Tag: family (page 2 of 2)

Four Ways to Turn Weekend Negatives into Writing Positives

snow in MayWow, what a weekend. It started with snow. In May. In Arkansas. I ask you, what’s a die hard northerner to look forward to in the south if not nice weather? We’ve already opened our pool, for Pete’s sake. And now we have snow! It couldn’t have come at a worse time—it was the first tennis tournament of the season. So here I was, missing a writing conference that I’d love to attend because of my kids’ sporting events, and the weather was not cooperating. I had planned for sun and heat and instead I was worrying about precipitation and wind chill factors. Not the weekend we had planned.

It was not a good weekend for us. On Friday, as I said, we woke up to snow. I was too cold to even get out of the car to take a proper photo of it. The tennis matches were all backed up and rescheduled, as well as operating under amended scoring protocols. By the time my son was used to the tournament and thoroughly warmed up, his match was over. Sadly, he lost, which isn’t unexpected for the first match ever, but he took it hard. By the time we ate and went home, the Penguin game had started. Luckily, we recorded it. Sadly, they lost too. It was a bad day for us all around.

Saturday started out as wet and cold as Friday. Tennis was still on amended schedules. My daughter’s match was delayed several hours, and they didn’t even bother telling us, so we just hung around for, oh, I don’t know, ever, until our turn. She made it into the semifinals, so we thought things we looking up. We were wrong.

Sunday dawned warmer and partly sunny. After Mass, we headed over to the courts and I checked in my daughter while my husband left with my son to go get some practice time in before his match. Everything was looking up, right? Wrong. They took my daughter ahead of schedule, so my husband missed the beginning of her match. He didn’t miss much. She lost. My son played a couple of hours later. He had a great match, but he also lost. We decided to grab something to eat and call it a day.

We headed out to a Mexican restaurant. I usually cook a special Mexican meal for Cinco de Mayo, but we weren’t home for me to make it, so we were at the mercy of the restaurant. The first piece of bad news: we walk in and the television above the bar has the hockey score on. No point in watching the game now. At least we won. Then the waitress who took our drink order never came back, so we were abandoned for a while. The good news was that we ended up with a really good waiter when he figured out that we weren’t being served. The meal wasn’t that good because they were super busy and using a modified menu, but we were together, so that’s all that really matters. I’ll just make our “real” meal later in the week.

So what’s the take away from this weekend?

  1. They don’t cancel tennis tournaments for snow.
  2. The kids are resilient when they lose in tennis matches.
  3. It doesn’t matter whether my kids (and my pro sports teams) win.
  4. Only four more years until I can make it to the writing conference in May.

And how these things impact fiction writing?

  1. Sometimes weather is inappropriate for the season.
    We’ve all seen storms thrown into stories, or cowboys riding into sunsets, but consider the weather as part of the setting when it’s not traditional—like snow in the summer, or a heat wave at Christmas. How can that impact your characters and your story?
  2. How characters handle adversity defines them.
    My kids didn’t make it into the finals this weekend, but they left the tournament as champions because of how they handled themselves. There were no McEnroe-sized temper tantrums, there were no tears. There were no blaming bad calls. There were no varsity limps. My kids shook hands with their competitors and held their heads high as they walked off the courts. How your characters handle losses helps readers know who they are.
  3. Heroes can’t always win and villains can’t always lose.
    There’s something to be said for the successful villain or the down-on-his-luck hero. If the hero is always on top, he’s going to be boring. He needs to face adversity and not always win. If the villain doesn’t score a success or two, he may succumb to new lows of depravity and evil, but he’ll be one dimensional. No one loses all the time. Mixing it up makes it more real.
  4. Writing conferences will help you improve your writing.
    There are times that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. This weekend, the first weekend in May, is always our first tennis tournament. It’s also the OWFI Conference. I can’t do both, and my family needs my support more than I need to go to the conference. There are other conferences, and in a few more years, I’ll be free to attend this conference, too. That doesn’t mean that I don’t find conferences important. I do, and I suggest writers find a conference and attend it. In fact, I found my agent at a conference, so I can’t say enough good things about them. Do your research, prepare, and attend. It’s a great way to network in addition to learn about your craft.

So no, this wasn’t the best weekend the Troilo family has spent in recent history. But we took our lemons and made limoncello out of them. (We’re Italian, what else would we make?) I hope you had a better weekend than we did, but if you didn’t, hopefully you found a way to get the positives out of the negatives. Good weekend or bad, why not share it with us below? Especially if you have a tip for a fellow writer.

Why Small Gestures Mean So Much

Mary NaccaratoThose of you who read my blog regularly might remember my Thanksgiving entry: “Why I’m Thankful for the White Tornado.” It was a post about my grandmother. Well, yesterday was her 95th birthday, and instead of posting something about it here, I chose to post on Facebook. Not on my author page, but on my profile page where family and friends who also know her would see it. It got a lot of comments. Of course it did; it’s my gramma, and she’s awesome! But back to the point of the story. Because I live seventeen hours away, I jokingly said that, since I couldn’t be there, I’d like it if someone could give her a hug in my place.

I never expected anyone to actually do it.

Someone actually did.

Hope EvansHope Shick and I have known each other for more years than I’m going to write here. We grew up in the same town, went to the same school, know the same people. She knows what my family means to me. Maybe she just gets the importance of family because she has a large one herself—she’s the mother to seven children. Also, like most people in my hometown, she knows my grandmother personally, so she knows what a special person she is. Stopping by to give her a hug probably wasn’t that big a hardship.

Except she had to rearrange her whole day to do it.

And she stayed to visit with her for about an hour.

See, that’s the thing about small towns that I miss the most. You can count on people to come through for you. It kills me that I wasn’t there to celebrate my grandmother’s 95th birthday with her. I didn’t get to bake her a cake or see her face when she opened my gift. I didn’t get to kiss her cheek or sit and laugh with her. We didn’t share a cup of coffee, and even our phone call was short because she had company and couldn’t talk. But because of an old friend, I got to share a hug with her—by proxy. And after talking with her this morning, I know that simple gesture made her day yesterday. It was a simple gesture that touched my heart more than words can ever express.

When I sit down at the keyboard and work on building my story worlds, these are the traits I draw on. The love, the camaraderie, the selfless gestures I find in the people in the small Western Pennsylvania town I grew up in. I hope you see these things in my work, and I hope you can draw on your histories to find inspiration for your art. What things motivate you?

Can One Red Kimono Bridge an Ethnic Divide?

red kimonoIn February, my friend and fellow author Jan Morrill was kind enough to write a guest post for me right before the release of her new novel, The Red Kimono. Since then, the book has come out and I read it in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. I found myself bonding with each of her characters so fully that I had to know what happened. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Jan book releaseSaturday evening, a local bookstore hosted Jan, having a “coming out” party for her novel, during which she read excerpts from the book and gave those of us in attendance more of the history behind the novel. There was a sizeable turnout, good food, and great entertainment—namely Jan, her family stories, and her research.

The striking thing about The Red Kimono is that its message transcends culture. I don’t have to be a Japanese American to relate to the characters in her book. My ancestors hail from Europe, and yet the themes in the novel are as pertinent to me as they are to Jan as they will be to you. Her work deals with racism, culture, compassion, and most importantly, family.

My writing always seems to come back to the core family dynamic, and this book looks at familial relationships from the point of view of three very different characters. It’s difficult not to place yourself in not only their shoes, but even some of the secondary characters, and wonder how you would behave in their position, ponder how things would be different if their family lives were different. I challenge you to read this book and not consider your own family unit from a different light.

Yes, this Saturday was indeed a joy. I had the rare opportunity to get a sneak peek behind the veil and learn what prompted the first of what I hope will be a series of novels by a talented and engaging author. I hope this post encourages you to do three things:

  1. Spend some time with your family. We always think there will be time to develop or strengthen familial bonds, but you never know when it will be too late.
  2. Attend a book release of an author you enjoy. You’ll learn so many things about the book and the author that you otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to.
  3. Buy Jan’s book, The Red Kimono. It’s an engaging read, and you won’t regret it.

What Inspires You?

FamilyI had planned on spending today’s post talking about contract terms. I recently signed a contract and thought it might be nice to go over some of the terminology that writers might find confusing. But earlier this week my parents-in-law were visiting, so I couldn’t write ahead of schedule, and the day I set actually set aside for blog-writing was spent visiting my niece. She stopped here on her way across the country. She just graduated from specialized training in the US Navy and has a three week leave before her next assignment begins, so she’s going home for a visit, and we were a pit stop along the way. I’m sorry, but visiting my niece/godchild takes precedent over defining contract terms, particularly when I haven’t seen her in a year and a half.

These visits got me thinking about the importance of family and its impact in my writing. The novels that I’m working on right now—the one under contract and the series I’m pitching to an agent—both have characters with strong family ties.

The contracted piece deals with two twins who have lost their parents and only have each other. Forget about the “twin bond,” these two have forged a relationship that’s thick and tight. If the adage is true that blood is thicker than water, remember—they’re the only blood each other has left.

For the series I’m working on, I relied more on my heritage. It deals with four
Italian-American sisters for whom family is everything even before tragedy strikes their lives. And when it all hits the fan, those bonds are there, not to be tested, but to bear each other up.

So it’s pretty clear to me that my own life relationships pretty clearly shape my fiction. That isn’t to say that if my sister makes me angry she’s going to end up being a shrew in my next book, or if my dad buys me a car he’s going to be written in as a handsome billionaire (hint, hint; wink, wink; nudge, nudge). But it does mean that things in my life that touch me are reflected in the things that I write.

What about the things that are important to you? What things touch you, and do they make it into your writing in some manner? Tell us about your writing in the comments.

Inspiration for 2013’s Goals and Targets

comedy tragedy masksHappy New Year!

For those of you who thought the world was going to end in December (an end that the Mayan’s never in fact predicted), welcome back to the party. And it is a party, by the way. I have the highest hopes for 2013 being a fabulous year.

It’s time for resolutions. It’s a time I usually dread. I think back over the resolutions I’ve made (and never kept) in the past and wonder why I should bother. But this year I have a better outlook. One reason is that I know even attempting to improve myself in any way is better than the status quo. Another reason is that everyone needs a clean slate once in a while. This is a great time for a fresh start. Finally, I usually look at the resolutions as something bad that I have to try to change. This year I’m looking at them as something good that I want to try to attain. Perhaps a different outlook will make all the difference in achieving my goals. Even though I’m just starting today (my vacation is just ending because my kids are just going back to school today), I already feel better than I have in prior years. It all has to do with outlook.

Many writing sites say to set both goals (something within your control) and targets (something outside of your control, but likely affected by your goals), and to be specific. They say if you set them publically, you’re more likely to be held accountable. I agree with the goals and targets, and I agree that a public declaration does give you motivation, but I believe that your resolutions are personal. Do what you want with them. If you want to share them for motivation, by all means, take a megaphone to the mall. If posting them above your laptop keeps them on your mind, then post them there. Write them in glitter paint and hang them across from your toilet dining table so you see them several times a day. Tell your mother-in-law so you can be harassed about them until you complete them. (Hey, whatever works for you.) But the important thing is to be specific. Use concrete numbers, not generalities, and set realistic deadlines.

In order for me to set my 2013 goals and targets, I thought back over 2012. And I realized, I had an emotional year. I laughed a lot, and I cried a lot. I cried when my niece left for boot camp, I cried when my son “graduated” middle school and cried again when his football team went undefeated this year. I cried when there were births and deaths, I cried at natural disasters and violent tragedies. I cried at Mass when I heard hymns that reminded me of my grandfather and I cried when I heard songs on the radio that reminded me how precious and short life is. I cried during movies, TV shows and reading. And, despite my kids’ utter humiliation, I even cried during certain commercials on television. I’m a softie.

But I also laughed a lot. I laughed when my husband and kids told jokes. I laughed when my dogs jumped up and licked my face. I laughed when family visited from out of state. It filled me with joy just seeing them walk in the door. I laughed (and maybe cried a little) when my daughter won her first tennis match. I laughed when I learned for the first time I was getting a story published. I laughed with my friends at writing group and at writing conferences. I laughed at myself when I did and said stupid things (more times than I care to count). I laughed when my computer posted an, “It’s dead, Jim,” message on my screen (otherwise I would have cried). I laughed when my daughter and I foolishly thought we could do the P90X system. That lasted four days. (And then I almost cried when I could barely walk.) I laughed when the Steelers hired Todd Haley as the OC. (Look where that got us.) I laughed at Christmas when my kids opened their gifts—their faces were priceless.

Yes, it was an emotional year. I wish I could erase the horrors, but we learn and grow from them, and they make us appreciate our joys and successes all the more. As I evaluate 2012, I know what I want from 2013. I hope you take the time to do an honest assessment of your last year and create a goal and target list for 2013. If you want, post it here. I’m not your mother-in-law, but I’d be happy to keep after you about your progress!

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

I awaken to a shrill alarm. Smoke is filling the room. My eyes sting, my lungs sear. Frantic, I reach for my husband, but he is already rolling out of bed and pulling me with him. We crouch low, trying to get under the burning strata billowing above us. I hear him say the one thought that’s racing through my mind: “The kids!”

They’re already in the hallway when we burst out of our room. We hear the fire crackling below us and our beloved dogs howling. I try to cover my kids’ faces as we sprint to the door. My husband races to release the dogs. I send a prayer up to God that the three of them will join us in the driveway. When we all unite—me, my children, my husband and my dogs—I am relieved for only a moment. Then I turn and survey all I am losing. I can’t even hear the sirens yet; we stand to lose everything. The fire isn’t that bad yet. Do I have time to go back in for anything? One thing? What one thing would I grab?

 ***

I’m blessed to never have had a fire at my house. I know people who have. People who have lost everything. They all say they are grateful to have gotten out safely, so they don’t care about the possessions. I get that. If my house was burning down, I would first and foremost make certain my husband, children and dogs were safe. As long as they are healthy and happy, I’m happy. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t miss some material things if I lost them. I’d think about all my wedding things: my gown, my champagne glasses, my photos and video. But that stuff is all spread out and not really worth anything to anyone but me. My next thought would be for my family photos and videos, and although my kids would love to have them, there would be no way to grab all of those in time. More likely than not I’d be wearing my engagement ring and family ring (and I’ve never taken my wedding band off), so I don’t have to worry about grabbing any jewelry that matters to me. So what one item would I take with me on my way out the door? What would I foolishly consider running back in for?

My family Bible.

I’m not going for the obvious answer here, although I wouldn’t want to live without God’s Word. For several years I read the Bible every day. There are religious books and artwork throughout my home, and my religion is a strong presence in my life. No, it’s not just any Bible that I would grab (I have several in my home). It’s one particular one. The family Bible is the object I treasure most.

See, when I was growing up, my grandfather was my hero. He immigrated from Italy when he was a young boy and had to drop out of school at fourteen when his father died to support his mother and siblings. Despite his lack of education, he was the smartest man I knew and in spite of all his hardships, he made more out of his life than most people do. Everyone loved him. I lost him when I was far too young, and I didn’t have much to remember him by.

Years later, my grandmother gave me a family Bible. Not only is it more exquisitely illustrated than any Bible I can find on the market today, it has sections in it that you can’t find in other Bibles, like indices and maps. It’s beautiful. It’s leather bound with gold-edged pages. The words inside are a treasure to the world. The craftsmanship is a treasure to anyone who appreciates fine art. Then Gramma told me it was my grandfather’s Bible. It was the kind he sold when he first started working to support his family, and it was the first one he owned. He owned it when he was the head of his father’s family, then he brought it to his own home when he was the head of his family. She had kept it all those years, and she was gifting it to me.

If I had to name one treasured item that I own, I’m naming that Bible. The words in it soothe me when I need comforting, the artwork is breathtaking, and it’s one of the only things I have to remind me of my grandfather and his sacrifices for his family. No, I wouldn’t risk sacrificing my life running into a burning building to retrieve this book, but I hope I never have to part with it. Losing it would be losing the one of the last tangible memories of my grandfather that I have left.

written for WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge

A Legacy is More than Boxes of Photos

My grandfather was a photography nut. I won’t go so far as to say he was a photography buff or an amateur photographer, but he was into taking pictures. Of his family, mostly, and friends. I never saw a picture of interesting buildings or pretty foliage. My grandfather took pictures of people. Often twice, because he’d forget to take the lens cap off.

He was so excited when my sister went to the prom that she and her date had to repose for all the pictures. Because he left the lens cap on. (I secretly think he was just stunned she got a date — just kidding, sis!) I’m not sure how you and your family pose for prom pictures, but in our family, it’s just short of a wedding shoot. Pictures of the girl alone, pictures of the guy alone, pictures of them together. Pictures of her getting the flowers, pictures of him getting the flowers. Pictures with the parents, pictures with the siblings, pictures with the whole family. Pictures with the grandparents… you get the idea. Is it an Italian thing, or was it just my grandfather setting a tradition in my family?

It wasn’t just the proms, though. In the summers, he’d have me and my cousin stand in the flower beds to take photos of us by whatever was blooming. They usually planted geraniums and impatiens. When my grandma wasn’t looking, my cousin and I would bend down and pop the impatiens’ seed pods, and my grandfather would laugh. If Grandma would see, she’d yell and we’d run away, and he’d just laugh louder. And then usually he’d realize he had the lens cap on and we’d have to come back and do it again. Afterward, we’d get Gram’s lemonade and cookies, so who could complain?

There were always photos at holiday mealtimes. We have some wonderful snapshots of tables laden with food and everyone is gathered around them, forks or glasses raised in salute of a toast having been made. But someone is always missing from the photo, because someone was behind the camera. Usually it was my grandfather. I have one nice picture where my grandfather is actually at the head of the table… my uncle took the shot; he’s absent from the photo. When I grew up and started hosting meals, I took a photo at my home. I wasn’t in the shot. It was kind of depressing, because it reminded me that my grandfather wasn’t, either. He’d been gone from us for many years at that point. I never took another photo at the dinner table. Really, at some point one of us should have learned to use the timer function on the camera.

My grandfather’s gone, and all we have now are boxes of his photos. Half of them are black, thanks to the lens cap. He’s in so few of the photos, because he was always behind the camera. But still, he gave us so many memories to remember him by. Not the big trips or the gorgeous monuments. It was the little things.

The grandkids in the flower beds.

His daughters in the kitchen with their mom.

His sons-in-law in the alley washing a car.

The family at the table.

We don’t have to worry about lens caps anymore when we’re taking the photos. But we should all learn to use the timer.

Who Wrote That?

My in-laws are in town. I was worried about how I was going to get a blog written today. But, as luck would have it, a guest blogger fell right in my lap with a post ready to go for me. No, it’s not my usual Italian heritage memories, but it is about writing, and it suits this entry perfectly. Having been a ghost writer myself, I know what she means. So, without further ado, I give you Karen Cole, Executive Director of Ghost Writer, Inc.

How to be a Righteous Ghost Writer

What is the point of writing or ghost writing, or even being a ghost writer or author of a novel, book, memoir or screenplay, if nobody else reads it or them? One reader does an experience make whether it is a ghost writer book, ghost writing screenplay or author memoirs. The point has always been the reader, your readers. You think when you ghost write a book between the many of you, what am I going to be an author or screenwriter about, how am I going to have a ghost writer talk, and how am I making ample money for my business, for my family, for myself – how about simply caring about your readers for a change?

What do they want, what sells you to them, how would you go about being a ghost writer or book author client for your readers? Whether you are a ghost writer or book author, it tends to be the case that your readers get awfully lost in the shuffle. The mental picture is somebody so important; they have their pick of all media on the face of the planet – why would they want to view yours? You do have to pick out your audience instead, aiming for something a bit shorter than best sellers, a bit longer than eBooks that make ten cents for you if you don’t aim it, hugging and arming instead a smaller group. Who would be interested in reading your idea book the most and whom are you as a ghost writer or book author writing it for?

It’s not a matter of what you want to say, it’s not a matter of satisfying your own selfish desires. It’s not a matter of how well your book is going to sell; it’s a matter of the nature of your audience. What are their needs? If you haven’t got an idea yet, what do you think is a Big Idea out there, what would appeal to a vast audience? If you do have an idea and you need to fulfill it, who needs that idea, who needs to be a ghost writer for it, who needs it? It’s not a matter of who you already happen to be – it’s largely a matter of where you can take a realistic appraisal. This is what I want ghost writers to consider.

Not the thing everybody else is doing, not the best rewrite, not the kitchen sink of each book or screenplay author’s prose that can be found somewhere else. Something else that is news to your readers, your audience. Not the past, not the present, not the future. Not sexual matters, not war, not how to make peace in our time by selling million dollar babies. Understand this example – books on self-help have sold like hotcakes because they have a readymade audience, namely people who need help. Who needs help, who beseeches a way to find that help, who hires a ghost writer who needs to help an author achieve an audience – who actually needs you?

You should be able, as either a ghost writer or book author, to think about somebody else for a change. Go find your people, and write, draw, plan, dream and implement fantasia for a pared down, niche, select series of groups of them. When you are a ghost writer, find somebody and write only for them – see it now. Give it your all, or give it something, but don’t just write for yourself – unless you really must pass it around to your family, friends and colleagues. Which can be the fairest audiences of some smaller types, of a different drummer, as long as you do realize that you are writing? Who are you a ghost writing team of – you, or all of those others?

Executive Director of Ghost Writer, Inc., Karen Cole writes. GWI at http://www.rainbowriting.com/ghostwritertos.htm is a renowned affordable online professional copy writers, book authors, ghost writers, copy editors, proof readers, coauthors, rewriters, book cover creation, graphics and CAD, digital and other photography, publishing assistance and book and screenplay writers, editors, developers and paid analysts service. We also do presentation and pitch services for your book and/or screenplay ideas to major TV and film industry representatives.

America’s Pastime

The two men most important to me (my husband and my son) have abandoned me and my daughter. Apparently there is something nearer and dearer to their hearts than we are.

I’m just kidding.

They’re off on a manly bonding adventure. To Kansas City.

Isn’t that where all men go for manly things to do?

I know, I know. You’re thinking barbecue. Or, you’re thinking we’re Italian, there is a large Italian community there, so we must have family there.

Wrong on both counts.

They’re there for the Baseball All-Star Game.

My son is so excited. They have great seats for the celebrity game, the home run derby, and the all star game itself. I’d tell you where to look for them on television, but you don’t know what they look like.

So what are my daughter and I going to do? We’ll be like Cinderella, of course. Cleaning and scrubbing and washing for their triumphant return.

Not.

I mean, of course some tidying will need to be done in their absence. I’m not a heathen. But if they’re on vacation, why shouldn’t we be, too?

My daughter had her purse packed the second they left the driveway. She has her route planned through the different malls she wants to hit for every day they’re gone. That’s right. Different malls every day.

I was thinking facials, manicures… she’s thinking BOGOs and clearance racks. And some high end stores thrown in to balance out her haul. (She just had a birthday. She’s ready to go.)

When the cat’s away the mice will play. And when the men are away, the ladies will shop.

Are You Thinking Godfather or Jersey Shore?

I know, I know. You hear Italian-Americans and you think Capone and Corleone or The Situation and Snooki. And you are either fascinated with one or both of those lifestyles or couldn’t care less about either. And then you don’t think about them at all.

There’s so much more to Italian-Americans than that.

My heritage is rich and full. Like so many Italian-Americans, we aren’t at the head of a major crime syndicate, nor are we stars of a reality TV show. My family came from Italy because of the same social, political, and economical reasons most families came to America. My great-grandfather came here alone, like so many men did, to find work before sending for his family. Once he was settled in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, he toiled until he had enough money to bring his wife and son over. And once they were here, he kept working. He worked in the mill and grew his family and continued to provide for them until he got sick and died at a terribly young age, causing my grandfather, the youngest, to quit school at fourteen to support his mother, himself, and six brothers and sisters. And he did it without complaint.

That’s the thing about Italians. It’s all about family. You do for family. No matter what.

So my grandfather became the head of his family at fourteen. And even when I was born, the aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews all still treated him like the head of the family. Because he had earned that respect.

My grandfather isn’t with us anymore, but my grandmother still is. She tells me stories of how the wages were different for Italians then, particularly the dark southern Italians like we are. She tells me how the Italians were beaten in the streets and mistreated by other nationalities who had already settled here. That’s why Italians formed their own communities and started their own clubs and shopped in their own stores. It was a matter of safety in numbers and protecting their own. I’m grateful that it’s a different world today.

My family is almost all still in the Western Pennsylvania area. I’m the only one who has had to leave — much like my ancestors, for economic reasons. We went where the jobs were. We now find ourselves in an area without Italian markets and even the closest church is twenty minutes away. We are once again the minority, but it’s not like before.

And I am grateful.

But I haven’t forgotten my roots.

And that’s what I try to breathe that life to in my writing. So no one else forgets, either.

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