurance, which cannot possibly be efficient in terms of paperwork time in relation to face-time with the doctor)

Flat rate of $10 for up to 10 minutes. (Or whatever AMA deems reasonable, given the following... Obviously I think general practitioners ought to earn a great deal more than $60 an hour. Perhaps tax CREDITS could be an answer.)
Cash payment before being seen (on the spot).
Sign medical waiver, so there is no insurance/malpractice issue.
No insurance forms to be filled out, or claims to file. No exceptions. Just like walk in flu shots.

This will save doctors a lot of paperwork.
This will put the onus on patients to turn up at the clinics with all their own records and a list of their symptoms.

Health Care Spending Account. Would that be VEBA for everyman?
Everyone (even children) may set up a tax-free, personal, individual Health Care Spending account, on the same principal as a college account. Possibly, the state could match savings for the lowest income individuals. The dollars would "roll over" and never be lost (unless spent.)

Employers could "buy out" existing health care, by tranferring cash into their employees' Health Care Spending Accounts.

This would be a private pay system. Those who keep themselves in good health would not be subsidizing those who have unhealthy lifestyles.

Private Insurance. (Like the British BUPA)
Individuals could opt to buy private, annual, term insurance for operations and other expensive procedures. This would be for patients who did not wish to wait for hip replacements, and other elective procedures, or who wished to have annual physicals at "resort" hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic instead of in their local physicans' offices with "participating providers".

It could work like car insurance, with cash back for people who do not make claims, and reduced premiums for those with clean health records. Premiums (at the Health Care Account owner's sole discretion) could be paid out of the Health Care Savings Account.

State System.
Everyone is covered (for everything requiring a referral from the $10 walk-in clinic and upwards). Everyone waits their turn. Only prescriptions that are necessary for pain, life preservation, functioning of tests, etc would be provided. (No self-esteem drugs, no birth control, no viagra, no fertility drugs.)

Catastrophic care would be covered, but there would be NO ability to sue for medical mistakes where the care was free.

On the other hand, there would be an ombudsman, and doctors who made horrendous mistakes could suffer penalties (but the penalties would not enrich lawyers.)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Life With An Allergic Kid

There are many things I regret having done in my life, and two of them involve my behavior as a new mother.

I will always wonder what might have been different if I had not taken the hospital's Baby-Massage therapists advice, and had not used nut oils to massage my infant, and also what might have happened if I had not eaten peanut butter while I was breast-feeding.

If I knew then what I know now, I would not have given my toddler Honey-Nut Cheerios, either!

Before I was a mother, it seemed to me that one of the worst things in the world (as far as parenting went) would be to have to read every word of all that tiny print on the side of every package in the supermarket. Every time.

Well, that is what I have to do. I'm grateful that the information is there. I could wish it wasn't often printed in black on brown, or otherwise hard to read... and reading the tiny print does not get easier with age.

What is "Annetto" and... is "Amaretto" nut-based, or isn't it? And do these fancy words have to look so similar?

And, it would be really nice if the cereal manufacturers would make up their minds which of three possible oils they are going to use, and stick with it... because we're allergic to coconut and sesame. (As well as English walnuts, Black Walnuts, pecans, peanuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts... all nuts... and several more seeds. Also clams.)

How many kids in American schools either cannot eat the muffins and cookies, cakes and crackers, icecreams and other treats that their friends' moms bring in for every conceivable celebration, or take their lives in their hands and do eat the goodies?

It's really cruel.

A few times, a teacher or well-meaning mom will tell the allergic kid who is standing off to one side, looking sad, "Why don't you eat?"

"I'm allergic."

"There's nothing in here to hurt you. Go ahead."

"No. I can't."

Maybe someone decides to turn over the Mrs Fields box --more to prove the stubborn child wrong-- and right there in the tiny print is the proof that there really is a dangerous ingredient. So, what happens?

Mom is called. The allergic child is sent home. The allergic child misses the remains of another school day. It sucks! It truly sucks.

There is one manufacturer in all America (Bless you Arnold/Brownberry!!!!) who makes delicious, healthy wheat bread that my child can eat in safety. I still read the labels in silent dread that one day, they will change their recipe, or share the production line with a nutty bread product.

I worry what on earth we would ever do if there were a disaster of some kind, and we were forcibly evacuated to some area where we would have no control over what was available to eat and no one knew what the ingredients were.

I suspect that decision makers don't care. Our prescription coverage refused to pay for Zyrtec to help allergic children live a slightly more normal life years before it cut Viagra.

Because schools don't offer cool places to keep sack lunches (and some would like to encourage children to pay extra for school lunches) my child has eaten an apple and either a mayo and ketchup sandwich, or a cheese and mayo sandwich every schoolday for the past six years. (I've offered her yoghurts, cheeses, grapes, bananas... but they don't travel well, apparently.)

Last week, full of hope, we went to be retested. It's been five gruelling years of total abstinence from all vegetable oils except olive oil, from all baked goods except Ritz crackers and "Goldfish" and Doritos (but in every case... eat one, wait two hours, if nothing happens, eat a few more...wait... and if all is clear, enjoy the rest of the package.)

Many children grow out of allergies. Usually not peanuts.

By the way, many oriental recipes use peanut products as glue. There's peanut in samosas, and in spicy (fabulous) fried chicken slivers. We found out about peanuts because there was undeclared peanut sauce in a chicken and tortellini dish. You'd think chicken/tortellini would be safe!

Some chefs like to use peanut butter as binding in their home made hamburgers. Peanut oil makes gourmet fried potatoes/chips....

Hotels --especially in California-- specialize in muffins and "continental" breads. Room service will swear up and down that there are no nuts in the muffins, but break them open and you'll see nuts (if you are lucky!). You can't even trust cheesecake. I've known chefs put almonds in the crust.

Testing is horrible.

The child sits on the doctor's couch, and bares her back. The nurse swabs her back to clean it. Then, using a black Sharpie, she writes numerals up and down the back. Each number is the numerical code for a potential allergen.

There's the Control, the Histamine, and maybe eighteen or more.

Next, the nurse jabs with a hollow stick about half the size of a cocktail sausage stick and injects a tiny amount of the allergen into the back by the appropriate number. Twenty sticks.

Now, we wait for fifteen minutes, as the itching gets worse and worse in all the spots that a reaction takes place. There's the red flare. There are blisters.

At the end of fifteen minutes the nurse measures the dimensions of the blisters. Some blisters are the size of a York mint. Then, she measures the flares, which can be the size of a business card!

After that, the numbers are cleaned off the skin, antihistamine creams are applied, Zyrtec is taken by mouth, and gradually the itching and burning and stinging pass.

Two days later, there is still a tiny welt where the peanut allergy blister was. Meanwhile, there are also blood tests. Some things are worth double checking, some things cannot be checked with a skin test.

There are some cookies that I can make from scratch. It looks like I'm going to be doing a lot more cooking and reading of fine print, because my kid hasn't grown out of anything.

I wanted her to talk about what it's like to be allergic, only to discover that talking publicly about it is too hard for her. She yearns to be normal. Because of her allergies, people around her make her feel like a freak.

Take care, Moms!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Friday Night Reflections: Great summer read - Insufficient Mating Material by Rowena Cherry

Friday Night Reflections: Great summer read - Insufficient Mating Material by Rowena Cherry

Never Mind The Excerpt... let's talk about group sex

Today, an excerpt of mine from Insufficient Mating Material is the guest blog on Joy Nash's blog. I believe that one commenter will win a prize (and it is probably my book.)

So! I'm not going to blog about a blog that's kindly flogging a book of mine. However, I took the opportunity to ask a question in the Comments section of Joy's blog and I shall be equally happy to receive answers here or there.

When the genre is shy of erotica, and the label is "Romance" who likes sex with multiple partners, as long as everyone is consenting and their judgment is not impaired?

What makes scenes like this ring true? And if they do ring true, do readers assume that the author is writing from personal experience? (And is this a concern?)

Best wishes... and apologies for recent silence. I've had pneumonia