Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Thorns in Your Side (IWSG)

Do you ever feel like the awful parts of life are a blessing? 

This month, most Americans reflect on their blessings. I penned out the "gratitude" introduction for LightningQuickReads theme this month (a free flash fiction blog). The opportunity to post monthly on that blog has been both a blessing and a thorn in my side. It means having at least one piece of fiction available every month.

EVERY month. 

(Now take into account that I had a baby this year, and the fact that I'm an UBER perfectionist...)

Initially I was WAY ahead on the deadlines, but this last month I finished with only 4 days to spare. Talk about stress. One or two of those pieces made me want to slam my head against the wall. Repeatedly. For weeks.

At the same time, every month I've had to produce a piece of flash fiction. EVERY MONTH. Can you imagine how fabulous my flash fiction skills have become? And more than that. I used to struggle with short stories BIG time, but they're just longer pieces of flash fiction. I can literally write to any theme, any length, and do it in a reasonable amount of time. 

But it hurt to get here. To this point. This magical place. 

I think often we get stuck in the pain and forget that every ounce of suffering can become a blessing. When we're called, invited, required to pass through hard things, they have the potential to make us better. Every experience can be a blessing. We just have to step back, take a breath, and see the big picture.


 

Last week Cortney Pearson shared with us PHOBIC, along with two truths and a lie. Those who guessed the lie correctly were entered into a random drawing for the chance to win a signed paperback book.

Cortney's Game:

1. I met my husband while cleaning toilets as a student custodian.
2. I nearly drowned in the ocean when I got trapped beneath a boogie board. 
3. I sang in a band in high school.


The lie: #3. Cortney's friends were in a band in high school, however, one time she played the bass part on a keyboard because their bass player was unavailable. She totally rocked the bass line for Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" on the keyboard.

Way to guess everyone! And the winner is:

...DRUM ROLL...


Congrats, Jess!

And now for this week's feature... 

Kevin Pierce is a teleporter, a ladies’ man, and a loyal friend . . . or so he thought.

As a genetically altered Luminary, he helps the government bring down some of the most dangerous criminals. Not very challenging if you have his special abilities. But when a group of rebel Luminaries attacks his Organization the fight for survival begins.

One shattering event after another tests the depth of his relationships, his sanity, and his powers. Emotionally torn, Kevin must choose carefully where his loyalty lies. In the middle of all the unexpected chaos he gets the biggest shock of his life when he’s faced by a betrayal he never saw coming. Angry, injured, and ready to even the score, Kevin goes Static . . .
Get your copy HERE.

Ready to meet the author?

S. K. Anthony is a writer, a reader and a make-stuff-up-er who lives in New York with her husband and toddler twins. She is a wine connoisseur, which just really means she knows she loves it, and a caffeine addict. When she isn’t busy with her family, she finds herself being transported into the world of imagination. Well, either that or running away from spiders . . . she is convinced they are out to get her!

She adores mozzarella, but also gets lots of odd looks from waiters/waitresses at Italian restaurants because when eating pasta, she always begs for MORE fresh Parmesan cheese. The cheesier, the better!


S.K. gave me two truths and one lie to test your "lie detector" skills. Those who figure out the lie will go into my magic hat for the chance to win an eBook of STATIC.

You have until Tuesday, November 10 at 1 p.m. EDT to guess. Be sure to come back for the answers on November 11.

TRUTH OR LIE

1. My nickname is Macaroni. And to live up to my name, I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen trying out different Mac and Cheese recipes. I must make only the very best ones . . . oh, the sacrifice I put my cheese-loving family through! 

2. I got arrested in Italy. My passport was once stolen while visiting and I had to travel around by myself without the tour group I’d gone with. I communicated the whole way in Spanish, between that and their Italian I got from Venice to Florence in trains then back to Rome, but then one thing led to another, miscommunication happened, and I ended up arrested. 

3. A few years back I wanted to invest in a MacBook Pro, but hubby said the price was too outrageous. We were on vacation at the time, and were on our way to the casino. I said, okay, if I win the money I’m getting it. I won $800 in one slot machine and $980 in another. Both were penny machines, and I didn’t play over $10 . . . so I got my beloved MacBook for free.

So sleuths, which is the lie? Have you been working through any thorns lately? How you do feel about genetic engineering?  

93 comments:

  1. You said that perfectly. It can (does) hurt to get to that magical place at times. Once again, this just forces us to forge ahead yet go more gently. It's okay to relax a little. :)

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  2. There is a blessing in all things.
    I'd say the first one is the lie.

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  3. Great job on doing all that writing. You had to stretch and pull hat creative muscle, and we all know that weight training is painful, but look how strong you've become because of it. You're an inspiration!
    http://playoffthepage.com/2015/11/iwsg-november-2015/

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  4. Excellent point about looking at the big picture, trying to see the good in the not-so-good.

    And yeh for flash fiction and short stories! :)

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  5. I think I'm stressing for you! lol But yes, we do come out stronger with all that practice . . . and pressure!

    Thanks so much for having me on your blog today! :)

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  6. YAY for SK!!!! I loved Kinetic!!! I've been waiting for Static. I really liked Kevin in book one!!! I'll say #3 is the lie.

    Everyday is a blessing, good or bad!!!

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  7. Exciting news! Thanks so much. I'm looking forward to checking out PHOBIC. :) ~ Jess

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  8. I'm going. To say #3 is the lie? Anywho, beautifully said! Trials can be blessings.

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  9. That's a great way to look at the challenges we go through in life. I try to find the good in all the hard times I've gone through over this last year and a half, but I'm not always able to do that.

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  10. Don't overextend yourself, Crystal. Gah. New baby and homeschool is enough.

    Love both those covers!
    I'm guessing #2 is the lie.

    IWSG #115 until Alex culls the list again

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  11. I think having to write that much is incredible! I don't know if I could bust out that many stories. I would definitely look at all you've been able to learn and accomplish as a blessing.

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  12. It's fantastic that you were able to turn a thorn in your side into something that honed your skills and made you feel stronger!

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  13. Excellent post, Crystal. I can imagine how busy life is, and I'm totally impressed that you are keeping ahead of your deadlines with a baby. Keep it up!

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  14. Nice post, Crystal. We forget sometimes that it's the difficulties that stretch us and improve our skills. I love flash fiction. Glad you are finding flash fiction a genre you like to write.

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  15. Those challenges that become blessings can be so good... getting through them can be difficult... but worth it ultimately... xox

    I am glad to see that you have been able to write more easily and reach your deadlines on time... definitely not easy with having a baby/toddler in the house... awesome that you did it though Crystal xox

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  16. Thorns are everywhere unless you live under a rock. It's how we choose to handle them, right? Can't let them win or get us down for too long! That book sounds fantastic! I have a little genetic engineering in my new WIP--contemp. fantasy and I'm pumped to write about it. The lie, I think, is #2

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  17. Very encouraging, thanks. One of the biggest pushes I had in writing was to take up doing a few pieces a month for a pop culture blog. They did not want TV recaps, but thoughtful opinion feature pieces. Two a month is nothing in the world of online journalism, but I had never written for deadlines before (plus the usuals: full time job, family etc). Those challenges can be scary, but you're right that we can learn so much from them.

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  18. Hi Crystal - flash fiction all the way ... well done. A thorn could tear open a small opening leading to more insight and flashy fiction ... Congratulations to Jess for last week. This week's lie is #2 ... love the third one and hope it's real! Cheers Hilary

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  19. Challenging yourself is always a good thing! It's very good advice, to remember even the stressful things are a blessing. Good luck!

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  20. That's awesome you signed up for that! That's bravery, I would be way too intimidated. I can totally see how it could improve a writer's short fiction skills. Yours are always so good. :)

    SK has the best concepts!
    I hope number 3 is true! Lol! I'm going with #1 for the lie...

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  21. You had a new baby. And you accomplish all you do. You're superwoman.

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  22. Congrats on your flash fiction success! Short fiction and I have never gotten along. Back cover blurbs are the thorns in my side right now. I think #3 is the lie.

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  23. I don't know how I could ever produce a new flash fiction every month. I'd have to give up blogging I think.
    Truth or Lie - My guess is number three is the lie.
    Thorns? Yes, I probably blog too much, and I probably need to better organize my time. Does that count? Sorry, it's two not one.

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  24. This is a beautiful post and a great reminder that all of our struggles are blessings in disguise. Yay for strengthening your flash fiction skills! :D

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  25. That's really inspiring Crystal, you've set me thinking - maybe I should set myself some kind of target like that (not the baby bit - done that thanks!) - you've got me thinking now, thank you and well done!

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  26. I'm working on a short story for a friend's collection--so exciting to be asked, But I'm not very certain on my short fiction skills, so I'm hoping this will help me improve them. What you're doing sounds like a lot of work, but it's developing your skills and style!

    Umm...I think #3 is the lie.

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  27. I wish I had half of your energy.

    I think the lie is #2.

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  28. My history, painful or happy, adds to my writing and gives me a way to reach out to my readers. I definitely think that my past ups and downs are a blessing. :-)

    Anna from Elements of Writing

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  29. Thanks, Crystal, for the intro to S.K.! Wishing her well.

    I agree, the challenging stuff can really make us stretch. Stretching is usually a good thing, although it might not always feel like it. :)

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  30. I'm too slow a writer to ever commit to a writing schedule like that. It would kill me! Challenging yourself is good, though, and I salute you for doing it.

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  31. A lovely post, Crystal!
    Love these words... "We just have to step back, take a breath, and see the big picture." Exactly.
    I admire your energy and zest for life... it can't be easy with a young baby but you accept every challenge head on!
    Happy IWSG Day!
    Eat some cheese!

    The lie is no#2.

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  32. SCHWEET, Crystal. I agree that hard times make us stronger and really helps us in our writing. It's good to channel those memories. And you're right again. Hardships ARE blessings too. For me, the hard times have brought me closer to God and His Son. So I wouldn't trade them for anything.

    Is #1 the lie? Do tell? :-) Hug hug hug.

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  33. I'm guessing #2 is the lie.

    This post is very timely for me today, Crystal. I'm going to do what you suggest and look hard to find the blessings in my life...though I realize it will take time for my situation to sort itself out.

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  34. Every bit of writing helps hone your craft, so the struggle is totally worth it *cue wine and cheese reward system*. I'll wager #3 isn't kosher *casinos eat money*.

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  35. Firstly, many congratulations on the new addition to your family. I didn't know. How wonderful. There is a blessing worth holding on to. I regularly reflect and am so grateful for everything good in my life. Have a fantastic month Crystal.

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  36. Challenging ourselves can be a good thing, it helps us grow and get stronger, both in our writing and as people.
    I will guess 3 is the lie!

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  37. In 1996 I developed a debilitating, chronic illness. In 1997 I had two pregnancy losses. The combination of the two zapped my bank accounts and destroyed my marriage. Oddly enough, that's when I realized that happiness was an inside job and not dependent upon circumstances. That's also when I committed myself to writing. So, yes, those thorns can absolutely be blessings. I wouldn't change a thing.

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  38. I find the idea of genetic engineering very intriguing; it's a big part of the scifi manuscript I'm currently revising. As for finding the lie, yikes! This is a hard one! I'm going to guess that #3 is a lie. Samantha made a good point...

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  39. Very true, the crap can pile up and be painful but it makes us who we are and most times better for it.

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  40. Stepping back and breathing is always a good thing. I don't know if I should tell you this or not...but...from here on out the perfectionist in you will struggle and probably lose to the baby.

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  41. This is an awesome post on strengthening our weaknesses.

    Congratulations to S. K. Anthony! Static sounds interesting!

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  42. I feel I'm always stress and always behind. I think it's the curse of a writer's life.

    SK's book sounds fantastic. I'll guess #3 is the lie.

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  43. Beautiful analogy, Crystal. I *have* to look for blessings in every hardship, that's just how I manage to get through. And yay, Jess!! :D

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  44. I'm one of those people who don't always see the blessings when the tough times and situations come my way. I always wonder "Why me?" But I will realize the blessing later . . . eventually. I'm definitely jealous of your short story writing skills. But you have been working so hard to get there. Enjoy it, even though it's very hard work. Wishing you many more blessings:)

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  45. Focus on the good and get to that magical place as fast as possible.

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  46. The hard parts of life do strengthen us.

    I'm terrible at shorts and flash fiction too. Maybe I should quit avoiding it and try to jump a hurdle for a change.

    I'm going to go with the arrest as the lie. :)

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  47. If you've hit that magical place, it's a blessing.

    Arrested in Italy? I'm guessing that's the lie.

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  48. Love SK!!! I'm guess that #2 is the lie.

    And, I think it's awesome that you pressed through some thorny times to get to the sweet beauty of accomplishment at Lightning Quick Reads!

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  49. I think #2 is the lie.
    So happy for you that you're having a good time with short stories. Happy writing.

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  50. I'm so bad at these but I'll guess #2 is the lie.

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  51. An encouraging post! I'm impressed you managed to get so much done when you've been so busy.

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  52. The thorn that's been in my side this week is jury duty. Actually, not the jury duty itself, but the drive back and forth to the courthouse. Dark in the morning when I'm going, and dark in the evening when I return. And rainy, rainy, rainy. I have very poor night vision, so those drives have been very stressful. I'd like to say doing it for the past three days has made it easier, but I still hate it. On the positive side, the case itself has been very interesting so far, and the other people on the panel are terrific. We all get along beautifully, and I'm actually looking forward to hearing the closing statements tomorrow, so we can start deliberations. Then if all goes well, after I get home tomorrow night, I don't plan to EVER drive in the rain again. :)

    Hmmm, as for which one is the lie, I'll guess #2.

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  53. Lets hope it was #2. Static sounds great!

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  54. It's difficult to go through the hard stuff. It only becomes apparent how good that was on the other side. (Hoping to get to the other side. Any day now.)

    Lie...#2...

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  55. Good points - a lot of good stuff can come out of thorns. It does take some blood and tears to make out literary babies - like real babies!

    P.S. knowing you have such a knack for flash fic makes me even happier you liked my Zyan Christmas story :)

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  56. I really do believe the harder our journey the greater our reward. The older I get the more I realize being grateful and kind is the key to everything.
    You are doing really well considering you have a little one.

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  57. Being grateful is the way to live. Sometimes it's hard, but it's the only way. Awesomeness Chrystal getting all that writing done with a new baby! I take me hat off to ya!!

    I think #2 is a lie, although it's quite easy to get arrested in Italy!

    Denise Covey November co-host IWSG

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  58. People always ask about how I write with a kid, and I always tell them, I'd never have started without mine! It's hard to ride in different parts of the deadline pool, and I'm pleased you managed to hold your deadlines, even if you weren't in the parts you prefer. I'm a big planner when it comes to the professional side, and I will bend over backwards--which means not sleeping--to get back onto schedule. I'm a bit insane like that, so I understand where you come from.

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  59. Hah! I've felt the same way about LQR. More than a few times I've questioned why on earth I signed up for it. But I have very much enjoyed honing my short fiction skills (well, let's be honest, my first chapter skills, as almost all of my posts there read more that way, but oh well!).

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  60. I"m gad to hear you pushed through the pain and arrived at the magical place where you feel happy. I'm afraid I'm still on the way and it seems to be a never-ending road. LOL!

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  61. Congrats to Jess. I think 2 is the lie.

    Amazing things happen after we get past those rough spots.

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  62. I call them my "tricky patches" and you're right--pushing through hard times can lead to great things. I like to pick the true one...and I think number two is true!!

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  63. A nice reminder that growth can come from pain and suffering. I always like the expression, "you take the good with the bad." Life is like that - there's good days and not so good days. The not so good days might not be fun at the time, but good can come out them. Cheers - Ellen

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  64. It's a lot like working out, It can be hard to get through, but we are a better version of our self for doing it.

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  65. yes, I believe the awful parts of life hold powerful blessings . . .
    (holding this idea as true)
    love & love,
    -g-

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  66. Crystal, thank you for writing this. Just the thing I needed to read today. I have also landed an assignment that is great as an opportunity, but really turns the pressure on. I know that this will make me better at what I do, and also help me grow, but it doesn't change the fact that it gets really hard before we reach that magical place. :)

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  67. What wonderfully inspiring post. Thanks for the reminder.
    Juneta Writer's Gambit

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  68. What wonderfully inspiring post. Thanks for the reminder.
    Juneta Writer's Gambit

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  69. I used to take part in Flash Fiction Fridays--new flash fiction every single Friday. I think I lasted a year or two with it before my ideas all turned too long for flash fiction. Heh.

    Congrats to S.K.! I'm going to guess #3 as the lie.

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  70. Difficulties are obstacles waiting to be conquered! You are like a super hero, Crystal with your ability to do SO FLIPPIN MUCH. I bow down to your awesomeness.

    I think that number 2 is the lie.

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  71. The challenges in life are often a blessing. It's just hard to see that while struggling through them.

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  72. First off, I'm gonna say #3 is the lie. I do not believe there are any "penny slots" that I know of; I've spent time playing viola in the Bahamas and Lost Wages and I do believe that they all start at nickle slots and go up from there! :)

    Thorns in sides are blessings, although we may not realize it at the time. It is the same thing with learning to "sight-read"; a dreadful thing to contemplate until you do it enough so that you can read a concert "cold". I'm not that good a writer yet to write "flash fiction" but I know the process must be the same, Crystal. You write beautifully and just this one post is so elegantly crafted. I mentioned in my post today, that I'm kind of a "pantser" due to the nature of my chosen career, and when I was married to another violist who was unhappy that I won a job playing with the Moody Blues for the summer and he didn't, I returned to school and majored in computer science. In IT, I did a lot of "pantsing"; fixing things on the fly. It's probably in my nature.

    It is also probably a good idea for me to set aside this hotmess of a novel I've been working on and go back to the memoir; several essays that make up five sections about my life that are vaguely interesting. Anyway, congratulations on your new arrival, and stay away from those "penny slots"! Mary

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  73. I'm going with 1 as the lie. I don't know why. But I have found I can understand a good amount of Italian courtesy of my Spanish, so it would be fun if that one were true. And my mom and husband have insane luck with slots and scratch tickets. So I guess I do know why.

    It's true that pain and stress can lead to good. It just sucks getting there. Awesome about being a flash fiction pro!

    Congrats to Jess!

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  74. Good post and so true. I often create a gratitude list - and especially when things are stressful and difficult.

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  75. I can just imagine how stressful it must be to complete a piece of flash fiction every month. Glad you've been able to find a bright side to all that stress, though!

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  76. Unfortunately, it is always in hindsight when we realize how beneficial things really are. Certainly not when we are struggling through them, but definitely after the fact when we take in account the accomplishment of surviving.

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  77. Personally, I prefer writing flash fiction. I think a big word count terrifies me more.

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  78. Suffering can be a blessing. It helps us grow.

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  79. Congratulations to S. K. Anthony and DMS!

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  80. I'm glad you can see the hard work was worth it, now you can knock out flash fiction like a pro. Congrats to Jess and hi S.K., I think #1 is the lie.

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  81. Hear hear and well said. Any time I feel miserable or overworked I just remember that I'm growing, and it's all for a purpose. The hard work is always worth the payoff.

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  82. I've begun querying, so I'm definitely in the stage of trying to see rejections as blessings. I tell myself that it's fine, that I wouldn't want to work with someone who didn't like my work, but it never gets any easier to hear "no". Grr. Arg.

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  83. The hardest things can be worth it. :) Congrats to SK! I think #2 is the lie.

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  84. I honestly cannot imagine writing a short story EVERY month! I don't know how you do it. But you are so right, sometimes the things that are hard are the things that make us stronger and can therefore be considered blessings in disguise.

    Congrats to S.K.! I love the premise of her book! She sure did make the lie hard, but I'm gonna guess that the lie is #1.

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  85. Yes, hard times are bittersweet. You are right, when you look back and see how you rose above, it does feel like a blessing. Good luck with the Flash Fiction - writing every month - I admire that! Winning mac money with the penny slots - Holy Smoke, I'm impressed. I don't think that's the lie, I think #1 is.

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  86. I try to learn new things that challenge me every now and then. I think it's good for me. That said, my story for LQR this month is driving me nuts and that's just one. :-D

    I think #2 is the lie. Everything seems possible, but I don't think she got arrested.

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  87. "I think often we get stuck in the pain and forget that every ounce of suffering can become a blessing. When we're called, invited, required to pass through hard things, they have the potential to make us better. Every experience can be a blessing."

    How perfect this was! :) I've been gone a while trying desperately to finish my latest novel, and am glad to be back to read the on your blog!! I hope the little one is faring and it seems like you're holding up just fine! Congrats on all the work you've been doing. Seriously, you are a wonder-writer!

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  88. Wow, your deadlines! But it sounds like they really made you good at flash fic, and good at working under pressure/deadlines. So that's a good thing. And with a baby, yet! Quite the accomplishment. :)

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  89. I think number 1 is a lie. I can believe you love macaroni, but for people to call you that seems silly, but then again it's possible.

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Hit me with your cheese!