Writing poetry can be an intensely, deeply personal experience. For those of you that have been around the blog for a while, you probably know that there was a time where I had some of my poetry and writing posted here. Well, someone from irl found my blog and i took it all down because it freaked me out. I mean, I was on the verge of deleting this blog completely and then i realized how absolutely ridiculous that would have been and i changed my mind. But basically, that experience (and specifically the way it made me think about my poetry) has inspired me to write this post.
I’m super excited for today’s blog post, because not only am i actually publishing something other than a book review, but I have the opportunity of posting something written by Gia Cribbs! Gia is a debut author whose first book, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SLOAN SULLIVAN, is coming out May 29th. I was lucky enough to get to talk to her and have her write a guest post for the blog, so I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I do!
It’s November!!! The leaves are finally changing color, it’s getting COLD (which I didn’t think I would ever enjoy, but the warm October made me actually miss it), the holidays are almost upon us, and generally everything is amazing. Plus– it means that it’s time for NaNoWriMo!!
For those of you that don’t know, NaNo is National Novel Writing Month. Basically, it means that a whole bunch of people try to write an entire novel (50,000 words) over the course of a single month, with varying degrees of success and failure. If you’re interested in joining or just want to learn more, click here (yes I casually directed you to my profile, add me as a friend while you’re at it) I tried to do NaNo last year and failed miserably, both because of a lack of time and because I hadn’t planned anything out in advance. This year, I’m taking a very different approach to “novel” writing.
I’m super excited about today’s post, because it’s written by Savannah over at The Book Prophet! I absolutely adore her blog, because it’s so full of great reviews and posts and literally everything. Plus, she’s great to talk to! So if you’re looking for an awesome new blog to follow, head over and check her out. Starting to write a book is SO FREAKIN HARD and so Savannah’s post will surely come in handy for lots of us bloggers who want to take the next step to becoming a writer. Make sure you let her know how much you appreciate the help by commenting!
How to Start Writing a Book
Hello everyone! My name is Savannah and I blog over at The Book Prophet. Joce gave me this great opportunity to write a post on her blog and I decided that I would talk to y’all about the fundamentals of writing a book.
Besides being an avid reader myself, I am also a writer, as many of you probably are as well. Reading and writing kind of go hand-in-hand. If you like reading books, there’s a big chance you love writing them as well! Only, reading a book and writing a book are two very different things.
When you read a book, you’re being carried away to another land, while when you write a book you’re the one to carry people away.
Sounds more difficult, right?
Well, it is.
I’m here to give you that extra push to start writing the book you’ve been imagining in your head since the beginning of time. You might not know where to start, you might be too afraid, or you just might think you can’t do it.
I mean, those are all valid excuses, but they’re stupid excuses too.
I’m here to remedy those doubts because I used to have those doubts.
TBH I still do.
Side note: There’s no particular order to do these steps in.
Choose your project
All projects start with an idea. Once you have an idea, then you can expand that idea and start thinking about what characters would fit into that idea, create a structure for your story, a world, etc.
You might also be wondering how you know if the idea you have is THE idea. Well, little grasshopper, when you find the right project to start you get a tingly feeling in your stomach and you can’t stop thinking about your characters and story!
With the book I’m currently writing, I am always thinking about how my characters would feel in a certain situation, plot points to add or delete, etc. These characters and the story I want to tell is flowing through my veins and when you’re passionate about something, you will write it.
Create your characters
Creating characters that are unique and three dimensional is so hard! Besides world building, creating characters has to be one of the most difficult parts of writing. What helped me create my characters is by filling out a character form (http://www.writerswrite.com/journal/jun98/how-to-create-a-character-profile-6986).
Filling out all the entire form forced me to learn about my characters from every angle and point of view possible. You never know when you’ll need to tap into your character’s past or delve into their passions and emotions!
These forms not only help you learn about your character, but it also helps remind you of who your character is. I think we all sometimes forget vital aspects to our characters. I for some reason can’t ever remember their birthdays.
Create your setting
Whether your book takes place in a fictional world or a real-life location, you have to have a mental picture of what that world looks like. When you already know what it looks like – and even smells like – then when you get around to describing it in your book, you’ll be both consistent and less stressed.
Having a world where your characters live and thrive and die in is something that’s way more important than you’d think. Depending on where your character lives can change aspects of your character.
For example, if your character lives on a pirate ship they’ll probably know how to fight and will automatically know how to swim! And life on a pirate ship would make anybody kick butt with a sword.
Outline your plot
Outlining isn’t necessary, but it helps a lot once you actually start writing your book. If you don’t have an outline it can feel like you’re walking through a desert with no map or any direction to – anywhere, really. I’ve only outlined one of my books and it’s the book I’ve had the least trouble writing AND the most fun writing! Although outlining isn’t necessary – I’ve heard loads of successful, published authors don’t outline – it does help you from getting writer’s block and from feeling lost in your own book.
I hope this post helped you figure out how to start writing your book! Now go and let the words flow because there’s no better time than today.
Or tomorrow, if you’re a procrastinator like me.
Did you adore Savannah’s post? Wasn’t it GREAT advice for starting your book? What’s your current WIP? Are you a procrastinator too? Do you love Savannah as much as I do?
This was a really tough broody prompt for me to even think about completing. Basically, I had to find some way that music related to a book I’ve read, or a book about music, or even just music that I listen to while writing/reading, but the thing is, music really isn’t my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll listen to the radio, and love dancing and singing along at the top of my lungs just like everybody else, but I can’t listen to music when that isn’t all I’m doing. I feel like it takes away from my concentration, doesn’t allow my mind to wander where it wants to. Maybe that’s weird, I don’t know. But, anyways, it’s making this post very hard.
Just because why not, I’m going to make this post about a playlist that I think the dual MCs in the book I am currently writing would listen to. Since it’s dystopian, I’m just going to stick with popular songs right now that she would either enjoy or not enjoy!! If you’re looking to get a better idea of who these people are, check out my Twitter aesthetics thread. (which is actually terrible because I’m not an aesthetic person)
- Shape of You, by Ed Sheeran– This song is basic, just like Mel, and so it’s totally something that she would want to jam out to while on the beach.
- Body Like a Backroad, Sam Hunt– She’s a country girl at heart, even if she doesn’t want to admit it. She loves T-Swift, and this new song is the perfect combo of country (for herself) and pop (so that everyone else can deal with her).
- It ain’t me, Selena Gomez– She doesn’t know a single word to the song, but she likes to pretend, and since it sort of has a girl power side she can pretend to be as edgy and alternative/girls take over the world as Trish really is, without giving up her basic-ness
- I’m the One, DJ Khaled– This is the closest to rap we can go, because otherwise it might be a *little* too intense for Mel’s daily surfing and walks by the shore
- Despacito, by Daddy Yankee– Although this song is popular, it has a “different” edge to it just because it’s Spanish, which is something Trish would adore. Plus, she’d know every single word and use it to impress people.
- Party, Chris Brown– The beat is awesome in this song, and it’s slow enough to grind to and fast enough to jump up and down screaming, meaning it can be used for any occasion.
- Future, Masks Off– This is a song Trish can totally get down to, and the fact that Mel hates it makes it all the sweeter.
So, there was my attempt at completing the #BroodyBFF Challenge. At any rate, just go add the book on Goodreads or even preorder it… I know I will be. Also, let me know what other songs you think I should add to the playlist based on what you can see about the characters, and lmk if you think my choices were good or not!
What other songs would you add to this playlist? Are you more like Trish or Mel? Are you going to read Broody’s book?
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~ Now Venture out and Change the World ~
Before we start this post, I want to make it very clear that I am 100% an advocate of beta reading, hiring editors, and getting other people to read your work and provide feedback before sending it to a real editor or hiring an agent to be published. I think that this can save valuable time and money, and so have actually started an editing service myself. (so if you’re looking for relatively cheap readers, hit me up)
However, I have found that sometimes, having too many editors, editors too early in the process, or editors for the wrong genre, or any number of mistakes can lead to devaluing the writing process and the writer’s work as a whole. I know this is probably a strange assessment coming from an editor, but *shrugs internally*
I’ve already written a mini version of this post, which was uploaded to The Writing Writers, a new collab blog which I am a part of! It accompanied a poem which I wrote, had beta edited, and ended up despising the overall result. The blog is super awesome because there are so many incredible writers sharing their original creations, so if you haven’t already given it a follow, you need to head over there ASAP. Plus, they’re publishing their own magazine, which you can submit your work to, so it’s a win win and you better get started before it’s too late. While you’re there, I would love it if you could read the poem.
As I said earlier, I think that there are a few circumstances where beta reading can make your work less “yours” and then lead you to not enjoying it as much anymore. Because lists are fun and also orderly, I’m going to start numbering…
- You Write Poetry– This was elaborated on more in my TWW post, but basically I believe that it’s really really hard to beta poetry, since each and every word should be especially picked by the poet for the desired effect. Even just changing one small word could completely destroy the integrity of the piece, or give it a different meaning than originally intended. Before you publish, you should probably have a few unbiased people read it over and give general feedback, but I think that beta readers should be careful of not altering the meaning, and you as a writer need to be overly cautious about changing key wording. Just because some people don’t understand your “deeper meaning” doesn’t mean that you did a bad job of it, it just means that those specific people are likely not your target audience. (and target audience is hard for poetry because you are relying on emotions and things that your average beta reader won’t publish in their bio)
- It’s too early– You should never hire a beta before you’ve read over the piece 1-2 times yourself and made all of the major changes which you plan on making. If you have someone read it immediately after finishing the first draft, not only will it be a pain in the ass for them to get through, but there will be so many “big” changes that need to be made that they could end up writing the entire thing for you, which means that it’s their work as much as yours. Betas are there to advise, not to write the story, but asking them too early could lead to the undesired effect.
- You asked everyone and anyone– You have your mom, dad, aunt, brother, three best friends, and 3 paid readers going over your story and providing feedback. If each person changes up just a few things, even the equivalent of ~5 pages worth over the course of a 300 page story (which could be reasonable) that’s already 50 pages that you didn’t really write. And maybe they made the story better, but maybe it isn’t *quite* what you intended, and that’s a lot of writing that isn’t really yours. I know you probably want as much feedback as you can get, but in the end it is your work, and I would keep it to 2-4 betas, depending on the length of the story and how good your first couple readers are. You will never be completely satisfied with a story, so don’t feel the need to keep hiring more. You make the final decision. (go writer empowerment!!)
- Bad Beta– You hire a 40 year old man for your YA f/f romance. Sorry to tell you, but that is probably not going to work out in your best interest. Things that he thinks sound cliche or pathetic might happen in a real live high school, and he’s just too far removed to realize it. If you are writing YA, try to hire highly qualified teens (LIKE ME!) or 20-somethings because I guarantee that this will give you better results. I don’t care if he’s a literature major and works in editing and I’m a high school senior who took AP classes (sorry for all the self promo in this post)… if he can’t relate to your piece, he likely won’t beta it as well.
So basically, I think you need to be picky about your beta readers/editors, and choose the few people who will be the best possible fit for your situation. There’s no other way to do it.
Do you think that beta readers are always a good thing? Is there ever a bad time to hire a beta? Do you want a beta reader AND editor at an all inclusive low price of $40? Have you checked out The Writing Writers?
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I was working on a collab story a few months ago, and I was told that when writing, I shouldn’t use any words besides “said” after a person talks because I should be showing rather than saying the way that they behave. However, my whole life I have always been told to use words other than “said”, so that you can understand the way which the person is speaking. So today, I wanted to have a discussion about whether you should use the word said, abstain from it, or fall somewhere in between.
- It’s easier to write your piece when you don’t have to stop and think about word choice
- Some people say that using other words is “telling” and once you use said you can further elaborate with descriptions of how the character is behaving. For example, you could say “I hate you” he said, his face contorting with the strength of the word, eyebrows knitting and eyes widening as the loud sound emitted from his mouth. and that would be way better than just saying “I hate you” he shouted. Of course, you could use a combination of the two, but that’s besides the point.
- More room for reader interpretation of your work.
Honestly, I don’t even believe bullet 2, and I am firmly in the Don’t Use Said camp, but that one person got me thinking and so I want to hear more of your opinions on the whole situation.
- When you use “said” you don’t know how the person is talking
- It gets repetitive if you are always using said in places with lots of dialogue
- “I’m running away” he moped or “I’m running away” he declared and “I’m running away” he pondered… all have very different connotations and if you just use said how the heck is the reader going to know how the character is behaving. I personally believe that using these words is showing not telling the personality of the character and the way he is behaving.
- Descriptive vocab is AHMAZING and I personally adore it.
I’m trying to think of examples of books that I’ve read where the author only uses “said” or never uses it, and I can’t off of the top of my head, which tells me either everyone does the exact same thing, or it doesn’t even really matter. I’m willing to bet that the large majority of authors do a combination of the two.
Looking back through my ROUGH, ROUGH draft of the story I’m working on, I noticed that any time I used “said” I nearly always modified it with an adverb immediately afterwards. I know that there’s a lot of theories on overuse of adverbs, but I feel like you can’t just use such a general word without modifying it for the context of the story. Once there’s an adverb, it becomes so much more real and alive. But that’s just me.
Do you think “said” should be used in writing? Do adverbs make a piece better or worse? What is your opinion on the “show don’t tell” philosophy in relation to dialogue verbs? Did I miss any pros or cons?
As some of you may know, Mahriya decided to run the Typewriter Project, which is basically an excuse to
have your blog post ideas handed to you write fun prompts and compete to earn points!! Obviously, I’m very competitive, and so I’m about to give you the best challenge response you have ever seen. You can read an intro to challenge #1 and an awesome guest post on writing a blurb over on Mahriya’s blog, but I’ll sum up the basic rules for you below.
- Write your own blurb for an (imaginary) book [i guess it could be real if you’ve written a real book]
- Include a diverse character
- Use the word “tranquil”
- Optional: author quick reviews
- Optional: snippet of ‘book’
The winners will get 5 points and are judged on creativity and originality. This challenge is due by May 26th, and you get an automatic 2 points just for doing it!
In the year 2296, everyone has their place.
The Coloreds have the collectives, The Gays the Western colonies, The Patriots have the inner city, and The Ladies know that they will be assigned to their ideal home.
On Melanie’s assigning day, she knows exactly what will happen. She’ll be escorted to the edge of the city and deposited on the opposite side of West Gate, the first time in her life that she will ever see the world beyond. The 2,000 mile walk to the colonies is far, but The Walk Guard would be there to protect her, and Melanie is looking forward to being reunited with her girlfriend on the tranquil western coast.
But the week before her choosing, her father, an influential lawmaker, tells her the truth. Nearly everyone dies on The Walk– there’s no food, no protection from the elements, and no Walk Guard. She must become a Lady or die.
Suddenly forced into a life she had never imagined, Melanie must make a choice. Hide her identity forever, or risk the perilous journey into the unknown.
From debut author Joce comes a powerful novel of choice, identity, and becoming an individual in a society designed to make everyone the same.
“But I don’t belong there” Mel explained for the 10th time that night, confused by her father’s insistence that she choose to join The Ladies. “You and half the town know that, and tomorrow I’m headed west.”
“Mel,” her father sighed, annoyed. “You can’t go. I’m not giving you a choice.”
“This is the one thing I can make up my own mind on,” she said angrily, hating the fact that her father still could not accept her. At that moment wished more than ever that her mother hadn’t been reassigned. It was the eve of the most exciting day of her life, and the last night in her childhood home, and yet her father wasn’t even attempting to make that special for her.
“It’s not safe” his voice was rising now, and Mel raised her eyebrows slightly. It was unlike him to lecture her like this, and even when he did, his voice was normally quieter, more disappointed than anything else.
“We have the Walk Guard” Melanie hissed.
“No. No you don’t” he screamed, leaping up off his seat and standing over her. Just as quickly, he flopped back down, and the heat left his face, replaced with worry. “Look Mel, honey, there’s no such thing as the Walk Guard. The Gays? The Coloreds? They’re sent out there to die.”
Mel stared at her father, blinking, unsure of how to respond. After a few seconds of dead silence, she burst out laughing.
“Die?” she had trouble talking over her laughter. “That’s funny Dad, and I know you didn’t want me to be gay, but this is a new low for you. We got a letter from Trish a few months ago saying she made it, remember?” Mel tried to continue laughing, but something on her father’s face caused the laughter to die in her throat.
I know my blurb was a little longer than the guest post recommended, but I honestly could not figure out how to cut it down to fewer words, so I’m just letting it go. Also, I came up with this story idea just for the blurb, and I kind of like it, not gonna lie. If I wasn’t already 50 pages into my cliche filled wreck of a story attempt, I would try to write this one instead. Who knows, maybe if I write them both simultaneously I’ll enjoy both more, not sure.
ALSO MAHRIYA WHY DID WE NEED TO USE THE WORD TRANQUIL. That word had me struggling, and I probably would have cut out that whole sentence if I didn’t need to include it, which would have brought me back in the word count, so it’s not really my fault that it’s long I swear it.
As far as my excerpt goes, I’m not sure if we were supposed to write one that long, but I just went for it anyways because once I started writing I couldn’t stop. I feel like I know Mel better than I know half the characters in the story I’m currently writing, which is probably just because I haven’t tried writing her enough to realize what I don’t know, but who knows, maybe it’s actually just a better story idea. It’s official I’m a mess, but hopefully you guys at least enjoyed the story idea.
Did you enjoy the first challenge for The Typewriter Project? Would you read my story based on the blurb? Are you participating in the project? If so, comment with the links to your blurb, because I would love to read them!
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It’s taken me a long time to think clearly enough to write this post, or to even think that I wanted to, so sorry for being so late to the party. That being said, I tried my very best…
For those of you who don’t know, I chose this year to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo, and in the beginning, I could not be more excited.
In the beginning, my word count was set to 50,000– I don’t know why I would ever do that to myself. It was obviously a far reach goal, considering in the past 3 combined months I’d written 16,000. So, about 3 days in, I lowered my goal to 30,000 which is far more reasonable and also proving slightly unattainable. I wrote for at least a few minutes every day for the first 2 weeks, but then April break happened and it was alal down hill from there.
Plus, my blog posts have become super rushed in the past month. It’s super hard to write high quality posts 3x a week (so about 3,000 words a week) when you need to write 7,000 additional words on a story. 10,000 words is wayyyyyy too much for me to handle. The fact that I had to lower my word goal is proof of that.
Before I go any further, I need to take a second to say that I LOVE MY CABIN!! I joined one with a lot of other teenagers, and so we all have a ton in common while simultaneously living on complete opposite sides of the world with totally different life experiences. It’s given be a great perspective on everything, and I spend far too much time procrastinating with them. I love it.
I ended up reaching about 10,000 words, which isn’t terrible, since that was a good kick start on my story and so now I have quite a few chapters down. Plus, I managed to outline a whole shit ton of it, which is more than I’ve ever done for anything ever, so props to me for accomplishing my primary goal in life.
One problem that I did come across is that I kept changing the way people looked and so it’s going to be a bitch to go back and edit. I’m trying to ignore that semi large problem and just keep pushing forward.
Anyways, I know a lot of people were really successful at Camp NaNo, but writing on any sort of timeline just isn’t for me. I’m very slow and just kind of need to be suddenly inspired to even sort of start moving in the right direction.
But, regardless of how I did, I’m really want to finish this story eventually and I think camp helped me get closer to that goal.
Did you win Camp NaNo? Do you outline your stories? Do you think I’m an absolute disaster and want the chance to yell at me? Go ahead!
BEFORE WE START: JUST A REMINDER THAT YOU ONLY HAVE UNTIL THE END OF APRIL TO SUBMIT YOUR BOOK BLOGGER AWARD NOMINATIONS. READ THE RULES HERE! I would appreciate it if everyone could spread the word
For those of you that don’t remember, I had the pleasure of first having Adrian Burrows on the blog a few months ago, when he wrote a really helpful, slightly comical post about how he became a writer. He also happens to be the author of Escapades in Bizzarchaeology, which you can find out more about in that post. But today, we have something a little different and really, really, cool. A short story that he wrote and wants to share with all of us on my blog!!! I LOVED this when I read it, and it’s had me thinking for a long time, so let’s get to it. (ps. I have a question for you all at the end, and Adrian wants to know the answer too, so get ready 🙂 )
Bishop Rutherford raised a bushy eyebrow at the verbal indiscretion, the gentle, swirling sweeps of his quill coming to a brutal and sudden stop upon the parchment laid in front of him.
‘I’m fucked’ reasserted the old man, spluttering the words from beneath beer splattered beard.
Rutherford gently eased the turkey feather into the ink pot at his desk and crossed his gnarled fingers in front of him. When he spoke, it was of the calm demeanour of a man who has seen far too much and understood too little.
‘To be fucked once could be seen as an accident, to be fucked twice? One would have to see that as intentional’.
The old man looked confused, at least Rutherford assumed that the expression was one of consternation. It was rather hard to tell, the saggy skin of the old man’s face seemed to simply crumple like paper into an undiscernible mess. Rutherford thought it best the old man sat down, and gestured with ringed fingers to the chair.
‘I’ve found the right person?’ questioned the old man as he creaked his limbs onto the wooden seat.
‘That rather depends’ intoned Rutherford ‘on what you mean by the right person?’
‘You’re the bishop, who offers’; at this the old man spoke in wheezing whisper, as if afeared that the shadows of the room hid away prying ears, ‘hell insurance?’
Rutherford’s eyes widened slightly, though the old man was not aware of this, for the dark deep bags surrounding them, hid any expression.
‘That is not a service I have been called upon in quite some time, the nature of your fucking must be severe indeed for you to require such a thing.’
‘I’ve been told’ the old man continued ‘that you can stop me from going to hell, that you can make sure I avoid that fate?’
The old man peered at the Bishop, wetness forming from the mess of his milky white eyes.
‘Is it true? Can you do it? Can you guarantee God’s forgiveness?’
Rutherford nodded, the fatty bulge of his neck folding into itself.
‘And if not God’s forgiveness, I can guarantee the Devil’s ignorance. For a fee.’
‘Anything’ the old man spat with desperation, ‘anything’.
‘This is not a fee that a man would like to pay. Are you certain?’
The old man reached forwards, grasping at the warped wood of the desk, ‘Yes. Please God yes.’
‘Very well’ Rutherford eased his bulk from his leather chair, and with a sweep of fine flowing robes, moved to the corner of the room. From a compartment, hidden from the old man’s eyes by the weakness of the pale candlelight, Rutherford retrieved an aged parchment and unfurled it upon the desk. He pointed with a stubby finger at the small and plentiful writing upon it.
‘A straightforward enough piece of legislation. And by the grace of God invested in me, capable of sparing you from an eternal fate of hell and fire.’
The old man grasped for the parchment but Rutherford swiftly swatted his hand away.
‘Can you write?’ asked Rutherford. It was a rarity for any of his clients to be able to do so, but he liked to ask, for if they could it would save him the tedious work of having to transcribe their dull transgressions. Thievery, adultery, murder. Hate, shame, fear, grief and pain. A man, Rutherford knew, could become distant and detached by the constant and reliable tedium of human frailty.
To Rutherford’s surprise the old man nodded. The Bishop whipped the quill from the pot and passed it to old man, a flick of ink darting from it to stain the wood of the table. The old man gripped the stem of the quill with trembling fingers.
‘Simply write your crime upon the dotted line. I, and the glory of God the everlasting, will take care of the rest for you.’
The old man slowly wrote four words on the parchment, his body tense and taut as he did so. And yet, Rutherford considered, on the completion of the fourth word the figure sagged and placed the quill upon the desk with focused consideration.
Rutherford gathered the parchment in his hands, turning it to face him and read the four words.
He read them again.
‘What is the fee?’ asked the old man.
Rutherford’s eyes glanced up from the parchment to focus on the man. He considered the possibility of this frail and feather light figure reshaped and reformed into the man he claimed to be.
‘What is the fee?’ repeated the old man.
Rutherford snatched the quill from the table and rammed it into the old man’s neck, who let out a soft, aching wheeze from the very depth of his lungs. Rutherford twisted and pulled, cold and crimson, across the papery skin. The old man’s life blood poured forth, darkening the deep red knots of the wooden desk, as his soulless body flopped, discarded, to the floor.
Rutherford carefully slid the bloodied quill into the ink pot from whence it came.
‘The fee is far greater than you can pay.’
Isn’t that amazing? Aren’t you desperate to know what the words are? Me too! But unfortunately for all of us, Adrian told me that he won’t let anyone know, because he’s thinking about making it into a longer story for all of our enjoyment. Still, we’d both love to hear your guesses, and who knows, maybe it will provide him with some inspiration!!
What do you think the four words were?
Thank you so much to Adrian for letting me share this story with everyone here!!
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~ Now Venture out and Change the World ~