Tag Archives: Writers

Five Reasons To Take An Online Writing Class


“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” I think writers on every level can find some truth in that quote . Writing is work. As writers and creatives, the time will come when we’ll want to ensure that we’re creating our best work. Taking an online writing class can help writers oil those tired, overworked creative muscles and release the frustration that comes with the territory of  being a writer.

WritingTweety Here are five reasons to take an online writing class:

1. Convenience. Online writing classes fit into the busyness of your professional and personal writing calendar. You can easily plug into an assignment at the least stressful time of your day. Early mornings to midday afternoon works for me.

2.Think Like A writer- once you start your classes, your mind is focused on creating characters and you will be re-introduced on how to think like a writer, in that you’ll began to take notice of your surrounding and the people you come in contact with. You will, essentially, become a silent camera lens taking pictures of life happening all around you that are the conversations, mannerisms, languages and voices  at work.

3. Class Participation is really a community of writers who come together for a common cause. There are Amazon bestseller writers, credentialed authors with MFA’s and English majors who teach at community colleges and institutions. There are newbies and established writers needing that ‘something’ extra to complete a WIP.

Online writing classes mesh writers of every caliber who come to enhance their work, participate in writer conversation and offer constructive criticism or feedback to their peers.

4.Understand the ‘Art” of storytelling- when I was a little girl, my parents would gather us all for family times. My siblings and I would pile excitedly into the small space of our parent’s bedroom at night to be regaled by their “Stories.” Some stories would be recalled from childhood; taken from special memories of times spent with their own parents. Some stories were traces of history, where they recounted early life struggles that came from living in the demographic of a racial South.

I loved the ‘ghost stories’ that only my mother could tell and make the telling so realistic. There’s an art to storytelling that reaches beyond plot,character, dialogue and conflict. My mother had that gift of telling stories that comes from the inside.

5.Personal Gratification and Self-Validation- Writers  oftentimes look to other writers and the world at large to validate their work. Taking online classes at this stage in my career as a writer, only reinforces what I’ve known for many, many years. I am a writer! I might not be where I want to be in this writing arena, but I’m where I’m happiest, doing what I love to do. I grew up hearing stories and learning how to read and write them for myself. I am now writing them for others to read and hopefully enjoy.  I’m so comfortable in this space of self-validation.

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Creative folks wear many hats. I write from many genres and perspectives. I love that I can do that. Taking online writing classes is the cream that enhances my creative crop:)

‘Treat yourself special ” CF

 

Have you taken an online writing class? Feel free to chime in with your experiences or to ask questions that might concern you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Writing Life aka My Crazy World by Patti J. Smith


Happy Friday to my fellow readers, writer, authors and creatives! I was outside taking in the stillness of the morning with a cup of java. My only companions were chirping robins and a mulberry tree that was weighted down by its lush green leaves. My brother, who was a poet, once wrote how the simple things in life were the only things he truly enjoyed and I have to agree. The simple pleasures of Mother Nature are ever humbling:)

I’m excited to share a glimpse into the writing life of Patti J. Smith. In May, Patti invited me to take a seat “In The Authors Chair”segment on her blog where she hosts other writers and authors who want to share with readers about their work. Please join me in welcoming this accomplished writer and author to clara54.

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A writer sits at wooden desk pushed up against a large picture window that opens to fields of flowers. The room, located in a secluded area of the house, is quiet except for the chirping of birds and whispering breeze.

Ahh, the life of a writer … maybe in a perfect world!

For this writer, it’s a recliner with a laptop, in the living room with two dogs, a very loud parrot and bell-ringing cockatiel. I’m a caregiver for my 86 year-old father and 82 year-old uncle and they wander in to remind me of days gone by, provide commentary on recent world events or ask for a ride. When my husband comes home from work he joins the party. Such a glamorous life.

What do I do?

I’ve become a creature of the night. During the day I care-give and delve into the world of domesticity. In my mind I ponder how I want to proceed on a recent project, sit down and do a little editing, work on social media promotions and take a mid-day nap. Once everyone is tucked tightly in their beds, the dogs asleep and the birds covered, my laptop screen comes alive and my fingers fly across the keyboard. My husband rises at 4:30 a.m. and finds me tap, tap, tapping away.

What do I write?

I am a cross-genre writer. I began with Christian devotionals and thanks to my ever-persistent and confident publisher, I’ve expanded to light romance and suspense/thrillers. Switching between genres (sometimes in the same night), keeps me from over-focusing which, for me, is the cause of an author’s worse nightmare – writers block.

Inspiration

Inspiration can come from anywhere; however, my devotional topics usually filter into my mind during prayer or Mass. Romance inspiration comes from daydreaming or traveling back in time … reliving romantic moments of my own. Suspense/thrillers are roused by nightmares and plunging my mind into my deepest darkest fears.

The Topic of Time

I feel the Holy Spirit guiding me and I have been known to finish one in a week. Yes! A week. Sometimes the Holy Spirit wants the word out immediately, and who am I to argue? The light romances and suspense/thrillers are a different story. In stark contrast to devotionals, my short-story fiction usually take three to four weeks. My pace slows as my mind wanders to, “How can I describe something that will result in the reader turning into a hopeless romantic or someone feeling the need to check the closets and under the bed?”
Faith in Genres

Some of my author friends have called me “Dr. Jekyll and Patti J. Smith”, or the “Sybil” of the writing world. Regardless of genre, I strive to bring faith into each one because faith belongs everywhere, and it’s the guiding force of my life. No one knows what word, sentence or paragraph within a genre will reach out and pull a reader towards Him so I plant seeds everywhere.

The Results
Devotionals:

~~A Mended Heart – Rosary Meditations on Forgiveness
~~Journey to Sunset – Rosary Meditations for Caregivers
~~Redeemed – Rosary Meditations for Post-Abortive Women
~~Embrace the Morning – Rosary Meditations to Calm the Storm
~~And God Still Loves Me – A Journey from the Dark Abyss of Sin to God’s Mercy – my personal testimony.
~~Moments with God – The complete collection of the above

~~Behind the Smile – Overcoming Depression through Scripture and Prayer

Light Romance:

The San Francisco Wedding Planner series. The trials and tribulations of a wedding planner – A cooperative effort with four other authors.

Suspense/Thriller:

Grave Obsessions Series
~~Chiseled Heart
~~Savage Sojourner
~~Shackled Souls (Work in Progress)

All available at http://www.amazon.com/author/pattijsmith.

BIO

Patti J. Smith was born in Wimpole Park, England. She lived in England and Morocco as well as several state-side Air Force Bases and considers her father’s last assignment, Moses Lake, Washington, her hometown. She audited for the Dept. of Labor and Veteran’s Administration Offices of Inspector General, served in the U.S. Army Reserve (Transit Control Unit and Criminal Investigation Division) and recently retired as a background investigator.
Patti lives in Vista, CA with her husband and has two (almost three) granddaughters. She serves as a Regional Coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, Co-leads Rachel’s Hope After-Abortion Healing Retreats and sings in her parish choir.
She is a prolific blogger and reader, and proudly admits to being a diehard Seattle Seahawks fan and Fantasy Football fanatic. Her travel adventures include Spain, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Fiji, South Korea and almost all states – including Hawaii and Alaska.
Follow her blog: http://www.gridirongrannyfootballfanatic.blogspot.com/
Facebook Fan Page: www.facebook.com/PattiJSmithAuthorPage

My Purpose For Writing-Blog Tour


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When I was growing up I read everything I could lay my hands on, including true story magazines (kept hidden underneath my mattress, along with a copy of Valley of The Dolls)) harlequin paperback romances and literary school assignments from books such as David Copperfield, How Green Was My Valley, Wuthering Heights and The Good Earth.

I was nominated by Audrey Chin to participate in the #My Writing Process Blog Tour, a global blog tour where writers and authors talk and answer questions about their writing process. I’m honored and humbled by her recommendation. When I told Audrey I was feeling a bit intimidated at the awesome company she keeps, she simply reminded me that I am also a part of that company:)
I reviewed two of Audrey’s magnificent books, Learning to Fly and As the Heart Bones Break at the site and for Amazon .com. Visit Audrey Chin’s blog, Sometimes Words Help at http://www.audreychin.com.

What am I working on?

I have two untitled WIP that I am absolutely comfortable talking about. I quietly revisited my memoir in December of last year, after numerous failed attempts, due to an admitted lack of discipline, focus and motivation. I have been a creature of habit in the past that is reluctant to sit down and actually write what’s brewing in my head but I’ve learned to shift my mindset to stay productive.

My story is basically a coming of age memoir where a young girl of color searches for hope and beauty, in a dark place during even darker times of racial divide, hatred, and killings, in the underbelly of a segregated south. It is a recollection of how people came into my life at pivotal points in my life and made an indelible impression that either touched my heart, changed my thoughts or allowed me reason to hope. I suppose it’s one of those coming of age true stories where life, love and loss mesh into a memorable work that’s written with a southern flair.

The characters in my romance /mystery novel serves as a distraction from the seriousness of the memoir and something I’ve always envisioned doing because I’m a romantic at heart. It’s interesting to note how the protagonists in the story have decided to take the lead in the telling of it and I’m not pig-headed enough to insert my objections. I understand that when the characters want to have their say, then the writer might want to listen.

The book follows a forty something year old journalist who have seen her share of heartbreak and troubles. When she is assigned to do a story on the upsurge of fraud and embezzlement in the gambling Mecca of Las Vegas casinos, she meets the son of a casino mogul and becomes smitten. Of course, at some point, the woman finds herself in a world of trouble when she is entrusted with a secret that leads to death.
I refer to both books as “a process to progress” and I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished so far.

Why do I write what I do?

Writing for me is a prescription the doctor hands you and says, “Here take this and you’ll feel better in the morning.” I am healed when I write. It’s the essence of all that I want to be or become, no matter the genre, and I have dabbled in many. There have been so many theories on how writers come to call themselves “writer.” Are we born or taught this innate gift of expression?

As one who loves to write and have always written something for as long as memory serves me, I don’t ponder how it came to be. I just know I’m doing what I love and if my writing touches another, however big or small, it’s thrilling and humbling at the same time. Writing is as important to me as breathing and I will continue to breathe life with my writing in every aspect of my creative ability.

How does your writing process work?

I look forward to writing in the early mornings before a world awakes, where I’m alone at the keyboards with my delicious cup of Boston java (half cream half coffee) amid the silence of the universe peering over my shoulder.
I once wrote a poem about my love of waking up to greet the ambiance of the mornings, called “Before a World Arises.” It placed in the Illinois Vanderpool Poetry Competition back when I only dabbled at my craft.
I could go on and on about this wonder of expression, but there are so many writers and authors I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and whose works always add value to my writing life. Here are three of them:

Kathleen Pooler- Kathy is a retired family nurse practitioner whose work references the power of hope through faith in God. Her words are gifts of cathartic healing to everyone who reads her blog. Kathy also invites guest posts from other writers and authors who want to share their writing insights and recently published her memoir, Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse.

Kathy blogs at http://www.krpooler.com/blog

Pauline Haynes- Pauline is a life coach and when shift happens on your journey of living and learning from life experiences, you’ll want to know Pauline Haynes. Her positive, upbeat message takes folk from where they are to where they want to be in every aspect of life.
I often visit and email Pauline when I need an extra dose of courage and inspiration. She is personable, gifted and authentic in her mission to make a difference in the lives of others.

Pauline blogs at http://www.paulinehaynes.com

Sue Mitchell- I met Sue through an interview I was conducting at my blog on the how-tos of memoir writing. She had kindly left an encouraging comment on the lessons of memoir writing and who better to offer advice? Sue is a memoir writing teacher and creative writing coach. She recently returned from a blog hiatus and was happy to participate in the blog tour.

Visit Sue Mitchell’s blog at http://www.anuntoldstory.com/blog.

Writing Outside of Your Niche


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Happy Friday readers and creatives. What a glorious morning to be doing something productive!

What do you do when your muse calls you to write outside of your niche? Are you fearful that by tackling another genre that you might forget to focus upon your calling? I used to struggle with this creative dilemma in the beginning of my writing career, until I realized that what God gave to me shouldn’t be kept boxed in fear, but opened to explore in every aspect of my creativity.

Life writing is my purpose and my brand. Becoming a voice that empowers women to passion, purpose and living their truths became my mission. In this instance, I make a life with my writing, rather than a living. Writing is looked upon these days as a trade rather than a calling. I can see how simple economics adds to this popular train of thought.

As a freelance writer and creative entrepreneur, I use my talents, skills and gifts in other areas where my creativity continues to educate, inform, and entertain, while paying penance to my economic sustainability.
Genres that I’ve written for and found a bit of success in, includes:
Short stories of fiction and nonfiction
Book Reviews
Song lyrics
One Act Plays
Celebrity News and Entertainment Features
Poetry
Slogans
Magazines
Blogs
And Content Writing.

I believe writing is a calling whose logistics can be improved upon as one sees fit to garner acceptance and or publication and validation. Your purpose is defined as that thing that nags at you to do what you must to make a difference in the lives of others and becomes your brand or niche.
Do not fear your gifts and abilities beyond your passion and purpose. How will we grow if we never expand our creative horizons?

How do you feel about writing beyond your comfort/niche? Share other genres you enjoy.

Clara54’s End of the Year Writers’ Advice


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Wow, it’s nearing the end of 2013 and because I’m one of those original type of girls who loves making up her own words/slogans and quotes, I get a bit perturbed by how some writers out there take the work of others without their consent.

Imitation might be the highest form of flatter, but to me, a writer and lover of words, I’d much rather come up with my own wise-doms or jokes or food for thought. I read where critics are saying that no one is an original anymore. Does that mean we’re allowed to steal the works of others? I’m one who is fighting hard to be that original, in my personal and professional world. I have a unique gift as do you. I’m all for spreading the popularity of other writers,but, I’m not trying to claim their flavor as my own.

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I suppose my end of the year writers’ advice would be to honor the gifts we have as individuals. Work your butt off to become great at what you love doing and take credit for having succeeded at doing it your way. It’s alright to learn from the best creative masters out there, but, when we take their original works and promote them as our own, we’re not being true to ourselves or to our readers. Plagiarism runs rampant in the blogosphere, so before you become victim to someone stealing your creative works, take extra precautions and seek resources like Grammarly’s plagiarism checker to nip that thief in the bud-(not my words promise)

Have you been a victim of plagiarism? Have you unknowingly plagiarized another artist’s work?

I’ll see you in January!

A Five Year Clara54 Surprise!


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Thanks WORDPRESS! Time simply flies when you’re doing the thing you love to do:) Thanks to all of my faithful readers, writers, book authors and all around good folk for keeping me interested and interesting!!!

Enjoy your Summer Time Fun weekend and I’ll see you guys back here on Friday with an amazing interview with Nigerian Author, Poet and Screenwriter, Abiola Olatunde.

Clara Freeman

Memoir Writing Insights From Kathleen Pooler and Pat Mckinzie


This special Thursday post continues the conversation on memoir writing and coincides with a post on Kathy Pooler’s blog @ http://krpooler.com. Kathy is one of my guests today and she is joined by Pat Mckinzie of X-Pat Files from Overseas and author of the memoir, Home Sweet Hardwood. Pat is also the guest at Kathy’s blog today! Please join me in welcoming these two awesome memoirists to clara54’s writer’s blog.

Kathy, Pat’s journey to writing her “truths” is well documented in her new memoir, Home Sweet Hardwood, so I’ll ask you to share a bit about your passion for writing.

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Kathy- For years, like many others, I have felt I have had a book inside me. I have enjoyed writing since I was about ten years old when I wrote plays for my maternal grandmother, Nan and all her little Italian lady friends. I can still see them gathered in the living room sipping coffee and chattering on in Italian. I never understood a word but can still feel their fascination and loving attention as they hushed each other when I stood in the archway to announce the play would begin. I have kept a journal since I received my first pink diary with a lock and key at the age of eleven. Several years ago, when I looked back on my life and realized the life of joy I was living despite the many obstacles I had faced, I felt the need to share how the power of hope through my faith has worked in my life. I have a story of survival, resilience, hope and overcoming obstacles that I feel others may benefit from. I feel deeply connected to this intent in my writing. Since Nursing was my career for forty-four years until I retired in 2011, I knew I needed to spend time learning about the art and craft of writing. In 2009, I joined The National Association of Memoir Writers, participated in ongoing memoir writing workshops, attended regional workshops and national writing conferences and started a blog. I began by writing vignettes that I eventually shaped into a story.

How much is too much information when writing for this genre or is there such a thing?

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Pat- Yes, there can be too many side stories. Each time I worked with a different agent or editor, I redrafted the manuscript to fit their demands. The central theme is about a girl fighting for the right to participate in competitive sport as a first generation Title IX athlete (amendment to Civil Rights Act mandating equal opportunities for all regardless of race or gender in all public educational institutes), but within the basketball story is a story about sisterhood, family bonds, and falling in love with a foreigner. Home Sweet Hardwood reflects on the compromises women make for love, family and career and challenges stereotypes of gender, race and nationality.

Kathy-The details that move the story along and support the theme of your story are what should be included. These details need to serve a purpose in the story. Details not related to the theme can serve to distract the reader. There is also an axiom in writing, “less is more” so judicious use of details should keep the reader engaged and not distracted. I’d like to add that I feel it is very important to write with intention and with a commitment to the truth as you remember it. Equally important is to be careful not to intentionally disparage others. Sometimes the facts of the person’s behavior speak for themselves. In my opinion, seeking legal counsel in writing memoir is essential because the actions of other people are an important part of our story. That’s a whole other discussion but I intend to seek legal counsel before I publish.

Talk about the process itself. Were there times when you just wanted to throw in the towel and say, “forget about it”?

Pat- ”Absolutely. Each time I got closer and then ultimately rejected by publishing houses, I felt a piece of myself die. I finally realized that it was more painful not to write, then to write and be rejected. Writing allows me to process life. I also didn’t know how I could possibly market a work for an American audience while living in Europe. Internet made publishing a whole new ball game.
How important is it to have a mentor or writing buddy or coach when you take on such a big project? My sister is a godsend. She has believed in me always. I also draw strength from fellow writers, like both of you. When I was scribbling my stories alone in a Parisian studio, I was driven by the illusions of youth. Later, the reality set in, I became jaded. The fact that others believed in me when I doubted myself has made all the difference.

Kathy- For me, the process has been like peeling on onion. Just when I think I’m done, a new layer of my story unfolds without much prodding on my part. The story reveals itself in the writing. When I get stuck, I do a free write in my journal. I know the story I set out to write three years ago is not the story I am writing now. In fact, after two rounds of edits by a professional editor, I have gained clarity on my story and recently , this has meant going in a different direction. I have many vignettes that will still be part of my story but I will structure it differently. I have used a combination of outlining and story boarding to help plot out my story structure. I also have had several beta readers who are memoir authors provide me with feedback on where I need to go with my next draft. And yes, I have had fleeting moments of wondering if it is worth it. But, the moments don’t last long because the passion I feel to tell my story is deeply-rooted and won’t let me rest!.

What were some ‘aha’ moments of advice that stuck with you while writing your memoirs and what advice would you ladies give to aspiring memoirists?

Pat- Never give up. That has been my life mantra. The obstacles I faced as a pioneer in the women’s sport are like the challenges people face in the pursuit of any dream. The lessons I learned through sports – practice, discipline, perseverance – carried over to help my reach my writing goals. I also had more than my fair share of injuries, accidents and illness, but that too helped shape me as writer and luckily, I had a day job to help pay the rent.
Don’t take rejection personally. In any art you are expressing yourself but in memoir, you are not only exposing your craft, you are revealing your soul.

Kathy- The best advice I can offer that has come from my collective experience of writing and working with many fine memoir teachers and authors is to honor the story within and keep writing. Writing a memoir is a healing process as painful memories are unearthed and explored. It involves not just the recollection of memories but also the reflection and introspection on the impact those memories and events have on the person you have become. We need to show the growth and change that has occurred so that the reader can connect to their own experiences and transformation. That’s what I mean when I say writing with intention- show growth, overcoming obstacles, transformation. Memoir writing has a trans-formative potential when the reader sees his/her own story reflected in the experience of others, Both the writer and the reader are changed. That is the healing power of memoir.

How important is it to have a mentor or writing buddy or coach when you take on such a big project?

Kathy- Extremely important. In fact, I did a blog post in December, 2012 recognizing three of my memoir mentors. It is important to learn the basics of writing craft, the specifics of the genre you are writing and to have the ongoing support and feedback about your writing from mentors and writing buddies. Being open to constructive feedback about your writing is key to improving your writing and taking it to the next level.

Pat- My sister is a godsend. She has believed in me always. I also draw strength from fellow writers, like both of you. When I was scribbling my stories alone in a Parisian studio, I was driven by the illusions of youth. Later, the reality set in, I became jaded. The fact that others believed in me when I doubted myself has made all the difference.

Kathy, you’ve completed the first draft to your memoir in progress. You must be breathing a sigh of relief.

Kathy- Actually , I will be when I finalize this next version of my first draft! Memoir writing is definitely a process that takes time, patience, perseverance. It is important to take the time to write it right and I expect I will know when it is ready to be launched. I’m sure Pat can address that.

Congratulations on being chosen to speak at the 2014 University Of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Athletics Tournament for girls, Pat. Explain what that honor means for the layperson like me, but, more importantly, how you’re feeling right about now.

Pat- Ahhh, March Madness, to reach the NCAA Final Four Tournament is ultimate experience for college athletes. They call it the Big Dance. When I left the states in the infancy of women’s sport, the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW 1971-1983) fought for the rights of women’s and the NCAA opposed those efforts. And Clara as you well know, laws don’t automatically change attitudes. It wasn’t until the government threatened sanctions against any public educational institute not complying with Title IX that the NCAA stepped in and took over.
I was a good ball player, but not the best, certainly not the Michael Jordan of women’s basketball, but my story captures the depth of emotion of woman moving in man’s world, of how an ordinary small-town girl followed her dream from the cornfields of Illinois to the City of Lights and kept fighting in spite of obstacles.
I am excited about the opportunity to speak even though I don’t feel comfortable talking about myself. Women’s stories have been left out of the history books, so I have to rise to the occasion because I feel like I have been given a voice for an unsung generation of heroes who led the way for our highflying daughters of today.

Any after thoughts or information you all would like to share with our readers?

Kathy- Keep writing and sharing your stories. Think of your story as a gift to yourself and your readers.

Pat-Embrace life with open arms and take advantage of any opportunity to learn. I quit taking French in high school cause I thought I’ll never use it. Go figure. I married a Frenchman.
I dropped out of creative writing in college cause I really thought I had no talent. Then I taught myself to write while living in foreign countries where all the books were all in French or German.

This has been a blast! Wasn’t my guests awesome? How do you feel about writing your memoir?

Kathleen Pooler is a writer and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner who is working on a memoir and a sequel about how the power of hope through her faith in God has helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments: domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.
She blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog: http://krpooler.com and can be found on Twitter @kathypooler and on LinkedIn, Google+, Goodreads and Facebook: Kathleen Pooler
One of her stories “The Stone on the Shore” is published in the anthology: “The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys From Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment” by Pat LaPointe, 2012.
Another story: “Choices and Chances” is published in the mini-anthology: “My Gutsy Story” by Sonia Marsh, 2012.

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To pick up your copy of Pat Mckinzie’s new memoir, Home Sweet Hardwood, go to
https://www.createspace.com/3877698
or
http://pattymackz.com/wordpress/book/