Sunday, January 6, 2019

Kerblooey is Good


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And the winner of TRUST ME is  holdenj! The winner of The Drowning is Judi!  Email Hank via  http://www.HankPhllippiRyan.com with your mailing address.  YAY!


HANK PHILLIPPPI RYAN: What life are you on? Certainly not your first—or maybe you are? We don’t mean reincarnation, the real reincarnation, but the personal on-purpose (or sometimes not) changes we make and come out to be someone very different.

Or—somewhat different at least.

Joanna Schaffhausen is a true Jungle Red favorite. A terrific writer, and a wonderful mom, and an all-around hilarious person. And her new book NO MERCY is out!

How did she get here? Just like the new year,  she started over.

Kerblooey is Good

Hank and fellow Reds, thanks so much for having me today! I want talk about starting over, which is fitting since we’re all starting anew in 2019. We look at the fresh calendar year, full of blank opportunity, and we make resolutions and big plans for ourselves. That’s not the kind of starting over I’m talking about today, though. I’m talking about what happens when all those plans go kerblooey and suddenly you’re scrambling, wondering what to do next. Has this ever happened to you? ‘Cause I’ve been there a time or two.

In graduate school at Yale, my advisor told us he was moving to the University of California at Irvine. I could either go with him, 3000 miles from my New England home, or find a new advisor after four years of sunk investment in his laboratory. Believe me, I did not start the year 2000 with “move to California” penciled in for June. But that’s what I did. I got sunburned a lot, made new friends, and became the only person to take public transportation in Orange County.

Then came the next curve ball. That degree I’d gone to California to procure? Suddenly I didn’t want it anymore, at least for neuroscience research. But graduate school prepares you for one of two paths: academia or industry research. Here I was, looking ahead at these two paths and pondering jumping into the thorn bushes instead. 

A friend sent me a link saying that ABC News was looking for an editorial producer, someone to help them with their science and medical news. I had no journalism training but applied anyway. I spent the next seven years interpreting science for Diane Sawyer, Charlie Gibson, and others at ABC. I met tremendously talented and brilliant people; I do not miss the 4AM calls from Good Morning America.

 ABC News ID: Proof of my stint as a journalist.


Then one day a realtor showed up at our Boston ABC outpost and started showing the space to future clients, an important alert that my job was going elsewhere. Uh, what? Time to scramble for a third potential career! I found an opening for a scientific editor at a magazine devoted to research on drug development. Not, er, quite my background, but I figured I’d give it a whirl. The learning curve was STEEP, let me tell you, but I got to chat up Nobel Prize winners and read about medicines of the future.



TiPS cover: An early cover for my science journal—one I drew myself!



Along the way, I realized my dream of becoming a published mystery author! Very shortly after that, I realized I could not manage a fulltime job with a 3-hour daily commute, a young family, and friends, all the while writing more books. I left my office job to write at home, which is a huge blessing but also a leap of faith that this whole “be a writer” gambit will pay off. I am, as we say in the biz, back on page one again.

But so is my character. That’s the beauty of a second book—you can push your characters into new, uncomfortable situations, places they’d never put on their own calendars if they had a choice. In No Mercy, Ellery Hathaway is suspended from her job as police officer and outed as the lone survivor in a famous serial murder case. Worse yet, her superiors have ordered her to undergo her worst nightmare: group therapy. 

Ellery is convinced that ordinary survivors have nothing to teach her. Instead, she starts working their cases, including a brutal rapist who's still on the loose, and a would-be arsonist who is possibly doing time for a crime he did not commit. Ellery's so wrapped up in the search for justice that she misses the larger truth: her fellow survivors are hiding dark secrets of their own, the kind that someone just might kill to keep.

I think most books discombobulate their characters, no? Pull the rug right out from under them. I speak from experience when I say that sudden, forced change can be terrifying, but it’s also exhilarating. It’s a chance to grow and learn, to fall down and get back up again. It makes you want to turn the page on your own life—because you can’t wait to find out what happens next.


Me signing books: Living the dream as a mystery author! 


Did life ever force you to make a surprising change? I want to know about it!

HANK:  Well, sure. Like--daily. But let's hear from you, reds and readers!






No Mercy

Police officer Ellery Hathaway and FBI profiler Reed Markham take on two difficult new cases in this stunning follow-up to The Vanishing Season.
Ellery Hathaway is on involuntary leave from her job because she shot a murderer in cold blood and refuses to apologize for it. Forced into group therapy for victims of violent crime, Ellery immediately finds higher priorities than “getting in touch with her feelings.”
For one, she suspects a fellow group member may have helped to convict the wrong man for a deadly arson incident years ago. For another, Ellery finds herself in the desperate clutches of a woman who survived a brutal rape. He is still out there, this man with the Spider-Man-like ability to climb through bedroom windows, and his victim beseeches Ellery for help in capturing her attacker.
Ellery seeks advice from her friend, FBI profiler Reed Markham, who liberated her from a killer’s closet when she was a child. Reed remains drawn to this unpredictable woman, the one he rescued but couldn’t quite save. The trouble is, Reed is up for a potential big promotion, and his boss has just one condition for the new job―stay away from Ellery. Ellery ignores all the warnings. Instead, she starts digging around in everyone’s past but her own―a move that, at best, could put her out of work permanently, and at worst, could put her in the city morgue.

70 comments:

  1. Goodness, Joanna, all those unexpected career changes . . . congratulations for landing on your feet each time!
    And congratulations on your new book. Ellery sounds like someone I’d really like to meet; I’m looking forward to reading your book.

    They say change is good, and each time I’ve changed jobs there’s been something good for me to discover. Teaching is always a challenge and a joy, filled with moments to treasure . . . .

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    1. Oh so true— and as a teacher, part of the change is what students are coming through the door! You never know…

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    2. Joanna SchaffhausenJanuary 6, 2019 at 10:21 AM

      Thanks, Joan! Teachers have my utmost respect. I think teaching is one of the most important and difficult jobs there is. Talk about reinventing yourself every day! My hat is off to you.

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  2. Your book sounds great, Joanna! I think we can all relate to unexpected life paths. My biggest one was probably taking a temporary office job that was supposed to pay the bills until I found a real job. I ended up staying there for eleven years.

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    1. Very temporary! That’s so funny— I wonder if it was initially less stressful since you did not think it was a permanent change. (Whatever permanent means....)

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    2. Joanna SchaffhausenJanuary 6, 2019 at 10:23 AM

      Ha ha, yes! A temporary job that lasts 11 years. That's the exact kind of unexpected curve I'm talking about. I hope it was a happy years, Marla!

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  3. Joanna, you are someone I would describe as intrepid. You go after opportunities, not waiting on life and not letting the grass grow under your feet. I am sure that your writing career is going to be just as successful as you want it to be, because you will make it so. I'm interested in the character of Ellery, as she sounds like someone that also take hold of life. After her survival from a serial killer, that's saying something special about her. I have The Vanishing Season on my TBB (To Be Bought) list, and I do hope to get to it in the next couple of months. And, now I will have a follow-up in No Mercy to read right after. Congratulations on your careers, and I'm glad you've now added author to the list.

    The major change in my life was when my husband was called up to the Army, from the Reserves, and it ended up in an almost sixteen year separation of him living somewhere other than home. I never envisioned myself living alone, but after the kids were in college and out, I spent around 12 of those years doing that. I was pleasantly surprised that I adapted and enjoyed it. When we first married, I hated to stay by myself. And, now hubby is back home, semi-retired, and another adjustment is being made.

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    1. Oh gosh Kathy—I didn’t know that. He was gone the whole time? That’s so complicated—you are an inspiration!

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    2. Joanna SchaffhausenJanuary 6, 2019 at 10:26 AM

      Oh my goodness, Kathy...that sounds very hard indeed. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for you two to be separated so long. You are clearly made of stern stuff. I'm glad you are reunited and enjoying some much-deserved time together!

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    3. I should have added that the Army stint lasted half the time and the rest he was working (still part-time) for a government contractor. But still had to live away. He did come in every six weeks or so. The longest separation was six months when he was in Afghanistan. I loved the time he was at the Pentagon, because I could visit D.C. and explore all the great history and art, and the kids got to experience it, too. Our life actually became larger because of my husband's job(s), and with having closed our retail business here, it was an answer to a prayer that he had these opportunities and we did, too.

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  4. A life being lived well, Joanna.

    As a confessed binge reader, I thank you for currently having only two books out. THE VANISHING SEASON and NO MERCY will be on my Kindle by morning's end. Your post reminded me of the wonderful quote by Neale Donald Walsch "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." Glad to meet a fellow traveler.

    Best of luck with the books - sounds like you have met your best incarnation to date!

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    1. Oh that’s a great quote—I’d never heard it!

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    2. Joanna SchaffhausenJanuary 6, 2019 at 10:28 AM

      What a great quote! Thanks, Kait, for your support. I really appreciate it!

      Glad to meet a fellow binger. Nothing better than devouring a new series!

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  5. Waving hi to the marvelous Joanna! I myself hold a BA from UCI - but when I was there it was a new outpost amid miles of wild artichokes and hills of dry grass. No public transport to be had, so we rode our bikes everywhere and lived on Balboa Island during the school year.

    I have made a number of U-turns in my careers I won't enumerate - this is your post, not mine, LOL), but most were by choice. The last one was the same as yours, although at an older age - leaving the day job ostensibly on a wing and a prayer to write crime fiction full time - and it's working out just fine! No Mercy is on order for me at Jabberwocky, can't wait to read it.

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    1. Wow—what a setting! You have such a fascinating past !

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    2. Joanna SchaffhausenJanuary 6, 2019 at 10:30 AM

      ::waves at Edith, my fellow UCI alum::: I barely recognize the place now. It just keeps growing!

      You are a powerhouse, Edith. I want to be you when I grow up.

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  6. Oh yes! I've had the rug pulled out from under me a couple of times but I can't say that things turned out for the best. On the other hand, I'm here, aren't I?

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    1. Do you know that song “I’m still here”? It’s great fun —we should look up the lyrics!

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    2. Joanna SchaffhausenJanuary 6, 2019 at 10:32 AM

      "Still here" is good. Sometimes it's the best you can do. Not all changes move us upward, alas. I've been there as well.

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  7. In 2011 I lost a job I'd had for 11.5 years. Eventually I got another job in the same field, but that change is what got me jumpstarted on a writing career.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. And we are delighted at the outcome—but it must have been tough in transition..

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    2. Joanna SchaffhausenJanuary 6, 2019 at 10:35 AM

      Yes! Go, Mary! Sounds like you fielded your curve ball with aplomb.

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    3. Sometimes those blessings in disguise turn out very well indeed.

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    4. Thanks, Hank and Kathy.

      Joanne, maybe long term but at the time was pretty terrifying! Once the decision was made NOT to get a new job immediately, there were lots of nights wondering "Did I do the right thing?"

      Mary/Liz

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  8. I bounced around the job market as we moved all over the country. During a major birthday year, the kids gone, I took stock of my life and decided both to write mysteries and to beat my body at the local rec center.

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    1. Joanna SchaffhausenJanuary 6, 2019 at 10:36 AM

      Way to double down on your resolve, Margaret. Can you teach me your ways??

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    2. After raising three kids and sending them off to college, time to myself and a quiet house.

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  9. Good morning Joanna, and welcome. I just stuck THE VANISHING SEASON on top of the TBR pile and look forward to reading it.

    Life changes have been the norm for me, going from Labor and Delivery to high risk obstetrics to the Navajo Reservation and surgery, geriatrics, and ending up a Hospice Director. I've lived and practiced in five states, from California to New York.

    And then I retired to become the "neighborhood nurse", a calling I share with the cardiology nurses across the street.

    All these experiences and moves have been positive, eventually anyway! Now my job is making outstanding soups and reading outstanding books, my favorite career choice of all.

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    1. Hospice director... oh, Ann, I wish you felt like writing because surely there's a book i that, and a timely one, too.

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    2. Each patient had a story, and so did each caregiver, each family member, each person I met.

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    3. Joanna SchaffhausenJanuary 6, 2019 at 10:39 AM

      Oh my gosh, Ann. The stories you must have! I can only imagine. Bless you for sharing yourself and your knowledge with so many people in need. Your neighborhood is very lucky!

      Mmm...soup. I love soup. What's your favorite recipe?

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  11. The neighborhood nurse! What a great milieu for a novel , right?

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    1. Joanna SchaffhausenJanuary 6, 2019 at 10:39 AM

      Definitely! I would read the heck out of that book!

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  12. Good Morning Joanna. I agree with Kathy Reel, "Intrepid". It sounds as though you've channeled that same spirit into Ellery. I'm eager to meet her.

    I'm smack dab in to middle of change! Today I can't tell up for down. What to do?

    I'm going to Disneyland! I have on my mouse ears. I am wearing my favorite Mickey hoodie. That's me out the door!

    Have a great day Reds!

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    1. Joanna SchaffhausenJanuary 6, 2019 at 10:42 AM

      Woo hoo! I love Disneyland. We've taken our daughter three times, which doesn't sound like much until you realize we live 3000 miles away. Have so much fun and be sure to ride the Matterhorn for me!

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  13. Your books sound interesting, Joanna, and your leaps of faith are inspiring. My life has had the usual moments of passage--moves, graduations, job changes--but there have been two times when I stopped letting life happen to me and took specific steps to make my life what I wanted it to be. The first was when I moved to Texas "in search of adventure and romance." I actually moved directly from my mother's home to live with the man I'd eventually marry, but it wasn't a sure thing and I was pretty much working without a net those first two years. It was worth every minute.

    The second came when my husband died. Everything I had worked to build over the past 20 years was gone. I'd quit my job to care for him, so when I walked out of his hospital room for the last time, I was pretty much standing on a pile of rubble. I spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of life I wanted to build for myself going forward--where I wanted to live, what I wanted to do, and how I was going to get there. Once again, no net. That was nearly 14 years ago, and I am now pretty much where I wanted to be, so that turned out okay.

    But I've begun to wonder . . . What comes next? I still have some things I want to accomplish. All I have to do now is figure out how to get there from here. The net is, apparently, optional.

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    1. Joanna SchaffhausenJanuary 6, 2019 at 10:46 AM

      Wow, Gigi. I love your thoughtful, intentional approach in the face of difficult changes. Kudos to you for finding your way to happiness each time.

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    2. No net. No matter what, it must feel like that. You are amazing.
      But on my bulletin board is a saying: leap, and the net will appear.

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    3. You are always an inspiration, Gigi!

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  14. Joanna, so glad you ended up writing crime fiction! You do, indeed, have a checkered past. Great preparation for writing!

    Curve balls. Indeed. I had earned a summer job in Ghana, sponsored by Columbia Business School, and my then boyfriend drove me to the airport and, unbeknownst to me, drove directly to his "ex"-girlfriend's house. Meanwhile the plane was overbooked and the 'travel agency' I'd used said there was nothing they could do... so I returned to my parents apartment, tail between my legs. I found a summer job in NYC and a sublet on the upper west side and called my ex- ex-boyfriend... he's now my husband.

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  15. And PS Joanna's book launch is next Tuesday at Brookline Booksmith! I'll be there, too.

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    1. Joanna SchaffhausenJanuary 6, 2019 at 10:48 AM

      Yes! Can't wait to see you! xx

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    2. I wish I could be there but it isn't possible for me. Have a basset hound cupcake for me!

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    3. Darn - SINCNE board meeting that night! Can I conf call from the launch party? Somehow I don't think so...

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    4. Yay, Hank! Looking forward to seeing you! Jay and Edith, we will miss you.

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  16. Congrats on the new book Joanna. I see you are doing an event at the Sandwich Public Library next week I'm hoping that I can make it to that. I really need to pick up both books then!

    As for having surprising turns of events in life, I think everyone has. The deaths of my parents certainly weren't something you can truly expect. The end of my youth basketball coaching days was unexpected, even if it did launch me on the path I'm on now where I do a lot of review writing.

    I'd say those three events were the biggest turns in my life. I try to avoid having too many big twists in life if I can help it as I'm just naturally lazy.

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    1. You are too busy to call yourself lazy!

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    2. Thanks, Jay! I would love to see you at the Sandwich Library!

      You've definitely weathered some big changes. Review writing sounds like an excellent current path, however. :)

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  17. Welcome to Jungle Reds and congratulations on your book! Many of us find ourselves starting over. Sounds like you had many interesting things happen! I love the name Ellery Hathaway. Made me think of Ellery Queen and Anne Hathaway, aka wife of William Shakespeare.

    Early in life I had to start over. I almost died from meningitis before my 2nd birthday. I was talking and walking before meningitis. When I came home from the hospital, I had lost 115 percent of my hearing! I had to learn how to walk again. I practically had to learn everything again. I went through rigorous physical therapy.

    Diana

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    1. Diana— you are so brave… And tough! an inspiration! Xxxx

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    2. Wow, that is a rough start, Diana! Way to persevere. I am in awe!

      Also, here's the behind-the-scenes story on Ellery's name: She was originally Eleanor, but when my daughter was born 9 years ago, Eleanor was one of the few names my husband actually liked. So I gave up the character's name for my real-life kid and Ellery became Ellery instead!

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  18. Hi Joanna! Kudos to you for jumping into those unexpected challenges! I can't wait to read your books--highly recommended by Hank and Hallie is always a thumbs up for me.

    I'm not sure I can say that they were forced, but life has certainly brought about some unexpected changes. Two of the biggest leaps were deciding to leave my home and family in Texas to move to Scotland to marry a guy I had only known for six weeks. That was a bit radical! He's now my ex, but we were married for fourteen years and have a lovely daughter. That experience was also a jumpstart into my second big leap--writing British crime novels, something I had never ever imagined doing.

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    1. Hi, Deborah! Nice to e-meet you. (I'm a big fan!) Any path that led to you writing has to be a good one, despite any bumps along the way. I can't imagine the guts it took to move to a foreign country to marry a man I'd known only six weeks. That's a novel-driving adventure right there!

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  19. For the past couple of days I haven’t been able to get Blogger to accept my replies. Yesterday I made four unsuccessful attempts. Today I have had one unsuccessful attempt so far. Hoping that it works this time. I might start feeling like an outcast otherwise!

    Because I’m tired of typing, this attempt at a reply will be short: I’ve had some unexpected changes in my life, but I’ve survived, and I’m happy. There were times when I would joke that “I sure am tired of making lemonade”(as in “if life gives you lemons..” etc)

    My latest change, but a welcome one, was entering retirement last May. I love my new life and all the opportunities it brings!

    DebRo

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    1. Hi, Deb! I see you! Isn't it frustrating when technology doesn't cooperate? The sensors on the automatic sinks in public restrooms never seem to see me. I wave and wave and no water.

      Happy retirement to you! That's a lovely new adventure!

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    2. DebRo I am so sorry! Blogger can be so cranky :-( sometimes comments just disappear… And it is frustrating. You have to be logged in Google, I think. And not just come in through a link. Hope that helps!

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  20. Looking forward to reading No Mercy, Joanna - sounds fascinating!
    Good for you for navigating all the changes in your life so far. I’ve had a few, International (Emerging Markets) Corporate to University administration being the biggest one before trying my hand at writing. What I find is that you don’t really ever leave those other lives, those other yous, behind. They continue to inform and enrich all the new chapters of your life. You’ve had some wonderful experiences to prep you in this latest incarnation - all the better!

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    1. :::waves to Marian:: You have worn an impressive number of hats! I agree that we carry our past selves with us whenever we move onto a new incarnation. And of course as writers we use all of that when we put the stories on paper!

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    2. Hi Marian! Yes, that is such a valuable thing to realize!

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  21. I know it's very late and I'm not looking for a response -- but I enjoyed this so much when I finally got here this evening that I just had to comment. I alluded earlier in the week to my opinion that a lot of the best things in my life have seemingly come through serendipity.

    I especially enjoyed Joanna's insight that most books discombobulate their characters. I never thought about that before, but it is so true!

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  22. Hi, Susan! Glad to know you are a fellow believer in the power of serendipity. As for books, someone once told me that you should figure out what your characters fear the most, and then do that to them. Heh.

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