The Self-Rescue Princess

Becoming your own knight.

What’s Next aka the Battling Plots

Midnight drearyWhen I finished writing Framed to Death, the first thing I did…okay the second after celebrating typing The End…was start working on the outline for book five in the Scrap This series. I always enjoy the first week after completing a book as I’m contemplating the different twists that could occur in Faith’s life. What will happen in her personal life? How about her professional life? How about her role/standing in the community with her role as the go-to-girl when someone has been wrongly accused? How does Faith, or someone in Eden, have ties to victim in the book? Will Faith’s sleuthing cause friction and heartaches in her relationships? These are usually the first questions I ask before I start working on the motivation for the crime, and the suspects in the story. I have to know what’s going on with Faith’s life, and in her community, first and from that point brainstorm a few ideas on what the catalyst for the crime.

I have tried plotting a book by deciding on how the murder would happen and where (plus, I always have two strong suspects but I don’t know which one it will be until the end of book), but the story didn’t really come together It felt too clinical, as I was relating everything to the murder and it took away the personal feel that I love about traditional/cozy mysteries. For me, I needed an underlying theme to focus on for the book to have the necessary ‘heart’ to connect Faith, and the reader, to the story.

It’s always a fabulous day when I have all the answers to my questions and can start outlining the book. I had found just the perfect idea for the book and started working on the outline, happy with how the plot and subplot were interconnecting. There was a bump or two I still needed to smooth out, but I knew I’d work it out once I started writing the actual book. My wonderful editor returned Framed to Death so I put the new book aside and began work on Framed (I must say I love…capital LOVE…editing time).

As I drove to the grocery store on Friday, a scene popped into my head for the new book. Usually that is wonderful, but this time the scene had nothing to do with the book I planned to write. This was a new idea. A different setting. Different key secondary characters. Different theme. Different motive. Different future, and hope, for Faith. And today on my way home from the auto repair place, I ‘saw’ the murder with two different scenarios on the when and how it could happen in the story. What is an author to do? And, also had to admit to myself that the new idea worked so much better with the working title.

Dare I start on this new path rather than stick with the old? I have a plan. It’s a good plan. But, this new one excites me with the future it holds for Faith, the simple…yet complexity…of the motivation of the killer, and most importantly the opportunity to show a truth I believe in strongly. Can I be brave enough to write this new idea? I put a little bit of me into every book, I believe every writer does, but I’ve always made sure what I included wasn’t too personal and didn’t give away too much of me.

Maybe it’s time I did?

Maybe, it’s time I did.

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Autograph Books for Disney Trip

2015-06-05 10.35.08For our trip to Disney World (we’re doing 3 character meals), I made autograph books for the little ones. I usually buy them at the parks, but I wanted them to have one that was a little unique. I chose some chipboard covers that were similar in size to the autograph books sold at Disney. I had originally planned on using a larger size but figured they’d be bulky to carry, and maybe the characters had a harder time holding square shaped books as the ones I’ve seen were always rectangle.

After I settled on the size, I went to planning the design. I saw a lot of examples that I loved on Pinterest and pinned a few. I loved the designs where multiple colors and patterns of paper were used to decorate the front. I gave it a try at this and for some reason couldn’t get my papers…even though they were from the same line…to coordinate in the Disney style I wanted. I was starting to get frustrated then thought I’d use my collection of Disney washi tape.2015-06-05 11.24.33 I love Disney. I love washi tape. Why not used the beloved tape on the covers of the books? I love washi tape so much I even gave the product a starring roll in my novel Designed to Death.

The first book I made was going to be for a little boy and have his favorite character, Sully, on the front. I chose to use different tapes for the strips with the Disney word tape in the middle and at both ends. I wanted to make sure the inside of the back and front of the covers were decorated so added a die cut Boo and Mike to those pages. 2015-06-05 10.40.05The step that took the longest was cutting out the autograph pages as I wanted them to match the shape of the book.

I traced the cover on a heavy weight cardstock, folded it in half, then cut the pages out. Each book has 20 pages…enough pages for 40 signatures if each character uses a separate page. I used rings to hold the pages together because it would be easy to add more pages if needed. The pages looked a little2015-06-05 10.35.34 plain (and I couldn’t erase all the pencil marks off), so I inked the edges.

 

For the two girl books, I decided to go with alternating the tape designs and using the Disney word tape as the starting point by putting it in the middle of the book. For these books, I used Elsa and Anna as the cover character and then a word phrase and Olaf on the ‘inside’ back cover.2015-06-05 10.36.15 2015-06-05 10.40.10

 

Earlier I mentioned making the pages took the longest amount of time with this project and that’s because I have a box of die cuts. I find using the Cameo and Cricut relaxing so the days where I want to craft but not make scrapbook pages (and I’ll even do this at retreats), I cut out characters and phrases and put them in my box for later.2015-06-05 11.25.44 Sometimes, I’ll use them on pages or another project, and there have even been a few times I’ve let the little ones play with the ‘paper people’. Like me, they love Disney so prefer the Disney characters over the other ones in the box. It’s probably why my box is mainly filled with Disney themed die cuts…and the fact that last few times we’ve taken large family vacations they’ve been Disney related.

I can’t wait to get to Disney and our first character meal and give the little ones they’re autograph books. I kind of wish I made one for me.

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Planning is Part of the Fun

2015-06-01 15.52.26In a little less than a week, we’ll be on our way to Disney World. Okay, Orlando actually as we’re not staying at a resort hotel and won’t be at Disney each day but to me we’re going to Disney. For me, it is one of the happiest places on Earth and where I find I can let go of all worries and anxieties and just be in the moment. This time will be even more magical as we’re bringing the little people…aka the Princess and Pirate Boy…aka the grandones…aka the grandchildren…with us. Now, my children never picked up the Disney fever and love from their mother, but my oldest daughter’s little ones sure have. I have got the 2-year-old saying “Going to Disney World” and the 5-year-old is beside herself with anticipation. We giggle about our trip and the plans every time she comes over. I don’t know who’s more excited about the Princess breakfast and meeting Anna and Elsa. Actually, I do. I am more excited about watching my Princess meet the Princesses she loves more than anything else. The anticipation and excitement are so great, I find it a hard time concentration when I find my mind wandering to those events and envisioning the smile on her face. Oh my…is it time yet?

Every vacation we go on, I like to learn about the area and plan out a few things we can do. Fortunately with Disney, there are tons of books, videos, and other sources available for me to get into the Disney and vacation mood. And sometimes a little bit too much because I have to ‘bargain/bribe’ myself into how much work I have to do before I click over to a Disney site or see if we can change the time on the FP+ experience or even switch the experience. My son decided he’d rather trade his Fastpass option from the Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid to Space Mountain, and from Meet the Disney Pals to go on Mission:SPACE along with his dad. Go figure.

I’m really looking forward to this trip that will be a mix of family time and also our group branching out at times to go and experience their favorite parts of the Disney World parks. The Passporter’s Disney World guide is my favorite (if I have to pick one) and I also really like the Hidden Magic of Walt Disney. The Hidden Magic gives tips of things to see and explore when you’re not in the mood for rides or just want to know some of the special ‘treats’ Disney built-in to the park which gives it the magical Disney touch.

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How Does the Garden Grow

This year, I’m determined to try new adventures and not let worrying consume me or stop me from trying something new. I was a tax preparer this tax season, and found out I really enjoyed it.  In continuing with this mission, I started a garden this year. I have the help of my husband, and my good friend Janie. She’s an avid gardener and was willing to help me out. Fortunately, my husband and I have a huge yard (even for WV) so our first task was narrowing down where on the seven acres to put it. A few acres were easily to eliminate as it was either woods or where our flowers were planted. We chose a flat spot near our house hoping that, along with our fencing material, keeps the deer and rabbits out of the garden.

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Let’s hope it works!

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Our freshly tilled garden spot.

It has been such a long time since I had a garden. The first garden I tended came with the house we bought, so I never started one from scratch. I’m so glad I had the advice and encouragement of my friend or I wouldn’t have got any further than planning to put one in. We spent all day Friday finishing up the garden. First a trip to a farm to choose our plants, then coming back, doing a little more tilling, remove some more rocks, planning out our planting strategy, then planting all of our plants. We might have over done it this year…toward the end of our planting session we were running out of room and weren’t sure we’d get everything in.

Our plants include: habanero peppers, scotch bonnet peppers, thai chill peppers, banana peppers, green and yellow peppers, brussel sprouts, asparagus, lettuce, red and yellow onions, eggplants, mix of herbs, and a variety of tomatoes. It’s a very eclectic garden.

I’m going to take notes so I’ll know next year what plants did well in our rocky soil and with an amateur garden tending it. I find myself checking multiple times a day to see if our garden has grown. I can’t wait to pick the first veggies from it.
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SRP Review: Deadly Assets by Wendy Tyson

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

deadly assetsDeadly Assets is the second book in the Allison Campbell Mystery Book series. Even in the first book (Killer Image), I saw Allison Campbell has a self-rescuing princess. While her past affected her deeply, she never allowed it to control her and found a way to use her pain and insecurities as a way to not only better her own life but also others. I loved how Allison learnt from her past and was willing to acknowledge the mistakes she made that contributed to the issues she had.

In the second book, Allison’s first foray into amateur sleuthing made a big impact on her life and that of her close friends. Allison was considerate of their  concern for her, especially when she finds herself having to solve the disappearance of two of her clients, and at the same time asserts her independence. I loved how Allison was able to do that without alienating anyone and taking their feelings into consideration. It’s a hard balance for a woman to stand on their own without pushing everyone away…and also not putting themselves in unnecessary danger. Allison knows when to turn to others for help and I find that an important (and sometimes) overlooked trait for a self-rescuing princess. I know at times I believe the only way to be ‘truly’ self-sufficient is to do something totally on one’s own but shutting one’s self away from others can be a lot easier than allowing people into your inner circle.

I really admire the character of Allison Campbell because I see being able to reach out when necessary, and still maintain the strength to stand on her own when she knows it’s in her best interest. Allison doesn’t take unnecessary risks, yet has no problem facing danger when it will help her clients and friends. I can’t wait to see what happens in Allison’s life in book three (Dying Brand).

NOTE: Currently, the ebook version of Deadly Assets is on sale for 99 cents. I don’t know how long the sale will last. Please pick up a copy if you’re interested in getting to know Allison Campbell better. The first book in the series is Killer Image, and the third just came out on Tuesday, Dying Brand.

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Disney Cruise Layouts

One of the first crafting projects I finished in 2015 was our Disney Cruise album. I had been working on the scrapbook(s) since the beginning of 2013. It took quite a few cropping sessions at home, and even more at some weekend scrapbooking retreats to complete the albums. And yes the ‘s’ and the end of scrapbooks was the biggest reason it took so long. Our one week Disney cruise resulted in hundreds of pictures and 3 full albums. 2015-03-08 19.31.17

I knew I needed two albums for all the layouts but was shocked when the scrapbook turned into a trilogy. I sorted the pictures into three separate sections: cruise activities, character and portrait pics, and then Castaway
Cay day.

cruise 2012 cartooniss

Animator’s Palate…draw your own cartoon character.

I wanted to add in our memorabilia throughout the scrapbooks and designed some pages taking that into account. On the We’re Cartoonists page, I added in the dinner rotation tickets that we’re given on the first day. On another page, I added a Fish Extender gift as a frame for the excursion tickets. (FE gifts are like Secret Santa gifts that a group of cruisers drop off at the cabins by placing in totes/bag/FE extenders that are hung on the fishes by the cabin doors. Cruisers sign up through FB or websites dedicated to Disney traveling.)

cruise 2012 costa excursion ticket cruise 2012 costa maya

One of my favorite parts of the cruise was the character pictures. Now, not everyone in the family found standing in line for the pictures was as fun as I did, so one night I decided to go ahead and get character pictures taken with just me. At first I felt a little weird without having anyone else in the family, but I got over my reservations and had fun. I figured there was no reason I shouldn’t take part in one of the events I enjoyed most…who knew when I’d get another chance. cruise 2012 toy story

The last day of the cruise was spent on Castaway Cay. One of favorite layouts was from pictures taken by a lovely woman on the same parasailing excursion as my teens. Only those parasailing were allowed on the boat so I was happy someone took photos for us with our underwater camera. cruise 2012 up For the Up layouts, I used embellishments (paper and dimensional sticker) to help create movement on the page.

Here are a couple of some of my other favorite layouts. For Animator’s Palate, I used some photo pockets to create additional space to display more pictures. (yes, we took a lot of food pictures)

cruise 2012 animator palate
cruise 2012 ap

cruise 2012 megan port

cruise 2012 mcc pg 1cruise 2012 mcc pg 2

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SRP Review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

the nightingaleThe Nightingale features two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle Mauriac, who live in France during the start for World War II. Isabelle is 18, fiercely headstrong and also independent to a fault. Isabelle has compassion for all and a strong sense of justice. From the start, Isabelle was what I’d call a self-rescuing princess because she was not content–nor wanted–to hide behind anyone. She knew what was happening in her country was wrong and would hurt many people before it was over…if it was ever over. Isabelle had no problem risking her life to save others and struggled to keep her opinions in check, only doing so when she knew her outspokenness might harm her sister and niece. Isabelle was larger than life in way. A totally selfless person who put the good of mankind before any thoughts of preserving her own life. She knew her actions placed her life at risk and did so with abandon.

I related more to Vianne as she was a woman who was desperate to keep herself and child alive, even when it meant following rules she longed to break. She had a quieter of being self-rescuing princess, doing all she could to keep her child feed, healthy, and as protected as she could from the devastation in France. Vianne didn’t feel she had the right to take a stand when her child might suffer the consequences for her decisions. Vianne struggled with her conscience and doing what was needed to survive instead of what her heart and spirit screamed needed to be done. My heart went out to her. Vianne believed herself to be weak and cowardly when compared to her sister. While her sister made bold, brave choices, Vianne also made those same decisions but in a different way. Vianne, like her sister, had a cause deep in her heart and when faced with the choice of looking the other or getting involved, she pushed down her fears and acted. 

I know I related to Vianne more because I felt her situation was one I’d most likely might find myself in one day. Not so much having to save someone in a dire, wartime situation, but more of an action that is smaller and local, not something huge and grand. I think those are the situation that everyone finds themselves in during their lifetime, and it’s these times our character is tested and challenged, making us change how we define ourselves. Everyone has had a strong and brave moment, and will again. Many times we don’t see ourselves that way because our actions aren’t grand. But it doesn’t take a grand, in-the-world’s-face action to help someone or to save them…sometimes it’s stepping up to help when it’s needed or simple telling others to stop.

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Crafting Moment from Embellished to Death

With March being National Craft Day, I thought it was perfect to share a small scrapbooking moment from Embellished to Death. 

EMBELLISHED front under 2mbExcerpt:

The fall guy. I repositioned all the glitter glue and acid free markers following the Roy G. Biv sequence for hues. I needed something to take my mind off of Bob’s words and the fact I couldn’t do anything about it. Or at least right now. Steve was starting to look like the knock to his head was sapping his energy. There was no way I’d run after Morgan when I needed to keep an eye on Steve. And from what Bob and Ted said about the man, Morgan wasn’t a man to trifle with. He meant painful, hurtful business.

Steve winced and adjusted his chair, turning ever so slightly to the left.

The afternoon sun shone through the windows flanking the back wall of the hotel. The natural light showcased our products beautifully and I hoped it resulted in less returns, though I wished it would tone down a little so Steve wasn’t suffering. I scooted up and sat as tall as I could, hoping to block some of the rays from Steve.

“Do you have tennis items?” A cropper sorted through a pile of sports themed paper and embellishments. “You have every other sport.”

“I packed some,” I said. “There might be a box or two that hadn’t been opened it. I’ll check for you.”

Getting down on my hands and knees, I crawled under the table. The first box I shook was empty. The next had a little heft to it. I tugged it toward me and opened the flaps. Trimmers. Scissors. Piercing tools. I reached up and fumbled my hand around the table.

“Need something?” Steve asked.

“Duct tape.” I wanted to seal the box of possible weapons.

“Here you go.” Steve handed me a roll.

After taping the box, I returned to my original mission. I jiggled the last box. There was something in it. I drew it out and peered inside. Paper and stickers. I hoped the tennis items were in here. The other options were I left them at the store back in Eden, or the trailer. My stomach tightened. I wasn’t looking forward to going outside. I couldn’t send Darlene or Steve. The black sedan might still be there, and I didn’t want either of them running into the owner of the hidden car.

I opened the box. I flipped through the sheets. “Found them.”

“Thanks.” The woman picked out one of each item and headed for the register.

A sealed package of Christmas pattern paper was next and under it Halloween items. This was our discounted product. How did the tennis items get mixed up in here? I lifted the box from the floor.

“Let me get that.” Steve jumped up.

“I got it.” My arms strained. Next year, I’d pass on ordering the Christmas lines for the store. None of my choices sold very well. “Can you clear a space for me? These are clearance items. I’ll just mark the box fifty percent off.”

“We should put it by the register. If you have Bob checking people out, he’s not going to know clearance from regular merchandise.”

Bob had taken up residence in a chair that was on the perimeter but not in the store. Bob rotated his attention between his cell phone, the doors, and Garrison.

“He’s here for the ambience.” I rummaged underneath the table for pieces of cardboard. I wanted to use them as dividers to separate the pattern paper.

A customer handed her selections to Steve.

 I removed some of the paper. A butter yellow scrapbook album was at the bottom of the box–Gussie’s gift album. I rescued it from the bottom of the box. One of our mysteries was solved. Grinning, I scooped it out and sat down.

The first page was a heart-shaped collage of photographs, an at a glance depiction of my grandmothers’ lives. Hope and Cheryl aged from innocent teens, to young mothers, grandmothers, all the way to the present where they were strong, independent business owners.

I turned to the next page. Someone had taken a photo of my grandmothers behind the counter at Scrap This. They smiled brightly, arms draped around each other. I saw love, strength, and honesty in their expressions and body language.

My grandmothers had not only lost their soul mates, but their only children. The world had dealt them many harsh blows in their lifetime, and yet they lived fully and without reservations. They hadn’t turned those pains into a reason to create a shield between themselves and others, instead using their experiences to help others through the same heartbreaks.

“I wish I could be like them.” I touched the edge of the photograph, wanting to draw the best of them into me.

“You are.” Steve wrapped his arms around me, placing a tender kiss on my head.

“No, I’m not.”

“If you believe that, then you know what to do to change it.”

Steve was right. I stood, pressing the book to my pounding heart. I yearned to fess up, but now wasn’t the time or place. There were too many distractions and people around. Steve, the man I loved, deserved to be told without an audience.

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SRP Review: The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

the ship of bridesThe Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes showcased a group of war brides leaving Australia and journeying to England to meet up with their husbands. There were four brides who were featured in the book: Maggie, Avice, Frances and Jean. I was intrigued by each one of them.

At first, I found Maggie to be uncomplicated and the cheerleader of the group but as I grew to know her more, I realized there was a little more to Maggie than I originally thought. I found her character refreshing as she wasn’t the usual, cheerful mom-to-be but had insecurities and doubted her ability to mother. It made her come alive even more. I found her struggles real, and the fact she voiced them out loud rather than keep silent, made her a self-rescue princess to me. So many times, women keep their insecurities about motherhood quiet because they fear being judged and believe that to not love every moment of pregnancy or motherhood is saying you don’t  love your children.

Frances was more reserved than the other characters and even though I didn’t feel I knew her as well in the beginning of the book, something drew me to her. I think it was her quiet resolve and determination. Frances took everyone at face value even as she held them at arm’s length. She had a fierce spirit that came out at times and I was really rooting for everything to work out for her. I have to admit that she became my favorite character in the story. Frances was strong and forgiving without coming across as being a doormat. I think that’s a hard combination for a person to pull off, it’s easier to become bitter and close yourself off than giving others a chance. Even though Frances was reserved, she still allowed a tiny crack in the walls she built for others to come in.

One of the hardest things for a writer to do is write an unlikely character and yet make that character sympathetic. I found Avice at times snotty, off-putting, and hypocritical yet I found myself rooting for her because I was able to see the insecurity that drove her behavior. Even though she came from a financial stable family, it was clear that Avice felt lost and as if she had to prove her worth to her parents. While I still cringed at her behavior, it made me understand her more. I liked that Avice had a complex personality, not all light and yet not all dark, and struggled with she felt was expected of her.

What I loved most was how different each of the brides were yet in the end all had the same basic need to be loved for who they were. Each of the women went about achieving that goal in a different (and one I’m not sure did, but in my mind I have given her a much-needed and deserved happily ever after). I liked how The Ship of Brides portrayed accurately the complex friendships of women, and how loyalties can falter when one believes their character will be tied to a friend.

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Stay in the Now

So far, 2015 has been a little overwhelming for me (in a good way). I decided at the end of last year to expand my horizons a little and silence the annoying voice in my head that liked to say I couldn’t do something. Or, it just wasn’t in me to figure out a new skill. I was really tired of it so started doing some new things and working on some skills I did have. And that voice had also made me second guess myself that resulted in me pulling out two threads from Embellished to Death. I loved them and believed added so much to the story but I worried about it…one changed a lot for my heroine and required a new mindset for her. Fortunately, my wonderful editor knew I was holding back something and encouraged me to go with my instinct and write it. I’m so glad I did. EMBELLISHED front under 2mbThose two elements…Bob (Ted’s brother) and Garrison’s (Bob’s life partner) appearance in the book added a richness to the book and I really enjoyed seeing them together on the page. I must admit they are my favorite couple in the Scrap This series. The other element in the book shook up my heroine’s world and while I was worried about it happening in Embellished, when I finished writing Framed to Death (#4) I was so happy I finally ignored the “you can’t” voice. I enjoyed seeing Faith grow on the page. It’s nice seeing her also silencing her own “I can’t’ voice.

To work on silencing mine, I took a sewing class at the end of last year and did pretty well I must say. I then decided to take an online course on taxes, did a good job, and then got a job preparing taxes. I know this might sound strange but I actually enjoy it.. What makes me the proudest was that I overcame the voice saying I wouldn’t be able to do it, and forged ahead even during the class segments when I started doubting myself. So twice last year I won against the “You can’t” voice that liked to derail my plans and vision.

contest 012While Framed to Death (the fourth in the Scrap This Series) is with beta readers, I’ve been working on a book that has been in my mind and heart for the last few years. I’ve been wanting to do it but the “You can’t” voice had overcome me and convinced me the book was a little more than I could write. There are elements of paranormal and mystery in the story, but the hardest one to get just right is the uniqueness of the spirit of not only the people in Appalachia but also Appalachia in and of itself.

This year I stopped listening to the voice saying I can’t and have dusted off the manuscript and began working on it again. I had completed half the book when I let the ‘I can’ts’ convince me I couldn’t adequately tell the story in my own head. If I can’t tell the story who can? And it’s a story I need to tell. It’s been with me for a few years and won’t leave. That tells me it wants out and into a book. The story has grown over the years and I’m confident I can do it. I’ve made some major changes to the original plot and I’m loving how the book is coming together. I don’t know what will happen when I complete this manuscript, but I’m proud that I’m writing ahead and not letting me stop myself from trying. I decide to live in the now writing moment and will consider the book’s future when I’m done. I realized that at times I’m so concerned at what will come next, what could happen, that I don’t enjoy where I’m at now so my motto for this year is “Stay in the now.”

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