I love when readers write to tell me what they like about my books. It’s not always what I expect. For example, in book one of my Rocky Creek series Timber Joe was what I call a throw-away character. I had no intention of giving him a role to play in future books. Imagine my surprise when readers wrote asking for more of him. As a result, Timber Joe got a reprieve from my editing pen—and will even have a happy ending in book three.
However, the biggest surprise by far is the number of letters I received on a none-existing person. In A SUITOR FOR JENNY the heroine refers to an etiquette book entitled The Compleat and Authoritative Manual for Attracting and Procuring a Husband “authored” by Miss Abigail Jenkins. I laugh each time someone writes to inquire about the author or ask where the book can be found.
No such book exists, of course, I made it up. But since Miss Jenkins gets more fan mail than I do, I thought it would be fun to see what advice, if any, she would have for the holidays—if she really did exist.
Miss Abigail Jenkins 1875
Criticizing a suitor’s gift will gain you no favor. A man who thinks it’s the thought that counts must simply be taught to think bigger.
When caught beneath the mistletoe respond with lady-like restraint. Avoid swooning or appearing overly-eager. A delicate blush will suffice.
Resist the temptation to write long, tiresome letters listing your past year’s accomplishments. Such crass endeavors will make recipients feel inferior, and mark you as a braggart.
Avoid giving frivolous or ostentatious gifts. Ladies on your list will appreciate an ostrich plume, a gift both practical and beautiful. A tasteful snuff box will suit most gentleman’s needs. For the mountain man or miner on your list, a pair of woolen socks would make a practical gift.
Anyone who overindulges in alcohol should leave weapons at the door. This applies to both men and women.
If, as a guest, you are forced to share a bed with another, stay on your own side and do not hog the blankets.
Never overstay your welcome. Fish and visitors tend to lose their appeal after only three days.
When holiday shopping at your local general store or mercantile, never make disparaging remarks about the price or quality of goods. Anyone exhibiting such rude behavior deserves to pay double.
Never discuss politics or religion in polite company; it will only cause ill-will and indigestion. Should an unpleasant discourse threaten the peace, smile serenely and quickly change the subject.
When walking on ice or snow, take small dainty steps. Never raise the hem of your skirt above the top of your boot. If you should slip, fall, or otherwise meet with misfortune, grace, modesty and a pleasant disposition must prevail at all times.
A Note (plea) from Margaret
I don’t know what Miss Jenkins would say about shamelessly promoting oneself–or one’s friends–but I will sacrifice good manners and lady-like reputation to ask you to vote for the Best Western Romance of 2010. Several of us fillies are nominated and we need your support! It’s easy. You don’t have to join anything, and you might even win a prize. Even Miss Jenkins would have no objections to that. Here’s the link:
When looking for a husband it’s best to go where the odds are in your favor.