Friday, May 26, 2017

What Lies Ahead




I am free.  Really.  Free!  No, I haven’t been imprisoned, although living in the recliner while I healed from knee-replacement surgery was a sort of jail.  Had lots of visitors, however, and, thanks to friends and neighbors, we had more food than Safeway, so, all in all, not a bad few weeks.

Then Physical Therapy started coming.  Therapists are fun people.  Sweet, charming, and encouraging, but when you have to flex and bend a knee that’s been rudely treated in surgery, you hate to see them coming.  They literally get you to the point of screaming, then pat your back, cluck over you, and tell you firmly, “Now do that ten more times.”  

When I was finally on foot about three weeks later, therapists stopped coming to my home and I went to them for PT.  Same kind of people.  Handsome or cute, kind and caring, but with zero concern for the fact that I was turning purple and writhing on the floor as they worked to restore my knee's 120-degree flex.  

But it's thanks to them that I’m now walking the dog,  going to town, and am completely astonished by how well the surgery and the therapy worked.  I have no pain.   I have one more PT session next Tuesday, then I’m sure I’ll be released.  I’ve lost about 5% flexibility, but at 72, I doubt I’ll be dancing the Hopak anytime soon.
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Aaaand, for the first time since fall of 1983, I’m not on a deadline.  Do you believe it?  I’m officially retired.  I did AAs for Victoria on the August book, A New Year's Wedding, while I was recovering, so now I'm ... Free!  It's a weird but wonderful feeling after all these years.

I’ve begun the great purge of 659 15th St., 2 floors and a basement of 1000 sq.ft. each.  Not an enormous house, but we have been here for 41 years.  I’ve dreamed of having time to do this.  I’ve bought plastic totes for what I’m saving, leaf bags for what I’m throwing away, and clearing a spot to put things I’m saving for a garage sale.  A dumpster is arriving at the end of July and will live in front of the house for two weeks.  By that time, I may have to be dug out of it.

Ron and I aren’t going anywhere.  Ron's doing very well, though absolutely everything he wants or needs to do now requires me, and I'm fine with that.  We still have more fun together than anyone should be allowed. It has crossed my mind, though, that if we had to make a sudden move, I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to deal with my thousands of books, or Ron’s family’s art work.

I was feeling very pure about the cleaning up when our niece arrived with a truckload she’d brought from L.A. of items she’d rescued from Ron’s older brother’s home.  We were thrilled, of course, to have things from the family home, but our living room now looks like Filene’s Basement on sale day.  My tidying progress has been set back at least a week, but we do have a framed sampler made by Ron’s Danish grandmother in 1886 when she was ten years old.  Her name was Gertrude Marie.  Though I'm no longer writing, I don't seem to be able to turn off the plotting factor.  That was always my weakest skill, but I can see Gertrude's face in my mind's eye, watch her sit under a tree with her needlework, flirt with a handsome shop-keeper who was Ron's grandfather.

Even dedicated to the cleanup, I can stop in front of our dining room window with its wonderful view of the Columbia River and watch the ships or the birds because my conscience isn’t saying, “You should be writing.”  I can walk Claire and go a few extra blocks because she’s having such a good time and be relaxed about it because I don’t have to write ten pages that day.  I can sit on the porch with someone else’s book instead of my laptop and not worry about how much time I’m taking because it doesn’t matter!  I’m free!

I’m so happy for all of you who are still engaged and driven by the need to write.  That period in my life was such an exciting  time for me and I loved being work obsessed.  Now that I have to be home-obsessed, I'm good with it.  I will always be a writer, even if I’m not writing.  

Now, much of my energy will go into pulling for all of you.  Those of you affected by the changes at Harlequin, try not to be frightened by them.  Things come and go in publishing just like any other business – some things work and some things don’t, but a hard-working writer will find employment.   Business is cruel in demanding your heart and soul, then discarding them when numbers are on the line.  Unfortunately, it’s always worked that way and probably always will.
 
Thanks, all of you, for allowing me the fun of getting to know you and your work.  It’s truly humbling to have been in such skilled and supportive company.  It’s possible this course I’ve taken will change one day, but for now, I’m hearing music in my head rather than words.  It’s Louis Armstrong singing, “What a Wonderful World.” 




70 comments:

  1. I'm glad you're doing so well and having a good time, but I really can't stand the idea of your writing voice being retired--as you know, I've been reading it since its beginning! I hope you change your mind, but if you don't, just keep on having fun. God bless.

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    1. Thank you, Liz! Connecting with you when you were a reader was one of the joys and perks of my career, and look at you now! Keep on. Blessings on you, too.

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  2. I'm very happy, too, that you and Ron are doing well, Muriel. To echo Liz's sentiment, I'm saddened that I will not have the opportunity to read more of your wonderful books; however, I am excited for you and Ron because of how you will be able to spend your free time.

    I wish you the very best in all your future endeavours and activities. I expect I speak for many of us saying that we do hope to continue to see you here and stay in touch.

    Thank you for your friendship and wonderful support, Muriel. Best wishes to you and Ron!

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    1. Thank you, Kate. I promise to try to keep visiting the blog. I'll probably be late, but I'll stop by. Thank you for all the times you've help me with technology I still don't get and simple acts of friendship and kindness. Good wishes to you, too.

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  3. Congratulations on passing PT! And I know you will enjoy your free time...being under deadline has a way of sucking the joy out of the day sometimes. :-) And I do hope you'll reconsider writing posts to the blog. I always look forward to reading your delightful stories. I'll miss your books, too!

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    1. Thanks, Patricia! I'm going to attempt to declutter my head as well as my house, and maybe that will kick start some ideas. Right now, I do not have a fresh one in my head. Do take care.

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  4. It sounds like you're having a really wonderful time, and I'm happy for you! Thank you for your kind support and words of wisdom for us authors who have been at this for a much shorter time than you. All the best in your retirement!

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    1. Thank you, Patricia! Best of luck and all success in future books.

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  5. Muriel, congratulations on both your recovery and your retirement! You're such an inspiration, fountain of wisdom and, like the others said, we'll miss your writing, but you definitely deserve to feel free to enjoy deadline-free days with Ron ;).

    Like Pat said, maybe if the writer in you needs an outlet, you can still pop by here and post!

    Sending lots of love and hugs your way. Wishing you and Ron happy, happy days!

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    1. Thanks, Rula. Whenever I see your face, it makes me think of your adventurous approach to gardening and 'wildlife.' I imagine. all your colorful chickens with their artful eggs. You continue to have fun, too.

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  6. And we're pulling for you Muriel! Enjoy having more free time. Enjoy every moment with Ron and Claire. Live the good life, girlfriend!
    Cynthia

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    1. That's my plan! Happy to know you, Cynthia.

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  7. Muriel, Muriel! We miss you already, that goes without saying, but good for you. Enjoy those walks and talks with Ron. After going through the knee surgery thing and the same PT "torture" as you did, yes, it was worth it. I can't dance anymore, but I can walk. And I know you feel blessed abundantly to be able to do that.
    So, the answer for me anyway is to re-read your books! I hope to see you stopping by the blog or posting about your goings on. We never got that tea on your porch and for that, I'm very sad.

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    1. Catherine! You are my mother's image of the perfect lady (She tried so hard to make one out of me, but I had a few too many warts!) You always have a kind word, a positive thought, and the most beautifully set table! I'd have loved to visit, but that isn't likely at this point. Still, you (And all of you.) have an open invitation to tea on my porch if you get to Astoria. Marine Drive is one way headed south, and Commercial is one way headed north. Turn up-hill on 15th, (other direction will land you in the river) and we're between Franklin and Grand about five blocks up. We'll be here. Promise you a fun time.

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  8. Well (wipes a tear), as one who has cleaned up after two parents in the past year and literally moved out of her house for a remodel (after having lived here only a meager 27 years), I can relate to the sorting of possessions. It's an onerous task.

    I had meant to tell you that I found one of your Silhouettes in my keeper pile. There was a cowboy on the cover and it was stored with the likes of Ann Major, Susan Crosby, and Suzanne Brockmann, books I kept that had brought tears to my eyes, works I felt were great examples for a fledgling writer.

    Muriel, you've always been what I strive to be - a talented voice in romance and a kind person who other authors enjoy on a personal level. I wish you all the best in this next stage of life!
    m

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    1. And since my keepers are stored in a box in the garage at the moment - waiting for shelves to be built in my office - I can't tell you which book it was!

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    2. Oh, my goodness, Mel! Thank you. Love your sense of humor, personally and in your books. Keep it alive! I have an old brain, so I don't recall which book it was. Cowboys, generally, were not my thing but there was a time when American Romance was putting cowboys and babies on every cover. Wish you all the best, as well. Will always think of you doing your dog's last potty stop in a bathrobe and cowboy boots!

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  9. Sounds like you've made the perfect decision. 35 years is a long career! Best wishes. And see you around the blogging water cooler!

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    1. I promise to stop by. Big wishes for all good stuff.

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  10. Muriel, tears of joy and sadness today. You are the best. Thank you for your contribution to the romance writing community. I hope you know what a wonderful example and inspiration and pure delight of a human being you are. Congratulations on your well-deserved retirement! I wish you all the best in your new-found "freedom." So happy to hear your knee is better so that you can truly get all the goodie out of it, too. We'll all look forward to your August release.

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    1. Thank you, Carol. You're so close, you have to come by some time. Have loved getting to know you and would like to know more. Good wishes to you!

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  11. Muriel, you will be missed! Both you and Roz welcomed me with open arms when I first began writing adult fiction. It was a scary time, yet your encouragement bolstered me and inspired me to keep at it. I adore your books and it's a sad to think there won't be more of them... but I'm very happy for you to have reached this sweet moment in life where your sole focus is on yourself and Ron. Enjoy this blessed freedom by friend!

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    1. Thank you, Karen! It's too bad that good things ever have to change, but life does move on and I have to admit that for now, anyway, I'm loving the knowledge that the day is mine. Keep collecting those stellar reviews!

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  12. Muriel, I hardly knew ya! I'm glad to hear of your recovery and the pleasure of again walking your dog and stopping to take in your view. I wish you all the best in the coming years. I know intimately what a challenge it is to maintain a decades-long writing venture, and you've earned the chance to do exactly as you please! All the best to your and your husband.

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    1. Thank you, Virginia. This has been the best, most supportive and restorative gaggle of girl-friends I've ever had! And I've never seen anyone in person! Keep your venture going, and the front porch invitation extends to you, too!

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  13. I sure will miss your sweet smile, Muriel. I'm happy you're doing better and I know you're going to enjoy the retired life. I'm jealous! Take care of yourself.

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    1. Thanks, Jill. I'll miss all of you, too, but I'm so looking forward to making the most of every day! I've really always done that, but the deadline pressure was always there. It's cool to be without it. Good wishes to you!

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  14. Muriel, I want to be you someday. Your last book coincides with my first, but when my time comes to leave writing, I want to have the same joyful attitude about life and love as you. You're a blessing, and I know you and your new hip will continue to be one.

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    1. Thank you, Beth! Right, we have the same book birth-month. That's always so exciting, even after all this time. Wish you all the best as you get started. Hope you love it all as much as I did.

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  15. Muriel, your as-always excellent post made me weep. So sorry to see you "go"--but like the other Heartwarmers, I do hope you'll remain a part of this blog as you enjoy your well-deserved retirement. I'm purging our house too (or trying to) but other "stuff" keeps getting in the way! All the best to you, Ron and Claire. I'm so glad your knee has turned out well. Congrats on being done soon with rehab. Your free time now sounds wonderful. Enjoy. And maybe eventually there'll be a book in that precious sampler from Ron's grandmother...and the handsome shopkeeper. (swoon)

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    1. Hi, Leigh! Gertrude does deserve a book. She had such a good, gentle family. I will stop by the blog when I can. It's been my lifeline for the last five years. Blessings on your career!

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  16. Muriel, I will miss your wonderful books, but it sounds like you have wonderful plans for your retirement. Wishing you all the best.

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    1. Thank you, Patricia. I am so looking forward to cleaning - and you'd have to know me well to realize how insane that is. I hate housework, but I'm so anxious to make space that I'm willing to do it. Wishing you all the best, as well.

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  17. When I first sold to Heartwarming, one of my first discoveries was that you were one of the line's authors. I've been reading your stories for so long, you are one of those authors who had become synonymous with Harlequin for me. I am so honored to have written within your orbit even for a little while. Knowing we have the same release date in August warms my heart. I am so happy for this next step in your life and while I will miss having any new books of yours to read, I feel fortunate to have gotten to know you over these past couple of years. Onward and upward, my friend. And here's to August release dates! <3

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    1. Yayyy! August together! So happy I got to know you a little, too. You sound like a riot. I so enjoyed my career, and am happy to know that you came along with me. How cool that we ended up here, together. Am so going to love life on my porch. You must come by! See you in our book birthday plans!

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  18. What a lovely post, Muriel! All the best with what comes next in your life.

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    1. Thank you Dierdre. All the best to you.

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  19. I've enjoyed so many of your posts, especially the humor in them. I marvel at your optimism despite the challenges you've faced. All the best to you and Ron. Thanks for the advice and kind words I've received from you during the brief few years I've been visiting the Heartwarming blog. ( :

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    1. Thank you, Laurie. You've been an absolute treasure for us. We're all in it together, everyone with her own struggles. My mother always said that you find what you look for. So I look for the humor and it's always, always there! Best wishes to you, Laurie.

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  20. Muriel, so excited for you as you move on to the next thing--but sad for us that we won't have more books from you. Can't help hoping you'll change your mind, even as I wish you the very best in the future.

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    1. thanks, Anna. You have quite a gift. Wish you good ideas and good fortune!

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  21. Muriel, not only do you have the same first name as my dear mom, but I cut my romance reading teeth on your novels. I'm delighted you're starting a new phase in your life, but oh my, how I'll miss your stories and your voice. Fortunately, I have all your books to reread at will. Enjoy this new time and congratulations on the new knee--that rocks! Hugs to you!

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    1. Thank you, Nan! So happy you liked my books. It's always exciting when someone who isn't related to you buys your work. I loved writing, but I'm loving retirement, too. With a new knee, I'm invincible. Hugging you back.

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  22. Muriel, Although I've never met you in person, I feel as though I have, through your posts on this blog and through your books. I will miss hearing from you here and hope you will continue to visit and let us know how you and Ron are doing. I hear you on the house cleaning. I'm doing that now, too, and after so many years in one house, stuff sure does pile up! All the best to you. I look forward to your August book.

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    1. Thank you, Linda. You'll have to come for tea on the porch so we can commiserate on house cleaning. Best wishes to you, too.

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  23. Muriel, you truly are an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your writing with us all these years and reminding us that change can be happy and joyful. I'm delighted your recovery has gone smoothly and you'll be stepping into retirement pain-free. Enjoy your freedom and all the best to you and Ron!

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    1. We're so looking forward to our future. We bought Ron a new scooter; we just have to figure out how to get it up and down the porch steps. Not enough room for a ramp, so Ron's designing plans a la Leonard Da Vinci for an elevator! Watch the news. I'm sure we'll be on it. Thanks for the good wishes.

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  24. Muriel, it sounds like you are headed for an awesome adventure! I will miss new books from you, but I'm excited because you are happy about your decision. Have loads of fun. Know that we will miss you. And enjoy each new day ahead of you.

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    1. Thank you, Tara. I'm excited, even though it involved housework. Have loved your bride books - keep them coming. Best of everything!

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  25. Muriel, Roz Denny Fox asked me to convey her best wishes to you and to say how much she'll miss your wonderful books.

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    1. Thank you, Patricia. Can you please tell her I'll stay in touch so we won't be able to miss each other.

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  26. So proud to know you, Muriel, and I'm truly happy for you as you enter this newest phase of your life. We'll definitely stay in touch (thanks to Facebook, etc.), and of course, we'll have all of your wonderful books to keep us close to you.

    Wishing you only good things in your retirement! Hugs to you,
    Loree

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    1. Bless you, Loree. It's been my pleasure to get to know you. Wishing you all good things in the future.

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  27. Oh Muriel, you post made me cry happy tears. If only everyone could be at such peace about what they are doing and embrace whatever life throws at them like that! Thank you for bringing so much reading happiness to others and I'm thrilled that now you get to slow down and enjoy things.

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    1. Thank you, LeAnne. I am thrilled to be deadline-free. (I guess you have to have been on deadline 34 years to understand my excitement.) Imagine what I can accomplish if I apply myself - and eat enough chocolate!

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  28. Sweet Muriel! I have always loved your bright optimism and delightful wit on the blog! It's bittersweet to see this chapter end, but I'm excited for your adventures ahead. Best of luck! <3

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    1. Thank you, Cerella. I've been blessed with such wonderful people in my life - including all my Heartwarming Sisters - that it's impossible not to believe in the HEA! And you - dispensing coffee drinks and good books - what a mission!

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  29. What a lovely post Muriel and it's clear that you may be retired from writing, you'll never retire as a writer. I was so looking forward to meeting you at a conference some day - maybe you'll come anyway, just for the fun and friends. Down-sizing is an arduous process but well worth it in the end. I'm glad your knees are working at full capacity - I've had both mine done and the change in life style has been almost miraculous. I wish you all the best for a long, sweet retirement and if you ever feel like a trip to S. Ontario,, let me know! Cheers and hugs!

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    1. Janice! I'll take you up on that invitation if the opportunity arises! You understand my amazement that I can walk pain-free, especially when the dog is always pleading with me, "Can we go? Huh? Isn't it time? Aren't we late?" I'd so love to make it to a conference. Who knows what the future holds. I'm open to it all. Good wishes to you! Hopefully, we'll connect one day.

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    2. When you are planning your trip, Muriel, please don't forget that I'm in southern Ontario, too! :)

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    3. And I'd get to meet the puppies! I'd love that!

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  30. Enjoy your retirement Muriel!

    I can't even begin to tell you how many of your books I have enjoyed over the years. Your American Romances in particular were favorites of mine when I was just falling in love with romance and Harlequin back in the 80's as a teen and then I went on to fall equally in love with your Superromances and then Heartwarmings. :) The characters and stories you brought to life entertained me and brought me much joy for a large chunk of my Harlequin reading life. Now I wish you years of fun and relaxation in return! :) Thanks for sharing your beautiful gift with us for so many years! And thanks for helping introduce me to this beautiful world of romance, imagination, and happily-ever-afters! Thirty plus years later, I'm still going strong with my devotion. <3

    Hugs,
    Lynn Brooks

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    1. Oh, Lynn, I'm so happy to hear that. It's hard not to share love and romance because it sort of bubbles out of you, gaining it's own power. Do keep reading. If ever we had to believe if Happily Ever After, it's now. Wish you great books to read and lots to laugh about!

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  31. Muriel, you are a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day! I am so happy to hear you have had a full recovery. Wishing you all the best and will be sure to smile when we see you popping in here and there with your sweet words of encouragement!! xoxo

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  32. Amy! Thank you. Watch for me running by your house some day. Best wishes for inspiration and time to write with your busy family.

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  33. Muriel, I hope you enjoy every minute of your "deadline free" life! God bless you!

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    1. Thank you, Dana! I'm ashamed to admit that I'm already loving it! God bless you, as well!

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  34. But..but...but I didn't get the chance to meet you, Muriel. And yet, you passed along words of encouragement to me. If it's possible to miss someone you don't even know, then you qualify. Peace and blessings to you!!

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    1. I know! I live in hope that someday there'll be a conference I can get to. Or, we can all meet somewhere in the middle of the country and totally terrorize the Heartland. Good luck M.K. There's nothing like the writing life. Unless it's the retired life. Blessings on you!

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  35. Muriel. You have broken my heart. You can't stop writing! Just...ditch the deadlines and write your own book so you're still free. And THEN publish it. See? Problem solved.

    You probably won't see this because I'm posting so late, but I didn't have wi-fi in Scotland most of the trip.

    I miss you already. Victoria

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