Wednesday, May 4, 2016

IWSG & Ten Pieces of Speculative Fiction You Don't Want to Miss

Are you excited today? I'm back!!! That's right. My vacation away from blogland is over. Shall I tell you what transpired in my corner of the world while I was away?

A little of this:


And a little of this:


And a little of this:


And some of this:


LOTS of this:


Even a touch of this:


And FINALLY this:


But not much of this:


Or at least, not as much as I'd have liked. Guess I was inspired to take that blogging break, eh?

SO on the quick and exciting end of the spectrum, yesterday was the big bad release day for

(Because waiting until later would just be silly.)

I contributed THE MIRROR PEOPLE to this anthology: Jak Ralston leads an ordinary life. Home, work, church. Repeat. Unremarkable in every way, except for one. Every day Jak stares into the eyes of a serial killer.

My review of the anthology:

5 STARS Rarely have I enjoyed an anthology this much. It engaged, took me to new places, and left me pondering. With most anthologies, I find myself skimming through some stories to get to the next. Not so in this case. Each stood on its own... (Read more)

It's the crazy times in life that make us appreciate the good. I'm super grateful for the outpouring of love I've seen over the last month, and though I'm frantic about writing deadlines, I feel solid in ways too innumerable to count. With the bad comes reflection. With the bad comes perspective. With the bad, we suddenly see the good in ways we never could have imagined. Here's to taking the punches of life and learning to truly appreciate those bandaging or bandages on our bruises. Take a moment and let your bandagers know how much you appreciate them today, eh?




Now it's giveaway time! I'm going to introduce one of the authors in the Parallels anthology, a woman who ROCKS to medical thriller world.

Last month L.G. Keltner (author of FELIX WAS HERE in the anthology) shared with us SELF HELP 101, along with two truths and a lie. Those who guessed the lie correctly were entered into a random drawing for the chance to win an entire series of comedy stories.

The Game:

1. When I was 17, I got a chance to travel in Europe for three weeks.  The day before I left, I got up early to run errands.  Then I was too excited to fall asleep that night.  Combine that with an inability to fall asleep on airplanes, landing in Rome at 10a.m., and having an entire day of activities ahead, I was awake for approximately 60 consecutive hours.
2. When I was about 12, I was playing basketball at school.  I decided to make a half-court shot.  Not only that, I decided to do it while facing the opposite basket.  After all, I thought I stood no chance of making it either way.  So I took the shot and . . . I made it.  I turned just in time to see it go in.  I’m sure I could never under any circumstances pull it off again.
3. In college, Jamie Kennedy (Randy from Scream, comedian, etc.) did a stand-up routine at my school. On a dare, I asked him to marry me, and he asked me how much money I had.

The lie: #3. Jamie Kennedy did perform at L.G.'s school, and she actually did ask him to marry her. However, she wasn't dared to do it. She did it because she, for some reason she cannot fathom now, thought it would be funny. And he did ask how much money she had.  The answer was $10.

Way to guess everyone! And the winner is:

...DRUM ROLL...


Congrats, Christine!

And now meet the author of THE THIRTEEN in the Parallels anthology (and one of her OTHER works, A Shot in the Light):

Sidney Knight, a freelance reporter, is at a motel on the Oregon coast. She takes a break from her writing to walk the beach and discovers hundreds of dead seagulls. She rushes back inside and calls her brother who works for the CDC. The bird flu has arrived and she wants to know what she should do. She ends saying at least she will get a flu shot, but his alarmed “No!” gives her chills.

She begins to dig into the statistics and realizes it is the deadliest flu year in many decades, what's worse, the shot seems to have increased the death toll. A Shot in the Light follows Sidney and a group of her friends as they first try to understand how this happened, then make an effort to expose those involved without getting themselves killed.

Set in an American where half the population has died, distrust is rampant and various police state efforts complicate matters, A Shot in the Light is a near future apocalypse thriller.

Get your copy HERE.

Ready to meet the author?

Hart Johnson is a social scientist by day, and plots murder and the apocalypse when the sun goes down. She has published a flu conspiracy trilogy (A Shot in the Light) and a cozy mystery series under the name Alyse Carlson. She has hopes to eventually support herself writing or take over the world, whichever works out first.

When someone tells her they are vegan, her first response is WHY WOULD YOU GIVE UP CHEESE!?

Her favorite cheese is brie but she is extremely enthusiastic about many sorts. She has two buddies in her neighborhood and collectively they are the Couch to Keg team. This was originally a misheard statement by another neighbor—they were doing the Couch to 5K and he misheard them; the name stuck a lot longer than the running efforts. Now they mostly watch great TV (currently Game of Thrones and Outlander) and drink wine accompanied by some CHEESE. In the off season, they also go to the Whole Foods Wine bar and typically get a cheese tray (the Spanish tray is the best—manchego, drunken goat and one other—but always ask after the daily special first).

Find her online HERE!

Hart 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 their choice of the PRINT book (US ONLY, just the first book in the series) or the entire series via eBook.

You have until Tuesday, May 10, at 2 p.m. EDT to guess. Be sure to come back for the answers on May 11, 8 a.m EDT.
TRUTH OR LIE

1. I began writing with Fan Fiction. In fact I wrote a Harry Potter alternative book seven prior to the release of Deathly Hallows that had such uncanny commonalities as Nagini turning into a woman, breaking into Gringotts to steal the Hufflepuff cup from a vault, and Snape's tears having magic powers that were central to the climax. I will never beat the last line of that story: “So spank me.” (Narcissa to Lucius as they finally made peace, having been estranged during the war).

2. When I was a senior in high school my best friend got a wild hair... or decided my mom was the only mom of one of her friends who could be talked into signing the permission form—one of those things—and we signed up for a skydiving lesson. We spent a full afternoon jumping off progressively higher things and rolling out of the fall so we didn't break an ankle or a leg, then we went up in a perfectly good airplane and jumped out.

3. In 2008 I had a conference in London. Through my early online interactions and writing experiences I was part of a writing group, a couple of my fellow members decided to travel at the same time so we could all meet our friend Tara who lives in Wales and we could travel a bit together after the conference, taking advantage of some of the things we had in common (mostly writing, Harry Potter, and Monty Python). The highlight of our trip was making our way to Doune Castle in Scotland and doing a few rounds of the French taunting...

So sleuths, which is the lie? How was your April? Do you have someone to thank today for being there? Do you read medical thrillers? Have you met Hart?

92 comments:

  1. Welcome back, Crystal! Wow, what a month you've had. Glad it ended on a good note.
    Yes, waiting to buy it would just be silly.
    I know Hart began writing Harry Potter fan fiction, so I'm going to guess the third one is the lie.

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  2. Glad you're back safe, Crystal. You poor thing! That's more than your fair share of crappiness for a lifetime. Now onwards and upwards!! Sending you lots of positive vibes for a happy and healthy May.

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  3. Great reminder about the bad bringing us time to reflect and the chance to change our perspective. I hope everything is going better for you now!

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  4. Welcome back to the blogging world! It looks like you've had a rough ride, but you survived!

    Hmm. I like all of Hart's answers so much I don't want any of them to be a lie. Still, I'll guess #1 is the lie, not because of the fan fiction part, but because that last line is almost too good to be true. Not going to lie, though. Part of me hopes I'm wrong and that line will live on forever.

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  5. I'm guessing 2 is the lie.

    Crystal, congrats on the new job!! :)

    Welcome back.

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  6. It almost sounds like you need a vacation after your vacation! And I totally think that #2 is the lie. Congrats on the new job:)

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  7. I wondered where you'd gone! Here I am in America for 3 months AND Florida too and you left me :( I cried for a week..
    Glad to have you back Crystalicious.

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  8. Holy cow! What you went through during your break sounds incredible; it also sounds like you used up your quote of bad luck for the year. Congrats on the new job! Hart's book sounds very exciting. Have a good week! :)

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  9. As usual Crystal, thank you for all the laughs. I am glad you had support and great bandagers...what s great word! I am guessing the second is a lie because I am scared to death of skydiving.

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  10. Congrats on your new job--or your husband if he was the one laid off. Sounds like a lot has been going on. Hope you have a smoother month in May.

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  11. Hi Crystal - hope they serve cheese for lunch with the new job?! Gosh lots going on ... I think # 3 is the lie ... perfectly possible to jump ... Good luck to Hart for her new book ... cheers Hilary

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  12. Welcome back Crystal! I bet I'm not the only one who's missed Your Cheesiness. :) Man or man, what a bunch of stuff you went through... but at least you got a new job! I'm going with #1 as the lie. All the coincidences seem a bit much...

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  13. Congrats on the new job and the anthology. I plan to purchase the ebook. What a time you've had this past month, or so. That's life, I suppose.
    Mary at Play off the Page

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  14. Wow, that's a lot to go through!! Job security is huge for me. I would be a wreck(and have been) when my job was uncertain.So glad things are looking up.

    Here's my May IWSG post: It's (not a) Shame about Rey

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  15. Wow! Just reading your post made me feel more insecure. Congrats on the new job. After all this, maybe writing will feel like a vacation.

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  16. April was a roller coaster for you.

    My guess is #2 is the lie. I'm also going to shock Hart by saying I am a vegan. LOL Thank God for soy cheese.

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  17. I am not going to get this one right, but that's okay. I read A Shot in the Light and loved it. So I'll go with number 1.

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  18. Wow. It looks like you've had a crazy time of it lately. Hope things get less interesting for you soon!

    I really want #1 to be true (because that's awesome), so I am going to guess that #2 is the lie.

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  19. Hehe, Hart is such a riot. I'm going with #3 as the lie, because nobody could be that lucky! Also, congratulations on your new job?! And welcome back. Sheesh, you had a busy vacation ;)

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  20. Leaving to take the punches can be tough, but it's essential. I hope things calm down for you and you kill those deadlines!

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    1. I meant learning, not leaving. lol

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  21. Well you've really had some ups and downs. I hope this is a quiet month for you!

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  22. Looks like you've been busy! Welcome back.

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  23. Welcome back. Sorry to hear about your misfortunes, but congratulations on the new job and the anthology. Have a good month, without the craziness.

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  24. Sounds like you had quite the adventure for your blogging break. I hope everything physically and automotively worked out okay! Woot on the release!

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  25. Welcome back! That break didn't seem like much of a break ;)

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  26. Welcome back! That break didn't seem like much of a break ;)

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  27. I've been gone so long I didn't know you'd been missing. Welcome back. And congrats on Parallels! I think Hart's lie is #3.

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  28. Welcome back. It looks as if you've had quite a time of it during your break--losing, then finding a job for one. That's a huge thing. Great to see you again. And thanks for the review of the anthology.

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  29. Oh, wow. It looks like a difficult month for you, but I'm glad there were some good points to it! Congratulations on the anthology!

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  30. You had quite an eventful blogging vacay Crystal. Welcome back.

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  31. Welcome Back. I'm sure it was a much needed break!!!!

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  32. Your vacation was so eventful it sounds like you need another vacation to recover from it. Glad it ended on a good note. Yay for Parallels! Can't wait to read it.

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  33. Congratulations on your new job and your story release!

    I'm guessing #2 is the lie.

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  34. Hey gang! Looks like a couple of you know me... I won't say WHO just yet...

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  35. What a month! Glad to have you back!

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  36. Wow, Crystal. That was quite the month for you!

    I think the lie is...#3!

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  37. Good job getting through an eventful break. Praise God for our bandaids!

    Oh man, those truths & lies are so details they all seem like the gotta be true. I'm going to go with 1 as the lie just because of all the similarites (but I do know how great minds think alike).

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  38. Welcome back, Crystal. Your post reminded me of the famous Chinese curse: 'Let your life be interesting.' I guess, your life was interesting during the past month, but hopefully the excitement is over and everything is back to normal.

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  39. So happy to hear from you! I really hope all is well and even through the rough patches, hope you were able to relax, rejuvenate and recharge. I am not taking a break but I am definitely caught up in real life. I think I'll be posting soon and look forward to your return! xoxo Beautiful! (I think #2 is the lie.)

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  40. Glad you're back, Crystal! So sorry you had to go through all that recently but your outlook is great! We can't seem to appreciate all the great things in life unless we have some bumps and bruises. I'm raising a glass to the bumps and bruises!

    The anthology looks great! Congrats on being a part of it!

    I think #2 is the lie.

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  41. Congratulations on the publishing of your story in the anthology. You have definitely been working hard. Its good to have you back.

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  42. Geez, when it rains it pours, huh! Im glad everyone's okay! It's good to see you back. :)

    I'm going with #1 for the lie.

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  43. OMG, your month sounds awful. Hope all is better now.

    Did you hear that the US has too much cheese? There was some story about a surplus...

    Lie.. #1

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  44. Crystal, welcome back! Nothing like a break to give the mind a rest and jump start.

    And my cheesy guess is number three for hart.

    May 2016 IWSG Co-Host
    May the 4th Be With You
    Stephen Tremp’s Breakthrough Blogs

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  45. Glad you're back, Crystal! I hope you're feeling back to normal after the car accident. And congratulations on the anthology publication. Woot!

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  46. Yep, your April certainly beat ours in terms of busyness and in crappiness. Welcome back, and cheers to the anthology! We're both excited to check that bad boy out.

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  47. Ohh. Doesn't sound good, but I'm glad you bounced back :)

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  48. Lots happening for you in April. Contrats on your anthology and job. Glad there was some good in there!

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  49. What a fun way to share what truly didn't sound like much fun (well, mostly; the 'you're hired' must have been pretty cool). Welcome back!

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  50. So to sum up - it wasn't the bestest of breaks? :)

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  51. I'm so sorry you had such a difficult time but glad things are now looking up. I am glad to see you back! And congratulations on the anthology. You guys all rock.

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  52. Wow - what a crazy month! Congrats on the new job :-)

    I think #1 is the lie. Or is it #2? No, I'll go with #1.

    Cheers - Ellen | http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2016/05/3-things-i-learned-about-writing-from.html

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  53. It's nice to meet Hart! Thanks for sharing a little of her story with us. Wishing her well!

    Sorry to hear you had a tough month. Hope things are looking up for the days ahead. I can relate to the - not writing much on your break - sometimes other things just crowd in. Sending hugs your way!

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  54. Oh my! You have been through it. Glad everything is on a positive note now. Whew.

    Yay, Christine. Yay, Hart. Yay, us.

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  55. Those are some choices, I'll pick 2!
    Geesh, you had one hell of a time, but you've done it! Yay!
    Isn't it exciting, I even ordered a hard copy to help the stats, they look pretty good!

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  56. You have a positive attitude, which is great. Hope things run more smoothly and safely for you from now on. Hugs.

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  57. Welcome back! We saved you a cheese platter and a drunken goat, and it sounds like you need every bit of that and what the goat was drinking. Picked up my copy of the anthology and will be reading over the weekend!! As a former biochemist for big pharma, I'm familiar with the nefarious adjuvants in flu shots, so that story of Hart's sounds legit! The swan diving from great heights does not, however, so I'm gonna say #2 is a stretch.

    The Discovery of Dragons and Parallels

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  58. Oh my, Crystal! You have been through way too much this month! I'm sending you lots of energy and hugs! I've already ordered a hard copy of the anthology, and I can't wait to get it. I hope May is an easier month for you!

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  59. That seems like a lot. I'm not doing much writing lately either because of the 'you're hired' thing.

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  60. Your April looks really crazy. It was hectic here too. Congrats on Parallels!

    Susan Says

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  61. It looks like a crazy April turned out okay. Congrats on the new job. Good to see you back online.

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  62. Oh my. Your break sounds pretty horrible! Except maybe the wizarding. Throwing cheese!

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  63. Welcome back! Do we ever get to write as much as we'd wish? ;)

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  64. Welcome back, Crystal. Looks like crazy April turned out okay in the end. Congrats on the new job. Sending you lots of hugs!

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  65. Hi Crystal! I took April off (what's the point of blogging if you're not doing the A-Z?) but I was busy travelling in China as you know. Since returning, I've been getting travel articles written and just got back to my WIP yesterday. Onwards and upwards!

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  66. Wow, sorry to hear about the crazy of late. :/ Congratulations on the new job! :) I hope this month ushers in some rejuvination. ♡

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  67. Crystal, there's that saying that one door will open when another one closes, and I'm glad that has been the case for you.

    Congratulations to Hart on her new book!

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  68. I've read A Shot In The Light and Self-help 101 - both awesome stories.
    The Mirror People is an amazing story!
    Congrats on the new job, Crystal! Bring on the cheese!
    Writer In Transit

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  69. Wow, sounds like you've been on a rollercoaster ride but I'm glad you've had great support and are looking forward. Congrats on being part of this great anthology - I got my copy. All Hart's facts sound plausible but I'll go for #1.

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  70. Sounds like you had quite the break! Glad things seem to have calmed down.

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  71. Welcome back!!! **hands over platter of cheese**

    Congrats on the anthology, very exciting!!! And on the new job!!! Glad it all worked out :D

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  72. I am glad to see you back and wow to the craziness... while we are going through those times it is way too hard to see the good... usually we can see it in time. You and your family definitely had your fair share and more of challenges... I'm glad things are turning around xox

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  73. What a stressful time you've had! I glad it ended on a good note.

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  74. So sorry about all those 'opportunities' that have presented themselves to you. Happy about the 'you're hired' one. That must be a relief.

    I agree with the 'why would you give up cheese?' question. Unfortunately I can also answer that question. I have two kids with lactose intolerance and I have to find cheeseless alternatives to our food. I can't wait until they go to college and move out!

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  75. Oh my! I'm glad things are turning around for you. Congrats on being hired! And thank you for the giveaway. :) L.G.'s books are awesome!

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  76. Whew! What a month you've had! Glad things are on the up and up! Congrats on the new job :) Have a wonderful weekend.

    ~Jen

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  77. Whoa. That's a serious amount of stress going on! Glad to here about the "hired" one, though. So cool about the anthology! I just went and picked up a copy.

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  78. I love reading medical thrillers. Awesome about the anthology!!

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  79. It is always fun to visit your blog. I NEVER know what I'm going to find. Is "congratulations?" appropriate? (Did you find extra employment that causes you Joy and Satisfaction???)

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  80. Looks like you've been through all kinds of things on your break. O_o Glad you've come out the other side all right, though. And I hear you about being grateful for our bandagers; I've recently learned how valuable they can be.

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  81. Astonishing you got any writing done during the laid off/hiring process. The anthology looks neat.

    I'm guessing #2 is the lie.

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  82. You've definitely had a lot going on lately! Glad things are looking up, though.

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  83. I think 3 is the lie.

    I'm so glad I read this now. I went through a really bad experience recently and I'm trying to make out why it happened and how it might have been meant to be.

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  84. Welcome back, Crystal! Your photo diary was funny (though painful) and it looks like a happy ending. Congratulations on the anthology!

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  85. Sorry to hear about all the troubles. That sounds like a lot to have to deal with. Glad to know things are on the mend.

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  86. Wow. Your break was eventful. Do you need a break from it now?

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Hit me with your cheese!