Of Squash and Volunteers

Posted by on Aug 20, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 1 comment

When we first came to see the house that has become our new home we noticed something growing just outside the back door. In a small area below the back porch we saw squash plants. Lots of them. We laughed at the volunteer squash growing where the previous owners had obviously thrown their scraps. It was a compost heap gone wild.   After that, every time we returned to the house I looked forward to watching the progress of the plants and the squash. What kind of squash were they? Zucchini? Yellow Squash? Acorn Squash? I just couldn’t wait until they started making actual squashes! Squashai? Squash! But, lo and behold, when the squash began forming it was still unclear. They started out looking like yellow squash, then quickly turned green starting at one end. Eventually they progressed to round acorn looking things, but kind of like zucchini in color. Well, at least some of them. After several weeks it became obvious that more than one kind of squash seed was discarded here and the plants evidently crossed. I picked one—it looked like an acorn—cut it open and discovered, wait for it, spaghetti squash! I like spaghetti squash! We fried a round yellow/green squash and it was delicious. And now, I’ve picked several others and we’ll try them one by one. It’s the great volunteer squash adventure! Gotta love volunteer plants. Thinking about my volunteer squash garden made me think about people volunteers and I saw some parallels. You never know what you are going to get when you first meet the volunteer. The exterior may not fully reveal the value of the interior. The volunteer may be an unexpected blend of two great types of volunteers. You take what you get, you need to make the best use of each volunteers attributes. You can’t make the volunteer into something it isn’t. Volunteers are free and you should be thankful for them instead of complaining about what they can’t do because they are volunteers.   So, there you have it. Lessons from a squash garden. . . a volunteer squash garden!...

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A Ladies Meeting Like No Other

Posted by on Aug 17, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

One of my favorite things about Facebook is the renewed connections with childhood friends. Some of these people I haven’t seen since I was eleven or twelve. But, they know a part of my life that many people now cannot. They were there when my mother died. I believe that children live very much in the here and now. They play for hours with their friends with no understanding of how time and distance will change things. How can they know? Of course, some children move around a lot and they know—all too well—the pain of saying goodbye to friends. . . or of not even having the opportunity to say goodbye.   Anyway, as an added side benefit to the reconnection I have become aware of the parents of my friends. You know, those other mom’s and dad’s who were around when you were a kid? Some of them were important enough in your daily routines that you formed a strong memory. Others were simply part of the chorus of adults that watched over you. They protected you even when you didn’t know it. And they hugged you when the unimaginable happened and your mommy died.   I don’t have a lot of particular memories of the other mothers from my childhood. I do remember my mother folding clothes while talking to one of her many friends on the phone. I also remember that when my mother died this group of six or seven women gave me hugs. That, I’ll never forget.   This summer we stopped in Lincoln and I visited one of the “moms.” It was obvious that she was in failing health and we had a lovely hour reminiscing and catching up. She mentioned that she visited with my mother on the phone the day before she died. She said my mother was a good friend.   Do we not hear voices, gentle and great, and some of them like the voices of departed friends–do we not hear them saying to us, “Come up hither?” – William Mountford   This morning Mrs. Rose Halvorson stepped into heaven where there is no more sickness, no more pain, and no more sorrow.   “What they do in heaven we are ignorant of; what they do not we are told expressly.” – Jonathan Swift   We don’t really know everything that happens in heaven but I like to think that heaven’s contingency of Riverside Baptist Church ladies from the 1960’s and 1970’s was there to greet her—Doris Saner, Rachel Niblett,  and Nora Ann Jones. Now that would be a ladies meeting to beat all ladies meetings! I’m just saying.   “In a better world we will find our young years and our old friends.” – Jean-Antoine Petit-Senn...

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The Handprint on the Mirror

Posted by on Aug 17, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

I love hearing from people who have read my books. It gives me great satisfaction knowing that people enjoy reading the stories I write. I want to share a recent letter I received from a new friend. I’m not sharing this to brag on the book, although I do think you would enjoy reading it! I’m sharing this letter because it touched me. My heart loved the story one of the pieces in my book prompted this reader to send in. I think you’ll understand why when you read it for yourself. “I have thoroughly enjoyed reading All I Have Needed and I wanted to tell you that one particular story of yours reminded me of a story of my Great-Aunt Carrie that my mother once told me. Great-Aunt Carrie was my father’s aunt. My mom was a young mother and Aunt Carrie was in her 60’s when I was a baby. Mom was always very concerned that her young children would make a mess or inconvenience Aunt Carrie when we visited, so she was always trying to corral us and constantly shushing us. Aunt Carrie would fuss at Mom and tell her to let the kids be kids, but Mom was still nervous when we visited that we would break something or make a mess. Mom and Dad visited Aunt Carrie and Uncle Ray on Sundays after church and on one particular Sunday Mom was being herself and trying her best to keep us corralled and quiet. Aunt Carrie told Mom that she wanted to show her something and took Mom into her bedroom where the antique wardrobe sat and showed Mom a tiny, perfectly formed hand print on the mirror. Mom immediately started apologizing and attempted to wipe it off. Aunt Carrie stopped her and told her that that hand print had been there for several weeks if not months and she left it there on purpose because it reminded her, every time she looked in the mirror, of the precious children that she loved to have over to visit. From that point on, Mom stopped shushing and fussing over us and let us be kids and let Aunt Carrie enjoy us, hand prints and all. That hand print was mine and that story always warmed my heart. Your Treasures on a Tablecloth story reminded me of her and I think about it, and her, 25 or more years after she died. Thank you for sharing your book and your memories with me.”   Thank you, Tracy for sharing your story with us. What a precious memory! As an aunt, I found this story particularly precious. I know that often great-aunts and uncles who aren’t grandparents themselves can be just as influential in a child’s life. Maybe this year for Grandparent’s Day you can do something special for your great-aunt or great-uncle! Don’t forget to leave a comment on my blog sometime this month to have your name entered in the free book give-away. You can comment...

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A Road Trip With Grandma

Posted by on Aug 9, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 2 comments

Somewhere in my twenties I discovered something. It was a lot of fun to visit my grandparents without my parents. Now, nothing against my parents but it was a whole different feel when I was not the child in the situation. So I began fitting visits to my grandparents into my schedule. We didn’t have the benefit of living in the same town as our grandparents. The only time that happened was when I was born, and I don’t remember it. So, visiting grandparents meant planning for time off, vacation time, or at least a long weekend. Over the next fifteen years or so I continued making trips to Georgia and Nebraska. I loved it. I found they talked to me more as an adult. They shared memories with me. We just had a blast. One of my favorite memories from a visit was when my friend/sister-by-law Chari and I took Grandma Jones on a road trip. We traveled to Broken Bow one March, picked her up and hit the road. Our first stop was in Grand Island to have lunch with her sister Pearl and husband Francis. I have photos somewhere of an attempt to get their picture together. The problem was that Pearl was intent on being Pearl and kept turning her back to the camera.  Grandma just smirked. You see how it was, sisters being sisters. On we traveled to Lincoln, NE where Grandma spent a few days with her sister Eva, and Chari and I enjoyed an awesome visit with my dad’s cousin Cookie, and her family. To top it off, it started snowing and we got snowed in and had to stay an extra day or two. When we cleared the driveway, someone went and fetched Grandma and Aunt Eva to the house and we had a glorious evening of eating, reminiscing, and sharing stories. Grandma radiated the joy of being with her sister. Grandma in the middle with sisters Ethel and Eva at Jones Family Reunion Think about it. Imagine yourself a senior citizen unable to drive and your siblings live hours away. Would you want someone to take you for a visit? Well, of course. The look on Grandma’s face that night was one I’ll never forget. Priceless. This month I am focusing on grandparents as a promo of sorts for National Grandparents D ay which is September 8th. I want to highlight the importance of grandparents, but also give you some ideas for ways you can celebrate with your own grandparents. Do your grandparents live close by? Then you don’t have to plan quite so carefully, do you. Stop by the house for a visit, take them out to lunch, and drive them to see a sibling. But maybe like mine did, yours live far enough away that it will require a little planning, maybe a day off of work, a weekend trip. Just do it, you’ll never regret it. I don’t. To celebrate National Grandparents Day I am giving away...

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Quotes for Today

Posted by on Aug 6, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Short today as I am posting via smartphone from new house with no Internet where I am surrounded by boxes crying to be emptied. “I give you this to take with you. Nothing remains as it was. If you know this you can begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.” -Judith Minty   “Home is where  you make it.” –Uncle Jim Jones      

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Transition-itis, the Cure!

Posted by on Aug 2, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

  Do you know that “morning after the big event” feeling? The one where you feel like you’ve been hit by a ton of bricks and you Just. Can’t. Move? And using your brain? Don’t even think about it! That’s me this morning. Yesterday afternoon I finally sent the completed manuscript to my publisher for the third in my children’s mystery series, The Double Cousins Mysteries. I was so giddy—relieved, and well—exhausted. I slept hard, but this morning I woke up in somewhat of a fog. I don’t think it can all be blamed on the finished project either. It’s what I call transitionitis—the unrest and anxiety that occurs when we have to uproot ourselves and shift gears. You see, today we transition—well, really we dive right in—to a move. This weekend we load the U-Haul in Newberry, swap out some minor things like pianos in Hendersonville, and drive up into the mountains to unload in Banner Elk, NC. So, I’m a bit overwhelmed. Somewhat dismayed. Feeling like coffee isn’t going to do it! What to do? Then a verse popped into my head. A verse from Joshua. Now, if anyone knew about picking up and moving, it was Joshua. Just saying. Here’s the verse. What is God saying to you today? Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou...

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The Real Treasures

Posted by on Jul 30, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Sometimes I wonder if the things that belonged to my mother are so special just because she died young. Would they have as much meaning if she was still living? I am blessed to have quite a few of her treasures. I have china, a grandma cookie jar her grandma made for her, many music books, a jewelry box and the list could go on. Most recently I was given her notebook of notes and poems.  Like I said, I’m blessed. Until a few years ago, I also had some ratty, stained, gross pot holders. They were tucked away in my cedar chest because—face it –they were too gross to have out. But still, I couldn’t part with them. Then one day I looked at the china. I opened the jewelry box and looked at her beads. I played some music she loved and I realized. I had more than enough. I didn’t need those ratty old pieces of material. So, I threw them away. I know, big step huh? Actually, I don’t NEED the china or any of the other things my mother left behind. They’re nice and believe me, if there was a fire I’d be grabbing at least one of them before I headed out the door but they aren’t essential. You see, my mother gave me the most important things before she died. And they aren’t things. She gave me life. She gave me love. She gave me the knowledge of Jesus and forgiveness. Those are the real treasures. Matthew 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be...

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Final Stop! Get Some Questions Answered!

Posted by on Jul 27, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Today’s post can be found at faithofourfoundingfathers.com, the website of two amazing ladies who are using their talents to remind America of it’s God-given legacy of faith and patriotism. Kendra Armstrong is an attorney, writer, speaker, and patriotic American with a passion for seeking and teaching God’s perspective on political and social issues and using that knowledge to change the world for Christ. Deborah Sprinkle is a chemist by trade who not only taught chemistry at the high school level, but was head of the chemistry department. She is gifted at teaching not just chemistry, but also the Bible. She has written questions for five bible study books. These are just a few of their gifts and accomplishments. When I met them this Spring at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference they shared with me their new release, Common Sense and an Uncommon God.  I was immediately convinced God’s hand was on these women when they co-wrote this patriotic devotional.  (Click the link above for more info about purchasing this book.) I am grateful and pleased to no end that Kendra and Deborah agreed to host my last post. Please take time to look at their site and watch some of their awesome TV interviews and I’m sure you’ll want their book as much as I did! Click on the photo below to travel to their site for today’s...

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Virtual Book Tour – The Girl on the Staircase

Posted by on Jul 26, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Welcome once again to the Virtual Book Tour for All I Have Needed-A Legacy for Life. If you have been following all week you have visited five different sites.  Are you ready for number six?  I am delighted to have Adriana Vermillion host my post today on her blog. She is an amazing friend, mother, entrepreneur, teacher, mentor, and potty whisperer. What did you say? Yes, you heard me right. Potty Whisperer. I admit when I met her at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference my face probably gave me away. I was thinking, What in the world? But then Adriana smiled at me and explained in her lilting voice that POTT’Y stands for Passionate Optimal Thinker Teaching the “Y” Generation. A quick look at her home page will show you she deals with everything from potty training to phone aps, emotional difficulties to financial problems. So, let’s get started! After reading my post for today take some time to check out her site. There is enough there to keep you busy for the next month! Please click on the picture below to be transported to today’s post!...

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Virtual Book Tour – A Legacy of Women on God’s Mission!

Posted by on Jul 25, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Hello! Welcome to day five of this exciting Virtual Book Tour! I am delighted to announce that today’s post can be found on my friend Sara Skinner’s site, Women on God’s Mission. Sara and I were roommates at Northland Baptist Bible College more years ago than I want to admit. During that time we had the amazing opportunity to take a mission trip to Hungary and Romania. I learned something about Sara I hadn’t appreciated in our normal environment. From the moment we stepped into the airport until the time we arrived back, Sara sailed through her days befriending everyone around her. It was as if she saw everyone as a new friend who needed to meet someone who loves Jesus! She was a woman on God’s mission. After college we gradually drifted apart. A couple of years ago we reconnected via Facebook and her blog. As I’ve watched her posts I’ve been delighted to realize Sara is still Sara. In everything she does I see she still has one purpose—to show the love of Jesus to those with whom she comes in contact. Same mission, different time of life. I am honored that Sara has agreed to host my blog today. I hope you take the time to read some of her other posts and think about how God might want to use your gifts and personality to fulfill His purpose. Click on the photo below to go to today’s...

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Virtual Book Tour – Day Four – On The Road Again!

Posted by on Jul 24, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Today we celebrate National Cousins Day! I am delighted because this post will go hand in hand with such a day. You see, the day I speak of in my post was made possible by my oldest Jones cousin, Gordon. I think that’s cool! The host of today’s post is my friend, Carol Weeks. When I first met Carol at the Christian Communicators Conference I liked her. But, as I learned more about her I realized she is a bit of a dark horse. She came across as a mild, sweet lady. She is. But, her mild sweetness hides depths of wit and wisdom that sneak up on you and smack you right in the face like that old commercial. “Thanks, I needed that.” I am delighted that Carol has agreed to be the host for the fourth installment of the virtual book tour for All I Have Needed-A Legacy for Life. Click the photo below to be transported to Carol’s blog, Speaking Hope Ministry....

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Virtual Book Tour — The Words We Choose

Posted by on Jul 23, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Welcome to day three of the virtual book tour for All I Have Needed-A Legacy For Life.  We are going to flip the process today and I am posting the content on my pages. Our host, Lisa Heidrich is posting the link to my site on her blog at www.lisaheidrich.com. Lisa Heidrich is a speaker, author, and voice-over artist. In addition, she is a nurse! Lisa’s book Speaking Confidence was published by Chalfont House Publishing and is available in paperback and on Kindle. Welcome to Lisa’s readers as well as those who normally visit my blogs!  Enjoy! My Grandma and Bin Laden—The Words We Choose Colossians 4:6 ~ “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”   I am so grateful that Osama bin Laden was brought to justice. I’m thankful to our wonderful military and the government leaders who made the necessary decisions that led to his death. I couldn’t help but think of Grandma Jones when I heard the news. I think of her every time I hear bin Laden’s name. Grandma was best known for one thing. She kept her peace. If she couldn’t think of anything nice to say, she just didn’t say anything. She was the epitome of the phrase from Proverbs 31:26 that says “In her tongue is the law of kindness.” The worst thing I ever heard her say about anyone was what she said about bin Laden after 9/11. She tended toward short statements. Short and sweet, generally, but when it wasn’t sweet, it got even shorter. What she said about bin Laden that day struck me stronger than any long speech I’ve heard on the subject. “That ornery guy.” Three words. That’s all she had to say about him. The look on her face and her tone of voice said more than the words. In her voice was every bit of disregard she could muster. I thought about what she would say now, if she was still alive. I had an imaginary conversation with her. “Grandma, bin Laden was killed.” “Good.” One of my Jones cousins mentioned that her other grandpa was exactly like Grandma. He didn’t often say anything negative, either. In fact, the worst thing she ever heard him say was about bin Laden also. He said, “What a dirty dog.” It started me thinking. We are surrounded every day by angry people making angry statements. People spout unkind, hurtful things. I’ve thought many times how much I wished I was more like Grandma. Imagine what the world would be like if the worst thing we said was “That ornery guy” or “What a dirty dog.” What if we saved the truly bad phrases for the people who deserved them? What if we took a page from Grandma Jones’ and Granddad Edington’s book? What if … She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26)....

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Virtual Book Tour-The Answer to Why!

Posted by on Jul 22, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Welcome to the second day of the official virtual book tour for All I Have Needed—A Legacy for Life. Today, our host is Sue Badeau, half of the amazing Hector and Sue Badeau team. They are the parents of 22—yes, I said 22 children—some through birth and some through adoption. Sue is a nationally known speaker and trainer on child trauma, foster care and adoption. Sue and Hector are the authors of Are We There Yet: The Ultimate Road Trip-Adopting and Raising 22 Kids, which will be released this fall. She is one of the endorsers of my book. Above all, she is my friend. Please click this photo and travel with me to her blog!...

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Virtual Book Tour-First Stop!

Posted by on Jul 21, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Welcome to the first of seven days of a virtual book tour for All I Have Needed-A Legacy for Life.  The first host for this tour is Gloria Ashby. I met Gloria at the Christian Communicators Conference last fall and she has been such an encouragement and blessing to me.  Gloria is a gifted teacher, speaker, and writer. I know I always receive a blessing whenever I am allowed to read or hear her heart. She also has a servant’s heart and is a person of integrity. I am thankful to call her friend.  Thank you for visiting my blog today and thank you, Gloria for bravely offering to be the first on this grand experiment!  Please click on the link below and you will be directed to today’s blog post! http://gloriaashby.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/a-legacy-should-not-be-wasted/...

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Come Travel With Me!

Posted by on Jul 19, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Do you like to travel? I sure do. I enjoy going new places and seeing new faces. I find that it’s the best way for me to really learn about the world. In fact, I have a difficult time really comprehending the reality of other people and places unless I see them for myself. Weird I know, but it is how God made me. When I travel I learn things I would never have thought to dream about. I gain new perspectives. I find new friends. Ones I want to return to visit again. I like to say that if I went to the moon and there were people there, I would love it and want to stay. So, I’m sure it’s not hard for you to imagine that one of my favorite things to do is travel around and speak about the writing process in schools, speak to ladies groups about legacy, and have book signings. This has proven to be a great way to let people know about my books. With the recent release of my latest book All I Have Needed-A Legacy For Life I am working hard at promotion and sales. This leads to the subject of book tours. I would love to be able to do an honest-to-goodness book tour. However, with the price of gas, our scheduled move, and the fact that I am simultaneously sprinting to the finish line with the revisions on my third children’s mystery, that is NOT going to happen. Sad, but true fact. What’s a girl to do? Well, here is the scoop. I learned recently about something called a virtual book tour, or sometimes they are called blog tours. The idea is that other bloggers host my blogs for several days. Every day I will post the link on my sites to the other blog site my post is visiting. You click the link, and voila, you are traveling to another blog. You get to see content from me on someone else’s site. Maybe, just maybe you will even read some of their previous posts. Perhaps—like me when I travel—you will gain a new perspective, make a new friend, or learn something new! My blog tour starts this Sunday, July 21st and will continue all week through Saturday, July 27th. It will be occurring on both www.doublecousins.wordpress.com, and  www.miriamjonesbradley.wordpress.com. So, pack your virtual bags and get ready for this travel opportunity! Hope to see you...

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All She Could Say Was “Wow”!

Posted by on Jul 16, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 3 comments

This morning I made a friend in my new town. I took a walk with my husband from my house to the college. I found a writers group. I made a friend. I received the name of a lawn maintenance man. I enjoyed the beauty of a mountain town. I was reminded of two of my sets of grandparents. I made a new friend. Let me explain. We drove up to Banner Elk yesterday bringing a pickup full of essential belongings and set ourselves up for a short stay. We are both fulfilling pre-job tasks this week so we loaded just what we needed and here we are. This morning we had a lovely start to the day with a nice breakfast and then made our plan for the day. My major plan needed to be revise, revise, revise. My third Double Cousins Mystery is due to the publisher the first of August and it still needs a lot of work. In addition, I needed to write and publish a blog post. It should have been posted yesterday, but due to exhaustion and lack of internet that didn’t happen. Besides, I was sadly lacking in ideas and motivation. First things first though. We decided to take a walk. Our new home is just a block from the walking path that leads first to the city park, then on into town and over to the college. We would walk to Bruce’s work, and then I would walk home. Hopefully I would find inspiration for both the blog post and my revision work. The sky is blue, hardly a cloud visible today (something of a miracle by itself here in NC this summer) so we walked through the sunshine, verdant green plants, and looming mountain vistas. The path meanders along beside the creek that runs through town and as I walked my senses lit my mind up with memories of visits to my Grandma and Grandpa McKnight in Mariposa, CA and later in Gunnison, CO—both mountain towns. Oh, this new place already held memories. My spirit felt lighter. After a short twenty minute walk we arrived at the college. “I’m going to stop in at the Chamber of Commerce on the way home,” I announced to Bruce. I could almost hear him cheering internally. Maybe just maybe she will use up some of her 50,000 words for the day and I won’t have to listen to all of them this afternoon and evening. That’s what he was thinking, I’m pretty sure! Anyway, at the Chamber I asked about the availability of free Wi-Fi in the downtown area. I explained that we were moving to the area, didn’t have internet yet, and I’m an author. Well, this lady jumped right into it and gave me the name of a writers group, something I hadn’t thought to ask about. In addition to resources on writers in the area and suggestions of books about the area, she also gave me the name of a reliable person...

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