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March 2013

Bad Girl For A Day: Brighton Walsh – So You Feel Like a Fraud, Huh?

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I’m not a timid person. I like to think I have a fair amount of confidence. I don’t know where it came from; I just know it’s always been there. I never doubted my ability to do anything, ever. I just did. 

And then I started writing.

And all of the sudden, all these doubts and fears and uncertainties started bombarding me. Are you seriously trying to do this for real? You think people are going to pay for this? You’ve never even read a Danielle Steel novel and you want to be a romance author? What makes you better than Sally Smut or Shirley Sexalot?

Whoa, brain. Slow down.

One neurosis at a time, please and thank you.

I think it’s probably safe to say most writers go through a version of this at some point or another in their writing careers. And, hey, if you don’t/haven’t, send me a note to tell me your all-powerful Yoda ways, yeah?

Whether you’re knee-deep in agent querying, polishing the pages of your very first manuscript before submission, or waiting for the release of your first—or, hell, your tenth—book, these fears can come out of nowhere (or maybe they’ve always been there) and strike at the most inopportune times. Like when you’re on a roll with your WIP and suddenly—WHAM!—you’re blocked with fears and anxiety and OMG how did I think I could ever do this??

So how do you get over it and not let it crush your progress, your spirit, and your faith in your own ability?

For me, I allow myself a day to brood and be Molly Mopesalot, and then I keep my head down and I power on. I write. And write. And then I write some more. And I give myself permission to stop comparing my in-progress works with the collective polished works of authors whom I yearn to emulate. These worlds flowing from my fingers aren’t perfect. And that’s okay. They’re in progress for a reason.

Another thing I think is important to overcome the niggling doubt is to put faith in the people you’ve brought on as your go-to team—your pre-readers and critique partners. You have to surround yourself with a team that won’t just blow sunshine up your ass, but will actually give you constructive (and sometimes hard to hear) feedback on how you can improve. You have to trust they’re going to tell you if your work is a pile that needs a major rewrite or if it just needs a little polishing. You have to trust they won’t throw you to the wolves with a piece of work less than the best they believe you can create. And having those people, that solid support system in place helps on the days when the OMG how did I ever think I could do this?? thoughts really get you down. Because, hey, they think you’re pretty swell. And if that piece you were working on needs a little polish, well, they point out the spot and hand you a rag and let you do some polishing, all the while reminding you of the other parts that are already shiny and pretty.

It also helps to know I’m not alone in this. That I’ve reassured amazing writers that, no, their work is not the pile they think it is and, no, they absolutely should not delete the entire thing and start a career as a shoemaker instead.

So, you’re not alone. You’re in the trenches with all the other writers out there trying to make something of themselves. Keep your head down. Power on. Write, write, write. Forgive yourself mistakes and listen to the people you trust enough with your unpolished manuscripts. It’ll be okay. And you have just as much right to be here as Sally Smut and Shirley Sexalot do.

What gives you the push you need to power through those devils on your shoulder, trying to tell you you’re not good enough for this business?

Plus One by Brighton WalshCheck out Plus One by Brighton Walsh

Olivia hates the singles scene, so when her best guy friend, Ian, offers to be her plus one to a series of weddings she has to attend, she agrees. Although she doesn’t want to complicate their lifelong friendship, she can’t pass up the chance to have a steady date without the dating drama. What she doesn’t expect is to now find Ian so incredibly sexy.

When Ian sees his old friend Olivia dolled up for wedding #1, the boyhood crush he once nurtured transforms into smoldering attraction. It doesn’t take long for their no-strings arrangement to turn physical. But as Olivia’s desire to stay “just friends” becomes clear, Ian’s feelings are deepening. In the time they have together, how will Ian convince Olivia that one plus one can make for a lifelong pair?

Available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Thanks for stopping by and sharing a mimosa with us! You can find out more about Brighton at her various social media haunts…

Twitter: https://twitter.com/writeasrain_

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brightonwalshwrites

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6548902.Brighton_Walsh

Website: http://www.brightonwalsh.com/

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#80khotfoot – Week 3

running-in-heels-wk3

 

Bad Girlz’ Book Race
March 15-June 7th
We’re racing to 80K!
#80khotfoot

Friends don’t let other friends rough draft alone! Save the #80khotfoot hashtag and check back every Friday for the weekly post about the challenge.

Ooooooooh, look at the pretty shoes! Oooooooh… Aaaaaahhhhh…

Now no more horsing around. How many words did you write this week?

Remember — if you need help pushing through the exhaustion and frustration of your rough draft — jump on the #80khotfoot hashtag and let other writers know. We’re all going through it!

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Book Baby Blues

The last time it was my turn here at Bad Girlz Write, I gave you the skinny on my sixteen-month-long journey to bring my new book, Take What You Want, from concept to published manuscript.

Today, I’m going to give you just a little more of that journey. It’s the part I tend not to talk about too much, because, really, what do I have to complain about? I had a book published, by a publisher I’m crazy-proud to work with, and it’s even gotten good reviews.

That said, for me at least, it happens every time. After the dust has settled, after the promotional blog posts and the tweeting and the interacting with readers and—let’s be honest here—the obsessive sales-rank stalking (and the even more obsessive and less successful efforts not to stalk my sales rank), it happens: The book baby blues.

My baby is out there in the world, and I’m delighted and…kind of down.

I think it’s a combination of a lot of factors. There’s a huge amount of work that goes into making a book, and a lot of excitement and activity those first couple of weeks after it comes out. But eventually, it all dies down. My introvert self gets exhausted with all the putting myself out there, and besides, you can only self-promote so much before people start to get annoyed with you. So it’s back to quiet land. My next manuscript is a work in progress, and my next release date is a long, long nine months away. Sales rank stalking aside, I won’t have any actual concrete sales information in my hands for a few months. And I’m a little bit adrift.

So I’m taking a bit of time. I’m still working on my next book, and I’m still working to keep up a bit of visibility for Take What You Want, even now that the first main push is over. But I’m also filling the void left in its wake with some books I’ve been looking forward to reading and some Netflix-binging and a crafting project or two that I’ve been neglecting. I’m limiting refreshing web sites that tell me how my book is doing to once a day (or twice, maybe, I’m only human after all).

I’m doing all the things a person does when they’re coming down off a high. I’m leveling out.

If experience bears out, in another week, I’ll get back to my normal daily grind of work. I’ll get back to normal…right up until I get the chance to do it all again. I’ll remember the rhythms and the ups and downs—I’ll enjoy the highs and be prepared for the lows.

Because book baby blues or not, I wouldn’t give up a second of it. Not for all the world.

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Slay Those Scenes: An Arsenal of Ideas to Get Unstuck

Everybody has that one scene that plagues them.  Maybe you’re like E. Michels and have trouble getting that first scene off the ground.  Maybe love scenes make you uncomfortable or maybe you’re unable to bring your characters to their lowest in the black moment.  Or maybe, and I hope for your sake this isn’t the case, it’s all the scenes between the big ones that stop you in your tracks.  My nemesis is always the climax, and this weekend we faced off once again.

It’s a little sadistic when I think about it.  I have absolutely no trouble torturing my characters, but struggle when it comes time to raise them above it all.  I’d like to believe it’s my way of postponing the impending doom of saying goodbye to these characters I’ve come to so dearly love, and perhaps that’s part of it.  Truth be told, I’m just better at writing the darker stuff, so when it’s time for redemption I’m walking on unfamiliar territory.

But I digress.  This blog isn’t meant to be a Jenna Patrick therapy session, I promise.  Instead I was hoping to gather some ideas and maybe share a few ways you can slay those scenes and keep your sanity in the process.  So if you’re stuck for whatever reason, here are a few things to try.

1.  Go back to basics:  GMC 

You’ve heard me say many times that I believe every scene in your manuscript should touch on at least one of these.  Maybe the problem is you’ve lost sight of what your character wants or what motivation the scene is supposed to unravel.  Sometimes reminding yourself of the objective will help you find your way to it.

2.  Check your Arcs

It’s easy to lose sight of your characters when you’re focusing on plot, and vice versa.  But remember, your plot and character arcs feed off each other the entire length of your book.  If you’re having trouble it could be because you’re only looking at the scene one-dimensionally.  Ask yourself where your plot should be at this point, and who your characters are supposed to be.  Then look for ways to illustrate both of these.

3.  Try the scene from a different POV

This is one of my favorites, and usually my first go-to tactic for the in-between scenes I’m struggling with.  When deciding what character’s POV I should write a scene from, I initially pick the one who knows less about what’s going on.  This is a good rule of thumb to start with, but occasionally the scene feels stilted and I have to re-evaluate.  The quickest way to test this theory is to switch eyes and see what happens.

4.  Get in the mood

It’s difficult to write a beautiful love scene when you’ve just had a knock-down, drag-out argument with your beau.  Maybe the words aren’t flowing because the only words you can think of are four letters and you wish all members of the opposite sex would evaporate like in Night of the Comet.  So what do you do?  Pull out your favorite romance novel and flip to that steamy love scene that makes you sweat.  Or turn on Lifetime or Cinemax or the Hallmark channel – whatever will best fit the scene you need to write — and see if it stirs the pot a bit.

I find this tactic works on all sorts of scenes.  I once watched an entire marathon of Law and Order to help with a series of courtroom scenes I had to write.  Not to steal ideas, but to get in the frame of mind and research the dialogue.  Try it!

5.  Change it up

If all else fails, move on and come back to it later.  Writing out of order might not be what you’re accustomed to, but if it keeps you writing it can’t be that bad, right?

After my struggles this weekend with my climax scene, I decided to try something a little different on my next manuscript.  Rather than saving the hardest scene for last, when I’m tired and frustrated and want to kill off every one of my characters, I’m going to try to write it first when the point of the story is fresh on my mind.  I’m not quite there yet, but I’ll let you know how it goes.

So tell us, what do you do when you’re stuck?

Hugs!

Jenna P.

 

 

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Characters IRL?

So, this past weekend, I finally watched a movie that had been in my Netflix queue for a while. Ruby Sparks is about an author struggling with writer’s block who envisions his ideal girl in a dream—a flash of inspiration that compels him to write, and the more he writes, the realer she becomes,  until she actually turns real. Without getting too spoilery, this results in comedy and romance, and it does get a little bit creepy and dark in places.

This story about a writer who falls in love with his character got me thinking about a couple of things. First: do we, as writers, need to fall at least a little bit in love with our characters to make them lovable on the page? Have you ever written a character—specifically a romantic lead—that is absolutely not your type? I know I haven’t. Every romantic hero has at least several elements that I find attractive: sometimes physically, others, more personality-wise. Have you ever had a crush on one of your characters? And is that, like, really embarrassing to admit lest others find you mentally disturbed? And what if, like Calvin in Ruby Sparks, you would bring your crushiest character crush to life as your boyfriend or girlfriend (supposing you’re available or at least swinging)?

But before we get ahead of ourselves and start magically populating the world with hunky tycoons and werewolves with hearts of gold, let’s back up a bit. What kind of people would they be? Would you actually want that Alpha male around, or would you send that obnoxious psycho packing the first time he broke into your house to “protect” you (or after an entire day of whimsy, would you tell that manic pixie dream girl to tone it down or hit the bricks)? I think a lot of times, what translates as sexy on the page might be bordering on deal-breaker in real life.

And now, for the dark part: again, trying to avoid spoilers, but since the premise of the movie is that Calvin wrote Ruby into existence, we know he can make her do whatever he wants by simply writing it. In the film, it gets ugly and sad. As writers, we can make our characters do anything in the world, and we do it all the time. But we have a responsibility here to respect the characters we’ve spent so much time layering with personal histories, quirks and traits to make them real. When we go against these traita and write a character’s actions simply because the plot calls for it, we’re forcing them—and mistreating the “people” we’ve created and love. Worst of all, the reader won’t believe it.

Now it’s confession time: have you ever had a character crush? Would you like him or her in real life, or would they be a royal pain? Have you ever had a portion of your story just not ring true and realized it was because you were forcing your characters to act in a way they wouldn’t? Spill the sordid details—I promise I won’t judge!

Happy writing!

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Work That Body!

Last Monday I dove into writing Book 3 of my Fianna trilogy. I came up gasping for air, flapping my arms and legs, trying not to drown in the Booooooooring as hell beginning of my book.

Seriously. I was like “Sahnoooooooooze FEST, McGovy!”

bored1

I am better than the schwill I was spilling. And while I’m all about keeping the rough draft rough, I knew I had to start this Hotfooting on the right foot. I looked at the 1,000 words I’d written, dozed off, woke back up, and tried jumping forward. Nope, still sucked.

Sickened, I closed the document and went to work out. I was pissed at myself, which is kinda good since I go kickboxing at 9Round (Shout out to 9Rounders! Whoop whoop! I love it). Anyway, I get there, all mad at Maddox and his stoic a$$ POV and frustrated with myself for not coming out of the corner swinging like Pacquiao.

Manny Pacquiao vs Miguel Cotto

I do three minutes on the jump rope. I really hate jumping rope unless it’s Double Dutch and that’s only because DD makes me chuckle at my skills being shamed by eight year old girls. I do three minutes of burpees. (Burpees: Exercise code for torture). Then, it started to hit me around burpee number 13: EMichels whole black and white vs. color blog post.

I move on to the focus bag. What is wrong with my scene? I thought it was the beginning.woman boxing

I abso look like this while working out, btw. Yep, yep I do. 😉

Heavy bag is next. Kicking and kneeing the crud out of it, the endorphins start to fire. “No, McGovy.”(Yeah I talk to myself a lot. And, what?) “You began before the beginning. Not too far before, but still too far for what you want.”

Then, practicing hand to hand with the trainer, thinking my character Cian would be so proud, flooded with the feel good hormones that a great workout provides, it hits me. I have to open with the Druid and his Fianna in their element! Toss the reader into the fray! Get craaaazy!

With Maddox, since he’s book three, I need to start the story not just in color, but in Hi-Def and surround sound. Bury the reader in the sensations and chaos of that opening scene with a tight yet free handed camera. It’s supposed to be mayhem at first. I have to trust the reader and go with it. After the swell of the storm, I can back up the camera angle, steady it a bit, and get a wider shot with a little B&W info.

I hit the speed bag with renewed energy and hope. I can write this story! The scene starts to play out in my mind and I’m making that hard earned “pah-donk, pah-donk, pah-donk” sound on the bag without even paying attention. My mind is miles away, in the opening of an orchard, where four men are invoking magic and some crazy shiz is going down.

Bliss! Pure bliss is the only way to describe the feeling when that elusive scene finally reaches a writer. I finished up my work out, rushed home, texted EMichels with an “I’ve got it!” text, and proceeded to handwrite the entire scene in just over an hour.

My point? Other than don’t lose hope when a scene plays hide and seek with you? Exercise helped me overcome my writing hurdle. When you’re banging your head against the keyboard, GET UP! Go away and move your body. Walk, run, box, dance – whatever it is you like. Just move it! Work up an exercise-y glow and get the endorphins flowing. Work out your body and I bet you’ll work out your mind and the kinks in your story. kickbox

I totally look like this too. *nods* Bah-HA!

Write on,

McGovy

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#80khotfoot – Week 2

running-in-heels-wk2

 

Bad Girlz’ Book Race
March 15-June 7th
We’re racing to 80K!
#80khotfoot

Friends don’t let other friends rough draft alone! Save the #80khotfoot hashtag and check back every Friday for the weekly post about the challenge.

Sooooooooooooo…. How’s it going? Is the beginning the easiest part for you or do you take awhile to pick up speed as you get used to a new manuscript?

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Real Life Inspirations and Writerly Creations

For my blog post today I knew I wanted to blog about my current rough draft, but wasn’t sure what to focus on. Then I thought about the inspiration for this story and how real life has a way of finding its way into fiction. Previously it’s been little meta details that have popped up in my writing, but in this book there are definitely big inspirations.

The star of the story is seventeen year old Salamandra Torres (at the moment I imagine her as Shay Mitchell), home from boarding school for the summer. Home is Misty Mills, a small town in the mountains of North Carolina.

I’ve honestly never been much of a nature person. I like water that runs through a filter before I drink it, air that has been conditioned to the ideal temperature, and about a hundred miles between me and the nearest bear. My first experience in the mountains as an adult was not ideal due to the location, in which I learned that my claustrophobia will override my fear of heights if being on a four story balcony will make me feel less suffocated.

When I was Darcy-napped by The M Shelf to, like, the perfect mountain house in all of creation, I was skeptical. If you couldn’t tell already, I’m a pretty skeptical person in general. Enjoying the hell out of being in the mountains had to be a fluke. But then months later I ended up finishing my first Victoria Saint book while hiding away from the world in the mountains. I think the sheer high of typing ‘The End’ on my baby, the weight being lifted from my shoulders, allowed me to truly enjoy what was around me and I fell in love with it.

But as I spent two long years in a small town in Alabama, Sal’s motivation to go through anything to go back to boarding school comes straight from the heart.

If I ever become ridiculously famous, I wonder if I’ll get a plague and a mention in an edition of this book. Hm. Anyway, I spent two years in the home of Harper Lee and (briefly) Truman Capote. I took my driving test there… which is literally if you can make it around the courthouse in one piece. The nearest decent shopping was two hours away. We had Dial-Up internet. And the only thing to do was either raise cattle for 4-H or watch cotton grow. I decided to suffer with Dial-Up instead.

It wasn’t the town’s fault that my duration in it sucked. Looking back I know I could have made more of the experience. Monroeville does make the most of its literary heritage and their annual play of To Kill A Mockingbird (inside the courthouse) is brilliant.

But as a teenager I wanted to escape, and so does Sal, which provides some major motivation.

Now for the idea that got this whole story rolling!

When The M Shelf ladies told me there was a Starbucks in a funeral home… MAN. The creative gears in my head went into overtime. What a freaking awesome idea! I’m an advocate of coffee being served, well, everywhere. And it became my ‘setting within a setting.’ Wake the Dead Coffee Shop and Blessed Rest Funeral Home, owned by Sal’s parents, and definitely not making her stint in Misty Mills any easier.

So, tell me about your newest work in progress, your almost completed baby, or your #80khotfoot project! But for the #80khotfoot peeps, I have an extra challenge. Go to your blogs (if you have one, if not just comment) and write your own post about elements that inspired your story and post the link in the comments below.

C’mon, I want to know and you know you want me to know! *grin* There might even be a prize involved. I haven’t decided yet. *rubs hands together with glee*

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Bad Girl For A Day: Jenna McCormick – Self Love: Indie Publishing Romance Novels

I tried self-publishing back before it was cool thing to do. When ebooks were barely a blip on the radar and I knew less than nothing about writing/publishing or anything other than I want to be a writer when I grew up.http://www.dreamstime.com/-image23337062

To put it bluntly, I was a dumbass. And by self-publishing my first novel I made sure the entire world knew it.

Now here I am seven years down the line, cringing with embarrassment because I paid to globally distribute that flaming piece of crap. Every once in a while I open the file and go, it can’t be that bad.

And then I see that yes, in fact it is that bad. It’s an overpriced, overwritten poorly plotted, badly edited, crappy cover wearing 110K word mystery full of angst and shallow childish dreams. A one way ticket to Sucksville, population me, myself and I. Hell, I don’t even want to reread it and see if it’s worth saving.

I swore up, down and sideways to anyone who would listen that I would NEVER self-publish anything again. Ever.

And then a strange thing happened. Five years later I’d learned stuff, not just about craft and how to write a good book, but about cover art design, writing blurbs and synopsis, proofreading and formatting. I’d made a sale to Kensington but I still had all these books, books that I loved that I wanted to share with the world but that just weren’t right for a specific line. Sexy mysteries and zany erotic romances that fit n no particular category.  And before you could say, Chicka, what have you been smoking? I did it again. With my 2010 On the Far Side Contest Winner, Stellar Timing.Stellar Timing

Not gonna lie, sales were slow at first, but within a month it had overtaken all of my small press ebooks as my personal bestseller. Why? Not because it was any better than my Laundry Hag books. No, it was price point, the fact that it was a $2.99 in a sea of $5.95 and up. As an indie e publisher I was free to experiment with promotions and cost and to pretty much do whatever the hell I wanted with it. Old cover not working? Slap up a new one! $2.99 not enough for months’ worth of writing? Break the books into a serial and charge per episode. The freedom is both overwhelming and exhilarating.

I found ways of bettering my product and even started up a small press with other writers. Sanibel Moon Books allows each of us to maintain our own imprint and release schedule but the final product is a collective effort. My latest release, In the Bedroom with the Rope sold over 5,000 units on Valentine’s Day weekend. That’s a damn good feeling.

What have I learned from this? That there are no absolutes in publishing, no always or onlys or nevers. If you latch onto them, you’re boxing yourself into a dark corner and denying yourself the chance to flourish. My indie experience went from being the smelly kid nobody wanted to sit next to, to having fans ask when the next one book is coming out. So I guess the moral to my twisted story is to get all the facts about whatever course of publishing you’re trying to pursue before you dive in head first. And never say never again, because hey, you never know.

Thank you for joining us today, Jenna! 

You can find out more about Jenna (and Jennifer) and visit her social media haunts by checking out the links below. 

A little fantasy goes a long way….

Born on Sanibel Island somewhere between the fifth and seventh bottle of Rosa Regale, Jenna McCormick writes big girl romance with a touch of out of this world fantasy. Her hobbies include scouring the Internet for the perfect pair of boots and stirring up trouble, much to the dismay of her alter ego. Her works to date include the futuristic erotic romance series No LimitsNo Mercy, the post-Apocalyptic B Cubed trilogy, the contemporary BDSM serials Caught Up In You and In the Bedroom with the Rope as well as the novella Project Seduction in the Pleasure Project anthology coming in March of 2013.

Jenna loves to hear from her readers. Visit her on the web at www.authorjennamac.com.

Jennifer L Hart on twitter @DamagedGoodsAce
www.jenniferlhart.com

Jenna McCormick on twitter @AuthorJennaMac
Jenna McCormick Fanpage on FB  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJennaMcCormick
www.authorjennmac.com

Sanibel Moon Books on twitter @SanibelMoonBook
website: http://www.sanibelmoon.com/ 
FB: https://www.facebook.com/SanibelMoonBooks

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Please Let this Bear Out of Her Cave!

As much as I hate to admit this, two weeks ago, (for the FIRST time since I started telling stories) I thought seriously about giving up on my dream of becoming a published author. *hides face in hands* Yep. I was ready to shut the lap top, give away the hundreds of ‘how to’ books, and call it a day. I couldn’t explain this dark place my mind had gone. It was as if I had been attacked by a writer-stealer of dreams demon. It had absorbed me into this horrible place of nothing. This gray-numb-writerless-nothing. Then one day it all became crystal clear. It wasn’t a writer-stealer of dreams demon after all. It was WINTER!

Let me tell you this winter has been LONG for me. I truly felt like a bear that had been hiding in her den for months. I hadn’t gone anywhere or done anything exciting in what seemed like forever. And that included coming up with anything new to write about.

So I did what any bear would do after a long winters nap. I walked outside and took a good look around. Even though there was still a lot of gray looming around, I saw a few green leaves popping out here and there.  The trees had started to fill out. The Iris bulbs were reaching toward the sunlight. Birds chirped in the distance. SPRING WAS COMING TO THE RESCUE. I inhaled the still, very cold air into my lungs and realized I was going to live to write another day. Relief soared through my entire body when I grasped what I had been going through was temporary.

I could feel my creative juices that had been held winter-hostage start to come alive once more. Within the next couple of days things started to turn around for me. I broke out an old novel and started working on edits. I came up with a new idea for a romantic comedy. I even brought out my drawing pad and sketched a picture for my daughter. I was like Frankenstein, “IT’S ALIVE!”

So if there are any writers or readers out their feeling as if you’re walking around under a gray cloud of nothingness, don’t fall into the trap I did and let it steal your dreams. It could be something as simple as WINTER.  Let me assure you, next year I’ll be prepared for it. I won’t hide in the bear’s den again. I’m getting out. Maybe I’ll embrace winter with a ski trip or plan a visit up North to see family. But there’s one thing I will not do. I will not let the coldness of winter cause me to lose focus on my dreams ever again.

Spring is coming. Yay! Just in time for the #80kHotFoot challenge.

Remember to dream big!

Lori

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