Friday, August 18, 2017

What if you are TAKEN?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: You are SO wise to visit here today!  I mean, what’s Jungle Red for if not to tell you absolutely every thing you’d ever need to know? 

And today, the amazing KJ Howe—you know Kimberley Howe, right, the absolutely unstoppable force behind Thrillerfest, and the knower of EVERY author in the world, organizer extraordinaire and totally fabulous person (not to mention gorgeous so I’ll leave that out)—gives us the fascinating inside scoop on a skill you may never have to use.

But if you do—we’ve got your backs. And you will thank us. We hope you don’t have to, of course. But better to be prepared. Plus, this is pretty amazing.  


By K.J. Howe


Do you love travel and adventure?  Both pastimes are at the top of my list.  But it’s key to realize that along with the joy of new experiences, there are some risks you need to mitigate when globetrotting. After all, you don’t want to be starring alongside Halle Berry in Kidnap or spending time in captivity with Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer in Snatched.

I’ve spent the past four years immersed in the world of kidnap and ransom, researching the subject matter for my Freedom Broker series. It gives one pause thinking how you might react if you were kidnapped.  After researching and working with some of the best hostage negotiators in the world, I—along with several my experts—am delighted to offer advice on how to stay safe during a kidnapping.   

FIVE TOP TIPS

If you ever have the misfortune of being abducted, it’s critical to be prepared for every eventuality. In fact, following the lessons in these five points could be key to your survival. 

1.When you’re first kidnapped, remain calm and offer no resistance. The abduction is one of the most dangerous moments during a kidnapping, so your captors will be on edge. They will immediately want to establish their dominance, so be prepared for harsh or forceful treatment. To maintain control, your captors might also drug, blindfold, or gag you. Don’t panic, they want to keep you alive and healthy so they can secure your ransom. 

Gary Noesner, former FBI Hostage Negotiator offers this sage advice: “Never try to negotiate for yourself while being held captive. Know that despite what the kidnappers may say, your family and/or employer is working diligently on your behalf to effect your safe and timely release.” If you are able, try to remember the details of your journey so you have a sense of where you are being held.

KJ Howe--not attempting to escape, we hope 
2. While in captivity, try to gain the respect of your captors—without directly challenging them—by asking for small luxuries like extra food or toilet paper. 
Peter Moore, a former hostage held almost 1,000 days in Iraq, says: “Humanize yourself and build a rapport with your captors.  Start small with getting different foods, and build up from there.” 

You want the kidnappers to see you as a person rather than a dehumanized victim. Bond with them so you will receive better treatment. To maintain your strength, eat and drink everything you are given. Establish a routine, as you may be in captivity for a long time. Keep yourself clean and exercise every day. Boredom is your enemy, so keep your mind active by taking on a mental project, like building your dream house or writing a book in your head.

3. Maintaining hope is critical during a kidnapping. Remember that your loved ones will be working hard for your release. Remain positive knowing the vast majority of hostages survive. 

“It is extremely rare for a hostage in a kidnap for ransom case to be killed—it becomes a bad business model for the kidnappers,” says Noesner. “Their goal is to obtain money, plain and simple, and that is less likely when they kill the hostage.  If they killed a hostage after securing the money, future victim families will stop paying money, seeing it as ineffective.” 

This is not the time to be demanding and difficult. Try to blend in with other captives and avoid being confrontational.

Elephant takes KJ Howe's hat hostage. Note: she is not panicking
4. If you are attempting an escape, plan a route before you leave. Once you commit to your course of action, don’t hesitate. Dr. Frank Grimm, hostage negotiator at Constellis Group, emphasizes this: “If you choose to escape, then you must be totally committed—think it through and prepare yourself now, as later may be too late.” Act with speed and aggression, and make your way to a previously identified safe haven or secure location. If you are caught, your kidnappers may make an example of you to dissuade other escape attempts.”

5. During a rescue, make sure you drop to the ground, spread your arms, hands open and flat on the floor. Grimm says, “Expect to be treated as a suspected hostage taker.  You may be restrained and treated in a forceful manner.”  Do not move voluntarily, even if you think the action has stopped. Follow the rescuers’ instructions without hesitation until you are safe again.

Again, Noesner stresses the importance of negotiation during the kidnapping: "Remember that kidnap for ransom is a crime in which both parties, the kidnappers and the family/corporation, both want the same outcome, the release of the hostage. The kidnappers want money but can only sell the hostage to one entity, therefore the family or corporation has some measure of control over the outcome. Simply put, the kidnappers need the good guys to pay.  Resolving a kidnap requires a thoughtful quid pro quo negotiation process to be effective.”   

By following these rules, you will stand a better chance of surviving your kidnap. It’s best to resist fight or flight and remain as calm and collected as you possibly can.

Wishing you safe travels and many adventures—and I hope you’ll never need the advice above, but learning protective measures is always a good idea for any Jungle Red globetrotters!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Ah. Well. Okay, then, Always good to be prepared. Yeesh.  “First, don’t panic.” Working on that.

Kimberley, you are amazing! Tell us about your book! And Reds—let’s talk about—Kidnapping. What are your “favorite” (yeesh) kidnapping books or movies? Method 15/30? Taken? Ransom?

And a copy of THE FREEDOM BROKER to one lucky commenter!




K.J. Howe is the executive director of Thrillerfest, the annual conference of International Thriller Writers. She is an avid traveler who has raced camels in Jordan, surfed in Hawaii, and dove with the great whites in South Africa. She became fascinated by the kidnap and ransom (K&R) world after meeting Peter Moore, a British computer consultant who became the longest-held hostage in Iraq and the only person to survive of the five men who were taken that day. The Freedom Broker is her debut novel

Skyjack, publishing in April 2018, is the next book in her kidnap and ransom series featuring hostage negotiator Thea Paris. She is also a member of Rogue Women Writers.  



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78 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your book, Kimberley; I’m looking forward to reading it.
    These tips are frighteningly real advice for today’s uncertain world . . . I fervently hope none of us ever need to use any of them . . .

    Kidnapping seems to be a favorite plot theme and I’ve read many memorable stories . . . “Room” by Emma Donoghue; “Find Her” by Lisa Gardner; “Say Nothing” by Brad Parks; and “Only Son” by Kevin O’Brien immediately come to mind . . . .

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    1. How was Room?? I've been apprehensive about reading it…

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    2. Joan, thanks for your kind congrats. I feel very honoured to have a book out--it has been a lifelong dream. Kidnapping is a serious issue with over 40,000 cases reported every year. We're lucky to have those freedom brokers bringing people back home.

      Thanks for sharing your kidnap stories. Did you ever see Proof of Life--one of my favorites. Loved Lisa Gardner's book. She's incredible. And Brad Parks is brilliant. Did you know he can sing opera?

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    3. Proof of Life! I forgot about that!

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    4. “Room” was a compelling read, Hank. Harrowing and inspiring, it’s a riveting story that’s impossible to set aside. The curiosity of the young child [Jack] and the mother’s fierce love are bright spots against the horrific situation.

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  2. Congrats on the new book! I'm hoping to see you and all the other authors at next year's Thrillerfest.

    I think my favorite book that features a kidnapping would be Robert B. Parker's "Looking For Rachel Wallace". As far as movies, because I wish I had a particular set of skills, I'd say Taken would be my favorite.

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    1. I concur on Taken, even if I felt like it was probably bad karma to even be in the same theater with all that violence. I still enjoyed the heck out of it, plus a couple of hours in the dark with Liam Neeson is generally always a good idea.

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  3. And yes, KJ , Jay reminds me how cool Thrillerfest is going to be next year! Tell us about it!

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    1. Thanks for your lovely welcome! So excited to be here today. We are having George RR Martin from Game of Thrones next year. Hard to believe! I hope everyone will come join us. We'll also be announcing some other surprises....

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    2. I absolutely cannot wait. I'd love to hear about how that happened. Do you think it will sell out quickly? I bet people will be clamoring to come!

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  4. Welcome Kimberly! I've never been to Thrillerfest as I don't write thrillers. But I always feel like I'm outside the gates yearning to join the other kids!

    I don't think I am adventurous enough to get kidnapped, but I love these tips. Probably my favorite novel involving a hostage anyway is Bel Canto. Room the movie was absolutely gripping. If you havent seen it Hank, do!

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    1. Lucy, please know that Thrillerfest is rather inclusive. We have YA authors, romantic suspense authors, sci fi writers. Anything that is page-turning fiction is considered a thriller. Please come. I promise to take good care of you. It's like a family, and everyone is so friendly.

      I adore Bel Canto. What an incredible book. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  5. Yup, the tips are pretty key. And very usable in a book, you know? What if your main character just happened to read a Jungle Red type thing?? Hmm.

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    1. Hank, I love talking about travel safety, as I feel it's so important to avoid kidnapping by having situational awareness. And I agree that these tips would be a great addition to a good story....I already have several novels plotted out.

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  6. Suddenly, I don't want to leave the security of my home. LOL

    Congrats on the book!

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Mary/Liz, I promise that Thea Paris has your back 24/7. And she's a good friend to have. LOL

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    2. Exactly! A great person to have on speed dial. Wait, is there still speed dial?

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    3. Sure. "Favorite" contacts in your phone - and I have speed dial in my car!

      Mary/Liz

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  7. As a young'un I was quite fond of Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped. And didn't the first Ruth Galloway novel involve a kidnapping?

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    1. Jim, I'm also a fan of Stevenson's Kidnapped. There is something fascinating about kidnapping--I see it as a purgatory of sorts. You're alive, but you're not really living. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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    2. I haven't thought about that for years! You are so right..

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  8. Can't talk about kidnapping movies without mentioning Fargo. A whole lotta things went wrong in that one. Great movie. Great blog. And it sounds like a great book.

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    1. Ooh, Fargo is one of my favorites. Talk about twisted! Thanks for the reminder, Barb!

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  9. Congratulations on your new release. A novel which was thrilling and unique was Saving Sophie.

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    1. Oh I don't know that one! who wrote it?

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    2. Traveler, thanks for your kind wishes. I can't wait to read Saving Sophie!

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  10. KJ Howe, welcome to Jungle Reds. I have an unusual question to ask you. What if the person kidnapped is Deaf and relies on sign language (hands are tied) or if the person kidnapped has unclear speech? Any tips?

    A friend, who is Not Deaf, is a journalist. He was kidnapped during the Iraq War about ten years ago. He convinced his kidnappers that he was Russian, not American. His kidnappers let him go, thinking that he was Russian, not American.

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    1. Remember the movie ... what was it called? The River Wild? :-)

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    2. Hank, yes and Meryl Streep was there to translate for her Deaf Dad. I met the actor who played the Deaf Dad while we were waiting in line to see the movie in Washington, DC.

      Diana

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    3. Bibliophile, thanks for the warm welcome. Great question about communication. If the person was deaf, I'd recommend him/her asking for pen and paper so that they can express their needs to the captors. That said, sometimes there is a language barrier between the guards and captives. In this case, as with someone who is deaf, expressing oneself with hands/gestures can be very effective. Body language is a powerful way we all communicate, so a lot can be shared via this method.

      I'm relieved your friend made it out okay from the Iraq War. Sounds like he handed himself well under difficult circumstances.

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    4. KJ, thanks! Look forward to reading your book.

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  11. Your novel sounds enthralling. Congratulations and best wishes. I just read Here and Gone which was riveting.

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    1. Oh wonderful-- another new book for me to try! Thank you!

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    2. Petite, thanks so much for your kind words. It was quite a journey writing the novel. I will check out Here and Gone. Looking forward to it!

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  13. The only movie I can think of is Raising Arizona.

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    1. So funny--I remember watching that with my mom--I loved it so much, and she was baffled!

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    2. Sandy, that was a great one! Fond memories.

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  14. I look forward to reading The Freedom Broker. Thanks for visiting Jungle Reds!

    The two kidnapping movies that had my adrenaline going were Taken and Ransom. I remember reading a book in high school called 83 Hours 'Till Dawn about the Barbara Mackle kidnapping. She was taken and buried in a special fiberglass box for 3 days until the FBI was given directions to her burial site after a $500,000 ransom was paid.

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    1. Oh I've never heard of that--yikes. What happened to her?

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    2. They dug up the box and she was still alive and unharmed (except for the trauma of being buried alive!)

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    3. Celia, thanks for the warm welcome. Love being here!

      I'm obsessed with Taken. Liam Neeson plays the role with such authentic intensity.

      And the Mackle kidnapping is fascinating. Can't imagine what Barbara went through in that box!!!

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  15. I always loved Ransom of Red Chief, but that would be a how-not-to-do-it example. As is Fargo. I did see Proof of Life quite some time ago and thought it was pretty good. I haven't seen any of the Taken movies. I guess kidnapping isn't my favorite movie theme. I'm always up for good advice so thanks for your suggestions. I definitely wish for the international travel, just not the unfriendly natives.

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    1. Pat, I wish you safe and fun travels. It's so wonderful to explore the world, experience new things. And if you're careful, you can enjoy the good parts without dealing with any unfriendlies.

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  16. All these things I've worried about in my life: quicksand, being stranded on a desert island, being kidnapped. In my imagination I've lived a much more exciting life than my real one!

    Still, it's always good to have a plan of action, isn't it? Thanks, KJ, for the tips. May they never be necessary for any of us.

    I just reread Bel Canto in the past year, so it's uppermost in my mind. Isn't there at least one Patricia Cornwell kidnap story, with a race against time aspect?

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    1. Congratulations on winning Kathleen Valenti's PROTOCOL! Xxx

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    2. Karen, sure sounds like you have the making of a thriller author with your imagination! And, yes, so important to be prepared for any eventuality. I loved Bel Canto, such a phenomenal book. I also remember that Patricia Cornwell story....just can't remember the title. Wishing you all the best. Congrats on winning the Valentini book!

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  17. Thanks for all you do for ThrillerFest! And congratulations on the book.... I'm going to rush out and buy it today! I'm also going to make a note of all the other great titles people have listed in this string.... always so much to read :)

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    1. True!
      You are often abroad--do you ever think about this?

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    2. Tracee, thanks so much for your kind support. Greatly appreciated. And I only wish I could escape to a desert island for a month to just read. Sending good thoughts your way.

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  18. How exciting, KJ, to read about kidnapping from the safety of my armchair! I don't know how well I'd handle it in real life. I hope I would keep my wits long enough to take inspiration from a close friend's daughter, who was kidnapped when she was in her early 20s. The guy who took her was more of a kidnapper/rapist than a kidnap-for-ransom type, and the way she told it he was pretty inept at all parts of his agenda. Still, she was held for more than 24 hours and taken out of state. She got away because she kept calm, behaved compliantly, and plotted her escape. When the opportunity arose, she took it. The FBI was involved in the hunt by that time, and her kidnapper is now in prison. She's happily married with a beautiful family, but she needed a lot of counseling going into the trial. It was a scary time for anyone who was close to her.

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    1. Wow, Gigi! That is chilling. Did she know him?

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    2. Gigi, I find it fascinating how different personalities respond to be kidnapped. The secret is to be patient and endure the boredom and hardships knowing that most kidnap victims do come home safely.

      I'm so relieved your friend's daughter is okay. What a bright and capable young lady to escape and keep calm. I hope she's doing well, enjoying her lovely family.

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    3. No, Hank, she didn't know him. He just grabbed her off the street as she was leaving her job. My admiration for her courage is deep and wide. She seems to have put it all behind her. Her husband is the best, and she has the coolest, smartest kids you could ever wish for.

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  19. Congrats, KJ on the release of The Freedom Broker. I love a good page-turner. When reading the tips, I have to admit my first instinct would be to do the opposite of number 1 and fight like hell. Excellent tips!

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    1. Jenn, love your fire. And I totally understand your instincts. We're all built for fight or flight, so that's a natural response. But it's important to stay calm when the drama is unfolding. Thanks so much for your kind congrats!

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  20. Can barely keep my eyes open this morning, never less think of a kidnap move. Maybe a Man Called Horse? Just sign me up for the giveaway and wake me when its time for more drugdy

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    1. Ann, hope you were able to get some rest. Sorry you were so tired. Sending good thoughts your way!

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    2. AND YOU WIN! YAY!!! Send me your address, and I will get it to KJ!

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  21. Kimberley, your book is sitting in my TBR stack! Now I really must get to it! Thanks for the terrific advice.

    My favorite kidnap novel is The Danger by Dick Francis, where his protagonist is a kidnap negotiator. I'm sure it follows that I will love your book!

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    1. Deborah, thanks for your lovely support. It's so appreciated. Absolutely LOVE The Danger...what a great read. Please do let me know your thoughts after you read The Freedom Broker. Hope you enjoy it.

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  22. Lovely to see you on Jungle Red, KJ! One of my favorite "kidnapping" books is the one written by your expert, Gary Noesner! "Stalling for Time" is Gary's non-fiction account of his time as a hostage negotiator, and it's fascinating. It's one of my go-to non-fiction recommendations.

    "The Freedom Broker" sounds terrific! Can't wait to read it!

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    1. Ingrid, Gary is just phenomenal. He came to ThrillerFest this year, which was grand fun. He's smart and talented. I'll pass along your kind words to Gary. Thanks for taking the time to read The Freedom Broker!!!

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  23. Wow! Tips you hope you never need, but great information to have. The first tip about not resisting surprised me just a bit, as I've always heard never let a person get you into a vehicle to take you to a second location. I'm guessing that applies to someone who means you harm instead of someone kidnapping you, but how can you tell the difference. I have a visual that is funny but not funny where you ask the person grabbing you whether he is a kidnapper and if he replies he is, you saying, "Okay, let's go then."

    Kimberly, your research and your book sound amazing, and The Freedom Broker is now on my Amazon wish list.

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    1. Kathy, you made a great point. It's a tricky time, the abduction. If you truly feel you can make an escape, it might be worth trying to bolt, especially if you're in a public place. But it you're isolated and they have weapons, it's probably best to acquiesce. I really appreciate you adding The Freedom Broker to your wish list. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you!

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  24. Oh, I forgot about the question. Favorite kidnapping books? Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (yes, Jim, this first Ruth Galloway involves a kidnapping), and Blessed Are Those Who Mourn by Kristi Belcamino. Movies? Raising Arizona, Fargo, and Ransom

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    1. Yes Bel Canto! It still holds up, I bet. Xxxxx

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  25. Good night all from the writers digest conference New York!
    KJ you are amazing… And what a wonderful and generous guest. I'm back anytime! And see you all tomorrow for another very special skill you only will learn at Jungle Red

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  26. Don't panic? Should I grab my towel?

    Seriously, great advice I hope to never need.

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    1. Mark, thanks so much for stopping by and for your wonderful sense of humor. Definitely hope you never need this advice!

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  27. Hank, thanks so much for having me on. What a pleasure to be part of such a lovely and lively group. Hope you had a sensational time at the WD conference!

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