Monday, September 15, 2014

Anne Mateer ~ Playing by Heart

I'm welcoming Anne Mateer back to Ink Dots today, to celebrate the release of her latest historical romance, Playing By Heart. 

Anne is passionate about bringing history to life through fiction. She is the author of four historical novels as well as a contemporary short story which can be found in this season’s A Cup of Christmas Cheer II. Anne and her husband live in Texas and are the parents of three young adults. 

Playing by Heart ~  Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But then a shocking phone call from her sister, Jewel, changes everything.

With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister, but the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Lula doesn't even consider those real subjects!

Determined to prove herself, Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the newfangled game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college and her scholarship as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.

However, the more time she spends around Jewel's family, the girls' basketball team, music classes, and Chet, the more Lula comes to realize what she's given up in her single-minded pursuit of degree after degree. God is working on her heart, and her future is starting to look a lot different than she'd expected.

Anne Says... 

If I could explore anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be… Scotland. I’d spend at least a month, part in the cities, part in the country, part in a hotel, part in a small house. And of course I’d have my hubby with me. I imagine we’d spend a lot of time in dusty old bookshops. I love that, old Scottish bookshops. Couldn't get better. :)

The best thing I did today is… spend time praying for my family and others. I love that even if I don’t get to see or talk to someone every day or even every week I can still participate in their life through prayer. 

A secret pleasure of mine is… Sundays. We attend church on Saturday night, so Sunday is truly my day of rest, one generally devoted to reading for pleasure. I really, really hate it when I don’t get my Sunday! Sounds perfect. :)

I wish I could relive the day when I… got the call offering my very first book contract. It truly was the perfect day—the culmination of what I'd been dreaming of and working toward without any of the stress of being on the other side of it yet! 

When I was a child I dreamed I would… live in a high rise building in the middle of a city. I’m still hoping for part of that to happen one day. I don’t want a high rise apartment anymore, but a more urban setting would be fun. Not a permanent move, but a year or two. You never know! I hear you. We lived on the 28th floor of an apartment building in Bangkok for a year. An unforgettable experience. 

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but… I love to drive with my radio up really loud—and tuned to 80s music, if possible. :) We won't hold it against you, Anne. I know Ink Dots friends also listen to 80s music, with their ear buds in! Thanks so much for visiting us this week. I wish you every success with Playing By Heart. 


For your chance to win a copy of Anne's Playing By Heart, tell us what era/style music we'd hear in your car or home. 

I'll announce the winner in the comment thread on Friday. 

Good luck and happy reading, 

Friday, September 12, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 35

Listen To A Professional Storyteller.  

The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais
The best storyteller I knew was my uncle. 

He’s passed away now, but thanks to him we retain some of our family history and have unravelled the mysteries behind many family photos.

In the absence of my uncle, I took myself off to the local library for Toddler Story Time.

I know this is a little bending of the Author Challenge. The storyteller in this case read from her stack of books. 
And even though she didn’t offer a script-less story, I was charmed to watch the modern librarian share her love of fiction with those just learning to embrace the power of words. 

Here’s what I learned. 

1. The Storyteller Will Always Get Kicked In The Shins...if she’s strategically perched on a small chair above an expectant crowd. 

She won’t escape without a few bruises. And neither will the story writer. 

There might be someone ready to mess with you if your story doesn’t match their expectations. Or perhaps their impatience might send an anxious foot your way. It may even be, in their enthusiasm, your audience can’t get close enough. 

Telling a story involves some risk. And by some, I mean exposing you flesh and bones to the mercy of your audience. 

Story Time ~ behind the library shelves.
2. The Storyteller Holds The Power...if she whispers and raises her voice accordingly. 

Little ears, and I’m sure big ones, hang on the tension when a story dips and soars. Our librarian used her inside voice to hold the children enthralled for the exciting beginning and suitably terrified them when the black moment evolved. Those baby-listener eyes widened and their rosebud mouths gaped in anticipation. (This is when they left her shins alone.)

3. The Storyteller Invites The Listener To Come Along With Her... if the story captivates and reflects their world. 

None of these toddlers knew a real life talking hog, but when Peppa Pig went on a sleepover, they all had tales to share of sleeping at grandma’s house. This is when the storyteller asked if Peppa's experience matched theirs. (And this is when the shin kicking picked up again.)

Excited toddlers saw themselves in the story and wanted to know what Peppa Pig did next, eager to taste the world through her eyes first... then maybe try some of the mischief for themselves. 

Story Time ~ Behind the library shelves

Story is a mirror. It holds someone else’s truth in a way which looks very much like our own. 

That’s why two dozen little people fought for the best spot on the librarian’s mat. Why they drank in the adventures, the fear and the happy resolutions on the last page. 

And why I loved to sit at my uncle’s feet... and listen.

His stories were not just about my family in the old country. They were about me. 


Do you have a favourite family storyteller?

Blessings for a wonderful weekend, 

Monday, September 08, 2014

Mary Connealy ~ Tried and True

It's always fun to welcome Mary Connealy to Ink Dots. This time we're celebrating her latest release, Tried and True. 

Mary writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Carol Award winner, and a Rita, Christy and Inspirational Reader's Choice finalist. She is the bestselling author of the Wild at Heart series which recently began with book #1 Tried & TrueMary is married to a Nebraska rancher and has four grown daughters, and three spectacular grandchildren. 

Tried and True

Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters! 

Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister--and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It's a risk--they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as "boys"--but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future? 

Find Mary online at">Petticoats & Pistols">My Blog">My Website">My Newsletter

Mary Says...

If I could eat anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... I’m going to say a town not a restaurant because I have a daughter who lives in Baltimore, Maryland and I would just love to have lunch with her. I saw her not that long ago but I miss her while she’s there in college and lunch with her would be fantastic. I don’t care if we eat fast food in the car (thought I hope we can do better than that!) Naww...  I hope you get to share a meal with your girl very soon. 

The most unusual job I've ever had is... OH! MY! GOSH! Dorothy, I once for a summer job worked in a factory that made the back end of grain trucks. You know semi-trailers. HUGE things. I’d come home every day so hot, soaked in sweat, covered in grease. BUT THAT WASN’T THE BAD PART! (I’ll insert here that it actually paid quite well and I needed the money for college). They didn’t let me work on the line in a permanent position because I was only there for the summer. But I filled in on all these massive iron bending machines and with power tools for people on vacation and I always mowed this huge lawn on a great big mower. AND (here’s the bad part) they also let me paint the employee lunch room. Part of that was, they had one of those ceilings with big tiles, you know the kind where the tiles are set in a metal grid? Well, some genius decided it would be COOL if the tiles were white and the grid was black. Also the tiles needed to be coated with something from down in the factory before I could paint them because they absorbed too much paint. So I had to stand on a ladder and lift each and every one of those tiles  (about 2 feet by 3 feet) out of the grid, carry it down, move the ladder and climb up to get the next one and there was this pink insulation above the tiles in the ceiling and for some reason that must trap mice? SO WHEN I’D LIFT A TILE OUT DEAD MICE WOULD RAIN DOWN ON MY HEAD. 

I was already afraid of mice and this was like my own private nightmare come to life.

My gosh it was 40 years ago and I’m hyperventilating as I type. I would like to add here I DID IT! I did NOT quit. Ok, now... YOU WIN. For the longest answer EVER.. and by far THE MOST revolting. And for the greatest courage ever displayed in a casual worker. I'm so glad they paid you well! 

My all-time favourite movie is...While You Were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman. I love it so much and it’s a Christmas movie so I try and watch it every year at Christmas.

I can't wait for the calendar to flip over to… SEPTEMBER (hey, it already did). The ACFW conference is in September and I see people there I love that I only see once a year. It’s coming! I can’t wait! I'm so sorry I won't see you at the ACFW conference this year. Was fun catching up in San Antonio, though. :) 

When I was a child I most feared... mice. No contest. Though I had seven brothers and sisters in an old country farmhouse and I used to lay awake at night and worry about fire. I’d plan and plan and plan how I’d get everyone out. I was an insomniac with an over active imagination even back then. Fire AND mice... the stuff of nightmares!

If I had a pet kangaroo, I'd name it...Well, we had an Australian shepherd dog for years, what a great dog he was. And we named him Dingo. So I think in that spirit, I’ll name the kangaroo, Aussie. This is also the kind of shampoo I use. Aussie. So it’s like my whole existence yearns for Australia. I’ve also named three bad guys in my books Sidney. I didn’t realize it until someone pointed it out. So that’s almost Sydney, Australia, right? That's pretty cute. You love us!! (We love you, too.) Thanks so much for being my guest this week and sharing more of your funny/terrifying stories. Wishing you every success with Tried and True. 


If you'd like to win a signed copy of Mary's Tried and True, leave a comment below. Tell us which creepy crawly, rodent, vermin you hate the most. And why... 

I can't wait to read your answers and I'll announce the winner here on Friday. 

And don't forget to join the facebook chat for the launch of Tried and True. Lots of prizes, lots of fun. Get all the details and click to join the party here:

Good luck and happy reading, 

Friday, September 05, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 34

Cook Something Luxurious

I didn’t have to venture too far from the writing desk for my author challenge this week. Only one floor down and into the Crabapple House kitchen where the apron, the eggs and the chocolate awaited. 

That’s right. Chocolate. And cherries. 

For years my signature sweet dish has been Black Forest Cake. Baked for the first time by me for my Beloved, back in the day when he was my darling fiance. 

He requested Black Forest Cake and I was not game to tell him I’d never, ever attempted one before. 

Finding the recipe was the easy part. Putting the cake together took ALL DAY LONG and by the end I’d tackled cake making steps way beyond the skills of a twenty-year-old-wife-to-be.

Fast forward 25 years, and I’m still making this deliciousness for my family. At least once a year. 

Why not more?

Probably because it takes ALL DAY LONG to put it together. Although I make less mess these days, and I’ve streamlined some of the steps and even short cut through others, it's still a labour of love.

Why was the author in me encouraged to Cook Something Luxurious?

Because according to 52 Dates for Writers, my "character’s relationships with food can evoke setting, bring an awareness of dominant and counter cultures to the fore, and betray their passions and anxieties."

I’m called to consider such questions as:

Who taught my characters to cook?

Who do they cook for?

What is this character’s earliest food memory? 

As I pulled the elements of my Black Forest Cake together, I thought about a scene where one of my rough Australian heroes teaches the pretty English heroine his way of making damper. She’s got her own well established ideas about dough making and this scene is just as much about the undercurrent of their attraction, as it is about getting bread on the table. 

Back to the luxurious Black Forest Cake. This week’s cake crowned our son’s 20th birthday party. It is, after all, a celebration cake. Not something you’d snack on every day. I’ve made it for Greek Easter, Christmas, baby dedications and to welcome special guests to Crabapple House. 

Black Forest Cake ~ Crabapple House

But nothing beats the memory of making it the first time with my Mum in her kitchen. The careful study of the recipe, the checking of measurements to get all steps right, and the final unveiling when my Beloved came to visit and I took him to the fridge to share what I’d made. For him. 

I’m going to share a recipe link here. It's almost like mine. (I like to add a luxurious ribbon of toasted almonds on extra cream which takes this cake to a whole other lever.) 

Because everyone needs a little luxury in the form of chocolate, cherries and cream. You can take your own short cuts and streamline the steps to suit your taste. 

But you will have to place each and every toasted almond sliver on your luxurious cake.... one by one. 

What's your speciality? Sweet or savoury?

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,

Monday, September 01, 2014

Melissa Jagears ~ A Bride In Store

I'm so thrilled to welcome Melissa Jagears back to Ink Dots. This week we're celebrating her newest release, A Bride In Store

Melissa is a stay-at-home mother on a tiny Kansas farm with a fixer-upper house. Her passion is to help Christian believers mature in their faith and judge rightly. Learn more at

A Bride In Store ~ Mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell is on her way to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store business when her train is held up by robbers and she loses her dowry. She's further thwarted upon arriving in Salt Flatts only to find Axel, her groom, away on business.

Hoping a wife would push Axel to become a better business partner, William Stanton had encouraged him to seek a mail-order bride. With Axel gone, Will feels responsible for Eliza, so he finds her a place to stay and lets her help in the store.

Working together isn't what they'd expected, and when Axel is further delayed, neither can ignore the sparks that fly. But Eliza is meant for Axel and is set on a future with the store, while Will is biding time until he can afford medical school.

Their troubles are far from over when Axel returns to town, however, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they're willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams--or if God has a new dream in store for them both.

Melissa Says... 

If I could explore anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... A castle in Europe. I don't know which one, that would be a hard choice! You'd find yourself in good company. European castles are the top answer for this question from my author guests. :) 

The best thing I did today is... Well since I just got up I'd say, made a baby stop crying.  Yay, I can see why you'd want to celebrate that. Well done! 

A secret pleasure of mine is... Circus Peanuts (Do you have them in Australia? Link to article about how you love or hate them: I love them, if not careful I can eat the whole bag in a day. Wow, we don't have them in Australia and I'd never heard of them before today! I think the article is right. They're a real enigma! :) 

I wish I could relive the day when I... Got married, because I would do some things over! I'd listen to the violin, I'd have brought my photographer a copy of the list of what pictures to take that he forgot to bring that made that into a time-consuming task that most of my guest got too impatient to wait for us to return so we could have talked to more out-of-towners, and I'd have eaten dinner! Ha, ha... yes, many brides could relate to your wish list. Especially the eating part. I haven't a clue about what was on my plate. 

When I was a child I dreamed I would... Go to India, I went to China, so I got close! 

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but... I hardly keep things about myself to myself, so if you ask me a question, I'll answer it.
Thanks for sharing with us today, Melissa. I wish you every success with A Bride In Store. 


If you'd like to win a copy of Melissa's A Bride In Store, tell us if you've been to India, and why.... or how close you've come. Melissa made it as far as China. I used to live in Bangkok and that's the closest to India I ever came.  

How about you? Where on the map is your closest to India spot? 

Comment below and I'll announce the winner on Friday. 

Good luck, and happy reading ,

Friday, August 29, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 33

Phillip Island

Swim In Cold Water 

It wasn’t an ice bucket challenge, as some have excelled in these last few weeks. 

But it was meant to bring awareness... if only to me.

To push, and I mean PUSH me, out of my comfort zone. 

I spent this week on a solitary writing retreat at Phillip Island. More words on the page written on location, my feet on sandy beaches flooded in winter sun. 

Right where my stories are set. 


And I’m grateful. 

During a mid morning walk along the beach where one of my heroines wrestles with all life’s thrown at her, I wondered (for a heartbeat) if I might slip into the ocean and fulfill this week's challenge. 

If there’s water colder than the deep blue sea wrapped around Phillip Island, I’ve yet to find it. And this particular stretch of ocean is a few miles from where my heroine, a shipwreck survivor, is carried to safety.

Glorious Phillip Island ~ even in winter

Good spot to dip in cold water, right? The perfect location to get under the skin of my girl and better understand what it might feel like to bob in icy depths, praying for rescue.


Or... I could’ve returned home to brave the cold waters of our backyard pool.

So, perhaps I chickened out on this one. Perhaps I chose not to risk solitary shivers on a lonely beach, in favour of safer waters. Where family could talk me into the plunge and throw me a towel when they were done laughing. 

And here’s the evidence. (Don't let the sun fool you, folks) 

Surely you didn't think there'd be more of me, did you? 
Me, in a pool. In winter. 

Swimming in water so cold my lungs lost half their capacity to the shock and another quarter to fist clenching pressure I couldn’t fight. Dunking my head took some persuasion, and when I did, the pain jabbed me around the ears so fast I soon forgot my lost breath. 

Lucky for me, my ever-loving son supervised and encouraged this mad experiment. I left the pool when I chose to, (imagine my swift exit) where a fluffy towel AND terry robe awaited.

Not so my poor heroine.

Now, when I edit her shipwreck scenes, I’ll have a better idea of how terrifying cold water can be, and I’ll use my imagination to amplify what it meant for her to float under the cover of night, against jagged rocks, pulled by the smash of the sea ... and the deep green eyes of her fine rescuer. 

Oh, and I’ll be sure to never throw one of my characters into a volcano because I am not doing that challenge. Ever. 


Are you a fan of cold water swimming? What's the coldest swim you've attempted? Did you slip in on purpose or were you pushed? 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend, 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Camy Tamy ~ Prelude For A Lord

It's a pleasure to welcome Camy Tang to Ink Dots and celebrate the release of her Regency Romance, Prelude For A Lord. 

Camy writes Christian romantic suspense as Camy Tang and Regency romance under her pen name, Camille Elliot. She grew up in Hawaii but now lives in northern California with her engineer husband and rambunctious dog. She graduated from Stanford University in psychology with a focus on biology, and for nine years she worked as a biologist researcher. Then God guided her path in a completely different direction and now she’s writing full time, using her original psychology degree as she creates the characters in her novels. In her free time, she’s a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of her church’s Sunday worship teams. She also loves to knit, spin wool into yarn, and is training to (very slowly) run a marathon. Visit her website at to read free short stories and subscribe to her quarterly newsletter.

Prelude For A Lord ~ An awkward young woman. A haunted young man. A forbidden instrument. Can the love of music bring them together . . . or will it tear them apart?

Bath, England---1810

At twenty-eight, Alethea Sutherton is past her prime for courtship; but social mores have never been her forté. She might be a lady, but she is first and foremost a musician.

In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady. Ostracized by society for her passion, Alethea practices in secret and waits for her chance to flee to the Continent, where she can play without scandal. 

But when a thief’s interest in her violin endangers her and her family, Alethea is determined to discover the enigmatic origins of her instrument . . . with the help of the dark, brooding Lord Dommick.

Scarred by war, Dommick finds solace only in playing his violin. He is persuaded to help Alethea, and discovers an entirely new yearning in his soul. 

Alethea finds her reluctant heart drawn to Dommick in the sweetest of duets . . . just as the thief’s desperation builds to a tragic crescendo.

Camy Says...

If I could explore anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would be... England! My trip to England for my 40th birthday was my ultimate Bucket List trip. Rather than throwing a party, I decided to use the money for my dream vacation/research trip. I spent a week in London and a week touring the countryside near Nottingham with a friend and author, Liz Babbs. Much of the detail in the places in Prelude for a Lord were taken from the places I went to during that trip. I absolutely loved my time there and want to go again soon. Sounds wonderful. I made a trip to your part of the world, the US, for my 40th birthday. Bucket list trips must equal a lot of 'significant' birthdays. :) 

The best thing I did today is...Well, today specifically, I’m rather proud of myself because it’s super hot here in California but I went running anyway! I kept myself well-hydrated and went for 5 miles. I’m pretty slow, but I’m training to hopefully run the marathon in Hawaii in December this year, so training in heat should be good for me. Congratulations! What a wonderful achievement. I'm tired and hot just thinking about it! 

A secret pleasure of mine is... Knitting lace shawls with wool yarn even though it’s in the middle of summer! LOL Actually, I love knitting period, so I always have something on my needles. Right now I’m doing several Victorian lace shawls that I hope to give away next month on my blog ( for my big release party for Prelude For A Lord.

I wish I could relive the day when I... Ran my first marathon in December 2010. It was the Honolulu marathon, and it was the day I felt healthier and more physically fit than I’d ever felt in my entire life. It took me seven hours, but I finished!

When I was a child I dreamed I would... Be a writer. Seriously! Luckily, my mom was very encouraging but practical, too. She said, “Well, a writer doesn’t make a lot of money, but if that’s what you want to do, then you go for it.” She was just as excited as I was when my first novel was published in 2007.

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but... I’m an extreme night owl. I go to bed at four or five in the morning and then get up sometime after noon. My brain just seems to be most active late at night, and that’s when I get the most writing done. Wow, that's one topsy turvey body clock. You're almost awake in Aussie daylight hours. :) But there's wisdom in knowing your most productive working hours. And using them. :) Thanks for being my guest this week, Camy. Congratulations and every success with Prelude For A Lord. 


If you'd like to enter to win a copy of Prelude For A Lord, tell us about your most productive hours. Do you work late into the night, rise early to knock off lots on the to-do list, or find you're really humming in the afternoon? 

I'll announce a winner in the comment thread on Friday. 

Good luck and happy reading, 

Friday, August 22, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 32

Go people watching. 

Watching people can be fun. If they’re interacting in meaningful ways. I tried this challenge in airports recently, thinking that would provide the perfect place for people watching.

Wrong. I came away with very little. 

People in airports don’t interact. Much. They hardly make eye contact and shuffle around each other in search of a spot to settle into their own gadget bubble

Coffee ~ My fuel of choice
But not so if you’re in a local cafe.

I gave this challenge another shot this week in a busy Melbourne eatery. Rel Mollet and I have been known to talk the afternoon away in this establishment, so I arrived early to write a few scenes for my wip and watch the people around me, because once Rel joined me for lunch, I knew the people watching would be over.

This time, I hit the jackpot. People slipped into their regular tables all morning, greeted by the owners with smiles and hugs and warm banter.

Mums with toddlers took up the rear outdoor garden area, where a gas heater kept big and little people warm on the chilly winter morning. 

A young mum came in on her way to work for a take-away coffee, desperate for fuel after a long night with a sick baby. 

A couple arrived for morning tea with their trainee guide dog ~ a handsome lab they introduced as Satin. (Not another name that sounds like it.)

A teacher gobbled coffee and cake and marked a wad of maths tests.

A trio came in, many weeks since their last visit, excited to share they’d been in the US on teen camps as part of their church’s ministry initiative. 

Another young mum came in with her toddler and new born, Lilly. The owner’s wife dropped her tea towel to grab the bub for a quick cuddle and we all melted to see love poured on someone so new to the world. 

Yet another mum came in with her beaming toddler, Sarah. Their cafe stop the tail-end of little Sarah’s weekly swimming lesson. Sarah wore a polka dot skirt and juggled a bundle of coins. Lots of 50c pieces. Her proud mama shared with the owners how Sarah had dunked her head ‘underwater’ for the very first time that morning and was now eager for her prize, a strawberry milkshake. The owner added his own praise and delivered the milkshake with suitable fanfare to ‘our super swimmer.’ He made that little girl's day. The celebration continued when Sarah and her Mummy left to visit Daddy at the fire-station where he works. 

Sarah had only just left when young Ada arrived with her mama. Another plate of chips was delivered to hungry bellies with, ‘Every time I see you, Ada, you’re taller and taller.’ And in that moment, I think I almost saw Ada gain another inch. 

Cozy Melbourne Cafe 
In the lull between breakfast and lunch, the owner sat at the front window for a plate of eggs and bacon and long read of the newspaper. His wife snuck around him to peek at a story which caught her eye before leaving him in peace with his coffee. 

But even in that moment of solitude, the connectedness of this cafe remained. The sense of intimacy and community so palpable it didn’t take much to realise why this stop delivered, and my airport challenge failed.

When someone cares to ask another what their day’s already delivered, when babies are celebrated and when achievements cheered, people return the courtesy with warmth. A smile. A story. 

And in all this, the blessing was mine to consider how sweet it is to watch people in a place where they know they’re accepted and valued for who they are. 

I hope you take the opportunity to ask someone how their day looks, today.