Archive for the ‘writing process’ Category

Talk About a Snow Day …


Some of you might be following the snow storm still bearing down on us here in the Northeast. Some of you might also be in the mess yourselves. Just for fun, I thought I’d switch gears for a minute and post a few photos. The latest weather update tells us that the snow, which started falling early yesterday morning, will continue to fall at varying levels through Saturday and possibly into Sunday morning. Needless to say, we’re all at home today.

In addition to the snow photos, I’m also throwing one in of me in my new office, for those of you who were with me during the nightmare move.

Once I finish this post, I’m going downstairs to my dining room (I’m including a photo of that too) where I hope to finish the final hard copy read-through of Separation of Faith. Can’t think of a better day to get that done. Sure would be nice to email everything to the publisher this weekend!

Have a great weekend! And be careful out there.


Snow Deck in Alpine, NJMagical YardMeasuring 14 InchesView Out of Dining Room WindowThe Final Hard Copy Edit AwaitsView from the Front PorchMorning of February 26, 2010My New Office

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9th Free Issue of Cinnamon Serialization

Hi! For those of you who are into this, you can find the newest serialized issue of The Truth About Cinnamon at: http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/27340707/.

Usually, I’m pretty mechanical about preparing each of the chapters for this process. But this time I found myself getting distracted by actually reading my own book. Even if you haven’t read any of the other chapters up to this point, you might want to take a look at this one.

Also, since my next step in “the plan” is to do a reduction edit on Cinnamon as soon as this seemingly interminable editing process for Separation of Faith is complete, I doubt I’ll be cutting much from Chapter 9. Let me know what you think, if you happen to drop in there.

Speaking of Separation of Faith … 

At some point last week (I forget which day), I finished the hard copy edit where I read and marked stuff up with a red pen, just like the old days. Now I’m a little over half-way through keying all of those edits into the computer–the process that makes us all tend to do our editing directly into the computer, bypassing paper altogether, because of the time savings.

But I have to tell you that actually reading the book on a page is very different than editing on a computer monitor. As many times as I’ve edited this manuscript over the last four months, you would not believe how many things jumped right up in my face from the printed document. Some of those were sections that I wanted to change or tweak further. Others were sentences where a single word I’d used didn’t “feel” right and thus sent me to The Synonym Finder. And still others were actual errors–typos, punctuation marks in the wrong place, etc. And, upon the discovery of every single issue, I said to myself, “I cannot believe I missed that before!”

So, if you’re someone like me, who writes and edits almost exclusively on your computer, I strongly recommend that you print out a copy of your manuscript, fix yourself a cup (or glass) of your favorite beverage, and then snuggle into a comfortable chair or sofa where you usually sit for a good read. You absolutely will not believe the things you’ll find in a hard copy edit!

Let me know how the process goes, if you give this a try.

Writing Tips

Although my first choice for bedtime reading is a great novel (someone else’s, of course :-)), lately I’ve been using that time to catch up on all the reading that’s been funneled to me through various blogs I’m following. And since I’m in the middle of an edit (hopefully my last on this book), I’ve been drawn to a couple of points that sort of remind me of my own habits a bit.

One of those was in an article titled “Tangled Passages,” by Philip B. Corbetthttp://topics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/tangled-passages-4/). In the article’s first paragraph, Mr. Corbett says, “… Sentences of 40, 50, or 60 words are awfully hard to make readable. When you get up to four or five commas, think again. A half-dozen verbs usually mean trouble …” After reading this piece, I started noticing a few spots in Separation of Faith where my sentences were getting close to meeting those descriptions. Those sentences have now been broken into two, or they’ve been completely reworked.

Again, I might not have been as aware of those issues if I hadn’t been editing a hard copy. But whether on paper or a computer monitor, the points Mr. Corbett makes are excellent (and well-timed, for me at least). Let me know what you think.

Along those same lines, I’ve been forwarded to a couple of other articles that focus on similar issues:

Both of those showed me at least one thing I was either doing or have a tendency to do. Hopefully, there will be something useful in there for you as well.

Plan Update and Stats

My goal is to have the red-pen edits keyed in by the time I go to bed tonight. Then (and I know this is going to sound like self-flagellation) I’m going to do one more hard copy read-through, which should move quickly. If I’m doing my job correctly, anything I find at that point should be a minor typo (she said, her heart rushing with inflated expectations …)

When I last spoke with the publisher, I told them I’d have the edited manuscript back in their hands within three weeks. That deadline is one week from tomorrow, which I hope to beat by a day or two. Then we’ll have to wait while they do another editorial evaluation before we learn if I’m going to receive the Editor’s Choice designation. (Come to think of it, I must be certifiable.)

Here are the latest stats:

  • Hits on this blog: 1171 (1131 last week). This has slowed down, I believe, because I haven’t been tag surfing. That activity will pick up again as soon as I finish the edit.
  • Hits on my website: 35,658 (35,383 two weeks ago) This is more than twice the increase from the last posting, which is quite encouraging.
  • Amazong ranking: Yuk. I don’t even want to type the number because it’s way higher than two weeks ago (and remember that this number is supposed to go lower, not higher). But it starts with a “3” and is followed by six more numbers. I haven’t been expecting this one to improve until I get further into “the plan,” but I really don’t like watching it get worse. Patience, Cheri. Patience.

Well, I need to get back to work. I’ll try to pop in between now and next Monday. But meanwhile, I hope you all have a terrific week!


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Delay in 9th Cinnamon Issue & Today’s Scoop

Hello! I just want to pop in and give a quick update. Today I have to take my 89-year-old father to a specialist MD appointment, which is going to take a long time. So, I’m not going to jump through unnatural hoops to accomplish my normal Monday posting and Cinnamon serialization. If I can get something meaningful done after I get home late today, I will. Otherwise, I’ll be back tomorrow morning.

Hope all is well with everyone out there. I do have lots of fun information to share with you, and I’m looking forward to putting everything together for you.


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Sorry for the Late Posting

Hope you’ve all had a wonderful President’s Day, relaxing, or playing, or whatever your choice was on this holiday. This has been a work day for me as I try to get through the latest edit on Separation of Faith. And that’s why I’m posting so late, rather than in the morning as I’ve been so good about doing for the last several weeks.

About 4:30 this afternoon, I finished the edit. The next step is to do a hard-copy read-through, because there are always things that leap off the page that can easily be overlooked on the computer monitor.

But the printing of the manuscript took some time. I was trying to be “green” by printing on both sides of the page, although my printer did a good job of interfering by grabbing more than one piece of paper with some regularity, which messed up the whole process. I managed to get the first 230 pages printed on both sides, then I gave in to frustration and did an old-fashioned one-sided print for the rest, hoping that the carbon footprint fairies won’t be too hard on me.

Once I finish this post, I’ll start reading a chapter or two of the printout. Tomorrow I’ll see how far I can go before I’ve had enough. Last Wednesday, an editorial manager from my publisher called, and we had a very helpful conversation  about the things that must be accomplished in the edit, in order for me to earn the “Editor’s Choice” designation for this book. We’ll see soon enough how close I’m able to get, because I’m going to resubmit the manuscript by the end of this week, and another editorial review will then be forthcoming.

8th Free Cinnamon Serialized Issue

Because I originally planned to only release the first seven chapters, Chapter 8 needed more work than the rest. And I wouldn’t allow myself to start on that task today until the Separation of Faith edit was complete. Thus the late arrival. But you can now find the 8th Serialized Issue of Cinnamon at: http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/26906231/.

Writing Tip

This week I’ve been trying to catch up on my reading about the business of writing, and I came across an article that I thought might be of interest to a number of you. So many of your comments have dealt with the issue of where to find the time to finish a book, and this article is titled “Take Your Novel to the Finish Line,” by Lin Enger.

The first sub-heading says, “Write the Whole First Draft First–and Fast.” In that section, Ms. Enger writes:

How fast is fast, you ask? Depends on the writer … I wrote the first draft of my current manuscript in six months, an hour a day, five or six days a week. My objective was to write two pages each time I sat down, not so daunting a task once I absolved myself in advance for committing every writer’s sin there is, many times, in every session. If you do the same–if you dedicate yourself to writing without self-editing–you’ll be amazed at how soon that draft is finished …

I was particularly struck by the “hour a day, five or six days a week.” That’s a very manageable objective for just about all of us and, as I said in my recent post about my mini (netbook), those extra few minutes really add up.

You can find the entire article at: http://www.writersdigest.com/article/take-your-novel-to-the-finish-line/. Hope there’s something helpful in there for you.

If I have a minute this week, I’ll summarize some of the other highlights from my catch-up reading. There’s a lot more good stuff in there to share.


I haven’t had a chance yet to check my website or Amazon today. But the hits on this blog are now at 1131 (1081 last Monday). So, we’re slowing finding each other, and I’m really enjoying our conversations.

Have a great rest of the week!


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Hi! I’m popping in quickly with a link to a great article that someone just forwarded to me from today’s New York Times. As I work through the latest edit of Separation of Faith, I know I’m guilty of some of this. Perhaps you’ll find something of value in the piece as well.


Later …


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Another Plug for My Mini (See original comments in Post #5, Nov. 11.)

This morning I had an early appointment to get my car serviced, and I expected a long wait, since a gear shift issue needed to be tended to along with the regular maintenance due. So, I took my Netbook (aka “mini”) with me.

During the three hours I was there, I prepared the seventh issue of Cinnamon’s free serialization. That process usually takes between one and two hours due to the formatting problems that resulted from the publisher’s book-blocked version being translated into my computer. I also made progress on the new edit of Separation of Faith (yes, another one–see separate topic in this post).

As I was working, I would occasionally look up at the other customers in the waiting room, who were either watching television or staring off into nothing, as if in a coma. If not for my mini, that might have been me as well :-).

As I mentioned in my November 11 post, anyone who is trying to squeeze out precious minutes here and there, from an otherwise crammed-full life, to get a little writing done (or maybe finish a book) really needs to investigate the idea of a mini. There’s no cumbersome, heavy laptop to worry about–just a little thing that fits in my purse.

I’ve used my mini while riding the bus into the City, while waiting in doctor’s offices, while waiting anywhere. When I suspect in advance that waiting will be a possibility, I simply put my mini in my purse or tote, along with a flash drive. The fully charged battery gives me three hours without a power cord. (Today I had an outlet near me, so the battery wasn’t even an issue. But on the bus, for example, I never worry–and the mini is slightly larger than a sandwich bag, fitting easily on my lap, even in a cramped seat.)

As I said in November, the acquisition of the mini enabled me to finish Separation of Faith sooner than anticipated (which is a good thing, considering how many edits have accrued/continue to accrue since then). So, if you can possibly find a way to secure a mini for yourself, you won’t believe how many extra hours of writing you can accomplish in a week. Just a thought …

Here’s the link I included in November, for some initial comparisons of netbook models:  http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/category/category_tlc.asp?CatId=2814.

7th Free Issue of Cinnamon Available for Downloading

Here you go: http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/26568982/. As always, please let me know if you’re giving this a try.

Another Edit of Separation of Faith

Last week I received the first editorial evaluation back from the publisher and, as expected, there are a few more issues that I need to address. My goal is to earn the “Editor’s Choice” designation for the book prior to release, but in order for that to happen, the work has to meet a long list of extremely high standards. According to the evaluation, all the elements of characterization, plot, and setting are there and at the mandated level. But there are three issues I need to address:

  1. The inadvertent mixing up of multiple points-of-view (POV) in a single scene or chapter. This problem exists in a handful of places.
  2. A few additional areas where I was doing the same thing that resulted in the new chapter in my last edit. This time, I was periodically overusing letters and journals to “tell” a part of the story rather than flashing back so the reader could “experience” that part of the story. In each case, I remember telling myself as I was originally writing those sections that the letter or journal would be “faster and shorter” than flashing back. But when I was doing the post-beta readers edit, I was so focused on the big things, like the new chapter, I overlooked the other areas that have now popped up.
  3. A few areas where dialogue needs to be transformed into narrative (again, the point is that I was telling instead of creating the experience).

These are such important lessons that I’m hoping there will be writers out there who recognize themselves and their stories in my situation. When I’m wearing my other hat as a freelance editor, I can easily spot these issues in the manuscripts I’m given. Seeing them in my own writing, however, is not so easy. That’s why we all need to release our work into the hands of others–lots of others–and ask them for specific feedback (not just “this is great”) on the basic elements of a novel. Here are a few links on the subject (because we can never read too much about this stuff):

I received the editorial evaluation back at the end of last week and started the edit on Saturday. This one is moving pretty quickly since the scope of what needs to be “tweaked”–the verb used in the evaluation–has now been narrowed to the three issues. Some portions will take longer than others, because turning a journal entry into a flashback is challenging. But my goal is to be finished by my next post on the 15th, or shortly thereafter.

Once I’ve completed the edit, there will be another evaluation–and then we’ll see where we are at that point, with respect to the “Editor’s Choice” designation. I’ll keep you posted.

Stats Update

  • Blog Hits: 1081 a few minutes ago (995 last post)
  • Website Visitors: 35,383 (35, 278 last post)
  • Amazon Ranking: 2,980,456 (2,909,956 last post)

Have a great week, everybody! I’m looking forward to your comments and to checking you out while tag surfing! (If we get the big snow predicted for tomorrow (Tuesday) night and Wednesday, I’ll try to sneak in a picture or two. We totally missed out on the storm over the weekend. Not even a single flake fell in the New York City metro area. But this new blast has some promise … 🙂 …)

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Sixth Free Issue of Cinnamon Now Available for Downloading

Good morning on another Monday–and on the first day of another month already in 2010. Those of us with time-specific objectives sure can’t dawdle around, with the calendar flipping away so fast! (And speaking of fast, on a personal note, we celebrated on Saturday my daughter’s 40th birthday. Good grief! I’d like to tell you that I gave birth to her when I was a mere child myself … 🙂 … At any rate, each new day is certainly one to be treasured and made to last as long as possible!)

On schedule again, the 6th issue of Cinnamon is now available for your downloading pleasure. You can find the newest issue at http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/26206047/.

Originally, I was only going to offer to the first seven chapters. But I think I’ll keep going while the other parts of my plan are in-process. There are enough chapters in the book to extend this for awhile.

Please let me know if you’re giving the series a try. I’d love to hear from you.

Plan Update

Hip-hip-hurray! On Wednesday of last week (January 27), I submitted the manuscript for Separation of Faith to the publisher. What a feeling that was–and a great big checkmark was added to the plan list!

Now there will be about two or three weeks of “interim” space while the book undergoes yet another edit–this time by an editor at the publisher. This is such an important lesson for all aspiring novelists (and all aspiring writers, actually), because no matter how many times we put our work through our own editing cycles, there will always be more work to come, after the manuscript is released into the hands of a publishing professional.

No author–regardless of how famous–ever submits the final version of a book. At least two more edit cycles (and maybe more) will be required, once an editor completes his or his review of our work. This is why we need to practice by getting input from others prior to submitting anything in the first place. We need to become very accomplished at receiving and responding to constructive suggestions.

As you know, the input from my beta readers resulted in the writing of a whole new chapter and the revision of several other areas in the book. Believe me when I say that my first reaction wasn’t one of unbridled joy. “You have to be kidding!” was more like it.

But when I began to internalize all of their suggestions, the value of what they were telling me became immeasurably clear. And even though the subsequent work took more than a month to complete, that effort filled in holes that someone would have pointed out to me eventually. In this case, however, those holes weren’t there when I submitted the manuscript to the publisher.

A note to all aspiring writers who are fearful of releasing their work into the hands of others: Remember that the majority of readers and editors who are giving us input are not also authors themselves. Their role is to help us understand how to make our books the most fulfilling reading experiences possible. They are not our competition. But they do know a good read (or a not-so-good read) when they see one. And we need to listen to what they are saying. We won’t agree with and incorporate every single one of their suggestions. But they will help us see major areas in our books that need to be fixed.

So, now I await the input from the editor who’s been assigned my project at my publisher. There is, to be sure, a sense of trepidation. After all, what if he/she totally hates the story? But I have to maintain some belief in myself and my work as I wait. I know I’ve done the best job possible up to this point, and we’ll just have to see what more is left to be done. As soon as I know, you’ll know too.

Reduction Edit of Cinnamon

While I’m waiting for the results of the edit, I’ll be working on the part of the plan that reduces the length of The Truth About Cinnamon, in preparation for the second edition printing.

For those of you who are following this aspect of the Journey, remember that as soon as the newly edited version goes into production, you won’t be able to buy the original anymore. And the original will become a first edition. If you’re interested, check out the free serialization. And if you’d like to secure a copy of the original novel, the easiest and least expensive way is through www.TheTruthAboutCinnamon.com. Books purchased through that website come directly from me, and you can customize your autograph.

Something New

As a result of my tag surfing, I learned about a contest that Amazon is sponsoring: the Amazon Breakthrough Novel  Award. This contest is for books that are either unpublished or self-published, and the deadline for submissions is February 7. Since this is free, and since there didn’t seem to be any downside, I submitted Separation of Faith. After all, you can’t win if you don’t play. Right? So, we’ll see what happens.

If you’d like to explore the details of this contest, check things out at http://www.amazon.com/b?node=332264011.


  • Blog Hits: 995 a few minutes ago (930 last post)
  • Website Hits: 35,278 (35,154 last post)
  • Amazon Ranking (Cinnamon): 2,909,956 (2,733,795 last post). I sure can’t wait for the day when this starts going the other way. Holy cow!

All the best to you out there who are plugging away at your own Journeys. I’m looking forward to talking with you through your comments on this blog and through my tag surfing. Have a great week!


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Fifth Free Serialized Issue of The Truth About Cinnamon Now Available for Downloading

Another Monday has arrived, and I’m sort of excited that I’m staying on schedule with the promised serialization. Separating each chapter from the book and making sure each paragraph is still in the right place is more complicated that I understood in the beginning.

The “book block” created by the publisher is in a very different format than we’re used to as we plug away using Word on our computers. So, ensuring that the serialized chapters still look like the book takes a little more work than you’d imagine, which is why I’m pleasantly surprised that I’ve been able to stay on schedule.

For your reading pleasure, you can find the fifth serialized issue at http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/25781400/.

Plan Update

Yesterday, at long last, I completed the editing process that grew out of my beta readers’ input. Consequently, this post is going to be very short because I now need to enter into the to-do list for getting the manuscript submitted to the publisher. I’m expecting this to take a few hours, and hopefully I’ll find some time to squeeze in another post tomorrow or Wednesday, to fill you in on what actually turned out to be involved.

As soon as that submission process is complete, I’ll get back into the edit of Cinnamon (target: reduce the original by as close to 100 pages as I can get), which will lead to the release of a newly published 2nd Edition of that first novel in a few months.

The good news on this rainy (monsoon, actually) Monday morning is that The Plan is clearly moving forward and fully back on track now. The goal is to hold two new books in my hands by June, and hopefully to have a few of you out there who’ll be interested in reading them. We will have learned along together as the books are ushered through the writing, editing, and production processes. What happens after the books are released will be a whole new learning process for us all.

Well, at least no one can say we’re sitting idle, right?

Hope you all have a wonderful and productive week!


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Today is Wednesday. In my short post on Monday, I said I’d be back as soon as I finished the final edit of Separation of Faith prior to sending the manuscript to the publisher. Well, that took a little longer than planned!

Doesn’t everything involved with writing a novel (or any category of book, for that matter) always take so much longer than planned? For example, as I mentioned in an earlier post, the input from my beta readers resulted in the writing of a whole new chapter that takes the reader through part of the story in flashback. That, of course, required going back into research mode so the setting and details of the 1948 time frame would be authentic. That process took a couple of days, with several dips back into the research mode again after I began writing the chapter, whenever I bumped into something I hadn’t anticipated.

Once the chapter was completed, I then had to make sure there was a smooth transition from the previous chapter, the ending of which had to be reworked to lead into the flashback. And I had to rework the beginning of the following chapter as well. Also, there were some things that developed in the new chapter that required a reference later in the book, which had to be worked into existing scenes.

Additional input from my beta readers suggested that one of the relationships in the story was “too perfect.” So, I wove in a dust-up between the two characters. But that insertion resulted in the need for careful scrutiny and revision in subsequent chapters, because every scene after the dust-up that contained those two characters had to be reworked to gradually transition them out of their new conflict/problem back into their good relationship.

And those are just two of the half-dozen elements that came out of the beta reader process. Needless to say, I was off the mark in every single time estimation, the latest of those being on Monday when I implied that I’d be “right back.”

But I’m now here to report that only one stage of the edit remains. Thus far, I’ve been doing all of the editing on the computer, and yet I always like to do the last read-through on hard copy. Some things tend to leap off the printed page, for some reason, that can be easily overlooked on a monitor. For example, I have one character who speaks with a southern dialect. Maintaining consistency with that sort of dialogue is really important, and spotting slip-ups is easier (for me, at least) when the words are on paper.

The manuscript just finished printing a little while ago and is in a binder. I’ll start reading shortly–and my new target for getting the book to the publisher is this Friday, January 22, slightly more than a month beyond my original target. Factoring in the nightmare move into this house that started right before Thanksgiving, and the five-week-long bronchitis, and Christmas, I guess that’s not too bad.

So, why is the heading of this section “Priorities”? Because, in order to get this far since Monday, I finally had to shut down all the other parts of my life except family and food (and food even started to slip yesterday).

Throughout all of my tag surfing since I started to chronicle this Journey last November 4, I have yet to run across anyone who’s figured out how to fully support themselves from their writing and the various offshoots than can grow from a published book. That scenario is, of course, the goal–the dream. And when that time comes, the various components of the writing process will move up to the top of my priority list, taking the place of other things I’ve been able to remove (such as doing something else to pay the bills).

Maybe then I’ll get better about estimating how much time I’m going to need to get something done.

Speaking of Various Offshoots … 

This entire Journey is part of a much longer process, in which I’ve been reinventing myself from a corporate marketing person to a writer/editor. Reinventing my resume and the accompanying mindset has taken about fifteen years. But I’m pretty comfortable in the new role and have been speaking on the subject of Reinventing Yourself for some time now. Initially, the presentation was titled Reinventing Yourself over the Age of 50. Then that changed to “over the Age of 60.” Now the title is Reinventing Yourself at Any Age–and the thought has occurred to me that this could very possibly develop into a “platform” (see earlier posts on the important element of establishing a platform for aspiring authors).

On March 5, I’ll be giving that speech on a college campus to a group of senior citizens, some of whom are in their 80’s. Fortunately, I honestly believe in the possibility of reinventing ourselves at any age, so I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get at least some of those in the audience exciting about pursuing a long-delayed passion, or writing a novel, or maybe a memoir, or taking up ballroom dancing. We’ll see how things go, and I’ll report my findings.

The most significant point about that booking, though, is that I’ll be paid for the speech–and that will be a first. I won’t be getting very much money, but I will be getting some. And the only reason they called me is because several of their members read and loved my first novel (and they know I live in the area).

Speaking engagements will become a big part of my plan/Journey once Separation of Faith and the re-edited version of Cinnamon are released. And this “offshoot” is something for everyone chasing the dream to consider. Successful authors are frequently found on the speaker’s/lecture circuit where they supplement their income, often to the tune of large numbers.

Here are a few links to whet your whistle on this subject:

Once we have a book, that’s only the beginning, if we want to push this job to the furthest limits. But linking back to the first section of this post, prioritization remains a critical task. And the very first priority for all of us is to create the highest quality book possible, even if that process takes a little longer than planned.

Stats Update

  • Blog Hits: 930 a few minutes ago (last update–847)
  • Website Hits: 35,154 (last update–35,088)
  • Amazon Ranking (Cinnamon): 2,733,795 (last update–2,523,108) This one should start getting fun to track in a few months … [she said, with fear and angst in her heart.] 🙂

See you here next time, and while tag surfing in between!


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4th Serialized Issue of Cinnamon Available for Downloading

Monday is here again already, and so is the 4th issue of The Truth About Cinnamon‘s free serialization for your downloading and reading pleasure. 🙂 http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/25379887/

There are a number of other things I’d like to talk about today, but I’m trying to finish up the final edit of Separation of Faith so I can check off that part of the plan by submitting the manuscript to the publisher by tomorrow or Wednesday, at the latest. As soon as I complete the edit, I’ll be back here to add to this post and to do some tag surfing, which has become one of my new favorite things.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a holiday today, I hope you’re having fun with the extra time. Later …

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