Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “inspiration”

The Writing Spark and Why Writing Happens All the Time

TODAY’S BREW: 8 o’clock Hazelnut

By Julie

Creating a book takes more than words on paper. It takes watching the world. It takes paying attention to things you normally wouldn’t. It takes breathing and wondering and finding new things to inspire you every single day. It’s the random line that means nothing but creates a context to be fit into.

Writing a book is living life and committing it to paper, fictional or non. Without living your life, you have nothing new to offer. A writer has to sometimes let their brains flow freely, make notes on five different books, cut pictures out of magazines, doodle and re-read old books, take walks or watch tv all day. Writing is something a writer is always doing. Everything beautiful and ugly and powerful is a book in their heads and that can’t all be bolted down into a thousand words a day.

A writer is the deconstruction of goals over and over, the tearing apart of their own rules and limitations. A writer knows that nothing can stop them from creating, no matter what medium they use. Life is their medium.

So, writers, when those moments hit that you lament you didn’t take a free hour to write, remember that you have. Writing starts in the heart, and it makes it to your brain in a hundred different ways. It isn’t always about throwing slobber on the page to weed through later. It’s surviving the ambush of images and sentences that you live with every minute.

Write. Do it your way then make all new ways to do it. Have ten notebooks, write the middle first, spend half a day at the craft store digging through clearance bins. Find the spark. The spark is what writes the book. The spark is what makes you need to create. A writer lives their work, and their work lives because of them. Don’t let anyone tell you that the way you do your art is wrong. There is no wrong way to make art except ignoring the spark in all its various forms.

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The Muse Can Suck So Many Eggs by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin spice. Like you had to ask.

By Julie

I’m a huge Chuck Wendig fan, and one of the greatest reasons I love him is because of his JUST FUCKING WRITE policy. Like this one: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/09/15/dear-writers-and-creative-types-you-dont-need-motivation/

I make no bones about how much I hate this elusive goddamn muse everyone talks about.

“I can’t write today, my muse is missing.”

“I have no inspiration to write, my muse is being lazy.”

“I could be writing but the muse wants to watch ten episodes of whatever this tv show is.”

This inspiration that has to punch you in the frigging face in order for you to write your book is an illusion. That broad works for you. You call the shots.

This isn’t a post about how you have to write every day or you’re not a writer. This is a post about how I make the muse show up for work and half the time I send her home because I don’t need her.

“How do you come up with your ideas?” We get this one a lot, right writers? Few of us have an answer. Our brains are built that way, we think in stories. I fuel the brain to make the stories. If you have a tough time finding inspiration, try this stuff. Because getting the inspiration is great—that blast of dream sequence brilliance that suddenly turns into a book? Love it. It’s fun. But writing is my job. So I work for it. I earn that inspiration by searching for it. Here’s some stuff I do to keep the ball rolling:

  • I get a scrapbook. One of my favorite places to get a really beautiful one that begs to be touched is https://www.etsy.com/transaction/1029658438. I fell on the Halloween one pictured and it took my breath away—how perfectly it fit THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS. Now I have a spot to put all the little things that remind me of my characters, and build upon. THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS started with one picture in a magazine. Then I built upon them by asking questions. What’s the relationship between these six girls? What’s different about them? What do they DO? Who’s the strongest, meanest, funniest, etc…? And I gathered things that spoke to me about each of them and putting them together in a scrapbook helped me keep them all distinctly different, but with an overall tone, a feeling that united them.
  • Coincidentally, I didn’t FIND stuff to put in the scrapbook–I SEARCHED for stuff. Celeste is the Witch of Stars. Suddenly I was looking everywhere I was for stars to put in the scrapbook. Then it became that I was looking for the colors associated with her—silver, purple, blue. I’d bribe the kids to let me dig through the clearance bins at the craft store, I’d look through things I’d saved over the years that could fit in. I search eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Pinterest of course….. Things that struck me I’d ask myself why they did, and how it related to the book. Sure, maybe I’d fall for a dinosaur soup ladle and that had nothing to do with anything. But a lot of times I’d come across something I knew would be in Celeste’s bedroom, a lipstick shade I knew one of the Witches would wear, a map, a piece of jewelry, all kinds of things that would be in their world. And the scrapbook filled up. More importantly, I was ALWAYS looking for things to put in it. Every place I went provided an opportunity to add ideas, to thicken the soup. Oh, maybe the ladle had something to add after all.
  • I think about words. No, I’m not kidding. Words that sound good together, pretty poetry, gross words mixed with beautiful words, and I write them down. And I build around them. I heard once that you buy a piece of art and build the room around it. I do this with words. The line, “I swallowed a Hell splinter,” spawned THE HARPY. THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS was a phrase that showed up in my head after seeing the magazine picture that gave me the idea, and I wrote around it. Write all the words down, whether they mean something or not. Then MAKE THEM MEAN SOMETHING IF YOU LOVE THEM.
  • I read magazines LOOKING for something to spark interest. Good interest, bad interest. A phrase, a look in the eye, colors that do or don’t go together, a picture I HATE and ask myself why, then make a character that would hate it too, etc…. But I never read a magazine just to read it. I’m LOOKING.
  • When I can’t think anymore and I do Buzzfeed quizzes? I take them from my characters’ points of view. You’d be shocked at what this does for me.

I have tons of this crap that I do. I won’t go into all of it here, but what I want you to get from it is that if you WANT to write, everything you do, see, think, don’t think, is story fodder. It’s all in the pot. Store shelves, movie theaters, commercials, tourist traps, museums, zoos, the post office, they all offer something. Because I want them to. No minute is wasted, but it doesn’t feel like work even though it is. I want to do it too damn badly. The muse can take notes.

What I Read When I Write by the Magnificent Jen Lillis

TODAY’S BREW: It’s Mother’s Day. WHATEVER I DAMN PLEASE.

 By Julie

Jen Lillis is the most unique person I’ve ever met on Twitter. Let that sink in. She sent me stinky vintage cookbooks from a basement complete with her own personal notes. So that’s impossible to top. Want to know what else she’s reading and how it helps her write? WELL HERE GOES.

This was a great idea for a blog series (though honestly, it’s Julie, so I’d have participated even if the topic was METAPHORICALLY COMPARE YOUR NEW BOOK TO THE ZONING LAWS OF YOUR HOME STATE).
I’m so grateful to the books I read during the drafting process. All of them–even the ones I don’t connect with–either teach me something, yank me out of a funk, or help me solve a problem in my WIP.
This one’s been a bear. So I’ve been reading a lot.
My latest YA novel (still untitled) is narrated by Barrie: pop-music obsessive, dogged optimist, and super-ambitious singer-songwriter. Her number-one goal is to win an American Idol-type reality competition called Pop University–but when she’s booted off early in favor of a devious neo-folk chick with tons of natural talent, she comes up with an…ah, unusual Plan B for achieving her dream.
Here are the books that have helped me the most while I spin this weird little story:

Joan Bauer, Squashed

If you’re writing a snarky, cynical YA heroine, there’s no shortage of strong narrators you can turn to for voicespiration. If you’re writing a wildly ambitious optimist, literary role models are harder to come by. I dug deep in my vintage YA archive, bypassing a 7th Heaven novelization called Winter Ball, and decided to revisit this gem from 1992. Joan Bauer proves that goodhearted, glass-half-full narrators can still be goddamn funny, and so many of her books are master classes in writing offbeat heroines with big ambitions. She takes goals that could be perceived as silly–growing a giant pumpkin, for example–and infuses them with gravity and urgency. That’s just what I’m trying to do with Barrie, and I hope I can pull it off as well as Bauer does.

Peter Shaffer, Amadeus
Since I started this book, I’ve been joking that it’s like Amadeus with female singer-songwriters. So I picked up the play again–hadn’t read it since college–and took another tour of Salieri’s jealous heart. Barrie is in kind of a similar position: a musician with noble goals who’s toiled and sacrificed for a shot at greatness, and then gets effortlessly upstaged by a true natural. (The music is probably better in Amadeus. I’m trying.)
David Levithan, Hold Me Closer
It’s tough to write a book about music. If you describe something visual well enough, your reader can see it; if you describe food, readers can almost taste it based on past experience. But it’s harder to make readers “feel” a song they haven’t heard before–even if you quote lyrics, you’re still giving them a skeleton without flesh and blood.
I’ve been looking for good, innovative examples of how to communicate the power of song within a novel, and Hold Me Closer is a book that’s kind of emboldened me. It’s a novel in the form of a musical script, and the story unfolds in the lyrics and sharp, funny stage directions. I’m not sure it completely works, but it definitely opened my mind to creative new ways of weaving music into a narrative and illuminating its significance to a character. Tiny Cooper isn’t just in love with music–he’s practically made of music. That’s what I’m trying to get across with Barrie, and I hope readers will feel that.
A.S. King, Ask the Passengers
This is my first f/f romance, so I’m turning to a master for inspiration. I’d be thrilled if my book turned out half as good as an A.S. King; she’s one of the best YA authors around. Her MC talks to planes and Socrates and it’s awesome instead of annoying. LIKE HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN.
June Foley, It’s No Crush, I’m In Love
jen lillis post
the FABULOUS, 1982-tastic cover of one of the books I mentioned (photographed in its natural habitat on my vintage YA bookshelf
I have an unreasonable amount of love for this severely underrated treasure from 1982. Describing this book does it a disservice, because it sounds like the B plot of an old Who’s the Boss? episode (young teen girl nurses massive unrequited crush on hot English teacher), but the odd-couple friendship between reserved main character Annie and the candid, uproarious Susanna Siegelbaum is more than worth the price of admission. I reread parts of this every time I need to write snappy banter between my two MCs. It’s my aspirational blueprint. (Seriously, this book is so charming–if you ever see it at a library or garage sale, pick it up. It should have won all the prizes, including Best Cover Mustache.)
Bob Stanley, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyonce 
My two MCs are really well versed in the history of pop music, though they approach it from different angles. So to fill the gaps in my own knowledge, I’ve been slowly digesting this thick, engaging history of pop from 1955 to present. I don’t think Barrie would approve of how cheerfully Stanley lobs spitballs at sacred cows–he describes Talking Heads as “a bunch of male musicians trying to impress Tina Weymouth with their chops”–but she’d certainly like his passion and intellectual engagement with pop in all its forms. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had doing book research.
In the words of my favorite guitarist, the forever-underrated Lindsey Buckingham, that’s all for everyone. Hope you liked this peek at my reading list–stay tuned, ’cause when the book is finally out I’ll probably be back here doing a random interview about jello molds and my favorite hats of 1994. Thanks to Julie for having me over!
Jen Lillis is the YA author of HOW TO REPAIR A MECHANICAL HEART and WE WON’T FEEL A THING. Lover of geeks, robots, villainous queens, haunted dollhouses, & argyle socks. Follow her https://twitter.com/jclillis and http://t.co/v43Zp75D0e.

How To Be A Mad Scientist

TODAY’S BREW: Cinnamon Pecan Pleasantries. (I added the “Pleasantries.” It sounds better.)

By Julie

I’ve been in the house A LOT. Between editing THE ANIMAL immediately after finishing RUNNING AWAY, and editing for clients the whole time, along with a new schedule around here, I’ve been grounded. Kristen has felt the same way, and with the weather warming up, it makes us both restless on top of it.

With every edit I do, I’ve been getting the itch to write something new, desperate for that clacking of the keys for an extended time, instead of just the occasional line here or there. Being trapped in the house doesn’t exactly lend itself to creativity always, but it doesn’t have to detract from it either. The job of the writer is to make the ordinary into something deliciously new. Make the flatline start beeping again. Kick over the anthill to see what’s inside. (It’s ants.)

The creative person needs to change their world, not wait for their world to change for them. Such is my epic hatred for the “finding of the muse” that so many talk about. You control your creativity, no fucking mythical bitch is going to bring it to you. The creative type is a warrior, fighting for their voice to be heard, not the princess waiting to be saved. You want inspiration? Look for that shit. You don’t have to drive across country to get it, do some life-threatening thing like hangliding or whatever, you can get it by looking at the stuff you look at every day differently.

I’m somewhat of a militant when it comes to writing. My creativity works for me, not in spite of me. I want that spark of inspiration, and so I look for it, actively and with venom in my veins. I scout through Pinterest as a job. Not a hobby, a job. I searched “empty containers” the other day for probably an hour and a half, and from it gleaned an entire storyline that I WANTED. My idea was vague and I researched every aspect of what would go into it in order to make it come to life. That means the dull stuff, too. Because dull stuff made magical is what writing is all about. Be inspired by stupid crap as a choice, not a stroke of luck. Make your art sing for you. Be the composer, not the conductor.

Here’s a little trick that I practice when exercising my brain to write. Because, indeed, you have to work the muscle that is your mind. I like to find an ordinary picture of a thing and another picture of something that really speaks to me, and try to weave them together. Now, you get a little sneak peek. A picture like this:

The Witch of Empty Things. She's a serious motherfucker. Stares at these empty frames for hours, picturing them full. You don't want to know of what.and what it would mean to this person:

Stunning portrait.Now, how could I fit in something like this?

The Witch of Empty Things needs a container to carry. Could our MC give her a new one to keep her good thoughts in, ones like this? "I know you're afraid to look at the sky, so I wanted to bring some of it down to you." 5 Tiny STAR shaped clear glass vials with cork and free eyehooks on Etsy, $5.50What do they have in common? How would she see them working together? How do they challenge her, and what does she do to rise to the challenge? Who’s the person that throws a wrench in her thoughts of them?

Creating is a process, and like any process it needs to be altered, added to, and be reshaped for new purposes all the time. Making a story is like being a mad scientist…putting things together that nobody else thinks of, making explosions and rebuilding, thinking of things that are so far-fetched they make people stare at you with gaping mouths, and then making them see it with as much gusto as you do.

Now, I have a crazy ass book to write, if you’ll excuse me.

 

 

This Ain’t Your Momma’s Pinterest

TODAY’S BREW: A lot.

By Julie

I love Pinterest.

But how can that be, Julie? you say. You can’t cook worth shit, and you don’t crochet, and you’re possibly the most inept crafter in existence.

Well, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, and maybe you’re right, but if you’re looking for inspiration, let me tell you, Pinterest never fails me. Just before I wrote this blog I texted Kristen “What am I gonna blog about? I’m so boring.” She didn’t answer me, so point taken, Kristen. WHAT THE HELL EVER. So, I popped on Pinterest and found THIS the second I opened it up:

Byronic by Boris Pelcer

And I said, “OOOOOOOHH!” And I pinned it to my RUNNING HOME board, because OH MY GOD, IT’S ALMOST PERFECT FOR NICHOLAS’S HOMECOMING SCENE, AND IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT PLEASE BUY MY BOOK. And immediately I was pumped to write. (Sidenote: For those of you wondering, the RUNNING HOME sequel will be finished in the next 2 days. EEEEEEEEEE!)

But anyway, Pinterest kindles a spark in me for a lot of reasons. I’ll share with you some of my favorite pins in posts from now on. Today, I give you  a smattering, things that stick in my mind and light my imagination up. Go play on Pinterest, you might be shocked what you find there.

Perfection.

.

Imagine waking up to that landing on you.

LOVE. Jessica Harrison, "Karen" (2013), Found ceramic, epoxy resin putty, enamel paint

I don’t know what else to say except I want one.

Cottage in the Woods

I want to live here forever.

metamorphosis by Natalie Shau 08

Black Swan meets vampires meets creep.

Icicle cave at Misotsuchi, Saitama, Japan (三十槌の氷柱)!

Actual place in Japan. Did you know this was real? I didn’t know this was real.

Cryptic

Imagine what happens in that city above. Who tht girl is, where the animal came from. Why they’re below the city. It just makes me swim with plot lines.

watercolor by darcy

What a love story here.

Okay, that’s enough of me being a creep for now. This is so not even a one hundreth of what I have pinned to refer to. I saved you from the creepiest stuff, because I know my mom looks at this. But what I think the moral of the story is, don’t rule something out that you think won’t give you inspiration. I’m proven wrong time and again when I think “there’s nothing for me there” or in doing this, that or the other thing. Find inspiration wherever you go. Don’t just stumble upon it, seek it out. It keeps your mind alive.

That being said, go spend the next four hours staring at Pinterest recipes.

Inspiration Strikes Even When You Don’t Want It To

Today’s Brew:  Blueberry, I missed your face.

by Kristen

If you are an independent contractor, and you  want to get extremely busy, just announce you’re putting out a book. You will book everyday. This is my first day off after 10 days in a row.

I was working on an ad for one of the Boston Mayoral candidates, listening to someone talk about the Boston School System expired food scandal.  The biggest tragedy of the situation is that some kids depend on that meal to be their only nutritious meal of the day, and it wasn’t even edible.

An idea popped into my brain as I watched for shine on the speaker.  It didn’t go away. In fact it fed itself and grew. By the time I came home, I had pretty much a full synopsis in my head.  It didn’t matter that I had a 14 hour day that day.  I needed to write it all down.  Before I went to bed, I had most of a first chapter down.

I’ve been wrestling with this new story line ever since it presented itself.  I’m supposed to be writing We Own The Night, book three in the Night Songs trilogy.  I’ve already started the first draft.  I had been really looking forward to meeting back up with Callie, Tristan, and Blade, to see what messes they’d get themselves into this time.  But ever since that afternoon, any time my mind wanders into my literary life, it goes to Kyndra and Aiden instead.  These two characters who’ve barged into my brain and told my other characters to chill out and relax for a little while.  They’ll do the heavy lifting.

Last night after another long day at work, I found myself pounding away at the keys fleshing out the rest of the beginning of this story.  It’s beginning to have some life to it.  I even had to get back up out of bed to work on it.  When that happens, I let the characters take control.

I know a lot of people complain about plot bunnies popping up at inconvenient times.  This would be one of them.  But when something sticks in my brain like this, even if it’s just a pair of shoes, I know I want it.  It would be a shame to let this fall into oblivion.

If nothing else, it will keep me working hard, since I’m now working on a novel I didn’t plan to write. When I finally have formal deadlines. As long as I can get the ideas out in the first draft, I’ll know I’ve given these characters their due.

Memorial Day Sappiness With Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Memorial Day Margaritas. Don’t judge me.

By Julie

 

Memorial Day is literally the only complete day my husband will take off from work this month, and only because he has to. Liquor stores have to close. Tim works tirelessly because it’s what allows me to be home with my babies. He does it so I can write, so I can do what my brain and heart itch for. He does it so our kids can see that this is how you pursue happiness. And he does it because he believes that I can make my dream a reality.

Now he’s right. My first book is becoming a real live book, the way I wanted it to be done. Every minute I think it, which is every minute, it seems surreal. Walking through BJ’s Wholesale Club the other day with my family, the six year old, Bennett, was looking at books with me. And he asked me “Your book is going to be like these?” I could say yes. It must have seemed almost impossible to him, and I hope that everything he thinks is impossible can be possible for him and his little brother, and I hope that I am much of the reason why they believe.

I hope that I have given some of that same hope to my husband, who has given me so much belief in myself. To be told that someone believes in you is one thing, but this man shows it to me every single day with the smile on his face after another countless work day, with the way he holds his children and plays with them. He looks to me like a man that is perfectly happy and knows the best is yet to come. I could not be more proud to be a part of that.

This Memorial Day meant something a little different to me. People who sacrifice for others aren’t just limited to the armed services. They are the people in your life that trust you, compromise for your happiness, and don’t take the easy way out because they know that risk sometimes pays off if you believe in the cause hard enough.

My husband is my cause, his belief my reason, and our children the force behind them. And soon, the fruits of my labor will be in your hands, and I hope you feel the force of the words, too. Thank you for always reading my work, and encouraging me. Don’t ever think that I forget a word of what you say to keep me writing. Thank you for believing in me.

 

Wait, You’re Not Done?: Personal Interviews on Our Second Novels

TODAY’S BREW: Woodchuck Hard Cider for Julie.  Pumpkin Spice coffee for Kristen.

by Julie and Kristen

Without trying to explore All The Feelings in this blog post, Kristen and I wanted to take our super-emo blog post run from earlier this month and link it to how our feelings link to our new novels.  Again, we find ourselves working at the same pace on our newest novels, but with much different results and much different processes.  Not working on our first novels is a major change! And with change comes growth.  We decided to interview each other in 5 questions as to what makes our second books our second books with a life of their own.

FIRST KRISTEN!

1)What’s new in your second book?

There is a lot more Tristan, my smokin’ hot rockstar vampire main character, in Immortal Forever, which should make everyone happy.  A lot more Talis too, much to Callie’s dismay.  Talis wants Callie, our protagonist, out of the Immortal Dilemma picture.   Callie has a mentor to show her the ropes in the Vegas vampire world, to which we get more of a bird’s eye view.  Of course, there are new conflicts and challenges for them to face and overcome.  Not everyone gets out alive, but do they make it to the afterlife?

2)Have your main characters changed since book one?

Callie is no longer the naïve girl who started college in September.  She’s back for her second semester to battle a world she wouldn’t have believed existed just five months ago.  She’s not exactly sure what she wants, but she’s ready to fight against what she doesn’t want.  Callie is not a girl to put up with a lot of crap. Her attitudes towards Tristan and Blade, her love interest, have changed as well.

3)How have you changed since book one?

My life got completely up ended between the start and finish of Immortal Dilemma.  I lost my mom, I l had to give up my house, I lived in a hotel.  Last year at this time was the scariest time of my life.  But I got through it, and landed on my feet. A lot of people would have given up.  I think of it every time I pass someone at an intersection with a cardboard sign, asking for food or money.  That could have been me.  It made me stronger, and made me fight harder for everything I have.  There is no lay down and die.  I think that is reflected in my writing, and my characters.  They don’t give up.

4)What’s harder about the second book?  Easier?

Technically, Immortal Forever is the third book in this series.  I also wrote a prequel starring Callie and Tristan called Seasons in The Sun, which covers the backstory of their relationship.  When I began writing Immortal Dilemma, never did I imagine I’d have a literary agent when I started to write it’s sequel.  In fact, when I started Immortal Dilemma, I thought the whole story would be told in one book.  But as the story unfolded, I realized it need a To Be Continued.  Having an agent means people are paying attention.  This can’t suck. I’m probably being way too hard on myself, but that’s how I roll.  The characters have chosen their paths, and I need to follow it.  It’s not such an anything goes format anymore.  On the other hand, now that I know the main characters so well, their personalities are come through very easily now.

5)Do  you have a new soundtrack for your second book?

Seasons in the Sun had more of a country soundtrack.  Immortal Dilemma has more of a glam metal soundtrack.  Immortal Forever so far has a bit more of an industrial/alternative soundtrack.  It has a bit of a darker feel than the other two books, and the music that compliments it reflects that.

NOW ME, NOW ME! (JULIE)

1) What is your second book (Running Away) about?

Eliza and Nicholas find their comfortable New Hampshire world, and are forced to go to the Japanese temple where Ellie will commit herself to becoming something else.  Not to give too much away.  There are lots of new vampires in Japan, a lot of new interactions and relationships, and the characters you know from Running Home are put to the test in every way possible.

2) What are your biggest challenges in writing the second novel?

Taking my characters from a place that I personally know to a place I have never been from the get-go—Japan.  Making that setting real, both beautiful and frightening for my girl.

3)What is the most exciting part of your new novel?

I love the new characters we meet!  Human and vampire, forced to live together in this secluded place, full of aggression and newness and different feelings, temperaments.  And seeing the changes in Eliza.  She completely reinvents herself, and the outcome is something nobody will expect.

4) What is your writing schedule like?

Early! With the majority of Running Home I wrote after a long night of retail, into the wee hours of the morning.  Now I set my alarm for 5AM to write with the support of the 5AM Writer’s Club on Twitter.  It’s the only time I am truly alone and awake and fresh minded.  Much different!

5) How are you reflected in the new novel?

Aw, Jesus Christ. Ellie is experiencing a detached rawness in the face of a great loss much like I have.  She is emotionless, simultaneously trying to feel and not feel.  She pushes away the one person she loves because she just can’t give him anything, she has nothing to give.  She is void of life.  And she seems strong, but she’s at her most vulnerable, when she needs someone the most, and knows no way to ask for help.  It’s very similar to how I felt after my father’s death when I was 16.  That kind of inner change determines how you react to things for the rest of your life.  Ellie doesn’t become your typical hero, she has a lot of flaws, a lot of choices that are wrong, and she makes no apologies for them.  It’s real, and imperfect.  But I absolutely love the outcome of both of us!

There you have it!  I hope you all are looking forward to the end of the second novel journey the way we are.  But in the meantime, enjoy the ride.

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