Wednesday, March 7, 2018

#IWSG: Count Your Blessings and A Stitch in Crime

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for an Insecure Writer's Support Group post. Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh and all the co-hosts this month:  Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner (Me!). 

This month's optional question is: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/finish a story?

I put the first draft of the cozy mystery I'd been working on aside to write a short story sequel to offer free in order to generate interest--before the novel comes out.  It was complete at about 12K words when the Insecure Writer's Support Group short story anthology announced they were accepting submissions in the mystery genre! 

Perfect! I really only write cozy mysteries. And the timing of the announcement was fortuitous because I'd just finished my short story. The only problem was the length: 6000 words too many. I wondered if I'd be able to cut that many words--it was half my story! But I did it and submitted my story. Goal accomplished!

I knew that making it into the anthology was a long shot. There are so many talented writers out there and I know I'm not the best. Plus, my stories are lighthearted and sweet in a world that thrives on adrenaline and angst.  

No one was more blown away than me when I learned that my lighthearted paranormal cozy mystery won the feature spot!

Here's where my insecurity comes in. I've just completed reading all the stories in the anthology. And they are GOOD! Better than mine. I have to wonder if someone made a mistake. 

HOWEVER, I'm not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. I'm thrilled, grateful and so honored! I'm celebrating by counting my blessings which I hope to never take for granted. My story touched a chord with enough of the judges to be selected. So maybe it's not always the best that wins, but the one that touches the strongest chord at the time.

How do you celebrate when
you achieve a writing goal?
****
Even cozy characters have their problems. Here's a look into Indigo Eady's life: 

EXCERPT from A Stitch in Crime:
 
“Bagels, croissants, snickerdoodles, macaroons…” I looked up and met Badger’s eyes. “Okay, spill the coffee beans. This is serious indeed.” I twisted the bag top into a tight taper and pushed it away, then sat back and crossed my arms. “You’re not here on a Friday night for my titillating company.”
“You wound me.” He splayed his hand over his heart as if I’d punctured it with an arrow.
“Yeah, yeah. Come on, you brought all my favorite junk foods, so out with it.”
He sighed. “You’re right. This isn’t exactly a social call.”
He didn’t meet my eyes or answer right away. Instead he crossed to the cupboard and pulled out a plate, then made a big production of untwisting and smoothing out the mangled bag. Pastries were arranged to their best advantage. “As it happens, I have a friend in need.”
“Uh-huh.” I snatched a macaroon and bit it in half. The sweet and chewy coconut seduced my taste buds. I shoved the rest in my mouth and continued. “Let me guess. This friend of yours has a mischievous ghost who’s creating havoc and making life miserable.”
“In a word, yes.”
I sighed. “I’m not a ghostbuster. I need a real job.” I’d applied for numerous positions with no response. I dreamed of eating real food instead of ramen noodles every night.
“I know.” He plucked a blueberry scone from the pile and broke it in half. “But it’s a paying gig, and let’s face it: you need money.”
Someone had a big mouth. Probably me. “How much?” I may not like dealing with spirits, but I could be bought for the right price. Like a steak-and-potato dinner, perhaps with a nice bottle of Cabernet thrown in.
“The going rate,” Badger said. He shoved half the scone in his mouth and chewed while I waited. “A thousand pounds.”
The macaroon lodged in my throat, trapping coconut-coffee juice at the back of my nasal passages. I managed to swallow the lump before anything shot from my nose, but a coughing fit ensued. Once that subsided, I wiped my watery eyes on the back on my hand. “When do I start?” I choked out.
“Don’t you want to know what it is first?”
“I’d exorcise the devil himself for a thousand pounds,” I said, then hesitated. “It’s not the devil himself…is it?”
*****

On Pre-sale Now!





124 comments:

  1. Wow, featured spot. Well done! Great extract! X

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  2. Oh yay! An excerpt from Tick Tock, which I just pre-ordered! Thanks for co-hosting today, and, I am SURE that your story wouldn't have been chosen if it didn't meet the high standards the IWSG Anthologies always have! Congratulations!

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    1. Thank you, Lisa, and thanks so much for pre-ordering the anthology. You're going to love it!

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  3. What a fun excerpt! I can see why this won a featured spot in the anthology. Many congrats!

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    1. I tend to hide behind humor, LOL. Thank you, Heather.

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  4. Loved reading your excerpt. And it was no mistake that you were picked. You work hard and are a great writer.

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    1. *Blushing* Thank you, Natalie. You're a great support to the writing community :)

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  5. Loved the excerpt!!! And congratulation to you and to all the wonderful authors! I'm so looking forward to this book. We should count our blessings each and every day.

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    1. Oh, and thank you for co-hosting this month, Gwen!!

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    2. I try to remind myself every day how lucky I am. Feeling really blessed right now! Thanks, Cathrina :)

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    3. It's my pleasure to co-host :)

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  6. Counting our blessings is something we should all try to do, I think – it's easy to forget the good stuff and think only of problems or what we've not yet achieved.

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    1. One day at a time, Patsy! I always try to find the silver lining :)

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  7. Greetings from one co-host to another! Well, if that excerpt is any indication, it's no wonder your story was chosen for the top spot! Congratulations and enjoy basking in the glory.

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    1. "basking" LOL. Incredibly blessed, for sure. Thanks, Bish!

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  8. That's great! Your story resonated with the judges, and will with the readers, too. I'm honored to share the pages with you. I've also felt unworthy, but we worked hard on our stories, and they are most definitely worthy of being published!

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    1. I loved ALL the stories, and I'm so honored to be sharing the pages of Tick Tock with all of you! I'm still working on the worthy part ;)

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  9. No mistake! Your story was the top one. Just enjoy.

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    1. I'm working on it! Thank you, Alex :)

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  10. I'm looking forward to seeing all the stories in May.

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  11. Ooh, I want to know what happens next!

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    1. Haha! This is where the mystery begins!

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  12. ooh, great hook!
    And I really want a coconut macaroon now!

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    1. Me too! LOL, they sell them at Barnes & Noble Café. They're yummy!

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  13. Congratulations on getting into the anthology! The excerpt is great!

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  14. Congratulations! And I know EXACTLY how you feel ;) After I got word during the last anthology that my story had won I thought, "Are they sure? Did they make a mistake???" But no, they didn't. They mean what they say. Congratulations! And I LOVE the excerpt!! I want to read the rest of it...and eat a blueberry scone :D

    Thanks for co-hosting!
    Jen

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    1. It's still sort of a dream that I hope not to wake up from!

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  15. I don't think they made a mistake, Gwen. You write such fun paranormal cozy mysteries. Love the excerpt!

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    1. I do have fun with it ;) Thanks, Cherie!

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  16. I know they didn't make a mistake, Gwen, but I know how you feel. I felt that same way last year with the Hero Lost Anthology - there are some seriously talented writers in there, and I don't think I'm that talented.
    Excellent excerpt!

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    1. Thank you, Tyrean. I do feel a bid of a fraud. LOL. I can get used to this though ;)

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  17. I loved your story, and you're right about the others. I haven't made it though the complete anthology, but what I've read so far I've really enjoyed. It's fun seeing how each writer's take on a theme is unique. Opens the mind a bit.

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    1. Yes! Such a big array of stories on the same theme. It's awesome. Thank you, Lee :)

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  18. This sounds like such a great story! Love your excerpt and can't wait to read! Congratulations! :)

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    1. Thanks, Christine. It was a fun story to write ;)

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  19. Don't you love it when a well-planned idea works better than you could imagine. Yeah. Doesn't happen often. Congrats!

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    1. Oh I imagined it being awesome and getting accepted, LOL. But when it happened? It blew me away. Such is the power of belief!

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  20. Congrats on winning a spot in the anthology. The excerpt is great! (I love macaroons, btw) Of course you deserve winning. I can't wait to read your story. Thanks for co-hosting this month.

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    1. Thanks, Diane. Just wait until you read all the stories. They're awesome!

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  21. That's amazing you cut so many words. The story is fantastic. No mistakes were made. Thanks for co-hosting today. :)

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    1. It wasn't easy cutting that many words, but I made it work. Thanks, Christine!

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  22. I don't think anyone made a mistake. I think most of us see our own work as not quite as good as that of others. You did great and congratulations on your writing achievements.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. That's probably it, Arlee. It's so hard to be objective. Thank you!

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  23. Congratulations, Gwen. I loved the excerpt. Now I'm super eager to read the whole story as well as the anthology. By the way how did you cut so many words? Any secret tips that you want to share?

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    1. In mysteries, you have a certain amount of clues to write in that lead to the solution (usually to finding the killer). I cut out one of those paths. Some of the description got axed too. I just decided what the story didn't really need and cut it. And it wasn't easy!

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  24. We're always our own worst critics. That's why even the most seasoned and successful writers still experience imposter syndrome. Congrats on getting into the anthology. Glad to hear that you're having a good time with your writing. Thanks for the post. :)

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    1. We are so hard on ourselves. I wonder why? Thanks for stopping by, Kathy!

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  25. Great excerpt! Can't wait to read the rest of the story.

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  26. This really highlights how editing can tighten up a story and take it from good to excellent. Congrats on the anthology - I'm really looking forward to reading the stories. Thanks for co-hosting today.

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    1. Just goes to show how much can be cut! Kill your Darlings as Stephen King says.

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  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Cozies are fun and non-stressful. We get enough stress reading the news! Thanks for stopping by, Lynn!

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  28. I loved your story! It definitely deserved the top spot, the judges were right!

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    1. Oh wow, thank you, Yolanda! All of your stories are so good. Every one of them deserved to win!

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  29. Congratulations on making the anthology. And yeah, everyone who made it into that anthology thinks their story is the worst one. That insecurity is what keeps us moving forward. Thanks for co-hosting this month's IWSG post.

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    1. I'm still in a dream state! I hope not to wake up, LOL. Thanks, Ken!

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  30. Congratulations, you deserved it. Happy IWSG Day.

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    1. Thank you, Juneta! Happy IWSG Day to you too!

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  31. Congrats on your story accepted by the anthology judges. I'm sure it must've wrung strong emotions from the readers. And isn't that what writing is all about? So happy for you. Love your cover photo on your blog page. Talk about sweet. BTW, reading feel-good stories are so welcome after being overwhelmed by all the bad news every day. Thanks for co hosting. JQ Rose

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    1. Yes! Something heartwarming to balance all the bad stuff going on!

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  32. Congratulations on the feature! Bask in the glow a little, you earned it. And when that little voice whispers that your story isn't as good as the others, give it a swift chop to the windpipe. Thanks for co-hosting this month!

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    1. Oooh, I can go all marshal arts on that nagging voice! Thanks, S.E.!

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  33. Congratulations on your story. I can identify with you because I am more partial to cosier mysteries myself. I do read the more violent stuff (and have written some violent scenes) on occasion but prefer less gore. It is hard to judge our own writing. I can write something thinking it is just ok and then get positive feedback and be surprised. I like your character, Indigo Eady.

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    1. I do read some heavier stuff. I also put heavy stuff down if I'm feeling too stressed. Cozy is a nice counter-balance.

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  34. The excerpt is fantastic. Congrats on being included in the anthology; your story deserves it!

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    1. Thanks, Cathy, I hope you get a change to read the whole anthology :)

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  35. Counting our blessings is a wonderful habit we should all get into! Congrats on the feature spot!

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  36. I love the world of Indigo Eady...it's very atmospheric.

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    1. Setting is one of the features of a cozy. I hope to develop that aspect more. Thanks, Michelle!

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  37. Congratulations, I can't wait to read yours and all the other stories in Tick Tock.

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  38. Congratulations, Gwen, not only for being selected for the anthology, but to actually represent the feature story! I love that title, by the way. Ingenious and catchy. And, the excerpt is sweet and entertaining as well.

    Incredible that you managed to cut the word count in half. I'm attempting the very same thing with my 160,000 word first draft memoir... quite unsuccessfully.

    Did your initial short story already have a "clock theme" to it? And, how does it work to offer a sequel to the book as a gift before the main feature? Is it an introduction to the characters? A story set before the feature book?

    Thanks for co-hosting!

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    1. On the word count: With mysteries there is always a clue trail. I cut out one of the trails and then some of the setting. Just asked myself what was necessary for the integrity of the story and what wasn't. Then started hacking until I got where I needed to be.

      My initial story didn't have a clock theme, as such. However, most mysteries do have a time theme. You know, find the killer before x,y,z happens. Initially I had Indigo learning to knit, because Franny is an avid knitter. But when I was thinking up titles, and one of them was a play on an old saying, A Stitch in Time, I knew I had to switch to cross-stitch. So then I got both the time and the cross-stitch angle from the book into the title. Or vice versa. LOL.

      When writing the short story, I made sure that it could be a stand-alone and that I wasn't giving anything away about the prequel--no more than the description on the novel. That was no problem. I haven't released the novel yet, not until later this year. But I think it's okay.

      These are characters that I've worked with before. I took them from YA to Adult, so I was very familiar with their personalities, etc. And yes, it's a good introduction to the main characters.

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    2. Thanks for the detailed reply, Gwen. I appreciate it. It looks like hard work and some “aha” moments created the perfect symbiosis for the anthology short story. And,it’s timing and theme. I love it when that happens!

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    3. Thanks so much for your interest, Liesbet. If anything I've said helps, then it just makes me so happy :)

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    4. Then, happy you should be! :-)

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  39. Cozy mysteries are very popular. Congrats on making the cut!

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    1. Thanks, Susan. There is a particular group of people who like the sub-genre and I think it's pretty big, if not very mainstream.

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  40. Thanks for co-hosting, Gwen! I will be reading your entire story when "Tick Tock" comes out! I'm sure the judges did not make a mistake! Take care!

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  41. Wonderful snippet. They definitely didn't make a mistake when they accepted your story. Personally, I like lighthearted much better than dark and gritty.

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    1. You must be a cozy lover, then, Olga! I hope you get a chance to read our anthology :)

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  42. I LOVED the story, especially as I've read other Indigo adventures. I'm delighted it came out on top.

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  43. Your excerpt had me laughing at the end. Funny how we'd think there must be a mistake for our work being chosen but the excerpt you shared proved the judges were right to choose your entry. Congrats and thanks for co-hosting today! :-D

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    1. I do love humor in my writing, so I'm glad you got a chuckle! Thank you, Lidy :)

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  44. Fun excerpt--makes me want a macaroon! (Although I would've chosen the snicker doodle). ;-) Congratulations on not only being accepted but being the featured story, yahoo!

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    1. Yep, snicker doodles are the best! Thank you, Jennifer!

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  45. Congratulations! You might not think it's as good as the others, but they can be saying the same thing about their work!

    Thanks for co-hosting!

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    1. Thanks, Deb! I know we're all insecure about our writing. Thank goodness for the IWSG!

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  46. Congratulations! You deserve it. No really... you deserve it. Your work was chosen to be featured for a reason. I'm thrilled for you, and now I want a macaroon as well. Guess I better get something finished. Lol.

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    1. LOL, funny how everyone is focusing on the macaroons! I'll have to remember to always add food into my writing ;)

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  47. Woohoo! Good job! I know what a pain it can be to cut things down. :)

    Thanks for co-hosting!

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  48. Positively adorable! Can't wait to read it. :)

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  49. Congratulations on getting the feature spot! That's fabulous news.

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  50. Hey, Gwen, that was a job well done, reducing your word count by half. And by the way, your story is wonderful. In a word, poignant.

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    1. Hehe, you're going to make me blush, Joy! Thank you!

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  51. Absolutely love the excerpt - way to go!

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  52. Congrats on the feature spot. The hack and slash of words can be tough. Thank you for co-hosting!

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    1. Thank you, Adrienne. I'm still reeling :)

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  53. Congratulations! Your story excerpt already has me wishing May was here. I don't say things like that lightly at my age. :-) Thank you for sharing that today. They didn't make a mistake at all but I think most of us IWSGers feel that way when we achieve something. Keep on writing because you're quite talented.

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    1. The IWSG is totally working its magic on me:) Thank you, Liz!

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  54. Thanks for co-hosting this month and congrats on you submission to the anthology.

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    1. Thank you, Toi. It's my pleasure to co-host. I get to meet a lot of new writer friends :)

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  55. Just finished up reading your story yesterday and it is fabulous! I love Indy and the whole premise is so much fun!!! :)

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  56. Hi Gwen, I'm a sucker for titles with a play on words or that mimmick another story. Best wishes for a smashing success with the upcoming release.

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    1. Thanks, Steve. I love the play on words and you see that a lot in cozy mysteries. They're not always so easy to think up though ;)

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  57. All the stories are gonna be great. Love the title of the anthology. Congrats.

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    1. They are great, can't wait for them to be out in the world. Thanks, Donna!

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  58. I can see why you're the featured story writer, Gwen. Many congratulations, my dear! All the best to you and thanks for co-hosting IWSG's question.

    I thought I had followed your blog but don’t see my icon. NOW I’m following you and will connect on social media as well.
    http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com

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  59. You had to cut 6000 words? Holy cow!

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  60. Lighthearted cozy mysteries are my new candy. Big congrats on the spot. I can't wait to get my hands, er eyes, on this anthology.

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  61. Love your "sweet" (pun intended) story of the ghosts, the candy shop, the nuns, and the little girl who just wanted to help.

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Your comments are most appreciated!