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December Recap and January Goals

11 Jan

I’ll admit to wondering about continuing these monthly goals posts but I have enjoyed how they keep me focused on what I want to cultivate in my life. Writing. Learning. Health.

I have read a lot about choosing a word for the year and I’ve mulled it over a little bit. I’m hoping to pick one out by the end of this month and then I’ll share it with you next month!

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Recap of Monthly Goals:

Edit ‘Amelia’ – 

Post Regularly –  I feel like I did pretty good on this.

Lose weight/work toward health –   I didn’t lose any weight but am making tiny steps toward being healthier- check out my health update for more info.

Read more books on Jewish living –  Once again, they aren’t books on Jewish living. But, I finished For Men Only (a review is coming this month!) and have started The Supernatural Ways of Royalty by Kris Vallotton (mixed feelings on it so far)

Write a letter to one person a month  

Try a new recipe – I made a few from the Eating Clean by Amie Valpone cookbook.

Watch/Read a documentary/biography – I so want to see the new movie about Vincent Van Gogh’s life! Maybe this month..?

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Finally getting to the dog park!

Dec Goals:

blood draw for CMP 

eye doctor appointment

Go through Guest Closet

Donate stuff to thrift store

Totally busted out all my December goals in the first few weeks of the month, well except for donating the stuff to the thrift store, that one took me a while longer. But, I was so proud of myself. But now onto my goals for January!

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Jan Goals:

Couch and Box Springs to the dump

Clean oven

Redecorate TV table

Dust entire house

Workout 2 days a week

 

~Laura

Dec 2017 Book Reviews

5 Jan

It’s a blustery day here in Oregon, leaving the landscape looking slightly barren and depressing. There’s no snow, no sign of a cold, beautiful winter. Just windy, cloudy and rainy. But, that’s why there are such wonderful things as books to get lost in. I cannot believe I read 70 books in 2017 . I’ve decided to set this year’s reading goal to 60 books. I have always been an avid reader but I’m hoping to tone down my amount of reading just a smidgen and increase my amount of writing a lot! I enjoy keeping track of what I’ve read on Goodreads, it’s so much easier than writing them all down like I used to do.  (please tell me I’m not the only one who did that).

If you  missed it, I shared a post of my Top Reads of 2017 just last week, check it out!

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Photo by Alice Hampson on Unsplash

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson – Two princesses’ lives are thrown into turmoil. While both scramble to learn the ways of their new environments, political upheaval is on the horizon.

~As good as this story was, I admit to being a little disappointed with how much sexual content there was. While I realize that it was mild, it was still more than I like. Because of that, I don’t think I’ll read this book again – which makes me sad because I really liked Siri and Lightsong, and the different twists and turns and character development that happened throughout.

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis – Shasta and Bree – a young slave and a talking horse – are running away from cruel masters. Their destination is Narnia.  But when they discover a plot to overthrow Narnia, their journey becomes a race to warn the people of the impending attack.

~Series review coming next month!

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman – A compelling love story between a young Irish girl, Katherine Mary O’Fallon, new to the Canadian wild, and Sergeant Mike Flannigan of the Canadian Mounted police.

~This is a yearly – winter read for me. The wilderness and those occupying it – the animals, peoples and nature itself – are described so vividly, it’s a delight. The heartbreak that occurs will tear your heart out just as surely as you’ll rejoice when good things happen. If this book isn’t considered a classic, I’m not sure why. Read it, you’ll be glad you did. 

Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy – When singer Annette Talbot shows up, with trouble following close on her heels, Elijah Walker has to decide if she’s telling the truth or lying. Like his ex- fiancee. Despite himself, he’s drawn to her – and just when he decides to trust her, he finds out she’s a wanted woman. Will he find out the truth before he loses Annie forever?

~ This was my second time reading this sweet romantic mystery. I liked how Connealy dealt with Elijah’s struggle to forgive himself and Annette’s mis-guided belief in ‘bearing her cross’. Faith is central to this novel, and it’s done very well. It’s a great Christmas-time western read.

For Men Only by Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn

~A full review along with its companion book, For Women Only, will be up this month!

An Amish Christmas : December in Lancaster County by Beth Wiseman – Forgiveness is on the horizon – or is it? – for several people in Lancaster County. Facing some of their deepest fears at Christmastime has the potential to change their lives.

~I forgot how sweet these stories were. I enjoyed all 3 of them – I am seeing on Goodreads that it says there’s four novellas, my copy doesn’t have “Christmas Cradles”. A good way to describe these are Hallmark movies set in an Amish community – and that’s not a bad thing. They deal with different struggles, but all 3 stories tie in with each other. They may be a bit cliched but sometimes that’s what you want. It only took me a few days to read all of them, they are quick, fun reads for anyone. 

 

Currently Reading: 

Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. Wilson

Samantha Among the Brethren by Marietta Holley

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

The Supernatural Ways of Royalty by Kris Vallotton

 

 

To Read:

A Yellow Journalist by Miriam Michelson

The Writer’s Journey by Vogler (finish!)

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

 

What are you reading?

 

While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

~Laura

My Top Reads of 2017

29 Dec

I decided to do something a little bit fun – share a list of my favorite books of this year. We all love lists, don’t we?! We do.

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These aren’t in any particular order – just my Top 5 in each catergory:

New Reads:

~ Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

~ Failure is Impossible (Susan B. Anthony ) by Lynn Sherr

~Timber Ridge Reflections by Tamera Alexander

~Mermaid in the Basement by Gilbert Morris

~Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce

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Classics: 

~Captain’s Courageous by Rudyard Kipling

~Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore

~ Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott

~ Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott

~Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte’

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About Writing: 

~ Revision and Self- editing for Publication by James Scott Bell

~ The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

~ The New Book of Etiquette by Lillian Eicher

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Fantasy :  (note: remember I am still new to this genre. . . .)

~ Beauty by Robin Mckinley

~ Spindle’s End by Robin Mckinley

~ Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

~ Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

~ The Hero and the Crown by Robin Mckinley

and a bonus one :

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

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Marriage/Faith: 

Jewish Roots by Dan Juster

When God Doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Messianic Jewish Manifesto by David H. Stern

For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn

 

 

What’s your favorite read from this year? Do you love some of my top reads as well? I’d love to hear about it! 

~Laura

Series Review – Mistborn part 2

22 Dec

So, Brandon Sanderson has a spin-off series from the Mistborn series! I had no idea! I requested these three from the library as soon as I found out. I believe that this is the end of the series though although I feel like I read that he’s currently working on another one. (insert happy dance).

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* I will point out that on Goodreads, it says Mistborn – Alloy Era #1 – as well as #4 for the Mistborn series…. * 

These three books – Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self and The Bands of Mourning – take place centuries after the Mistborn trilogy.

Alloy of Law – Feruchemist and Allomancer, Waxillium Ladrian, doesn’t fit in out in the Roughs but neither does he fit in the middle of a ballroom. Returning to the city, Elendel wasn’t his choice. Now that he’s back though, he sees corruption everywhere. His plan of defending the city becomes more complicated as his friend Wayne arrives with bad news and a young woman with grand dreams insists on helping as well.

Shadows of Self – As terrorists stir up workers anger and religious conflict, Wax, Wayne and Marasi must figure out who is behind the conspiracy to stop the country’s progress. But when technology and magic mix, there’s no telling just what is really going on – or just who you can trust.

Bands of Mourning – When rumors that the location of the bands of mourning have been found, Wax is recruited to investigate. He’s not sure if they are even real – they have been a mythical story for so long, how can they be real? They are said to be the Lord Ruler’s own metalminds and that whoever wears them will have the same power. As he travels, he finds clues to what the shady organization known as The Set, is up to.

 

I really enjoyed this series : the mix of technology – a society that’s still trying to find its feet – and magic. Waxilliam was a great character, a bit of detective, a bit of wild west, a bit of rogue. I enjoyed the development of the characters, not just Wax, but the side characters as well. I loved the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) references to some of the people we met in the first Mistborn series.

There was more….disturbing content in these. I’m really not sure if disturbing is the right word, honestly. Let’s see if I can say it another way. There were some things in these three books – mainly dealing with the kandra, I believe, that if these were my first sci-fi fantasy books, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get past them. Squeamish much? Yes. Yes, I am. But remember, I am still pretty new to this genre – but I can also say that it’s also mild because Sanderson could have made it more graphic. Shudder to even think about that. I don’t say this to turn you from them, because these books are so enjoyable and he does state things as … nicely as possible.

 

 

While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

~Laura

Have you any sci-fi fantasy books that you love? Or what’s a new genre you’ve tried recently?

Monthly Goals – Dec 2017

12 Dec

I feel so behind already this month friends! Along with that, I feel very unmotivated to write, which is sad since I really wanted to be further along in editing my novel.

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Recap of Monthly Goals:

Edit ‘Amelia’ – I got through it once and have started going through it again!

Post Regularly – Not at all. But with my health crashing and the holiday, I am not surprised

Lose weight/work toward health –  !!

Read more books on Jewish living –  Finished Jewish Roots by Dan Juster and also read (non-Jewish) For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn (insert link to review) and have started For Men Only.

Write a letter to one person a month  – nope

Try a new recipe – Sweet Potato Soup –it was so delicious! I really want to make it again. I also tried a new granola bars recipe but I can’t remember where I got it from.

Watch/Read a documentary/biography – The Painting Life of Vincent Van Gogh. ~Now, you might not know this about me, but I am a huge fan of Van Gogh’s paintings. I have a dream of going to see an exhibit of his somewhere, someday. Anyway, this documentary was interesting and told so much about where he got his inspiration from. Also, I really want to go see this movie they made about him

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Tea date at Townshends!

Nov Goals:

Finish Cleaning Laundry Room – It was technically in Dec that I finished it but since it was before this post went up, I’m counting it.

NANOWRIMO – yes yes and yes! I busted through my entire manuscript in the first few weeks. Writing tons of notes, marking where new scenes need to go, etc. The last two weeks, I started going through it again but didn’t get very far

Donate stuff to thrift store – nope. I’m going through a bit more stuff before I do

1 thing I did that I didn’t think I could: I got up the gumption to call the disability lawyer again and am having them help me with all the insanity of trying to get approved for disability

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Dec Goals:

blood draw for CMP

eye doctor appointment

Go through Guest Closet

Donate stuff to thrift store

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Do you set monthly goals? If you do, how did you do in November? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 2017 Book Reviews

8 Dec

Hello again! I read varying types of books this month – and am sad to say there are a few that I didn’t care much for. I do love how much I was able to read this past month though! I have already more than met my Goodreads goal of reading 52 books this year.

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Just the Essentials by Adina Grigore 

~This was a fun book that tells about the history, composition and encouragement to enter the world of essential oils. To make it even better, there were several do it yourself recipes for the home, personal care and cooking.

Jewish Roots by Dan Juster

~ As an introductory book about Messianic Judaism, this book (originally printed in 1995 I believe) did a nice job of answering a lot of questions. It was easy to read. I recommend this as a good starting place if you’re curious about how it got started, where it was at at the point of printing and the basic beliefs and traditions. It would go well with God-Fearers as well.

Beside Still Waters by Annalee Conti  When Violet Channing’s aunt, her sole relative, dies, she isn’t sure what she’ll do. She certainly doesn’t want to continue working in the Boston garment factory, so she takes a job in the Yukon Territory as a live-in teacher for a sick child. As she’s traveling, she falls in love with a Yukon riverboat captain. But, tragedy strikes again and Violet has to decide if she’ll become bitter or learn to love again.

~I received this book free from Ambassador International for my personal review. I was excited for this book as it’s set in the early 1900s and in Alaska, no less! After receiving it, I realized that it’s the third book in the Alaskan Waters Series. Perhaps this is why I didn’t get into the book until I was three-quarters of the way into it. I couldn’t connect with Violet well. It was interesting and fun to find out the history of Alaska that is sprinkled throughout the book. Some of the side characters I really liked and would have liked them to have an even bigger part! (like Cally).

Indelible by Kristen Heitzmann – When Trevor MacDaniel rescues a toddler from a cougar, he inevitably meets sculpter Natalie Reeve.  But trouble comes at them from all sides, including a twisted mind seeing him as an adversary. Can the hero save himself?

~I tried to like this one so much! My mom recommended it and let me borrow it but… I got a quarter of the way through (barely) and haven’t picked it up in weeks. I normally like Heitzmann’s books so I really want(ed) to like it but it just hasn’t hit the right note for me I guess.  I felt like I couldn’t get connected to one character before being introduced to another one; it almost felt like I was expected to already know a few of the characters; the main character felt like they should be more of a minor character (and then with talking to mom, apparently someone else is the main character so now I’m really confused). Anyway, since I have it for a few more months I’ll keep trying it but it might be a lost cause. Which makes me sad.

Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia #2) and Voyage of the Dawn Treader (#3) by C.S. Lewis

~I will be doing a separate post on the Chronicle series (how have I not done it yet?!) but for now –  I love the completely different people they meet and  ‘worlds’ and they enter as they travel! And Reepicheep. Always Reepicheep.

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The Mermaid in the Basement (Lady Trent Mystery #1) by Gilbert Morris – In London, 1857, Lady Serafina Trent has one goal – prove that her brother is not a murderer. In order to do this, she must ally herself with people outside of her social class. But nothing will stand in her way.

~This book is probably in my top ten historical fiction list now. It’s also a mystery which, let’s be honest, makes it even better. I haven’t read much of Morris’ novels ( mostly just The Price of Liberty series, which I reviewed a little of here and here) so I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I quickly got pulled in and found it hard to put down! I highly recommend this novel. (fun fact: this is one of almost a dozen books my mom and I got for $1!!)

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For Women Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

~I read this right after we got married and did a short review on it . I’m planning on reading the accompanying book For Men Only next and want to do a separate review for both – so here’s hoping! Suffice it to say that this book is well worth the read!

 

Currently Reading:

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

The Horse and His Boy  by C.S. Lewis

For Men Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

 

To Read:

Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. Wilson

Samantha Among the Brethren by Josiah Allen’s Wife (printed 1892)

Next Narnia book

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman

 

I hope you found something to add to your to-read list! Happy December!

~Laura

 

Half-way through Nanowrimo 2017!

18 Nov

Whew! You guys, I made it. WE made it.

To the half-way point, that is.

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Okay, well we are a few days past half-way… but anyway –

My goal was to get through (editing) my manuscript as fast as I could so that I could then get going through it again to actually WRITE the scenes that need adding! And there are a lot of them, trust me. Aaand, right about day 15, I got to the end.

I promptly wrote my reaction and as many notes as I could (at the end of my 10 page document of read-through notes) to having read it from beginning to end. I’d done that at the beginning of this year of course, but having it printed out made such a difference for me. If you’re struggling with editing and getting the timeline set in your brain, I recommend printing the entire thing out and reading it that way.

So, now, I’ve got to get going on round two of nano for me – writing! I’m really torn between just going to the scenes that need written (I marked the spots with green post-it notes! ( i love these)  Or starting from the beginning and editing again but writing the scenes in this time as I go through. Any advice?

Are you doing Nanowrimo? 

Monthly Goals Link Up : Nov 2017

7 Nov

It’s that time again – checking in to see how I did on my goals in October and setting new ones for November. Plus, you guys – it’s almost Thanksgiving!

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Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Recap of Monthly Goals:

Integrate new scene into ‘Amelia’ WELL. I changed this to ‘start editing whole manuscript’. I PRINTED IT. (so exciting) and have been working my way through it.

Post Regularly – I missed about three posts last month.

Lose weight/work toward health –  crossing this one off because I have made some improvements in my health. A new health update should be up soon!

Read more books on Jewish living –  I’m currently reading Jewish Roots by Dan Juster. I also went through the 4-week Bible Study called Rest and Release.

Write a letter to one person a month  – yes!

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Try a new recipe – Pumpkin Bread with Chai Coconut Glaze from theroastedroot.com  – it was yummy and moist but we weren’t overall thrilled with it. It wasn’t sweet enough, or pumpkiny enough for our tastes. I was super impressed with the glaze though – yum! I also made the Grain-Free Waffles from Against All grains.

Watch/Read a documentary/biography – I watched part off Hidden Killers of Edwardian and Victorian Homes. It was really interesting and I plan on watching the other two episodes.

Recap of Oct goals:

Go to a pumpkin patch – nope. I had it planned but then it fell through thanks to feeling terrible!

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Deep Clean Laundry Room – I got halfway through it…

Call Disability Lawyer again – nope

Buy Cover for the VW Bug – yes! it’s going to be too big but we’ll jimmy-rig it

Trim crazy grass bushes in front of yard

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Prep for NANOWRIMO –  This one fits in with my monthly goal of Amelia’s scene/editing.

1 thing I did that I didn’t think I could: I worked in the yard three times!!

 

Nov Goals:

Finish Cleaning Laundry Room

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Donate stuff to thrift store

 

Because of Nanowrimo, at least one trip to Bend, and at least three doctor appointments plus a lab to do, I am keeping November’s goals light. One other thing to note, in case you don’t follow me on Instagram (click on photos on the right from IG and it’ll take you there!), we lost our beloved 12 year old golden, Lady, on the 21st of October. It was sudden and shocking and we miss her so very much.

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It has shaken me up so much that I just couldn’t write here, or edit my novel, for about a week. We buried her on my parent’s property and I head there soon to ‘check on her’ one more time before winter sets in.

I have a feeling that my novel is going to get several new scenes that are sad while I do Nanowrimo this month (if you aren’t sure what I keep referring to, I explain it here). Which a book can always use! (although, I will admit that I’m reading a novel right now that I am struggling to get through because bad things keep happening the the MC. . . I keep muttering to the author ‘if such and such happens, I’m not going to keep reading’… but since it’s a book that I got free for a review, I am. I am assuming that by the end, I’ll like it…??) Anyway, if you’re doing nano, I’m dreaminagain on the nano site.

Happy November!

~Laura

How did you do on your goals last month? Have any fun plans for Thanksgiving?

3 Nov

Just a short writing prompt for you today.

Write about the texture of HOPE

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It came to her in the gentlest way – as she took a deep cleansing breath it slid down her throat and spread through her. It was a comforting fire that reached to her fingers and toes. She arched her neck as she savored it, reveling in it. It continued to fill her until she thought she would burst. Her heart beat steadily, pulsing in its new rhythm. She wet her lips, tasting its sweetness – like fresh picked strawberries on a summer’s day.

The world hadn’t changed around her, it was still a chaotic mess that disheartened even the most stalwart. Her situation hadn’t gotten better. But she found that it wasn’t as oppressive now. Her soul had found a last reserve of something that bolstered her, renewed her.

-Laura

(please bear with me as I’m slowly learning my new image editor…)

Oct. 2017 Book Review

1 Nov

I jumped around from book to book so much the past month – and then I started some more Brandon Sanderson books and I have a hard time putting them down…So every other book slooowed way down.

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – After a tragic childhood, orphan Jane Eyre emerges with her spirit intact. She takes a governess job at Thornfield, where she meets the enigmatic Mr. Rochester. They fall in love and plan to marry – but then she learns of an obstacle to her happiness. Heartbroken, Jane stays true to herself and seeks a life that offers peace and self-respect, if not love.

~It took me so long to get through this! I had only read this once before and I ended up enjoying it just as much the second time as the first. Her tenacity in staying true to what she knows is right is inspiring.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis – When Lucy Pevensie stumbles into the magical land of Narnia, she meets Mr. Tumnus, who ignores the command of the White Witch and leads her back home again. When she tells her siblings, Peter, Susan and Edmund, they don’t believe her but as luck would have it, they all discover Narnia and meet Aslan, the Great Lion. And that begins an adventure that Lucy and her siblings will never forget.

~I will do a full review of this series once I’ve finished it, but for now, know that I’m thoroughly enjoying this series again – it’s only my second time reading it. I love how Lewis talks to the reader in places. Not every author can pull this off but he does. 

Collected Poems of Henry David Thoreau –  I read a few throughout the book but with all the books I’m currently reading, and nanowrimo starting tomorrow (!) I decided to return this one to the library. I do, however, want to get it again and give it a more thorough going-over.

Mistborn series (books 4-6) by Brandon Sanderson – Separate review coming soon!

Series Review – English Garden by Lori Wick

Book Review – Stepping Heavenward

Currently Reading :

Just the Essentials by Adina Grigore

Jewish Roots by Dan Juster

Beside Still Waters by Annalee Conti

Indelible by Kristen Heitzmann

Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia #2) by C.S. Lewis

 

To-Read List:

More Narnia books

Samantha Among the Brethren by Josiah Allen’s Wife (printed 1892)

 

I’m really not figuring I’ll read much this coming month. I do want to finish everything that I’m in though, so that will be more than enough. I’m hoping to spend a lot of time and focus on editing my novel during nanowrimo! Because of that – and Thanksgiving in three weeks! –  posting might be a bit spotty. Happy November!

~Laura

What are your currently reading? 

 

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