1st Try

So far, I have only sold one story on the first try: Dragonhawk One of the reasons why I believe that it was so successful is that even though I had the plot for the story in mind when writing the story, I also used (for the only time time since I restarted my writing “career” by buying Storymill and then later Scrivener) the Character Sketch Template Sheets provided by Scrivener.  One of the things that the character sheets forced me to do was to think about my characters from the external and the internal

External

So, on the Character Sheets, there is a place to fill out all of the external characteristics of the character.  What do they look like, what is their background, etc.  All of the things you might ask yourself when filling out a biography for a character.  Sure, it isn’t much, just spaces where you can write a paragraph or so, but I did that for both of the main characters in the story: Kelfryn (the young man who was a Hawkrider, but wanted to be a Dragonrider), and Scryfe (his mind-bonded hawk, who didn’t understand his rider’s obsession with dragons and dragon eggs).  It really didn’t take that long to write out each one–maybe half an hour to one full hour for each one.  However, when it came to describing the characters and knowing the history, my mind was able to weave a narrative around them that made them seem (to the editor who bought the story, and hopefully his readers), well, alive in some undefinable way.  It also made it easier, for me, to come up with a reason why  he was doing what he was doing that seemed both rational and in keeping with the character.

Internal

Perhaps the most important point is the fact that the character sheet provided a place for internal conflicts–i.e., what is the character struggling with internally.  For Kelfryn, he wanted so much to be a Dragonrider of old and to have the status of a Dragonrider.  His great grandfather had been one as had countless generations before that and in the world I created, even though there were no more Dragonriders, there was still an air of mystique about them and a reverence.  Even though he knew it was forbidden in his culture, his desire to bring them back trumped his good sense and he (pardon he pun) “hatched” a plan to steal an egg, thus setting the story in motion.

Concluding Thoughts

As I said earlier, this is the only story which has sold on the first try–and I didn’t even like the story all that much (the kid learns his lesson while I wanted a fun adventure story).  While I may never have another story accepted on the first try, this incident is trying to tell me something: good characters need both internal and external conflicts.  To help me, I printed out several character sheets.  My goal, of course, is to use them for each of my projects to help get at the inner conflicts and to create well-rounded and dynamic characters. I’m starting this with The Independent.  I’m working on the 2nd Draft now and I’m hopeful that a Character Sketch Sheet will help me to create Ryn (the protagonist) into a round and dynamic character.

Perhaps, one day, I can even reach the rarefied heights of getting back to getting a publication on the first try.  It’s something to shoot for anyway.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1)
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Writing It All: Roughing It, Writing It, Revising It, Submitting It

original-3304077-1

The Writing Process. Image Source: Teachers Pay Teachers – https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Circular-Writing-Process-Chart-3304077

 

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated every 2-3 Days (mostly)

  • Project Ship of Shadows (Graphic Novel) Page Count: 17 (+1)
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft) (Researched Article, No Writing so far)

Goal = 5 Pages a week.
Actual = 1/5 Pages done so far this week. I added a page to the 1st issue last night.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Weekly (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Transhuman edited by Mark L. Van Name and T. F. K. Weisskopf
    Just started this anthology – it was given to me at a LibertyCon some years ago, but I’ve just now gotten around to reading it. I may not finish it/read all the stories, but so far, I’ve read the first story and liked it.
    Traveller RPG: FINISHED!
  • For School:
    Afrofuturism (by Ytasha Womack): This book describes the academic genre of Afrofuturism (essentially African American Science Fiction that deals with social issues in culture).  I just finished Chapter 3 today and I’m at the beginning of Chapter 4 (this book has 10 chapters).
    Here is a summary from Amazon: “In this hip, accessible primer to the music, literature, and art of Afrofuturism, author Ytasha Womack introduces readers to the burgeoning community of artists creating Afrofuturist works, the innovators from the past, and the wide range of subjects they explore. From the sci-fi literature of Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and N. K. Jemisin to the musical cosmos of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am, to the visual and multimedia artists inspired by African Dogon myths and Egyptian deities, the book’s topics range from the “alien” experience of blacks in America to the “wake up” cry that peppers sci-fi literature, sermons, and activism. With a twofold aim to entertain and enlighten, Afrofuturists strive to break down racial, ethnic, and social limitations to empower and free individuals to be themselves.”
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)
    Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Writing It All

This year is all about trying different things to jump-start my writing career. Yes, I said career, as I would like to grow myself to become a novelist in addition to a scholar, but right now, one thing at a time.  I realize that I simply don’t have the time (at the moment) to devote all my energies and resources to writing, but I’m really good at focused work on 1 project at a time. My goal then is to rough draft a story, write a story, edit a story, and submit a story once per month (1 X 12).  I’ve come to the realization that I’m slow in terms of writing speed and the level of detail that I want in my writing takes time. Even these blog entries take a while to develop–the writing/drafting isn’t bad, but “tagging” it, slotting in categories, finding an image, sometimes linking to YouTube or Amazon, and well, I can sometimes spend an hour to hour and a half creating one blog post.

Roughing It

For me, this is probably the easiest part of the writing process. I can come up with tons of amazing ideas. Two Saturdays ago, I came up with 4 separate ideas that could become projects later on down the line (of course, I only wrote down 1 of these, so the other 3 still exist in the nebulous realm of my mind taking up space and brain power–note to self: need to jot them down , put them on paper, and out of my mind’s eye). My goal is to formally “rough draft” a project monthly which means that I simply write down a (possible) beginning, middle, and end for a project that month.

Drafting It

This is where my focus has been for most of the Spring and Summer. I’ve really concentrated hard on trying to get WORDS ON A PAGE. I’ve worked diligently on this and have completed 2 First Drafts and I’m working on the script of a graphic novel (1st issue in comic book terms). I’m working on getting it more consistent by doing it “daily.”  Right now, I write for four days a week (M-Th) and I try for 250 words in a session = 1000 weekly.  Now 600 words is about where I top out at in one session, so my goal is to try to slowly increase over my time in grad school to 500 words and maybe boost that to 5-6 days a week, but that’s an aspirational goal–I’m not there yet.

Revising It (“Re-visioning”)

This one is where I’m really up to snuff yet. I’ve done some preliminary research on a story that I’ve wanted to rewrite for while (every since I received feedback on it at MTSU’s Writing Center), but I haven’t had the time in the past two weeks due to the large paper that I had to write. I find myself wondering if it is even worth “saving” or if it is beyond hope and to put it away as a learning exercise and move on to revising a different story?

Submitting It

This too has been a weak area for me. Now that I understand that I’ve probably been submitting my stories too soon in the writing process, I’ve decided to slow down in my submissions. I currently have 0 stories out at the moment. This is probably too harsh. The way I’m presently writing, this is going to take me months to create a story with the level of polish that I hope (keyword = hope) will make me 1000% more competitive in the writing market while other stories that I’ve written will languish until I can get to them. I need to find one place a month and just submit a story that I feel good about and that matches the guidelines of the market. If I submit more than one, great, but you can’t be a published writer if you never send anything out to publishers.

Well, that’s all that I wanted to highlight today: showing some of places where I’m strong in the writing process and some places that need work.  Reflecting minds want to know how well they’re doing and what strategies that they can use to improve and if there’s anything that I love reflecting on, its the writing process.

Have a good day

Sidney




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Project Independence–One Week To Go

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • Project Independence Word Count: @4000 words (+203 words)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Goal = 167 words (5000 words by July 1).  Currently at approximately, 4100 words
Actual = 0 words Thursday/Friday night.  I wasn’t able to write Thursday night due to fatigue.  Friday night I came home, but was stuck in traffic, meaning that instead of getting home in enough time to write, I was very late getting home and by that time fatigue had set in.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 1000s in terms of page count–nearly at the end of the book.
  • For School:
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
    Lingua FractalA Rhetoric book that details the convergence of Rhetoric and Technology and how they interact in today’s world.  Finished a Book Review for it on Friday for class.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

Reading two or three chapters in Oathbringer every day.  I really shouldn’t be, but it is so good, that I generally read it while eating dinner (and then I go back out to the library to do reading for school).   Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

One Week to Go

So, I have one week to go on my (self-imposed) deadline for finishing the First Draft for Project Independence.  I have a several former co-workers at the Chattanooga Public Library who serve as my “Alpha Readers” and who give me reactions about the story.  When I worked at the CPLmy supervisor tried to make sure that everyone in the department got at least one weekend off every month.  Mine was the first Saturday of the month.  Since I’ve left the library, I’ve lost that as a “driving force,” and that’s why I’m working so hard to try finish the story by this date.  I know this works, and like I’ve said before, I really try to find something that works, I try to replicate it as best as I can–“If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Would Like to Finish 1st Draft on Independence Day

It would be really cool to finish the story on Independence Day.  This year, Independence Day is on Wednesday.  The symmetry of finishing the project on Independence Day would be awesome, but I don’t think that I can realistically make it based on all of the school assignments that I still have left to do this week.  As this is the last week of school, I believe that I will be working quite diligently to finish all of the material due before the week is over.

1st Draft–Telling Yourself the Story

So, Project Independence is the first project where I’m really concerned with drafting (i.e., going through multiple drafts) until the story comes out like I envision it.  Usually when I finish a story, I edit it and then begin submitting it unless there’s something truly wrong with it or it doesn’t come close to matching my original vision for the story.  Now I’m committed to going through at least three drafts, focusing on different aspects each draft to see if I can improve my writing (& selling) of my work.  Right now, the first draft is me just telling myself the story.  There is a quote that I found online that (I believe) is attributed to Neil Gaiman that (paraphrased) says that the 1st Draft is you telling yourself the story.  The implication is that it really doesn’t matter how good (or bad) that draft is because you’re just trying to get the fundamental elements of the story down on the page.  You can go back and strengthen, revise, and reshape the draft later–just get the story down on page.  This is what Project Independence represents for me.  Just getting it down on the page.  However, this is where I usually edit it and start submitting and this time I don’t intend to to that.

I’ll have a blog post later in the week that talks more about my drafting process, but suffice to say, Wednesday, July the 4th would be an ideal deadline, but Saturday, July 7 is my absolute deadline that I’m working towards.  Wish me luck!

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

 

 

 

 

Reorganizing My Writing Space/Process

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • Project Independence Word Count: @4000 words (+203 words)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Goal = 167 words (5000 words by July 1).
Actual = Rebounded after a day with no words and was able to hit Scrivener’s goal of 167 words, but fell a bit short of my own 250 word (personal) goal.   203 words written last night. 

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 850s in terms of page count–more than ¾th of the way through.  Will post a non-spoiler mini-review when I finish.
  • For School:
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
    Lingua FractalA Rhetoric book that details the convergence of Rhetoric and Technology and how they interact in today’s world.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

Reading two or three chapters in Oathbringer every day.  I really shouldn’t be, but it is so good, that I generally read it while eating dinner (and then I go back out to the library to do reading for school).   Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing); Updated Weekly (Mondays)

  • Moving Game Mode On to its own (Mostly) Weekly Post

Reorganizing My Writing Space

I’m in the process of switching rooms–well, actually, that’s not true as I’ve already switched bedrooms.  To be more accurate, I’m in the process of cleaning up the disaster that resulted from me switching furniture from one room to another.  This process has been slowed by the fact that school has taken up time (reading, working on papers, etc.) that I would have normally used to put things into some kind of order, meaning that the house is still in a mess even though I’ve already completed the switching of rooms.  However, this has given me time to be more reflective about how I’m positioning (or not positioning) my writing files/projects.  So, I’ve tried to simplify and streamline my files.  I’ve added a simple system in my room (my bedroom) and I’ve added a more elaborate system in my guest bedroom/study.

Reorganizing My Writing Process

A while back, I bought a simple plastic divider that has five slots for holding various folders/notebooks.  I struggled with finding a use for it until recently.  I’m now using it to hold the projects that I’m actively working on.  I’ve decided to put my projects through a more rigorous drafting process: 1) Rough Draft, 2) First (1st) Draft, 3) Second (2nd) Draft, 4) Third (3rd) Draft and 5) Edited Draft.  Each slot corresponds to where my draft is in the process.  For instance, once I finish this draft for Project Independence I will place it in the second slot for the 1st Draft.  I’ll let it lie “fallow” for month or two and then write another draft of the story and concentrate on a different major focus for each successive draft.  As I complete these drafts, I’ll move them up into each successive slot until it is time for them to be submitted.  In many ways, this is just the physical version of gameification of my writing that I’m slowly developing to help me finish consistently finish high quality drafts.

Focusing on Different Aspects of the Process in Successive Drafts: The Art of Win-Win

So, for me, I build on each successive draft so it makes sense (again, for me) to use m strengths and focus on different elements of the story at each stage of the drafting process.  For me, the first thing that slots in is the plot/sequence of events in the story (& sometimes character), character (motivations, backstory, conflicts) usually comes next with a bit of setting, and then finally setting (concrete) along with elements of story telling (in media res, themes, imagery, etc).  Letting me writing space provide both a way to show definite progress as each project moves up through the divider and gets closer and closer to being ready to be submitted as well choosing different aspects of the story focus on during these new drafts is something that I hope will make my writing better as well.  I don’t really like the phrase “Win-Win” as I think that there are always downsides to something (here, it is the limited number of projects that I can realistically focus on at a time given my fairly pokey writing speed), but this is as close to a “Win-Win” situation as I can make it (and it gets those pesky folders off the floor as well, which is, a major bonus as well!)

Thanks for reading!

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

 

Gamification of Writing

gamify-your-writing_slideshare

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • Project Independence Word Count: @4000 words (+203 words)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Goal = 167 words (5000 words by July 1).
Actual = Rebounded after a day with no words and was able to hit Scrivener’s goal of 167 words, but fell a bit short of my own 250 word (personal) goal.   203 words written last night. 

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 850s in terms of page count–more than ¾th of the way through.  Will post a non-spoiler mini-review when I finish.
  • For School:
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
    Lingua Fractal: A Rhetoric book that details the convergence of Rhetoric and Technology and how they interact in today’s world.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

Reading two or three chapters in Oathbringer every day.  I really shouldn’t be, but it is so good, that I generally read it while eating dinner (and then I go back out to the library to do reading for school).   Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing); Updated Weekly (Mondays)

  • Moving Game Mode On to its own (Mostly) Weekly Post

Making a Game Out of Writing

I should have done this long ago.  Actually, I did do this long ago, but I set my goals to high and couldn’t reach them, so I gave them up.  What am I talking about?  Well, along with the change in the way that I write blogs, see A Peek Behind the Curtain for more information, I’ve also begun writing using the word count feature in Scrivener to help me “visualize” my way to success.  Like I said before, I’ve used it before, but I set my word count at unrealistically high levels (1000 words and 1500 words) and I could rarely hit my goals.  In general, based on what I seem to do in these blogs posts or when I have unlimited amounts of time to devote to a writing session, I seem to average about 600 words.  Generally speaking, it takes me about an hour to write 600 words, so I average (on general) 10 words a minute when creating a new work (I type at about 35-40 words a minute, but when doing creative writing, there’s a lot of time when I’m searching for the right word/right way to describe something).  However, now that I’m working on “filling up” a progress bar, writing doesn’t seem as much of a chore than it has in the past and I look forward to seeing if I can move the bar some more.

The Progress Bar

Scrivener’s Progress Bar feeds my own particular “OCD” meter.  I love seeing things get completed.  I get a satisfaction from seeing something going from empty to full (like a full tank of gas, or vice versa, like a dirty floor, messy floor becoming clean and empty).  A slight digression: this is why I was so great at sorting donated books when I was an employee of the Chattanooga Public Library.  I loved the feeling of wrangling the messy space of the donation area and making it clean and presentable.  The same is true for my writing.  I looked for sites that would give me what Scrivener did, a progress bar that kept track of my writing, but couldn’t find but a handful and they did not work the way I wanted them to, so I’ve gone back to Scrivener and I’ve used the Progress Bar to keep track of my words.  The Progress Bar feature lets you track words, pages, or # of words needed to hit a specific goal.  This latter choice is the way that I have it currently set.  I’m trying to reach 5000 words for Project Independence by July 1st.  Based on where I am in the story, I’m not sure that I’ll be finished, but that’s my goal.  Scrivener tells me that I just need to write 160ish words to hit it.  My bare minimum is that, but I try to go over if I can.  I count it a double success on those days when I go over and hit the 250 word goal as well.  I need to start buying myself a treat and rewarding myself on the days when that happens.

600 Word Writer

Now that I know that 600 hundred words (or an hour of writing) is my own personal sweet spot, I’m going to try to slowly increase my word count over the next years to see if I can get there per day.  Right now, I’m not going to try.  I really want to 1) habitualize my writing and really lock it in as a habit (too often, I let fatigue interfere with the process and 2) get some successes under my belt.  I’ve gone too long without a publication or even a finished project that I feel proud of submitting without reservations.  So, for now, 250 words remains my (attainable) goal.  Like a weight lifter, I need to be completely comfortable with the “weights” (word count) before moving up to the next tier.

Well, that’s it for today and WordPress is telling me that this post is 695 words long.  See, I’m in my comfort zone.  I may have to learn to stretch it, but for now, I need to learn how to make it a habit.  Have a good one!

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

Back to the Future (No, Not the Movie, My Writing Projects)

Future

Writing the Future: All For Nothing.  Image Source: YouTube

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 2357 (+634 words)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

I’m back to writing again–I’m working primarily on Project Independence now that I have a complete idea of the story in my head.  I shattered my 250 word writing goal for today, but in doing so, didn’t have a whole lot of time left to craft this blog entry before my Writing Center shift begins.  

So, I’m Back to Writing

This one is a shorter blog as I have to be in the Writing Center in about 45 minutes.  Basically, I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m back to writing, specifically Project Independence.  While yesterday’s blog was a way to help me discover what time is optimal for me as a writer, today’s blog is to emphasize that sometimes you have to write at sub-optimal times.  Yesterday, I tried to write in the afternoon, but I ran out of time because I was reading outside and I didn’t have access to a wifi-enabled computer.  I would have had to go back inside into the air-conditioning which I had been in all morning and lunchtime, so I just enjoyed the sunlight outside reading.  Today, I just got up early and wrote before my shift in the Writing Center begins.

Writing Future Slang

So, one of the things that I’m really interested in is communication between the various characters.  While I want to tell a very cool and interesting story, I also want to emphasize how communication can help (or hinder) the characters in the story.  Today, for instance, I tried my hand at creating slang for a different planet.  I’m not sure how effective it is at this stage of the draft, but I really like the challenge of taking today’s slang and trying to extrapolate how it might work in the future.

Sorry this blog is so short–consider this a maxi-update for Project Independence.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to craft a longer blog entry tomorrow.  Right now, I’m just excited that I’m actually back to writing the story.

Have a great day!

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

Changing Paradigms

good afternoon

Good Afternoon written on a notebook beside a laptop.  Image Source: Depositphotos

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 1723 
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

So, again, no new writing done (boo!).  Read on to find out why.

Adjusting to a New Schedule

So, astute readers will notice that the Word Count section of the blog that I recently added has not changed in a couple of days.  There’s are reason for that–while Summer “Classes” have not officially started, my summer “responsibilities” for my Financial Aid started on Monday, the 21st.  I’m now working in the University Writing Center as a Writing Consultant over the summer.  This means my writing time has been severely restricted in terms of time to write.

Optimal Writing Time

Dr. Renfroe, in the very first class I took from her here at MTSU, encouraged us  (grad students) to experiment with writing times to find what worked for us so as to write consistently and regularly.  She advised us that, as students who would be writing theses and dissertations, this was the best and most consistent way to be able to craft these longer works with as little frustration as possible.  Later on, after reading Jesmyn Ward’s Interview on NPR (Persist.  Read, Write, and Improve), I realized that I really needed to produce 250 words a day and to find the time when I was at my best in terms of a writing time.

Early to Mid Afternoon

So, in this past year and half, I’ve discovered that I’m best as a writer during the early to mid-afternoon period.  Some time after lunch, but sometime before, say five o’clock.  Early morning writing (except for maybe the blog) doesn’t really work (for me) as I’m not usually awake enough to consistently put words on the page, even though I’m a fairly early riser.  Late night doesn’t work because my body and mind usually go into “shut down” mode and any energy/excitement for the piece is overcome by mental exhaustion from the day.  No, my preferred writing time is early to mid-afternoon.  My brain is awake and alert, but not tired and mentally exhausted.

This week, I’ll have a couple of hours in that optimal time, but next week, I’ll only have one hour.  Now that I know this, I’m going to have learn to be a little quicker in adapting myself to the changing paradigms that I find myself in to protect as much of that precious “golden time” in the early/mid-afternoons as possible based on the circumstances.

It is true: knowledge is power.  Have a good day!

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.