Friday, August 15, 2014

In Praise of Creativity

Thought for the day: Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.  [Alan Cohen]

YAY! I won, I won! It's awesome to be appreciated, isn't it...?

Okay, so technically I didn't win anything. Technically, the talented Chris Fries passed a bloghop kinda virtual tour thingie to me. (Thanks, Chris!) Knowing how talented he is, and how talented the other participants are, I feel pretty doggone honored they even let me into their show. I feel a little like a flea-bitten mutt who's been entered into an AKC dog show. The truth is, I'd do lousy at a dog show competition. With these hips and knees of mine, I don't even roll over very well. But on the plus side, at least I'm housebroken.

(By the way, that dog show picture came from morguefile. Anybody know what in the world a best of opposite sex award means? Does that mean that cute little beagle is a... floozy?)

Anyhow, back to the tour. Its official name is Creative Artist Virtual Tour. Initially, participants were mostly authors of children's books, but over the past couple years, it has grown to include all kinds of creative people. For example, Chris is not only a talented writer, but he's also a kick-ass musician. And now... me. (Tsk-tsk. It's a shame the tour has fallen on such hard times.)



Even so, I'm more than happy to join this illustrious parade. (Especially if I can ride in a red convertible.)

Creativity is a drug I cannot live without. [Cecil B. DeMille]

Okay, here we go... the questions, and my responses:




1. What am I currently working on?

Let's see; there's a load of laundry doing its thing in the washer, and another's flopping around in the dryer. I'm desperately trying to write this post, but our resident felines are determined to thwart my efforts; evidently, they harbor a different opinion as to how I should be spending my time today.

But that's not what you want to know, is it? You want something creative. Well, how about another  (ta DA!) book? A really terrific book, as a matter of fact, and I don't mind saying it's terrific, because it isn't all about me... it's been a collaborative effort. Eight women from the U.S. and Canada, a brilliant Italian photographer, and a former male model turned terrific cover designer have joined forces to create a delightful book of poetry. A really fun book of poetry. Sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes lump-in-your-throat emotional, and sometimes evocative of a simple smile of recognition, but all good to the last syllable. And every cent from its sales will be going to CARE International. Can you tell? I'm pretty psyched about it. And it should be ready for release in a matter of weeks. Ready to hear its title? Ya sure? Okay, it's Old Broads Waxing Poetic. Classy, huh?

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I guess we all want to think of ourselves as unique. Different. Special. Heck, I don't even know what my genre is, so it'd be kinda hard to compare it to other similar works.  My first novel is probably best classified as women's lit, I guess, but men are reading it, too. Some of 'em are even enjoying it, so go figure. My next book might be considered women's lit, too, but I'm not sure. There are some rooting-tooting explosions in it, so maybe it's an action book? Then again, the main character is a young girl, so maybe it's YA. Ooh, but it deals with adult topics. Oh, fuhgeddabout it. I dunno how it's going to be classified, to tell the truth. Guess I'd better finish writing it first, and worry about genre later.

One way my work may be different is I don't take it or myself too seriously. I know. Blasphemy. Why bother to write at all if I don't have secret dreams of winning a Pulitzer prize? Any creative endeavor I pursue, including writing, is for sheer enjoyment, and on my own schedule. Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade has been published and is doing fairly well. I'd like to see Blast Rites get published, too, but when Smarticus asks me to go somewhere with him... I drop everything and go, because that's where my priorities lie. I started writing seriously (or about as serious as I get) late in the game, so I have no illusions of having a long and prolific career.  I'm no spring chicken, but that's okay. I'm happy with whatever I do. No naked ambition here. Just sheer delight to be doing what I'm doing. (Whatever that is...)

Creativity is contagious; pass it on. [Albert Einstein]

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

Life's too short not to create something besides carbon dioxide. Whether it's writing, singing, playing the guitar, painting, crocheting, building something with a soldering iron and schematic, or whatever, it's a way to make the most of the moment. It's self-expression; it's ME; and essentially, it's the difference between living and merely existing. And it sure beats the heck out of cleaning the toilet. As for why I create the things I choose to create... why not?

Think left and think right
And think low and think high.
Oh, the thinks you can think
If only you try.  {Dr. Seuss]

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

Not very well, I'm afraid. I'm not disciplined enough to generate an impressive output, because I get easily distracted, and like Alice, I happily plunge into every rabbit hole that spurs my curiosity. For me, a successful day isn't measured by how many pages I write or how much progress I make on any of my other projects, but by how enjoyable it is, no matter how it's spent. But when I do write, I prefer to do the first draft  (with much much scratching out and corrections along the way) with pen and paper. Then, one chapter at a time gets typed into the computer and corrected as I go. Many many rounds of tedious editing follow in pursuit of the illusive ideal of... perfection.

Have no fear of perfection; you'll never reach it.  [Salvadore Dali]

You can't wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club.  [Jack London]

From the moment I picked up your book up until the I laid it down, I convulsed with laughter. Someday, I intend on reading it. [Groucho Marx]

Now, Groucho, that wasn't very nice...

Okay, now that I've dutifully answered those questions, I'm supposed to pass this honor on to someone else. I haven't seen any requirements as to how many, but some participants have selected as many as three, while others have chosen one. Or none. I could wimp out and simply throw it out there for grabs like a bouquet at a wedding reception, but I've decided to pick one very wonderful person.

This wonderful person is Tracy Jo. No matter what challenges life may hand her, she always manages to create inspirational blog posts, made even more special by her excellent photography and writing skills. Even if she chooses to pass on joining this virtual parade of talent, I do hope you'll stop by her blog and say hello.

                                         Tracy? Your mission, should you choose to accept it...



isn't the slightest bit impossible. Just answer those four simple questions up there in a post on your blog, and then invite one or more others to join the tour. But, um, better decide quickly. You know, before this post self-destructs...

                                 Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


P.S. To celebrate the imminent release of Old Broads Waxing Poetic, the e-version of Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade will be available on Amazon for the next week for the paltry chump change price of ninety-nine cents.

88 comments:

  1. Susan, enjoyed through Q&A, it's laden with lessons. I see lot of passion in it. Wonderful read. Thanks.

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    1. Thank you, Sangay. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for stopping by and signing on as a new follower. Welcome aboard!

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  2. How cool, another book! Let us know when it's available, Such happy news! Yay! And congrats on your award.

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    1. You betcha! I'll be sure to let you know. Thanks.

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  3. Congrats on your award! Though you cherish your cats, it's good to know that Smarticus is top dog at your house! You have such a wonderful outlook on life, and it clearly shows in your writing. Thanks for the bargain basement price on Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade to celebrate the new release. You know how much I loved reading it, and I feel the same way about your poetry!

    Julie

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    1. HA! Cute. I'll have to tell Smarticus what you said.

      Okay, all together now: ♪ ♫ We belong to a mu-tu-al ad-mir-a-tion society... ♪♫

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  4. I love this post, and your undeniable creativity. And am hanging out for Old Broads Waxing Poetic AND your next book.

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    1. Thanks, Sue. I'm glad you liked it. And I think you'll LOVE "Old Broads..."

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  5. Hot Flashes And Cold Lemonade is on my shelf between Dave Barry (Insane City) and Bob Newhart (I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This), and I sure hope your next comes out in paper and I can buy it by post. There's a space between Bertrand Russell and Kenneth Patchen that needs filling. I delight in your answers to the questionnaire and commend Chris for selecting you.

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    1. My humble book feels honored to be in such illustrious company. "Old Broads Waxing Poetic" will be available in paperback, but no telling if "Blast Rites" will ever make it to the finish line.

      Thanks, dude.

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  6. I loved all of your answers -- which are brimming with the wit, honesty, and delightful uniqueness that exemplifies you.

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    1. Well, thank you, Jon. That's an awfully sweet thing for you to say, cowboy.

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  7. Hi Susan - fun to see the parade, especially in a flashy red sports car - I'm sure I could have an enormous poster up with Hot Flashes on it and sell lemonade as I get driven along ..

    Congratulations on the new book and on the ebook .. I love the title of your book - but still need to read it ..

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi, Hilary.

      I'm not ambitious; I'd probably be too busy drinking the lemonade to sell any of it. (Might give it away, though...)

      Thanks. You'll read it one of these days. Right now, you've got too many wonderful things to do, places to go, and people to meet. Enjoy!

      Cheers!

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  8. I like these kinds of posts Susan... I think it is a great way to find out about a person :)

    Congratulations on the book, that is wonderful :)

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    1. Yeah, I like some of these Q&A posts, too. It's a chance to let it all hang out. So to speak.

      Thanks!

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  9. "Life's too short not to create something besides carbon dioxide" - such wise and true words Susan! I love all of your answers. I hope you have a great Friday!

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    1. Thanks. Right along those lines are Maya Angelou's words. She said something along the lines of we shouldn't be satisfied to go through life always wearing a catcher's mitt.

      Happy weekend to you, too!

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  10. Enjoyed the questions and answers.....can't wait for the new book.

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    1. Thanks. Me, too! I happen to know a really neat lady in Canada whose poems are a real asset to it...

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  11. The wonderful, delightful you came out in this post, Susan. I love the title of the new book, "Old Broads Waxing Poetic". Being an old broad, I will definitely read that.

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    1. Aw shucks. Thanks. (I was on my best behavior...)

      Great! I hope you do read it. I think you'll fall in love with some of the poems. (You'll definitely relate to them!)

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  12. I'm thrilled to hear you're working on something else and can't wait to hear more about it!

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    1. Thanks! The poetry book should be ready for release any day now... (Wait'll you see its COVER!)

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  13. I think your measure for a successful day is right on! Sometimes I don't get much done either, but if what little I did makes me happy, then it was a good day. ☺

    Have a great weekend!

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    1. Ah, a kindred spirit!

      You have a super weekend, too.

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  14. At least creating carbon dioxide is doing something I suppose lol good quote too as a little rhyme works for our zoo

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    1. Yep, even on a bad day, we can put out a darned good supply of carbon dioxide.

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  15. Your latest book sounds awesome! One of the reasons I love you is that you don't take yourself too serious, that is an awesome trait. :-) Thank you for your kind words and for passing this on....I think. haha! Have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. Thanks! It was my pleasure to pass it on to you. I know you'll kick butt with it.

      Happy weekend to you, too!

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  16. I was pleased to read all about your creative endeavors. Also, I wanted to mention that I did jump into the Blogging for Books arena that you mentioned in an earlier post. I also hope I will remember how to do that linky thing for the Armchair Squid. I'm just a bit challenged when technology takes some side roads.:-)

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    1. Oh, super! I'm glad you're dipping your toes into Blogging for Books, too. It almost sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? I'm not sure if I'm gonna join in the coffeehouse this month or not, but I'll be sure to come by and read your post for it.

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  17. Tracy Jo is the perfect blogger to pass this on to. Loved your answers. And good for you for having your priorities straight. Happy Weekend!

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    1. I'm glad you agree about Tracy Jo. She's one of a kind.

      Thanks! Happy weekend to you, too.

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  18. I enjoyed reading your answers to these questions and getting to know you better, Susan. Hope you have a great weekend!

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    1. Thanks, Daisy! I hope you have a super weekend, too.

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  19. I am honored to be in "Old Broads Waxing Poetic"!!

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    1. And I'm thrilled you're a part of it. The world is gonna LOVE your work!

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  20. your creative energy shines through your humor, blogs, and writing.
    Proud to know ya

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  21. congrats! i so enjoyed reading that post. high creativity and energy, spontaneity and humor - all qualities you project. have you tried writing a humorous book or writing a comedy? you'd be terrific. enjoy your weekend susan. cheers!!

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    1. Thanks, Bobby! I appreciate it. I haven't considered writing a totally comedic work, but "Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade" is chock full of humor. You oughta try it sometime in this next week while it's el cheap-o.

      Happy weekend to you, too.

      Cheers!

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  22. I am off to buy hot flashes and cold lemonade. Love the title. Loved this post. Have missed reading blogs this summer. TOO MANY GRAND KIDDIES. All home now, thank you Lord. Love them but whew! Hard on an old/older woman. Hugs. Barb

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    1. Hi-ya, Barb. Cool. The ninety-nine cent deal doesn't kick in until tomorrow. (I hope you like it!)

      HA! I know what you mean about grandchildren. We have thirteen of them, and love 'em to pieces, but they have SO MUCH ENERGY! You know why, dontcha? Because they suck it all out of us!

      Hugs back atcha. Happy weekend.

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  23. Congratulations on your award. Well deserved!

    I love the photo at the top. I had to find out about the best of opposite sex thing so I looked it up. You ready?

    It's the best dog in the show that's the opposite sex of the Best in Show dog. One can see how that would be meaningful in a show devoted entirely to one breed as I would assume is the case for the National Beagle Club.

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    1. Thanks.

      Ahhhh, very interesting. And it even makes sense. Thanks for taking the time to check it out.

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    2. My pleasure. You sparked my curiosity. I had to know!

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    3. Curiosity killed the cat... but satisfaction brought him back! (I know that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but that's what we always said as kids.)

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  24. I don't think Hot Flashes needs to be categorized as a particular type of book. It has a little bit of everything.

    Love,
    Janie

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  25. Great to hear that you're going to be in the book! Congrats!

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  26. Dear Susan,
    congratulations! And the very best wishes for your book - the plot sounds interesting! Britta xxx

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    1. Dear Britta,

      Thank you! I really have my fingers crossed for "Old Broads Waxing Poetic." Not just because it's a labor of love, but because its proceeds will be going to such a great organization.

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  27. That was interesting AND entertaining - like all your posts. Good luck with the newest project - I was interested to learn that there is a Canadian element!

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. Yes, we have one very delightful Canadian gal... one I believe you may know... and we were supposed to have a gal from England, too. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to get in touch with her for a few months. All we can do is hope she is okay.

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  28. Awesome, Susan!!!

    Except perhaps for all that silly self-deprecating horse-hockey at the beginning. You are extremely talented and creative and absolutely deserve to win every dog show you might choose to enter, regardless of if your sex is opposite or dis congruent or congruent or co-linear or whatever!

    And poetry? See!?!?!? That, there is TOTALLY creative! Very cool! I'm looking forward to i! And also your genre-mishmash of a WIP, when it's whipped into shape.

    Wonderful responses all-together Susan!

    You rock. :)

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    1. Thanks, Chris!!!

      HA! I'll try to remember that if I ever decide to enter a dog show.

      No, YOU rock. (I play acoustic...)

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  29. I always like Q&A posts. They are a fun way to find out more about the person. For some reason, I thought it was very interesting that you start out with pen and paper for your first draft. Now I have visions of you with a Moleskine notebook. Didn't Hemingway use that?

    OK, off to check out Tracy Jo's blog!

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    1. I think Q&A posts are fun, too.

      HA! Hemingway may have used Moleskine notebooks, but I'm not nearly that classy. I use the cheapest (Wait! No, I meant to say the "most economically intelligent"...) spiral-bound notebooks I can find.

      Cool! You'll love her photographs.

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  30. SUSAN ~

    >>... I guess we all want to think of ourselves as unique. Different.

    That reminded me of a funny line in Monty Python's 'LIFE OF BRIAN'. Lord Brian says to the gathered crowd, "You're all individuals!" The crowd repeats him in unison: "Yes, we're all individuals!" And of course one dude pipes up and replies, "I'm not." (I love that kind of sly wit.)

    Speaking of movies and beagles of the opposite sex, did you ever see the movie 'BEST IN SHOW'? It's by the same blokes who gave us 'This Is Spinal Tap' and 'A Mighty Wind', and it too is really funny.

    ~ D-FensDogg - '99th Best In Show'
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. I love Monty Python flicks, and all our kids are huge fans. We watched some of those movies so many times, appropriate quotes from them sometimes pepper our conversations.

      No, I don't think we've seen "Best in Show," but I'll keep my eyes out for it.

      Nah! I'm sure you'd at least place in the top fifty...

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  31. Hi Susan! I am so glad that I stopped by to see you today, and to read this post in particular. It sounds as if you are doing well and are having fun. BTW, I am back to blogging.

    Hugs,
    Kathy M.

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    1. Hi-ya, Kathy! It's great to hear from you again! Welcome back.

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  32. Congrats, Susan! It's so wonderful to read a post by someone who can still find the joy in writing. I just finished slogging through an OpEd piece on the NYTimes blog titled Failure, Writing’s Constant Companion. You can imagine how it went. I almost went to bed I was so depressed. So glad I visited you instead. :)

    Looking forward to the new book. Can't wait to see the cover!

    VR Barkowski

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    1. Thanks! I wonder if the writers who are fixated on the down sides of writing aren't pessimistic on a lot of things in general. I'm simply not comfortable wearing that cloak. It's up to each of us to find our own joy, and with the right attitude, there's plenty of it to be found and enjoyed. Phooey on that OpEd piece. If you're finding joy in your writing, that's all that matters.

      (YES! Just WAIT until you see that cover...!)

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  33. I like how you change your banner with your post. :)

    It's fun learning more about you. No big secret that I'm a huge fan of your writing. I can't wait to get your new book (when it goes out to print).

    LOL at the Alice reference...my son is like that, and it's delightful (though I'm not sure his wife always agrees ;) ).

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    1. Thanks for noticing. I've been having fun finding banner pics to go with the posts. :)

      If you enjoy poetry, I think you'll love the new book. Heck, even if you don't care for poetry, I think you'll find at least one poem in there to love.

      That's funny about your son. When I was younger, I was as curious as I am now, but I was more on-task, and simply wouldn't allow myself to get distracted until after I completed whatever jobs I had to do. (BOR-ING!) Now that I'm older, I like to make (ahem) better use of my time... So your son's ahead of the game.

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  34. Some great answers here. Your creative process sounds a lot like mine - disorganized chaos with a lot of distraction. But you're right, as long as it's fun that's all that matters. Besides, what kind of great writing comes from clean cut organization? That sounds so... uncreative.

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    1. Yes, "disorganized chaos" is the perfect way to describe my creative process. Matter of fact, it nails my office pretty well, too.

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    2. I know the feeling. My office looks like a junkyard. Good thing I have the, uh, "creativity" to pretend that it's clean.

      2 things - first off, we noticed the review you left for Graveyard Shift and just wanted to give you a huge, huge THANK YOU! We're glad to not just receive the review, but to hear that you enjoyed it.

      Second, I forgot to mention last time that I snagged up Hot Flashes & Cold Lemonade. I've got another book I'm finishing now, but we're both eager to check it out.

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    3. My pleasure. You guys have a TON of talent.

      Cool! I'm eager to hear what you think of it. (Your wives might like it better...)

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  35. I enjoyed reading this. Yay, we get another book from you.

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it. (Compared to you, I'm quite a slacker!)

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  36. You have laundry flopping around in the dryer? But....but...isn't it summer over there? Why aren't the clothes hanging out in the sun and fresh air?
    Sunshine =FREE drying!! and things smell delicious after being dried in the sun.
    I like your answers to the questions.

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    1. HA! Good catch. I only have a single line outside, (They're frowned upon around here.) which only provides a limited amount of space for hanging. Bummer, huh?

      Thanks.

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  37. As a writer who blogs... I am now continually behind on reading blogs (and posting them). Ah.... but a wise woman told me that I needed to decide.

    I am currently struggling with a new story idea and revisions on the already finished WiP. I know that some people do this remarkably well and easily. Apparently, I am not one of them.

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    1. HA! Hey, but you don't HAVE to choose. You can sit atop the fence like me...

      It might not be "easy", but I'm sure you'll do "well." Good luck!

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  38. Creativity is where it is at. The problem is that too many people create only what they believe others want to see. I say let it all out and let the chips fall where they may.

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    1. Ab-so-doggone-lutely! People who try to fit their "masterpiece" into the mold of the latest trend are outta luck when the trends change.

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  39. Hi, I'm reading HOT FLASHES and loving it. I've had to stop too many times as summer is winding down too fast and I'm house hunting. But I intend to finish and leave a review on Amazon. My friend bought it also so I'll encourage her to review as well. Also do you have an email address posted anywhere so I might write to you??? Thanks, B

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    1. Hi-ya. Super! I'm glad to hear it.

      Yeah, my email address is up there on the sidebar, where it says "Email me." But I can leave it over on your blog, too.

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    2. Lordy, of course it's up there. Forgive me. Some days I wonder about me. Thanks - B

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    3. HA! No need to worry about yourself. Things have an annoying way of hiding in plain sight on me all the time.

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  40. Ooh! 99 cents? What a deal!

    I absolutely love poetry. Love it. But do I ever read it? Only if it's shoved in front of my face. What kind of sense does that make? *shaking head*

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    1. Yeah, you can't even buy a cup of coffee for that anymore...

      HA! Guess I'll have to try to shove "Old Broads" in front of your face, then.

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  41. I should proofread before I hit the button...

    Again: Congrats on everything, Susan! You are a REAL blogger and an excellent creative writer. I started reading your novel, as I've started so many others, and it's EXCELLENT. I will finish it one day and write a review, but know that I'm impressed with your writing, as I always have been from reading your posts. Keep up the good word, and keep having fun. I've bookmarked your blog to keep in touch. The poetry collection sounds wonderful. Have a great weekend. BTW, I love your header photo.

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    1. Thanks so much, Ann. I really appreciate your kind words. They mean a lot coming from you.

      Isn't that a gorgeous house in the header? I just changed the pic today to go with tomorrow's post. You have a wonderful weekend, too.

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