Victory Dances, Bratwurst, and the VERY BEST Worst Deals

DAMES NATION! Today is December 4th.
To refrain from sending anyone's first and last name out to 4,000+ strangers, Dames Sophie and Margaret have contacted the lucky people who won either a "Hygge as Fuck" embroidery hoop or a "Smash the Patriarchy" embroidery hoop at the emails they used to enter the giveaway. So, CHECK YOUR EMAILS, folks!

But! The lucky winner of the SECRET Hamilton-themed GRAND PRIZE, just happens to have included her Twitter handle when entering the contest!
So she is learning of her victory IN THIS VERY EMAIL.
Sarah G., AKA @wonderlandchick-- CONGRATULATIONS!!
You are the winner of (1) this beautiful quilt:
And (2) the undying envy of Dames Margaret and Sophie,
who would who kill you and steal your prize in a heartbeat.
They would not throw away their shot, Sarah.
Sleep with one eye open, Sarah.
Dames Margaret and Sophie would NEVER hurt you! 

But only because Kady is graciously offering free shipping at her Etsy storethrough December 11th!
Just enter BOSSY in the coupon code field at checkout! 

So both your Dames and the rest of Dames Nation can slake their thirst for exquisite fiber art without coming after you and your great prize, Sarah.
You're safe.
(For now.)

Ask Two Bossy Dames' Better Informed FriendMelanie Greene
Recently, your Dames received the following question from Sarah:Dearest Dames,

In my off-hours from my professional life, I've written a novel. It covers some racier material at points, though, so I am also a little shy to share with close friends and colleagues in order to have 'beta readers' who help with providing feedback and editing suggestions. Plus, the few friends (including my hubby) who have read it have shied away from any constructive criticism and instead have opted for just total positivity, which is perhaps nice for my self-worth but doesn't help improve the manuscript.

I was wondering if you, with all of your literary wisdom, might have some suggestions for how to find readers to help vet my manuscript and give me their honest opinion about its quality. Are there groups of readers who enjoy having access to fresh manuscripts that haven't gone through the publishing process? Is there an organization I can join where would-be writers share feedback with each other? Thank you for your help (and also for making my early Saturday mornings that much more exquisite with your newsletter waiting in my inbox when I wake!).

SarahAs the only thing either of us writes on the regular these days is this very newsletter, we decided to call in a PINCH HITTER-- our longtime friend Melanie Greene, a verified author of great romance novels who recently handled this whole process first hand! Melanie, take it away:
Dear Sarah,Congratulations on completing your novel! As people in my writing groups are fond of pointing out, tons and tons of people THINK they’ll write a novel someday, but a small fraction of them ever do. You are among the elite!

There are several methods for obtaining and utilizing beta readers. You can join a local or virtual writing group (for example, through my membership in Romance Writers of America – which has a critique-partner matching service for members – I joined a city-based group and a genre-specific online group.) Beta readers found through any kind of writing community work best if you are exchanging books.There are so many online communities that it can be messy and overwhelming to search for them. Start with as narrow a focus as you can. Search Facebook and Goodreads not for ‘beta readers’ but for ‘sizzling contemporary romance beta readers’ (that’s my category – you’d obviously pick your own.) In exchange for practically no control over who sees it, you can upload some or all of your novel to Wattpad and wait for general feedback. (I just put up a few chapters myself as an experiment; I had readers within minutes.)Most importantly, give your beta readers, wherever you find them, specific guidelines. Our beta readers aren’t usually part of that elite I mentioned. They haven’t constructed a novel, which means they don’t necessarily know how to deconstruct one to give you useful feedback. You end up with frothy praise but not the substance you crave.Come up with 3 to 10 specific questions. Author Jami Gold has a comprehensive worksheet and some excellent links, resources, and advice here: - her worksheet is long, but you can edit it down to the questions that work best for your needs.And speaking as someone whose dad has now read (or, I hope, paged past) several of her explicit scenes, I’ll tell you that it gets slightly easier with time. My method is to give my parents the books then refuse to look them in the eye for the next month. I haven’t worked my way up to giving my mother-in-law my books, though, so getting comfortably with friends and loved ones reading your racy stuff is more of a marathon than a sprint. I hope you enjoy the journey!Happy writing,
MelanieGot a question for your Dames (or their Better Informed Friends)? Let’s hear it! Ask Two Bossy Dames right here and we might pick it for an upcoming issue! And thanks again to Melanie for helping us out! Dame Margaret's Top Five
Perennial #Damesfav Nicole S. Chung wrote really movingly about her family's journey with adoption, the value of openness in adoption, and what Big Bird got both right and wrong about the whole experience. McSweeney's published another list that deserves to be enshrined forever next to its Decorative Gourd Season Brethren: "6 Things Successful People Do in the Morning." It is VERY funny. (h/t #Magspal Amy!)Today on Twitter, Dame Margaret decided to share her bafflement over the perennial requests she receives at her library for a FAX MACHINE. And Twitter stepped up to educate her, as it so often will, both listing the many industries that still rely heavily on faxes in America, and pointing her towards this fascinating New York Times' article on Japan's abiding affection for the technology. The latter piece includes both the sentence "“There is still something in Japanese culture that demands the warm, personal feelings that you get with a handwritten faxand the sentence “Even Japan’s largest yakuza crime syndicate, the Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi, has used faxes to send notifications of expulsion to members,” and therefore had to be shared with you all.Two of Dame M.'s dearest #Magspals shared powerful pieces about body image this week, ones that work really well in conversation. First, Jen (who has been doing consistently excellent work at her new blog, Losing My Labels) wrote movingly about a specific moment she surrendered to disordered thinking about her body, and how she processed that lingering reflex, both with charity for herself and gumption. And then Kara wrote from the other side of the body acceptance struggle-- about how to process it when the hate comes at you from outside rather than within your own head, as it did for her last March when one of her students left her a vicious voicemail attacking her teaching by insulting her weight. Women of every size deal with this issue from every direction and Dame M. is so grateful to be surrounded by people with so much insight. AND FINALLY! If you follow her on Twitter, you may already be fed up with The Hottest Deals, the searing investigation Dame M's Appointment Television co-hosts Kathryn and Andrew have been doing into the terrible things Amazon Prime wants you to buy this holiday season. But TOO BAD FOR YOU, suckers, because it's the funniest, Kathryn and Andrew are doing GOD'S OWN WORK, and Dame M. is probably never going to shut up about it. GO FOLLOW THEM, you will be glad you did. Dame Sophie’s Dog Ate Her Homework
"It me." - Dame Sophie this week.
 Dame S. is having an “I don’t feel like reading the Internet” week and is taking a well-earned pass on a Top 5.

Dame M. is graciously allowing this because Dame S. collected 100% of the links for both Our Guide to Holiday Guides and This Week In Hamilton, which is frequently Dame S.'s exclusive handiwork, Dame M. would like you to know. In case you wondered what constituted "well-earned." 
 Our Guide to Gift Guides! Alert readers have been asking us about a Dames Gift Guide. For 2015, we’re sticking with the one we did for Audible’s big sale (now sadly over - we hope you found something wonderful!). We do see lots of great gift guides in our Internet Travels, though, so here are few that strike us as especially good & interesting!Would you like to play a game? How do you feel about visual algorithms? Satisfy both needs with this Board Game Buying Guide from Snakes & Lattes!Everything is okey-dokey in Skokie!* Their awesome public library’s has put together a lovely guide for all your book-loving friends & family. More in that same vein: Slate’s 27 Most Overlooked Books of 2015Daisy Razor’s Very Hammy Holiday is relevant to allllll our current interests! (h/t #Damespal Rosie)And finally, how could we resist a guide entitled "13 Golden Girls Inspired Presents To Quell Your Holiday Gifting Fears"?  *That is a kidlit deep cut, y’all. Tweet or email us if you recognize it. It’s one of our secret handshakes.This Week in HamiltonYou know, every week, Dame Sophie thinks, “well, this will probably be the last one of these we do for a while. They’ve settled into a groove and unless something really surprising comes up we can probably skip it next week.” And every week, she cackles with delighted glee over how very wrong she was. For new readers, back issues of This Week in Hamilton are available starting with our October 2 issue.  Remember when you live-texted your friends all of your Hamilfeels the first time you listened to it? Relive the glory with Sunil Patel’s Hamilton Livetweet. (h/t #Damespal Susan)Current #Punimwatch champion Anthony Ramos, globally laying waste to every heart with his dance moves, sweetly dazzing smile, and enthusiastic embrace of the greatness of boy bands. (“Sometimes I like a sensible martini, you know?” We do, we do, we do, we dooooo.) SIR. This is untoward. We would challenge you to a duel, but would probably hug you instead. PS please shave that scraggly mess above your lip. Love, Auntie Sophie.Here’s a hilarious essay on seeing Hamilton live, confirmed as a true & accurate account by #Damespal Mallory.Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the music for the Cantina Scene in the forthcoming Star Wars movie. (!!!!!!) Dame S. cried tears of joy. Dame M. acknowledged that she may now have to care about Star Wars. And of course, #Force4Ham happened.You know how LMM laid a sweet smooch on Jonathan Groff for his birthday last year? Groff got him back with a sweet serenade of Adele’s “Hello”.#Damespal Ali tipped us off to this great profile of Alex LacamoireHamilton's musical director, orchestra pit conductor, and co-arranger-with-LMM of the show's songs. Dame S is really glad all her years of obsessive Beatles listening went to good use when she was instantly able to pick out the chord progression from “Getting Better” at the end of “You’ll Be Back”. #BRAG ¯\_(ツ)_/¯