Refilling the Creative What?

Happy Sunday, Everyone! I hope you’re enjoying the weekend!

If you hang around with writers for a long enough time, chances are you’ll hear one of us talk about refilling the Creative Well.

But what are we talking about, really?

From here on out, the usual caveat applies: What follows are my thoughts on the particular topic. Your mileage may – and likely will – vary.

So: The Creative Well.

When someone asks a writer “Where do you get your ideas?” you’re bound to hear a variety of answers. Some will say that they don’t know, some will say they come from everywhere, one of these times I’m going to say that I keep a stash of them in a chest, buried under a rock in my back yard.

Ultimately, I think, that the real answer – even for the folks that respond with “I don’t know” – is the Creative Well.

Now I’m not talking about a real well, although that may be the form it takes in your mind when you think about it.

It may be a conventional well, or something out in the deep woods somewhere, in a clearing, waiting for someone to come along.

It’s your well, you can picture it however you like. It’s where the magic happens.

For me, the Creative Well is more like a Cauldron.  Just as a well that isn’t deep enough to reach the water table is, basically, just a hole in the ground (Yes, there’s a lot to unpack in that analogy, and I’m still not sure where I stand on it). A cauldron, without anything in it, isn’t all that interesting. It’s just a hunk of metal sitting on the fire, getting hot, but otherwise not doing much.  It’s when you start adding stuff to your cauldron that things start happening.

So where do you get this stuff? Part of it, I believe is from you, so as long as you’re alive, the cauldron won’t ever be entirely empty. I can get pretty low though, if you don’t take care of yourself, and the stuff that you’re scraping off the bottom might not be the most palatable. Another source of stuff that goes in the cauldron comes from everyday life. Being a person. All of your experiences, your ups, and downs, all of it goes in. Additionally, the things you consume – books, music, movies, etc – constitute a big part of what goes in the cauldron.

Now it’s not going in there untreated. Everything you put in there has your own particular stamp on it. It passes through the lens of how you see the world – your own blend of secret spices that nobody else has the recipe for.

It all goes in there and, occasionally, something bubbles to the surface. That’s something that you can spoon out and use. The other stuff is still cooking.

That’s kinda why I don’t write ideas down. When I get an idea, I’ll put it in the cauldron, give it a stir, and see what rises. Might be that nothing comes to the surface right away. Might be that the idea that went in, comes out altered by having spent some time in the creative stew.

But you can only withdraw stuff from the cauldron for so long before you’ve got to start putting stuff back in.

That’s where the reading, the watching, the getting out in the world and walking it for a spell, comes into play.  You’ve got to go out and get ingredients, otherwise, eventually, all you’ll be spooning out will be one-note, cauldron-wall, soup, a bare step above water, or light beer.

And nobody wants that.

So get out there. Find the best ingredients you can, the stuff that turns your dials up to 11, and toss them in.

See what bubbles to the surface.

 

Good Luck!

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Be sure to stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

I’ll see you again for the next Five-Thing Thursday!

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Friday Fess-Up: November 16th.

Happy Friday Everyone!!! We Made it!

I’m sure I’ve said this before – though I can’t remember where…that’s how tired I am – But this week, has been a really long week, for only being four work day’s long.

I don’t know if that’s the way it is with your workplace, but a four day week, for me, generally means they try and cram five days of work into four.

On top of that, there’s been a lot of work on the home front. It’s a constant juggle, and let’s just say that I’m glad that I don’t have to answer the call of an alarm tomorrow morning.

Speaking of which, I’ve gotten some writing done every day this week. That 11 thousand word “Short” story I’ve been revising? It’s down to 7 thousand words and some change. I’ve plugged a bunch of logic holes that I am now able to see, and I expect to have this first pass done by the end of the weekend.

After that, I’ll read it out loud, further clean it up and send it out into the world, see if anyone wants it. Come December, I’m dedicated to the first round of revisions on Jade Moon Waning. I want to have it ready for other eyes to look on it by January 1st.

Ambitious, yes, but I’m taking the last half of December off, so I’ll have  bunch of writing time.

That’s my week. How has yours been going?  If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, you’re halfway there. Keep going, you got this.

See you on Sunday!

What am  I reading this week?

Star Wars: Wedge’s Gamble by Mike Stackpole.

All Systems Red, by Martha Wells

What am I listening to this week? The Galactic Suburbia Podcast.

How have I been relaxing and refilling the well? This Weekend? Sleep. Lots of Sleep. I’d like to get out and catch a movie or maybe, stay in and rewatch Jupiter Ascending.

Of course Canada is playing Germany in the Rugby World Cup qualifier this weekend, and I’d like to catch that. What I’d *Really* love to catch is New Zealand V Ireland on Saturday. The Number 1 and Number 2 ranked teams in the world playing in Dublin. If I was independently wealthy, I’d already be on a freaking plane.

If you’re able to catch it, no spoilers, right?

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Be sure to stop by on Sunday for the usual blog post!

Stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

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Five Thing Thursday: November 15th.

Welcome, everyone to the third installment of November’s Five Thing Thursdays!!

Here are Five Things I want you to Know:

Thing #1: I have two modes when I’m really thinking about something. The first is staring. Out the Window, at the wall, anything. The second is where I’ve got to get up and pace. This generally includes talking out loud to myself.

Thing #2: Sometimes, despite all the planning you can do, life gets a step or two ahead of you and forces you to scramble a bit.

Thing #3: This is normal, and all you can do is make the best of it you can, and move on.

Thing #4:  We got our snow. No more than three inches in places, but it’s here. I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

Thing #5: Take some time to take care of yourself. This was a long, freaking week.

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Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

See you tomorrow for the Friday Fess-up post.

Until then…

Be safe Y’All.

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Do Your Job

Happy Sunday Everyone! I hope you’re enjoying the weekend.

I know that some of you are participating in NaNoWriMo (For those of you that don’t know: That stands for National Novel Writing Month), and some of you aren’t.

And that’s ok, this post is for you too.

And, among those of you that are participating, there may be some of you that are feeling the pressure to hit word count, and there may be those of you that aren’t.

And that’s ok, this post is for you too.

At this time of year, when the focus is on word counts – perhaps disproportionally so – I would like to take some time and talk about the Writer’s Other Job:

Refilling the Creative Well.

If you’re like me, this job is one that finds itself on the back burner so often, it’s bought real estate there, but I would argue that it is equally as important as the job of getting the words down (or that revision done, etc.).

It also, in it’s own way is just as difficult as getting the words down. Now I know that there are some of you that read that line and are about to call “Bullshit” on me, but hear me out.

Of the ways that you can refill your Creative Well, Reading, Watching movies, Listening to Podcasts, and Playing games jump immediately to mind. All of them are enjoyable ways to pass the time.

And they can be done to the point where you’re procrastinating, putting off the work. And it’s hard to recognize this (assuming you aren’t in like the 12th hour of a marathon movie, or gaming session. By that point, it should be easy to tell.), and put stuff down, and get to work.

Keeping a balance takes constant effort.

So yes, you’re nearly halfway through this yearly writing sprint and, if you are, I encourage you to keep going.

Just take a break every now and again, to refill the Well. Recharge.

Being too busy driving to stop for gas will only get you so far.

Good Luck!

 

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Be sure to stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

I’ll see you again for the next Five-Thing Thursday!

 

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Friday Fess-Up: November 9th.

Happy Friday Everyone!!! We Made it!

If you recall, Last Week at this time, I was headed down to Chicago for some Rest, some Recharging, and some Rugby!

Lets start with the Rugby:

I’d never been to Soldier Field, and let me tell you that it’s a pretty cool place. The matches were amazing!

What you’re looking at here (Photo courtesy of my amazing wife who let me drag her across two state lines – one way – so I could get my Rugby Geek on) are the New Zealand Black Ferns and the Women’s USA Eagles.

First match of the day, the sun was shining and it was still pretty warm, and, for the first ever live rugby match I’ve ever seen, I couldn’t have asked for better.

Next Match was Ireland v Italy. I’ve been an Ireland fan pretty much since I’ve been watching Rugby. So much so, that I’m even following provincial teams (Go Leinster!!) when they play.

Ireland v Italy, was as entertaining as it gets and, as a bonus, it was referee’d by Nigel Owens!

It says a lot that I’m a fan of a referee (I’m even following him on Twitter) of this amazing game.

Last match of the day was the New Zealand Maori All Blacks v the Men’s USA Eagles. One of the other things I’ve never seen live before was a proper Haka. If you’ve never seen one, Google it.

There is something in there that speaks to me on a level that I find difficult to articulate even when I’m watching a recorded version. To see one live…

If you ever get a chance, do it.

Suffice it to say that every team I was there supporting won their match. It was the best time I’ve had in a long time, and it went a long way to refilling the well.

We found a couple of good places to eat, I got a bit of reading in, a bit of revising done (Ok, so it wasn’t a completely non-working weekend), and loads of rest – though I’ve got to say that I was wiped out on Saturday night.

The rest of the week…well the day job was rubbish, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I’m revising an 11 thousand word “Short” Story that I’d written before starting Chasing the Kestrel. That makes two full length novels of distance between this story and this round of revisions.

It’s interesting to see how far I’ve progressed. I didn’t trust myself back then. Not completely. I crossed out a lot of what I’m going to call “Tentative” prose. I also spotted several holes in my younger self’s logic. The Bones of the story are still good: A cat and mouse scenario between a maintenance technician on a luxury starliner, and 5 stowaway assassins. It just needs work…and a significant cut of words before I’ll send it out into the world.

I’ve given myself the balance of November to do it, before I start on the first editing pass of Jade Moon Waning.

And that’s been the week.

I’m going to leave you with the following photo of the Black Ferns vice-captain, Kendra Cocksedge lining up to kick one of many Black Ferns try conversions that afternoon:

See you on Sunday!

What am  I reading this week?

Star Wars: Wedge’s Gamble by Mike Stackpole.

Turning Pro, by Steven Pressfield

What am I listening to this week? The Hybrid Author Podcast.

How have I been relaxing and refilling the well? This Weekend? Sleep, a bit of gaming, and a bit of Rugby (there are a couple of last chance 2019 Word Cup Qualifier matches taking place. Canada will have to beat Kenya to move forward. Germany and Hong Kong are also going head – to – head for a slot.

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Be sure to stop by on Sunday for the usual blog post!

Stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

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Five Thing Thursday: November 8th.

Welcome, everyone to the second installment of November’s Five Thing Thursdays!!

Here are Five Things I want you to Know:

Thing #1:

Because I am still, sometimes, utter rubbish at scheduling/planning things, the first thing I want you to know is that my recap post for the Halloween Blog Tour: The Final Nail in the Coffin went live on Monday. There you’ll be able to see all of my questions and answers, plus two bonus answers!!!

Thing #2: Rugby Day is Chicago was AWESOME!!! I’ll post more about that on the Friday Fess-Up!

Thing #3: I’ve decided on a new project. This was an 11 thousand word  “Short” story that never went anywhere titled “Stowaway.” I’ve written two books since finishing that story, and after looking it over for the first time, I can see why it didn’t go anywhere. So I’m taking November to clean it up and I’ll send it back out into the world.

Thing #4:  They are calling for Snow on Friday. I don’t know how I feel about that. On one hand, my driveway has all the consistency of a mud-soaked sponge and I could use a good freeze to solidify things and make the footing a bit more stable. Not to mention the cold will kill most of the allergens that plague me this time of year.

on the other hand…snow.

Thing #5: When I meet someone that I’ve always wanted to meet, for the first time, it never fails to strike me that these folks are not actually as tall as I imagine them to be.

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Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

See you tomorrow for the Friday Fess-up post.

Until then…

Be safe Y’All.

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Two Questions With…The Final Nail in the Coffin

Last Monday marked the Final day in the “Two Questions With…The Halloween Edition” Blog tour.

If you missed it, in October, many creative minds turned toward the spooky, fanged, clawed, and winged. To celebrate, a small coven of writers emerged from the darkness to share their harrowing delights with you.

Each week, we toured each other’s blogs and answered questions about our favorite spooky shenanigans. You can check out the Events page for the full schedule.

Who are these Children of the Night, you ask?

I will tell you, but…come closer where we may talk…

In the dark.

We are:

Myself

Anne Raven

Pat Esden

K Bird Lincoln

R. J. Theodore

Janet Walden-West

To put the Final Nail in the Coffin of the blog tour, I’ve collected all of my questions and answers into a single blog post. As an added bonus, we had Two Questions left over (primarily because me and Math don’t really get along) that I’ll include here.

So ignore that noise outside, that scratching at the window, and settle in for the Final Nail in the Coffin of the Halloween Edition of Two Questions with…”

The Questions and Answers:

How do you handle frightening elements in your writing?

What I’ll do is to take something familiar, and give it a bit of an unusual spin, change it, move it from where it’s supposed to be.

Here’s an example: Picture a bicycle. It can be any color or design that you want. Got it pictured? Remember what it was like riding a bike?

Good.

Now picture that bike, lying on its side, or propped up somewhere. Maybe it’s in a forest. Or a cemetery. Or outside an abandoned house at night?

Maybe it’s at a playground…moving all on its own…

How do you define Horror?

That is a tough one. Certainly there can be horrific elements in any story, but I don’t think that makes it a “Horror” story.

I think that for a story to fall into the Horror category there has to be a very real chance that any character in the story could die. This includes the Protagonist.

There is no such thing as a safe place in a horror story. Even staying put will bring the danger to you eventually. Often, by then, it’s far too late.

Is there any difference between Horror and Thriller? If so, what is it?

I think that there is a difference between a Horror Story and a Thriller. For me, I think this ties in to how Horror is defined. If nobody is safe, that’s Horror. If you know the protagonist makes it out alive, regardless of what they go through, even if you can’t see how they could possibly make it, yet you know that they are going to indeed make it out, that’s a Thriller.
Alien was horror.
Aliens was a thriller.

Favorite October Food?

Oh, there are so many. I could go on about Apple cider (With or without a splash of brandy), Summer sausage (not strictly October, but still…), squash, the smells of cinnamon and nutmeg. Pumpkin Beer (Hey, there are some really good brewers of the stuff out there. I will fight you over that), but the one thing that tops them all?

Chili. Again, not strictly an October food, but around here, when the weather gets cool. Nothing beats comfortable clothes, thick socks and a bowl of chili (and a beer) at the end of the day.

What is your favorite part of the Season?

A close second, is the warm days and cool nights (Around here anyway), but my absolute favorite part of the season is that the spirit of “What if…” is so much closer at this time of year, than at any other. Autumn, Halloween especially, is the land of the storyteller, and I love it here.

Which Horror Trope would you love to see die, and never return from the grave?

Torture porn. I’ve never seen a Saw movie. I’ve just got no interest in that kind of stuff. Now you can get all philosophical about it until the sun rises, say that it asks the ultimate question: What would you do? But I’m not buying it. It’s not there to scare you, or even tell a story. Not for me thanks.

Which Horror Tropes do you love to twist/would love to see twisted?

The Vengeful Spirit Trope. If I’m going to twist it, you can be damned sure that I’m going to try and make you sympathize for the Spirit. Give it a good reason for doing what it does. Maybe even something you might identify with…Ok, maybe its methods are a bit extreme, but its kinda got a point.

What is your go-to scary/Halloween movie?

Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Easily one of the best movies in the Franchise, this movie was dark. Darker than usual. Out of all of the Elm Street movies, this one was crafted in such a way to make each death matter. It wasn’t random, Freddy was picking these kids off one at a time and they KNEW IT. They struggled together and fought together. By far my favorite.

Funny (Now) scary anecdote to share?

I woke up one night – I can’t remember exactly what for – and, unbeknownst to me, one of my dogs followed (Maybe I left the bedroom door open).

I don’t know where he went, but we separated. As I’m making my way back to the bedroom, half asleep, in the dark, I hear a low growl in front of me.

The breeze must not have been going in the right direction, or something, but he didn’t recognize me until I said his name. And he meant business.

Let me tell you something:

Nothing, and I mean nothing, speaks to the part of your brain that used to huddle around the fire and pray for the dawn like the sound of an apex predator in the dark.

What was the first book (who was the first Author) to frighten you in a story?

Ghost Story, by Peter Straub.

Hands down.

Despite my capacity to suspend disbelief (Which borders on being a superpower), I am difficult to frighten in fiction. You can get other reactions out of me, but fear? That’s a tough nut to crack.

Pete was the first, and let me tell you, I have never been so concerned for the well being of a character standing alone on a snow-covered path in the woods. I didn’t want to keep reading, but I couldn’t put the book down and leave them out there in the woods with who-knows-what running around.

Bonus Questions and Answers!!

Monsters: Do you prefer: External – something that we have to overcome, something that isn’t “Us.” (Giant Sharks, alien invasion, Rabid Trees, etc) or Internal – Something that shows us that “We” could be the monsters (Carrie, Psycho, Vampires, etc)?

There are aspects of both that I love, but I think the external monster turns more knobs up to 11. Alien, Jaws, Starship Troopers (Yeah, I know…but I went for the bugs anyway), Pacific Rim. Wow.

Though let me tell you, a well done Vampire or (even better) Werewolf story will do it for me too.

What Horror trope do you love to exploit?
The Abandoned place. Be it a house in the forest, or a mining colony in the deepest darkest part of space. If there are supposed to be people there…and there aren’t…I love that.

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And there you have it: At last the Two Questions With…(The Halloween Edition) Blog tour has been put to rest.

Or has it?

Be sure to check out the blogs of the other authors on the tour to see their recaps:

Anne Raven

Pat Esden

K Bird Lincoln

R. J. Theodore

Janet Walden-West

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I’ll see you in a few days for the next Five Thing Thursday.

In the meantime, check out the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

Be Safe Y’All

Posted in Blog Tours, Two Questions With... | Tagged , | 1 Comment

So You’ve Finished a Draft…

Happy Sunday Everyone! I hope you’re enjoying the weekend.

So you’ve been working on the First Draft of a novel. If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the better part of a year –at least–on the project and you’ve just gotten to write the two best words ever:

The End.

What happens next?

That what I want to talk about. Please note that the usual caveat applies. What follows, works for me, your mileage may vary.

Onward!

So you’ve reached The End. What’s next?

First, you should take some time to celebrate what you’ve accomplished. Yes, your first draft is a hot mess–they all are, believe me. But you’ve reached The End and that is significant. You stuck it out and that deserves some recognition. Treat yourself.

Second – Put the thing away.

That’s right. Set it aside. Don’t touch it. You may be tempted to jump right in and start editing, and if you’ve got a deadline, well, that might be what you’ve got to do. If you’re not on a deadline, put it away. For me, a work needs somewhere around three to four weeks to cool. You need that time to put some distance between you and the work. Work on something else. Knock out a short story and submit it. Do anything but start editing right away.

The third thing you’ll need to do is figure out how to change up the format of the work. You want that first pass to be in a different format than you wrote the thing in. For me, that means printing it out.

Yes, I know, but I recycle the paper.

When the time comes to start in on edits, you’ll have built up a bit of distance from your work. You’ll be looking at it with fresh eyes, so that you’ll be more likely to read what you’ve actually written rather than what you meant to write.

Good Luck!

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The Two Questions Blog tour has wrapped up for the year. Be sure to stop by on Monday where I’ll be posting a recap of all my answers, plus two bonus answers!

You can check out the Events page for the full schedule.

Be sure to stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

 

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Friday Fess-Up: November 2nd.

Happy Friday Everyone!!! We Made it!

So you may have heard earlier that, last week, I finished the first draft of my current project: Jade Moon Waning

I went a little nuts last Sunday, and stayed up much later than I should have, but by then I was so close to the end, I couldn’t stop.

It’s a funny thing, finishing a first draft. For me, it means a period of mental and physical house-cleaning. OK, maybe not the entire house, but certainly my writing space. This time was no different. I spent Monday compiling the project into a Word doc, and printing it out. At 564 pages, the printing took up most of that time.

Once I had the printout, I put it away. I’m not planning on looking at it until the First of December. That left me with two things to do:

  1. Decide what to work on for the month of November.
  2. Cleaning house – so to speak.

As far as point 1 goes, I’m looking at at “Short” story that never went anywhere. At 53 pages, it’s pretty easy to guess why it didn’t go anywhere, but after a day of looking at it, I know why it didn’t go anywhere, and I’m already putting the editing pen through some heavy use.

Point 2 is probably going to last past the first frenzied couple of days where I got rid of a boatload of had-written stuff that I had, concerning the current project and a past project. Most of it I had already transcribed into an electronic format, the rest was stuff that I jotted down to include later (or not, depending on how the editing went).

Regardless, it was stuff that I didn’t need, but hadn’t gotten rid of because I keep stuff like that until the pile gets too top-heavy and falls under its own weight.

I’m also cleaning things up electronically. My back-up solution has been kinda haphazard at best, and more than a little time consuming. Something needed to be done.

So I’ve been working on that, and I’m sure that Future Me will be pretty happy with Present Me.

Speaking of Future Me, I’m typing this up early because, on Friday, I’ll be on my way to the Windy City to spend Saturday at Soldier Field for an awesome day of Rugby.

After this, there’s Sunday’s blog post and Monday’s Blog post.

With a little bit of planning, I should be able to pull it off.

See you on Sunday!

What am  I reading this week?

Star Wars: Wedge’s Gamble by Mike Stackpole.

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

What am I listening to this week? The Hybrid Author Podcast.

How have I been relaxing and refilling the well? This Weekend….RUGBY!!!

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Be sure to stop by on Sunday for the usual blog post!

Stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.

Also check out the Events page for info on the…

Blog tour that wrapped up last Monday.

Next Monday I’ll be posting a recap of all of my answers, plus two bonus answers.

Be sure to check it out!

Posted in Friday Fess-Up | Tagged | 1 Comment

Five Thing Thursday: November 1st.

Welcome, everyone to another installment of Five Thing Thursday

Here are Five Things that I want you to know:

Thing #1:

The Two Questions With… Blog tour has wrapped up like a Mummy. Be sure to stop by Next Monday for the Final Nail in the Coffin…a Recap of all of my answers, plus two bonus answers!!!

In case you missed it, every Monday in October we, a small coven of writers, emerged from the darkness to share our harrowing delights with you. Each week, we toured each other’s blogs and answered questions about our favorite spooky shenanigans.

Who are these Children of the Night, you ask?

I will tell you, but…come closer where we may talk…

In the dark.

We are:

Myself

Anne Raven

Pat Esden

K Bird Lincoln

R. J. Theodore

Janet Walden-West

Be sure to stop by the Events Page for my schedule, and check out the other authors to see what they’re scaring up for you!!

Thing #2: I FINISHED MY FIRST DRAFT of JADE MOON WANING!!!

Thing #3: I found that, after finishing a draft, I go through a period of both mental and physical house-cleaning. OK, not the whole house, but my writing space.

Thing #4:  I am off to the Windy City to watch (on Saturday):

The Black Ferns v. The Women’s USA Eagles
Ireland v. Italy
The Maori All Blacks v. The Men’s USA Eagles

One full day of Rugby at Soldier Field!!!

Kia Kaha NZ!!!

Thing #5: There are two kinds of “What if.” There’s the kind that has you looking up at the stars, imagining all of the cool, and exciting stuff that’s out there.

And there’s the kind that wonders what if the ship doesn’t make it? The kind of thinking that doesn’t want you to go anywhere.

Shoot for the stars folks. Every time.

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Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

See you tomorrow for the Friday Fess-up post.

Until then…

Be safe Y’All.

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