Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

New Author May Have Named Too Many Names

DEAR HARRIETTE: I had a hard life growing up, but I have done well for myself. Many people suggested that I write a book about my experiences, and I decided to go for it -- and now I am finished. I decided to self-publish because it was too hard to find a publisher.

I let a couple of friends read my book for their input. One friend warned me that I had named too many names. I did tell a lot of stories from childhood that included some bad scenes with friends and neighbors. My friend thought I should not say those people’s names because it would hurt their feelings or embarrass them. They are part of my story, though, and everything is true. What do you think? -- New Author, New Brunswick, New Jersey

DEAR NEW AUTHOR: It is important for you to think about the cast of characters featured in your book. Just because something is true does not mean that it should be dredged up and revealed publicly, especially if it includes other people. Even when information is true, you should be mindful of what to share and how to share it. For the more sensitive stories, perhaps you can tell them without naming anyone. Instead, describe the scenario and either rename the people or just depict them without stating their names.

The fact that you transformed your life is wonderful. What you don’t want to do is embarrass others who may not have climbed out of their circumstances or who have moved past them and have no interest in revisiting the past.

DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend of mine asked me to give him advice about some business ideas. He wanted me to be a sounding board for him, which is something we have done for each other over the years. I agreed, and we set a time to talk. At the appointed time, I texted him and then called. Nothing. No response. I followed up a couple of days later, and he said he was busy with his kids and camp, so that’s why he didn’t respond. Huh? He asked me to help him out, but he didn’t think about my time at all and just blew me off. We agreed that we would talk another time. At this point I will talk to him, but I don’t think I need to try to set it up. What do you think? -- Unprofessional Friend, St. Louis

DEAR UNPROFESSIONAL FRIEND: Clearly, your friend has divided attention. It is understandable that he was distracted by his children. That’s not an excuse, but it does happen to parents, even when they have good intentions. It is wonderful that you are still willing to talk through ideas with your friend. It’s on him, though. Wait to hear from him to set up another appointment.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)