Sunday, August 29, 2010

A New Book Cover

Have you ever put something off that you needed to do? Over and over again? For almost a year now I've been planning to give my book, Angels at the Crossroads a cover make-over. Angels at the Crossroads is the only non-fiction book I've ever written and probably will be the only non-fiction book I'll ever write. I like making up my stories. But this book is different. It's the life story/testimony of Jerry Shepherd who used to sing in the Patriot Quartet with my husband. Some of you may have read his story.
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Anyway after The Scent of Lilacs was published and we were riding around on that big old bus getting to know everybody in the group almost too well, Jerry would talk about what happened to him when he was a teenager and young adult. He messed up, plain and simple, got mixed up with drugs and alchohol and because of things he did a man died. Jerry ended up in a Georgia prison for murder at the age of nineteen. He could have given up there and lost all hope, but the Lord wasn't through with Jerry. He gave him a second chance by putting people in his path (earth angels, if you will) to guide him back to hope and forgiveness. Because of that love and forgiveness, Jerry promised to tell his story any time he had the chance to keep others from making the same mistakes he made. Even before he got out of prison he was witnessing about how the Lord had forgiven him and helped him step out on a new road. It's a powerful story. Not because I wrote it but because of how the Lord worked in Jerry's life.
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So after I wrote that first Hollyhill story and had heard the great news that Revell wanted to publish it, I had the strong feeling that the next story I wrote down should be Jerry's story. And I promised Jerry if he let me write his story I would make sure the book got published - one way or another. My editor read the finished story and turned it down saying it wouldn't have the market appeal they needed to publish a book. Other editors turned it down. And I was left with my promise. So I went the self-publish route, but I made one big mistake and that was the cover. It's not right for the story. As one reviewer said it looks like the cover of a collection of homilies. Jerry's amazing story is inspirational, but at the same time it's gritty and raw. And while a sunrise does play a part in his story, I should have rejected the cover and held out for one that gave a better representation of the story. That's where I am now. We've about sold out of copies and I don't want to print any more with the old cover. I've known that for months. For months, I've put off doing anything about it. I think I kept waiting for a sign. Somebody to come grab the book and say here's the perfect idea for a new cover and we're going to make it happen. Well, unfortunately that hasn't happened. I finally had to realize that if the book got a new cover, I was going to have to get things rolling. I have pushed the start button - at last. Now I just have to decide what to suggest for the cover art. Not pink for sure. I keep seeing an open prison door. Other people have suggested a police car with lights flashing. Somebody said a deserted car with the door open. Perhaps at a crossroads. If you've read the book, what would you suggest?
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Thanks to all of you who entered my book giveaway. Details are on the Event page of my website,
http://www.annhgabhart.com/. I'll be drawing for the winners on Tuesday, but you can still send me an e-mail to enter or leave a comment here.
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Hope you're having a beautiful Sunday. Talk to you again next week.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Edits Done!

Made a run to the post office this afternoon and got the Angel Sister galleys sent in. I know most of you writers would have hit the send button. But I really like my postal workers and wouldn't want to deprive them of a job. :-) That's only partially true. Actually I haven't learned how to use the edit tracking stuff on my word processor. That's sad, isn't it? I think I'm going to practice up before the next editing deadline. But I do enjoy editing on an actual manuscript. There's just something about seeing the words on paper that's different from seeing them on the screen. Gives me a whole new perspective.
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Of course, I edit my drafts on screen all the time. I haven't printed out a draft to work over since The Scent of Lilacs. I printed that book out to work it over in an effort to make it the very best I could. You see that book was a career marker. If it hadn't found a loving editor, I was going to have to seriously consider if I should keep trying to write. Well, I might have kept writing. I doubt I could actually quit writing completely. But would I have kept working so hard? Maybe I would have said it was time to give it up. To stop beating my head against a wall trying to find a publisher for what I wrote. Maybe I would have decided planting flowers and playing with grandkids was more rewarding than writing page after page of words that no one wanted to read. And I would have just played at writing.
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But the Lord answered the prayer of my heart with that book. He let me find a loving editor and set my feet on a whole new path of writing. A path I like. I enjoy writing stories for the inspirational market. I like it when my characters look to the Lord for answers. I feel blessed when a story comes together and is finally out there for readers. It's great when a reader tells me my story touched her or him or was an encouragement during a hard time. A reader left a comment on my Facebook page last week to tell me that she re-dedicated her life to the Lord after reading that final church scene in Orchard of Hope. When I think about the Lord using my made up story to make that reader's life better, I'm amazed and humbled. But I'm also happy when readers are just entertained by my stories and put them down with a smile after they read the last page.
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So I did get the edits finished on Angel Sister. A lot of pesky little wording problems. My pet word seems to be still in this book. There are just some words that help a writer move along with her story. Still, too many stills begin to echo in a reader's ear. So I word searched and edited out some of them. Not all of them. Some of those stills hunkered down and sat real still so I wouldn't notice them all that much. So they're still there. Are you seeing why I still have a problem with still? :o(!!
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I am so looking forward to this book being published in February. It's been a long time in the process since we wanted the Shaker books to release first. And don't worry. If you like the Shaker books, there are going to be some more of those too. The Blessed will be out next summer. But in between Revell is mixing in some historicals that aren't about the Shakers but that I'm hoping readers will enjoy too. Especially this first one. A story of my heart and from my mom's heart since her memories of growing up during the Depression years were the germ of the idea that became Angel Sister.
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It was a beautiful day down here on the farm. I met my deadline for edits. Darrell mowed hay and it's not looking like rain. My old dog stayed home. Mom was feeling a little better. And I got to go to an ice cream supper at church. Hope you had a good day too. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sam's Club and Fried Computers


Most weeks have some good and some bad. When the good is really good you might not notice the bad so much. The same is true for the bad. Bad enough happens and the good fades away. My week was just the normal good and bad. Or you know what. I think it was more like really good. Great even. I got to see all the grandkids and two of them got to be at "Grandma Camp" for a couple of nights. You don't know what Grandma Camp is? Well, it's eat ice cream whenever you want and don't comb your hair too much and take hikes and play with the dogs time. My daughter and son-in-law also came for a visit. They like the same Grandma Camp rules. :-) Of course I always have to make a "mother-in-law pie" for my son-in-law.
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On top of the family fun, I had a couple of book signings. I love talking to people so book signings are very good times for me. The one on Thursday was a first for me. At a Sam's Club Grand Opening at their Nicholasville store. Lots of people showed up to hunt for bargains and some of them even came by the book section to talk to me and get me to sign a book for them. You can see in the picture that they had stocked a lot of books for me to sell. I'd already emptied a couple of shelves here. I'd like to say I emptied all the shelves, but I didn't. I did maybe get people to carry home half of the books on display. I hope those who did will enjoy my Shaker stories. Note the price tag over my head. People kept looking at it and doing a doubletake as they at first wondered if that was for my book. That would have been one expensive book, but my books had a much, much friendlier price. The price tag was for the desk the books were on.
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Then yesterday I was at a Gathering of Authors at the Paul Sawyier Public Library in Frankfort. It's always fun to be in that beautiful library and to get the chance to chat with some of the other writers in the area. And once again, a few people were sweet enough to take my books home with them.
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But as I said there is usually some not so good stuff in every week too. The computer repair guy called and said my motherboard was fried. This is a motherboard or at least that was how it was labeled in the picture files. That means my computer is not going to get to come back home. It's going to the big computer graveyard with perhaps some donor parts going into refurbished computers. Meanwhile I have to go buy a new computer. Not on my list of what I wanted to do next week. Thank goodness I had this old computer sitting around so I could keep on computing. The Angel Sister edits are still not done. But hoping they will be tomorrow. Hope springs eternal.
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I'll try to think of something fun to write about next week. Or more writing related. If you have any questions about writing or anything down here on the farm, feel free to let me know. I enjoy talking to my reading and writing friends. Hope you have a great last full week of August. Autumn is coming. Leaves are already all over the ground under my poplar trees.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Booksignings at High Noon

I'm off to a booksigning at noon at the Grand Opening of a Sam's Club in a neighboring town. People will be there looking for bargains, but we'll see if they're looking for bargains in reading. Most of the people I meet looking for bargains in reading tell me they've been shopping at yard sales. I had a lady the other day tell me she'd never read any of my books, but she'd just bought one of my books to read. I was feeling pretty good until she said she got it at a yard sale. No royalties in my pocket on that one. ;-) But that's okay. I'm always glad to hear that people are reading my books no matter where they pick one of them up. In fact, I tell people they can find the books in their library or at least I hope they can. And maybe if they can't, they'll ask their librarians to order the book for them. I have always been a library lover and user so I would never complain when somebody tells me they read my book after checking it out from the library.

It's been one of those weeks when if you had time to breathe you felt maybe you weren't getting everything done on time. I'm still playing with my edits for Angel Sister. The zapped computer is at the shop getting an expensive overhaul - if it's not completely fried. The granddaughters had a good time in their overnight stay. Mom is having her ups and downs so we, her daughters, are too. My daughter and son-in-law are due in tomorrow for a visit. The house is a wreck, but what else is new? Edits come first but I'm going to have to ask for a couple days extension. I've not had to do that before, so maybe they'll be understanding when I come begging for another weekend to work. I've got the edits done, but I need to recheck them.

But right now I'm off to Sam's to have fun signing books. I'll let you know how it goes. It should be fun seeing the new Sam's store. Maybe I'll have time to go shopping. Hope you have a great rest of the week.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lightning Strikes and Journals



We had a storm last night. The kind of lightning crashes that make a person cringe even when she's safe inside. And that might make a smart person get up and unplug her computer. But the deadline for my edits on Angel Sister loom, so I kept on working through the lightning flashes. Until - and of course, you guessed it - until the lightning popped into my computer somehow and knocked it dead. That's sort of a sick feeling. Pushing that on button on your computer and nothing happening. It's happened to me before. Not lightning hits, but just where the computer decided it had computed long enough and gave up the ghost. The last time that happened, I bought a new computer and a laptop too. I wanted backup. So it wasn't a terrible thing last night. I did have backup. It just took time unconnecting and reconnecting and I kept pushing that button on the new computer thinking surely it just needed a few minutes rest. Not.
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You know that Bible verse that says tribulation worketh patience. I think that's why the Lord gave us computers. He knew we needed more patience. So He gave us computers to drive the less technical of us bonkers. But computers aren't all bad. They also let me talk to you and you talk to me even if some of us have never met face to face. It's fun having reading friends and I appreciate those of you who follow the goings on in my writing life and family life here on One Writer's Journal.
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What would you write in your journal today? A lot of us here in KY and all across the country might start out saying, "Wow, it's hot" or maybe "Record breaking heat." The Shakers loved journal writing. And in their journals many of them talked about the work they were doing or the weather or who had come into or left the Society. I got an e-mail from a lady whose grandparents - maybe great grandparents - had grown up in a Shaker village in Maine. She remembered going with her parents to visit the village. Of course her grandparents left the village or she wouldn't have been born. I talked to another person who said all her great uncles and aunts when to the village and only her great grandfather left. So that family didn't have the continuing spread of second cousins and more. Interesting e-mails. I enjoy hearing from readers and potential readers too.
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Got a busy week ahead. Still staying half the time with Mom who isn't improving a lot. And a couple of my granddaughters are to come for their promised overnight visit with Grandma and Pa before they start school. That's a treat for them and for me. Then Thursday I'm doing a booksigning at the Sam's Grand Opening for their store in Nicholasville. That should be a lot of fun. And a new experience for me. You think they'll let me go in and look around without buying a membership? Then Friday my daughter and son-in-law are back in town for a tennis tournament.
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All that's why I was working late last night during the storm to finish my edits on Angel Sister. I really like my characters in this story and I hope readers will too.
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Stay cool and remember to send me an e-mail or leave a comment if you want to take part in August's giveaways. Details are on the Event page of my website. annhgabhart.com

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Birthdays and Edits


The twins turn two today. Here they are checking out Oscar or maybe Oscar is checking them out. I'd put a picture of them both looking at me but last time they were here I couldn't get them to stand still beside one another. Standing still is not their favorite thing. But they do like the dogs - as long as there is a window in between.
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It doesn't seem possible that they are already two years old, but then when I think about the books I've written since then, guess it has been all twenty-four months. The summer they were born I was rushing to get down the first draft of The Believer. And now the third Shaker book, The Seeker, is out there on store shelves with the fourth Shaker book, The Blessed, going through the necessary steps to get it ready for readers. Got to get a cover designed and do some editing to make sure the story reads the best it can. That story is a lot different from the other Shaker books, but I like to come up with different type characters and then figure out how associating with the Shakers is going to affect their lives. And how they are going to fall in love in a society that doesn't believe in romantic love and who they are going to fall in love with in spite of those no romance rules.
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I just got a list of reviews from The Seeker's blog tour. I won't have time to check out all the reviews until I'm finished with editing Angel Sister. But when I looked at the list I thought it would be nice if the good reviews were listed in blue and the not so good reviews in orange or something so I'd know which ones to read if I needed an ego boost. You may not think so, but writers are pretty needy when it comes to needing ego boosts. We want everybody to love our stories. Everybody! And of course that rarely happens. Even if it happens for one book, say a bestseller that is universally critically acclaimed, then I've noticed that the next book out by that author sometimes has a rough review trip. But the majority of reviews that I've seen for The Seeker have been positive. That's enough of an ego boost for me.
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Meanwhile, I'm editing Angel Sister. Not a Shaker novel, but a historical family drama set in the 1930s. I love this story and want to make it one that readers will love too, so I'm listening to my line editor's comments. I'm working to smooth out the rough places she's noted and make the whole book smooth sailing for the reader. So now back to work with my sandpaper smoothing red ink pen before I have to go back to stay with my mom. She's getting stronger, but the memory problems persist. Not all the time, but too much of the time for her happiness.
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Hope you have a good week with plenty of cool air flowing past you. It's hot here in Kentucky. Real hot. They say we may break the record set back in 1911 today. Some records shouldn't be broken. I took a walk this morning and almost melted. I took the shady path walk so the dogs wouldn't have heat stroke.
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Remember to send me an e-mail or leave a comment if you want to be in my book giveaway this month. You can check out the details on my website's event page.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Busy Is As Busy Does

Busy is as busy does. Yeah, I know. That's not the real quote. That's pretty is as pretty does. I'm sure every mother or grandmother in the world has said something similar at sometime or other. But I'm too busy right now to give the first thought to pretty. Well, maybe I'm still working on the pretty on the inside as I work to be a decent and caring person. And of course I want those grandbabies to think I'm fun on the inside even if they think I'm ancient on the outside. My grandson told his father last week that they couldn't wait a few years until he was a teen to do some cave exploring because he, my son, would be too old then at forty something to do something so strenuous. Ohh, to be forty something again. I'm sure I'd have more energy. Maybe even be a better manager of my time. But now I'm just hanging in there doing the best I can. That's probably all I did when I was forty something too, but it seems like I should have done better when I look back now.

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My mother hasn't improved. It's pretty obvious now that she won't be able to stay alone again. That's hard for her and for us as we try to condense busy schedules into half as much time. And I still have the one deadline for the edits to Angel Sister staring me in the face. Two weeks. Two weeks in the middle of August when the grandkids want to come visit before school and the beans keep growing in the garden and the tomatoes are ripe and, and, and... But then there's always something. Life's like that. And right now life isn't as easy as it was a few weeks ago. Right now we're doing the best we can for mom and I'm doing the best I can as a writer and a mother and wife and grandmother. Well, trying to do the best I can. Without stressing out. A friend told me today it was better that we couldn't do everything because then we wouldn't be looking to the Lord for help. She made sense. The Lord helps us through and answers prayers and gives us strength.

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I was in the newspaper today. The USA Today. Well, The Seeker was mentioned in an article on Amish fiction. My books aren't Amish fiction, but my book was mentioned in a sidebar to the article talking about other religions that were spawning books. I think some friends of mine on a trip to Chicago were surprised to pick up the hotel's USA Today and see my name on the page. I would have been even more surprised than they were, I'm sure. But that's how I found out about it. I looked around my little town to see if I could find a copy. Nope. No USA Today papers anywhere I looked. But I saw the article online. It wasn't really a review, but a nice mention.

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Hope you have a week where you are busy at good things and not just spinning in place the way I sometimes feel like I'm doing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

One Down; One to Go

Got my edits done for The Blessed. Just sent it off to the editor and got back one of those instant "out of the office" replies. But I got it sent in and that's the big thing for me with everything else going on with my mom. I told my editor I did some of the edits in the middle of the night with a foggy brain so who knows whether I improved the wording or totally messed it up. I guess my editor will know and then I'll know shortly thereafter if she sends it back with some big question marks. No, I think I got the changes made. The thing about editing is that you can always see something else to improve. Always. Lacey's story in The Blessed is a lot different from my other Shaker books, but I'm hoping readers will take to Lacey when the book comes out next summer. I certainly did. She's a no nonsense girl who does what she has to do to keep going.

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Now I get to start on my copy editing of the galleys for Angel Sister. Out of the frying pan into the fire. I haven't even read the comments of the copy editor to see what needs doing. I didn't want to have it worrying me while I was finishing up the other edits. One book at a time.

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It's exciting having two books released in one year. A lot of authors of inspirational fiction release even more than two books a year. I admire their work ethic because writing books takes time. Editing books takes times. Coming up with new ideas takes time. Trying to publicize books takes time. But then everything takes times. The seconds keep ticking by no matter what you're doing or not doing. Watching the hummingbird work through the blooms on the million bell flower on my window sill takes time. Sharing my journal thoughts with you takes time. Hummingbird watching and journaling - that's time well spent.
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And that's the thing with time. We want to spend it well. Do what has to be done, for sure, but also use some spare minutes just being glad for our blessings and glad we are breathing and thankful we're so busy that we feel rushed. I love writing. I love editing to make that writing better. I love hearing from readers and getting to know you. I even like reading reviews - sometimes. The Seeker's blog tour has been interesting. I've been able to respond to some of the bloggers, but due to my nights at Mom's with no internet, I'm running behind on messages and such. I do thank all the bloggers who read my book and wrote their opinions. Most have been good. Some have been great. A few have been... well, we won't talk about them. Accentuate the positive. Right?
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Hope much positive is happening in your life and that you aren't sweltering in the heat wave. It's a bit cooler here today, but yesterday when I got in the car to leave my mother's, the temperature flashed 100 degrees. Definitely the dog days of autumn. My poor dogs don't want to step out of the shade when we go for a walk even at almost sundown. So stay cool. Drink some sweet iced tea or how about an icy grape sno cone and read a good book.



Sunday, August 1, 2010

Butterflies and Blog Tours


Butterflies and Blog Tours.
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Sort of an odd combination, but then in another way it fits. First let's talk butterflies. There seem to be more of them out here on the farm this year. Maybe all the nice rain and warm, very warm temperatures have been good for the butterfly population. Don't you feel as if the Lord has sent down a blessing to you every time you see one of these beautiful creatures? I just got back from a walk where I saw dozens of them in all sizes and colors. I didn't have my camera with me so this beautiful butterfly shot was from a free photo site and credited to pdphoto.org. I've taken a lot of butterfly pictures, but none of them were loaded on this computer. I think one of my butterfly shots is over on my webpage. But butterflies are spirit lifters. Plus they flit about first here and there. And as I said, each species has its unique color scheme and size.
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You know what? So do bloggers. They can be spirit lifters. They, the subjects, can flit first here and there. And each blogger has a unique outlook on life that colors his or her words. I signed up for that Google alert thing where it lets me know when something new is posted on the web about one of my books. So this last week I've been getting quite a few alerts about my book, The Seeker. My book has been on a blog tour, traveling all over while I sit at home and read about what bloggers think about it. If you are one of those people who review books on a blog, you probably can't imagine how hesitant a writer might be to click on your review and see what you said. We care what you say. At least I do. I've met writers who don't read reviews, but I usually do. If it's good, I'm glad. If it's not so good, I just shrug my shoulders and say maybe they'll like one of my other books.


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Just for fun, I'll show you a few of the nicest comments.
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From the Harrison Family Blog: "The plot moved at a good pace and the characters were great! I also loved how the romance came about - very creative. A thoroughly enjoyable read." (I think it's neat how they have a family blog.)
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From Carlybird's Home: "I picked up this book and I was completely enchanted by Charlotte's story. This book had everything I was hoping it would have." (Carly's my new best friend. ;-))
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From Jean on A Slice of the Epic: "I thought the history lesson throughout this book is what made it shine. Especially about the Shaker community and their beliefs." (Hope that doesn't make me sound like a history teacher!!)
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From Kristie on Moments: "You will be quickly drawn into the story and you will not want to stop until you finish the book!" (That's always a writer's favorite comment. "I didn't want to put your book down.")
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There were lots of other comments and reviews. So many that with what's been going on with Mom this week and the edits due for the next Shaker book, The Blessed, I haven't had a chance to read them all or to thank the bloggers/reviewers. But I do appreciate everyone who reads my books. I really do and then I think it's neat when some of the readers take the time to write some comments. Most have been favorable and kind. I once offered a potential book buyer a list of excerpts from reviews about my first Hollyhill book, The Scent of Lilacs. With a smile, she just handed it back without looking at it and said, "You wouldn't put any but the good ones on there." And of course she was right. Not many of us want to shout out the bad remarks about us. We let them worm their way down inside of us where they can gouge and poke us and make us uncomfortable. No, I don't do that either. I just get back to work on that next book. That's what I need to be doing right now. So to the edits and then to stay with Mom.
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Thanks for reading and may a beautiful butterfly float in front of you sometime on your journey today.