Category Archives: Pari Noskin Taichert

Dreams, Goals, and “Getting Published”

by Pari

Even though we’re entering our second full week of 2010, many of us are still thinking about what we hope to accomplish during the New Year. Whether we set resolutions or frame our year in the context of goals met, it’s this initial push that shapes our experience of the next 350+ days.

. . . And I want to save some of you a bit of heartbreak.

During the recent holidays, I met many people who told me their goal for this year is to “get published.”

That, along with a series of blogs on motivation (read all of them from 12/23 on) at Dean Wesley Smith’s site – and my time at the Master Class – make me think we should discuss the distinction between dreams and goals here.

To me, dreams are hopes and wishes. They should be grand, marvelous, BIG. They should make you feel good when you think of them, smiling with the giddiness of magnificent possibility.

Do me a favor. Right now, before I continue, I want you to think of some of your dreams. Go on. Knock yourself out. I’ll watch the following video while I’m waiting.

Goals, on the other hand, are the nuts and bolts. They are the steps that help you walk toward your dreams. The key here is that YOU have total control over whether you achieve your goals or not. No one else does.

So . . . I have a real problem with the idea of “Getting published” as a tangible goal. At least when it comes to traditional publishers (paying markets: novels, magazines, ezines) because, basically, it’s out of your control.

Someone else judges your work and decides.

I can hear you now: “Pari, you’re being a real downer here. Are you saying I don’t have control over my own writing career?”

Not at all. In fact, you’re totally responsible for your career. Yep. It’s all you.

But “getting published” as a goal is setting yourself up for incredible disappointment for all the wrong reasons. We’ve all read enough really crappy books to know that just about anything has a chance of publication no matter how awful.

So getting published isn’t necessarily a measure of your work, your effort, or your abilities.

NOT getting published doesn’t tell you anything either, except that you’re not getting published.

The problem is that we humans spend a lot of our time inferring. Writers are particularly bad about it. We parse rejections for hidden innuendos. We take book reviews to heart. And we’re prone to embrace the negative far more quickly than the positive.

So why set yourself up for that kind of pain? It’ll just shut you down or make you angry or bitter (when you read one of those shitty books). And, I bet, it’ll hinder your productivity and the quality of your writing, too.

Why not formulate real goals instead?

JT gave us a helluva primer on that last Friday.

Even though it scares me to go public, I want to share my professional goals for this year with you too:

  1. Write at least two pages of fiction daily.
  2. Write and mail at least one short story/month.
  3. Write (and market) at least two new novels this year.
  4. Reach 10 items in the mail/email simultaneously at least once this year.

Right now, those don’t seem particularly difficult. By the end of the year when, I hope, I have a full-time job AND am working intensely on Left Coast Crime 2011 (why don’t you register while you’re checking out the website? Then I can work on my own goals a little more easily.), they’re going to be doozies.

So, what do you think?

Have you mistaken dreams for goals?
Is my framework useful to you or did you already know it?
Am I overreacting to the “getting published” meme as a goal?

As always, I look forward to our conversation.

Contest and conversation continues . . .

Hi all,

Don’t forget we’re on semi-hiatus here at Murderati this week, but not all of us are gone. So if you respond to any of our posts — or questions further down in the blog — one of us will surely respond. Also, by playing with us, you’re eligible to win one book from each of the ‘Rati authors.

That’s 14 fab reads.

Whether you join us or not, know that we wish you a wonderful, wonderful New Year.

Contest, Conversations continued with Pari

Hey all. You know the scoop. We’re on semi-hiatus this week. So . . . the contest continues. Anyone who answers some of the questions or comments on our posts is eligible to win 14 books (yep, count ’em) from the ‘Rati.

I’ll answer a few questions before asking my own:

From Darlene:  What would you do if you if you weren’t a writer?
Boy, that’s a toughie. I can’t even imagine life without writing; I’ve been doing it since I was five or so. But I think I’d take all the mental and physical time I devote to it and become active in the sustainable agriculture/slow food movement. Food is so fundamental and we’re really shooting ourselves in the foot – and endangering future generations – with our current policies such as the one that allows this.

What genre do you secretly want to try writing?
Right now I’m writing a mainstream novel. That’s a new experience for me. I’m also planning to try my hand at fantasy and at least one YA next year. I have to admit I’m curious about romance; I like happy endings.

What’s your secret trashy, must-watch TV show?
I’ve recently discovered Chopped and Iron Chef. Oh, man. I LOVE both of those shows. 

From JT: What are you reading?
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. I’m loving the lush quality of her writing.

From Toni: What was the very best day of your life? (Aside from significant others/ marriages and births of children.)
A fall day at the sculpture garden at Shidoni in New Mexico. I was with a good friend. We had a bottle of superb Amarone wine, sharp Italian cheeses, crusty bread and hard salami. We swigged the wine out of the bottle and used a pocket knife to cut the food. The sky glistened in a stunning blue and the sun was hot on our skins. Then, out of nowhere, came a rainstorm to cool us down. And there really was a brilliant rainbow during and after the storm.

Pretty much bliss on earth.

3) If you could go anywhere, right now, obligation-free, without stress, etc., where would you go?
I think I’d go to Italy and eat. Then I’d hop a plane to Ireland and drink. Then I’d go down to Brazil and dance it all off.

From Sylvia: What animal do you fear the most? (Must have experience and not just fantasy)
Orangutans. I was attacked by one in Hong Kong. It didn’t catch me, but I was absolutely terrified and tremble when I see them in zoos now.

As an author, what question are you asked the most that you refuse to answer or deflect the answer?
In addition to what the other ‘Rati have said, I have a really hard time with “Who is your favorite author?” because that’s always shifting.

What 10 questions do you most want to know about your readers, or us, the commenters?

I’ll add a few to the mix:

What’s your favorite board game?

What’s your favorite word?

Do make New Year’s resolutions? If so, can you tell us one?

Are you good at telling jokes? (Tell us one.)

What’s your favorite holiday food?

What’s one outrageous thing you’d like to do before you’re too old to do it?

What’s the most audacious thing you’ve ever done?

Which fictional character would you like to spend a day with . . . and why?

If you had a magic wand for a day, what would you do with it?

Is there anything you want to know specifically from me today? I’m around and can answer questions . . .


Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas!



We’re going to be on a minimal posting schedule through the New Year. Not a complete hiatus, but semi-regular postings, since many of us are traveling and trying to get a real break from the Interwebs. We’ll be back at full force January 2.

We truly appreciate that you take the time to stop by, to participate, to be a part of this fabulous community all year long. We value your input so much that we thought we’d throw the field open to you.

If you comment over the next week, you’ll be entered into our Festivus Contest!

And what, pray tell, may the glorious prize be for commenting? Why, a package of signed Murderati books, of course!

14 books from 14 authors.

Now that’s a deal.

Here’s what we want to know:

(answer as many as you wish, but only one answer is necessary to be included in the contest.)

 What are you doing for the holidays?

What are you reading?

What topics would you like us to cover in the New Year?

What questions do you have for any or all of us?

 We wish you and your families the very best of holiday joy!


by Pari

One the first day of Hanukkah, my true love gave to me . . .

Yep. It’s that time of year when latkes sizzle and candle flames flicker.

And let’s not forget the old saw about the miracle of a small amount of oil lasting for eight nights.

But for me the real miracle is that a small band of determined and incredibly outnumbered people fought for the freedom to worship, to believe in their own way, and actually won.

I don’t know about you, but I think about freedom a lot:

Physical freedom from slavery, hunger and disease
Political freedom to express opinions, to vote
Creative freedom to think differently, to break the chains of our self-imposed limitations

Yet all of us are prisoners. We embrace “conventional wisdom” without thinking about it. We often succumb – willingly – to a negative status quo.

When I stop to think about my writing and career, I’m agog at all the truisms I’ve bought into without question:

No one respects creativity anymore
Writers must market to be successful
Piracy is inevitable
More editing = better work
No one reads anymore 

The list goes on and on . . .

I’m not saying that the above – and the many more givens I accept – don’t hold grains of truth. I’m just sayin’ that maybe I’ve spent more time responding to them rather than thinking about how much they’re true in the first place.

So . . . this Hanukkah, my first present to all of you is in the form of a wish:

May you all experience the miracle of questioning, of looking anew at your long-held beliefs. And may you free yourselves from those that are holding you back in your personal and professional life.

The videos below are my second present to you. All of them blast away at certain kinds of conventions. I hope you enjoy them

1. Dar Williams sings “The Christians and the Pagans”
I love this song for the message of putting aside differences — if only for an evening — and learning to find “common ground.”  (Sorry to include a link rather than embedding, but this is the best quality link to really hear the words.)

2. Danny Macaskill rides his bicycle in ways that’ll blow your mind.

3.  Paddy Jones dances at Spain’s big talent show.
Ms. Jones is a 75-year old woman who can dance a mean salsa. Even though the quality of the video isn’t as good as I’d wish, it’s message comes through.

Questions for discussion:

What are some of the positive or injurious conventions you see out there in the reading and writing world?

Have you rejected a conventional wisdom lately? If so, what was it?



NaNoWriMo & MeMo

by Pari

Contests and I have a fairly testy relationship. You see, I don’t tend to win them. And not winning tends to engender all kinds of pesky feelings like, well, insecurity, anger, envy . . .

Yeah, I know. Pretty unproductive, hunh?

So when I heard about this whole wacko NaMoWriMo contest – the writing of a 50,000+ word novel during the month of November when holidays demand attention too – I wondered why anyone in his or her right mind would sign up. What possible benefit could there be to having to write so fast there wouldn’t be time to edit? I mean, really. That would just be another 50,000 words added to the crappy inventory of crappy stuff already out there.

Of course, I wasn’t thinking about anyone else’s output. Just my own. 50,000 words in 30 days? It’d have to be crap. Right?

(At this point you might wonder how, with such a negative attitude, I manage to get up each day. . . especially at 6 AM. Believe me, it’s a struggle.)

Well, this year, having gone to the intensive master class and wanting to put a fire under my productivity anyway, I defied all my initial objections and committed.

From November 1 until today . . .

I didn’t
— upload a single word count at the website
— sign up for a single forum to chat with others about the experience
— watch videos for encouragement
— talk with friends or anyone else about what I was doing (not really)
— edit my prose
— worry about the crappy quality of the writing DURING the act of writing (night-time sweats were another thing, of course)

I did
WRITE 52,000+ words in 26 days*

And today, after “winning” this contest, I’m sitting here wondering if I should bother turning in the manuscript for the final word count.

Because, you know what? I’m not sure I need other people to know I’m a winner on that website. My sense of accomplishment has more to do with having done it than announcing it to the world (except my Murderati buddies, of course).

But I’ve got to admit, I feel GREAT! 

I’m not done with the novel yet – maybe 2/3 of the way through – but I know where I’m going with it. As of tomorrow, with the end of the contest, I’ll have time to do a little research on some questions that came up during the writing. And I think, realistically, I’ll have the first draft of the entire book before the end of the year.

Sure . . . some of the writing in this new book is really bad. Some of it is really good.

So what?

I’m 52,000+ words closer to completing a new novel than I was on November 1.

The beauty of committing to NaNoWriMo – at least for me – was just that. I committed. I didn’t second-guess myself about the writing. For 26 glorious days, I ignored all the junk that can impede a writer’s originality and output. [During the same time period, I also wrote a few short stories and an article for a local magazine.]

And you know what?

I really, really felt like the writer I want to be. Butt in chair. Working. No excuses. Reveling when the words flow. Pushing through when things get tough and the Muse and I are trying to find ways to torpedo each other. 

I loved it all.

Every damn minute of it.


Today I’m wondering about several things:

—  Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? If so, what did you think of the experience?

— Should I upload my manuscript? Is there a benefit to doing that of which I might not be aware?

— If you haven’t tried NaNoWriMo, is there another similar experience you’ve had where you were required to jump in without self-censorship and just make it happen within a defined period of time?

I’m looking forward to your answers today. Our conversations are always so interesting.


*I had to go out of town during the contest and couldn’t be alone to write during that time. So I had to finish early.

How to pick a writing workshop


By Pari

“Pari, in a future blog post, could you go through in a little detail how you happened to pick this particular workshop. Workshops aren’t cheap and your insights on separating the good from the bad would be really useful.” Chris Hamilton

Thanks for the idea, Chris. I’ve been thinking about it ever since my last post. Here are a few questions that should help you in the decision-making process. Ask them yourself when you’re looking at workshops.

What am I looking for?
Bingo. This is the biggie. Sure it’s obvious; it’s also neglected. Many writers have a weird “Do Me” attitude. These people abdicate responsibility for their learning at the same time they’re spending the money and time to do it.


Ask yourself: Am I interested in general craft, dialog, networking (that might spur you to take a course/workshop from a “name” writer), plot structure, novel writing, bringing more emotion into my writing, or the business of writing?

Without a clear idea of what you hope to take away from the class, you can’t possibly narrow the field.

Do I really want to be in a student mindset?
Be honest. Do you really want to be a learner or do you think you know it all already?

Will you embrace comments, feedback and information on assignments and in lectures or will you spend your hard-earned money to fight everything and then bitch about the class afterward?

Related to this is the time factor: are you ready to jump in and attend the entire class, do all the exercises and other assignments, conduct the required research  . . . or will you be pissed at the demands on your already busy schedule?

Whom do I respect?
This consideration is two fold.

  1. Whom do I respect enough to ask for candid recommendations about the workshop/class?
    Pick carefully. If possible, you want people that know your writing. I’ve had acquaintances tell me NOT to take a class because they believed I didn’t need it. I trusted them. Before I ever considered the Master Class, I asked around, talked to friends who’d gone through it. Believe me, I really thought I knew what I was getting into <g>.
  2. Do I respect the instructors?
    If you don’t know them already, contact them. Get to know them — at least a little —  through emails and, if appropriate, conversations. Please .  . . If you don’t feel like you can respect them, for heaven’s sake DON’T give them your time and money because you somehow feel they’d “be good for you.” Sheesh. I know people who’ve done this. Argh!

This also gets into the whole concern about teachers or classes compromising your “voice.” It’s a crucial consideration.

When I first started writing, I was very open and willing to take classes from all kinds of people. Luckily I didn’t have a lot of money or I probably would’ve ruined my writing for life.

Let’s face it. There are a lot of instructors out there that teach more from ego than from anything else.

The first part of the respect question has to do with “objective” input. That’s why you have to respect the sources.

The second part of the question has to do with your own gut. Pay attention to it! If something stinks like durian fruit, don’t just through your sweet-smelling time and money at it and expect it turn into a fresh gardenia.

How much money do I have to do this?
Obvious, hunh?

The master class cost a lot, but for what I wanted it was a bigger bargain than going to the myriad classes I’d need to attend to get half of the information.

So . . . some things aren’t quite so obvious after all.

What kind of a commitment am I – and my family – willing to make?
Time. Money. Emotion. Absence from home. Gas expenses. Hotel costs. Emotional focus.

There are classes that require a day, a few hours/week, weeks, months.

What is your learning style?

Do you want an immersion experience or a tidbit here and there?

Will this class impact your family, day job, other activities? Is that all right?
I can tell you that if you attend a class that takes you from home for an extended time – that requires sacrifices made on your behalf — you’re going to get push-back when you return. Be ready for it.


Don’t skimp on this step because you intuitively feel everything is going to be copacetic.

Pari’s experience:

I did ask myself these questions before committing to the Master Class. I hadn’t been to a writing or craft or business workshop in years and years – except as an instructor. For me, the worries were time, money and my voice as a writer. I asked around and found writers/people I admire with all of my heart. And then asked them what they thought.

I thought I knew what I was getting into and it was far different than anyone could have ever told me; no one can totally predict how another will respond. Still, the Master Class was perfect for me and my requirements. I’m a better writer and business person as a result and know that this is only the beginning of the effects of those two incredible weeks.

But if many of my friends asked me if they should attend it, I’m not sure I’d say “yes.” It would depend tremendously on the person asking, on that person’s current career, and most definitely on what I knew about her or his homelife. (Because push-back can be a bitch; believe me.)

So, Chris, I hope this helped.

Everyone else: I hope it helps you too!

Questions for today’s discussion:

  1. Did I miss anything?
  2. If you’ve attended a professional workshop – writing or in another field – what questions did you ask yourself before picking it?

Master Class

by Pari

For the past two weeks, I’ve been struggling with how to write about my experience in the writing master class I took in Oregon.

Short version:
Grueling, exhausting. Life changing, transformative.

Medium version:
Other than childbirth, it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. And I know my writing and writing career changed forever the minute I committed to the process.

Long version:

This is where I get stumped. Where to start? Do I try to describe the schedule? It was basically boot-camp style – I kid you not. Daily classes from 10 am – 1:30 or 2 pm. Go work on assignments. Eat. Classes from 7 pm to 11 or later. Go work on assignments. To bed between 1:30 (really, really early) and 4 am. Get up by 8:30. Shower, shake the cobwebs off. Have breakfast and start all over again. Fourteen days solid. 

Do I talk about the technique and style & content exercises we did to improve craft and to study writing genius on a daily basis? Do I talk about the short stories we wrote that stretched every single one of us so far and hard that we can never look at ourselves in the same way again? Have you ever written a 10,000+-word story in less than 72 hours while going to at least 8 hours of classes daily and having other assignments as well? What about the anthology we had to create with stories we – and former class participants – wrote? We were given a word count, budget and payment guidelines and three days to go through more than 100 stories to create a table of contents and then be able to defend the decisions we made. Boy, does that give a person perspective on an editor’s life.

Do I discuss the overwhelming amount of information we got on business – how to read contracts, copyright; the history of the publishing industry; the game we “played” that simulates the life of a writer over the course of 8 years—complete with bad and good life events, books and short stories sold; the lectures on strategies to really earn a living; the cautions about shooting yourself in the foot? Do I talk about the pitches and proposals we wrote for new novels (I hadn’t gone to the class with any ideas and came back with many viable ones)—sometimes several a day?

Do I try to recount all the myths about craft and business that we writers live with and promote . . . and the way the instructors blasted so many I can’t even begin to remember them all?

Do I spend hours pouring over the two full notebooks of notes I took to try to give a hint of everything that we did and learned during those fourteen days?

The problem is, I’m still stunned. Really.


The instructors told us it would take months before we realized some of what we learned, that years later we’d be surprised with the insights we’d acquired without realizing.

So . . .

Here I stand. Altered. And unsure just how deep those lessons went in.

Before I stop this lengthy host, please indulge me. I want to give a shout out to the Kip, Misty, Amy and the others at the Anchor Inn in Lincoln City. If you want a writer-friendly place to stay, go there. Just go.

Now for the main instructors: Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Rusch, Loren L. Coleman, Phaedra Weldon, Christina York, Shelly McArthur (Yes! Shelly from the Mystery Bookstore in LA; he’s landed in Lincoln City and has a wonderful bookstore there: North by Northwest), Ginjer Buchanan, John Douglas (there were also several local writers who helped with the class and served as acquiring editors for our pitches in the game; I’m sorry I don’t know all of their names.)

And watch for books and short stories from my fellow classmates who are among the most dedicated and talented writers I know: Mike Jasper, Susan Wingate, Darren Eggett, Kamila Miller, Bob Sojka, Carolyn Nicita, Jane Killick, Ryan Williams, Thea Hutcheson, Paul Tseng, Michael Bellomo, Mario Milosevic, Brenda Carre.

Today my question to you is simple: Have you ever attended an intensive class or workshop that left you altered for life?


Back to School Night



Okay, you know the rules. Add a sentence or even a paragraph to the story and let’s see where it goes. Last time, a couple of entries were out of order. I’ll try to patch in every once in a while to move things along if necessary.

I hope this works . . .


Lorena Jackson stood just below the stage with her back to the angry parents assembled in the school’s cafeteria. She used a felt tip pen on the overhead transparency to explain why Walt Whitman Elementary School had failed to meet the state’s Adequate Yearly Progress requirements for the fourth year in a row.

“We’ve appealed the decision on several of the standards,” she said, regretting her misguided decision to be the school’s principal, to try to lift it up from its horrid reputation and ghastly neighborhood. “Given our demographics, it’s not fair to expect progress every year.”

“How about one in four?” shouted someone in the middle of the crowd. Other parents mumbled. Just because most of them worked two jobs didn’t mean they wanted to blow off their kids’ education. How dare this woman act so high and mighty?

“Now, now. Let’s have a little decorum here,” said the principal. “You wouldn’t use that behavior in front of your children.” These people were barbarians. Half of them never showed up for their parent/teacher conferences . . . let alone when there was a school performance or team-spirit event.

“Hey, Lady! Stop treating us like idiots!” yelled someone else. Didn’t the principal know how much it took for them to get to this damn meeting in the first place? The lost time at work?

“Stop acting like one,” said Alesha Freeman softly enough so that only her friend Rosa could hear.

They’d been sitting there in that hot building just like everyone else. But unlike some, they actually thought Jackson had been doing a pretty good job. She’d gotten rid of deadwood, cleaned up the drug problem– little kindergartner thugs– and had even gotten computers in some of the classrooms. Why were people trying to lynch her now?

Rosa frowned. This wasn’t how the evening was supposed to go. Jackson was supposed to give her presentation and get parents in the mood to visit their children’s classrooms to meet the teachers. It was supposed to be a real feel-good event, not a feel-like-hell one.

“Come on,” said Alesha. “Let’s get out of here before someone decides to shoot her.”

“Yeah.” Her friend nodded. “I want to meet Alejandro’s teacher. He’s real happy in her class.”

The two women edged through the pressing bodies of standing parents to the double doors. Outside, the air was crisp with the first real night of Autumn. Someone a couple of blocks away was cooking barbecue. Alesha and Rosa walked to one of the rows of portables, searching for their children’s classrooms.

Rosa found hers first. “Hey, let’s meet near the office and walk home together.”

Alesha smiled. “See you then.”

Two hours later, Rosa waited for her friend. She hugged herself, regretting she’d left her sweater on the kitchen chair when she’d rushed out of the house to get to the school in time. Rosa opened her cell phone to check the time. Alesha should’ve been there by now.

But Alesha never came.


If not now . . . when?

by Pari


How many of us zip through our lives without pausing to think about what we’re doing? I know there are periods in my own hectic existence when all that matters is getting through the day, week, month. Lately, though, I’ve been looking at what’s most important in my life. There are the obvious themes: family, love, the health and happiness of those I love, friendships, my creativity, feeling productive and like I’m contributing something to the world.


There are also wishes, dreams as yet unfulfilled. Through neglect, I’ve let some of them slip into the realm of impossibility. I doubt I’ll feel free enough, while still young enough, to join the Peace Corps or go to Carnival in Rio and dance from afternoon until dawn.


Others might still be possible, if I push. I might actually go on that walking tour of pubs in Ireland and drink a frothy stout at every one. I might write that book that hits the market just right and propels me to a new level in my career . . .


I might take up yoga; dedicate real time daily to meditation; learn T’ai Chi and Pilates. I’d better see the Aurora Borealis in full color, go whale watching, swim with dolphins.


And then there’s the cello.


When I was a kid, I wanted to play that noble instrument with all of my heart.

My mother said, “You can’t. It’s unladylike. If you’re going to play anything, it’ll be the violin.”


End of argument.


So I played violin for four years and hated every single minute of it. Mom finally let me stop taking lessons when she caught me holding the violin like a guitar on my lap—playing it full pizzicato—while composing my 60th or 70th macabre folk song.


For years, playing the cello was a fantasy of mine. I wanted to feel those incredible low notes reverberate from my toe tips to my fingers and throughout my body right to the outer edges of my scalp. But I’ve always put it off. I was too busy; I’d never find the time to practice. It was too expensive. It was frivolous, too self-indulgent.


Well, screw that.


Two months ago, I rented a cello and started taking lessons.


The wonderful thing about doing this, beyond the life-affirming qualities of it, is that I’m putting absolutely NO pressure on myself to “succeed.” Playing the cello is utterly for my own pleasure. I don’t give a damn if anyone else ever hears me or likes what they hear if they do. I don’t have to accomplish anything beyond enjoyment.


As a result, I’m doing really well and already have a repetoire of about twelve nice little pieces. My Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star would make you weep for all the right reasons. I love to practice. I adore the effort and struggle of trying to get the bowing just right and making sure I’m actually in tune.


I’m having such a blast with this that I want everyone else I know to find something equally baggage-free and satisfying.


So what about you? Have you taken a similar plunge to do something you’ve always wanted to do? If not, do you have a dream that you could really do?

Why aren’t you doing it yet?


——————————- A note about my next two posts —————————————

In early October, I’m going to attend an intensive writing workshop and probably won’t be online at all for two full weeks. As a result, the wonderful L.J. Sellers will guest on the ‘Rati on October 5. I’m considering doing my let’s-write a story-together experiment again on the 19th. By then, I’ll be back though my sanity might still be in question.