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Q & A with D.G. Kaye Featuring Marjorie Mallon – This is Lockdown #Anthology

Welcome to a special edition of Q & A this week as I feature Marjorie Mallon, my Fey sister and friend with her hot new release – This is Lockdown: Covid19 Diaries. Marje and I also run the ABRSC blogger group on Facbook, and the Spiritual Sisters page, links at the bottom of this post.

This book has been a labor of love for Marje who has written this book with a collaboration of several author’s entries, including mine, and her documented diaries of her experiences living through the Covid19, along with heartfelt testaments from others, poetry and short stories told in Flash/Nonfiction forms in this beautiful anthology that will serve to document the times in our lives. I just finished reading this book and I will have a review up for this Sunday Book Review.

 

MJ Mallon

 

MJ Mallon

 

About Marje:

I was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit,) second child and only daughter to my parents Paula and Ronald, only sister to my elder brother Donald. I spent my early childhood in a mountainous court dwelling in the Peak District in Hong Kong.

It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six-foot hunk of a Rock God husband. My two enchanted daughters often return with a cheery smile.

Sometimes when the mood takes me, I adopt an alter ego, M J – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheroes!

When I’m not writing, I eat exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surf to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, I practice Tai Chi and Yoga. If the mood takes me, I snorkel with mermaids, or sign up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.

My favourite genres to write are: YA fantasy, magical realism, and various forms of poetry. I blog about books, writing, photography and inspiration at: https://mjmallon.com.

I enjoy writing articles celebrating the spiritual realm, my love of nature and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious. One of my greatest pleasures is reading. I’ve written over 150 reviews at my lovely blog home:
https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

I’m a member of a professional writing body. SCBWI , the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators.

 

 

Universal Link:  mybook.to/Thisislockdown

 

Blurb:

An anthology and compilation of diaries, short stories, flash fiction, contributions from the ‘isolation writers,’ plus poetry written during the time of lockdown in the UK. This Is Lockdown is written from a writer’s perspective highlighting the simple pleasures of day-to-day life during such an uncertain and frightening time. It also gives a glimpse of the blogging, writing world. The book showcases several authors and their thoughts on what it is like to experience ‘isolation’ as a writer. I also discuss the handling of the pandemic and my thoughts on what might happen next. In the final part of the book I include my latest short story idea: a YA romance and various short pieces of poetry, and flash fiction inspired by the pandemic.

The full list of authors are: Richard Dee, (Sci Fi , Steampunk, Amateur Detective author,) Catherine Fearns, (Amazon Bestselling Author of Police Procedural/Mysteries and Music Journalist,) Lynn Fraser, (Author,) Jackie Carreira, (Writer, musician, designer and aspiring philosopher,) Willow Willers, (Poet and Writer,) Sharon Marchisello, (Murder Mystery, Financial non-fiction author,) Fi Phillips ,(Author, Copy Editor,) Jeannie Wycherley, (Dark stories, Suspense, Horror,) Chantelle Atkins, (Urban Fiction, Teen/YA,) Tracie Barton-Barrett, (Speaker/Author,) Peter Taylor-Gooby, (Crime, Love Stories, Political Fiction,) Ritu Bhathal, (Chick Lit, Romance, Poet,) Alice May , (Author, Artist and Speaker,) Miriam Owen, (Blogger, Doctoral Researcher,) Drew Neary and Ceri Williams (Ghost Horror, Supernatural,) Katherine Mezzacappa, (Historical Fiction/Romance,) Sally Cronin, (Huge supporter of indie community/Blogger/Author) D G Kaye, (Memoirist/NonFiction,) Adele Marie Park, (Fantasy, Horror, Urban fantasy,) Marian Wood, (Blogger, Poet and Writer.) Samantha Murdoch, (Writer, Blogger,) Beaton Mabaso (Blogger, African storyteller,) Frank Prem (Poet, Author) Anne Goodwin (Author, Book Blogger) Sherri Matthews (Writer, Photographer, Blogger,) Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-Val – Community Masks for The NHS .

 

So let us get into some Q & A with Marje and learn more about her inspiration for this book and more about her writing.

 

Thank you so much to my lovely friend Debby, a contributing author, for inviting me over to talk about This Is Lockdown.

 

 

 

Do events in your daily life inspire your writing ideas?

Yes, absolutely, Debby. This Is Lockdown was inspired by Coronavirus and the situation we are in. Events in my daily life inspire my writing ideas. Normally, I am a visual writer inspired by the unusual, or the beautiful. In this case, my writing muse came from a deeper, more internal place. I looked within, but also observed what I could on my frequent walks in our Cambridgeshire village in the UK. I’m lucky to have a river nearby and a beautiful country park with lakes, swans, geese and ducks. The pace of life slowed down, and I noticed curious stone frogs and the like, which I probably wouldn’t have noticed before.

D.G. – Our senses are heightened when we stop and take a pause, so no doubts Marje. I’m sure every single person on this planet has been affected in different ways. This is a beautiful book for documenting history. <3

 

What’s your opinion on self-publishing?

I’m becoming more and more fond of it! I appreciate the freedom it gives. I can publish what I like, when I like. I can choose my title, cover, (even create it myself if I wish,) and format it in the way that I want. All those decisions are mine. For me, self-publishing is also a great confidence booster. You develop the tools to become a writer/publisher/marketing expert. There are so many new skills: formatting, creating a cover (I created the cover for This Is Lockdown myself,) designing promotional graphics (I use Canva ,) for blog tour headers, review memes. With self publishing, I am the boss! I love that.

D.G. – I agree with all you said. And wow, you did a fab job with the cover!

 

Books by MJ Mallon

 

Is there something you wish you were better at with the self-publishing process?

It is a never ending learning process. I’ve always wanted to be a perpetual student! I am getting there. I’ve learnt so much during Lockdown. I’ve been lucky to have the time during my furlough from work to dedicate to writing, and to blogging. Normally, I work long hours in an international school in Cambridge, leaving me little time to do anything. There are many new skills I’d love to add to my tool box –

 I’d love to learn how to design a paperback cover.

 And, I’d love to become more skilled at increasing readership to my blog
newsletters. I just started my newsletters during Lockdown. It has been on my to
do list for forever! I feared this more than anything. So, when I created my first
newsletter, it made me feel like cracking open the champagne. To date, it was the
hardest blog admin I’ve ever done.

 Oh, and I’d love to do more videos. This is the first one I’ve done, (my
daughter created it for me, for our local village, Online Fayre.) It isn’t perfect (we
were on a tight time frame,) but it’s our first attempt and I’m proud of that. She
did a wonderful job.

D.G. – Fabulous Marje! There is just so much that comes with the self-pub business. If we learned all the dynamics, we’d never have time to write!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tt08n0wZ_OOo0U6DhpBIzVvbxgFlncb2/view?usp=shari

 

How has writing changed your life?

Massively, I am not the same person I was. I have changed so much. I’d describe myself as a much more contented person. It is as if I have been waiting for this moment all my life! Sometimes, I wonder why have I wasted so many years being that ‘other’ person. But then I let it go. Life is too short for regrets. It is enough that I have found myself NOW.

D.G. – You’ve got that right girl!

 

Do you agree with the general consensus that writers are loners?

Ah, yes and no Debby. I enjoy my own company, but I wouldn’t say I’m a loner. I am quite sociable; I love going out with friends and family for meals and entertainment. I miss engaging with a wide circle of friends: old friends that I’ve had since the children were young, old school friends, blogging pals, writer friends, (in person at blogger bash, and SCBWI events,) you name it! And yet I’d say that writers are happy to be alone – that’s the difference. We have our writing, our books, our muse… Isolation for writers and creatives isn’t easy, but we cope better than most.

So, I discovered a way to connect during COVID19. This Is Lockdown was my way of coping. I reached out to the writing and creative community. I’m so glad that I did! This project has been such an enormous boost to my morale at a time when I needed it most. Coronavirus continues to be the most frightening time of my life. I hope it helps others to connect in this way. This Is Lockdown is a true account of diaries, poems, writings, short pieces and thoughts on isolation. It is a touch of positivity amongst all the sadness. Also, it highlights a wonderful initiative by Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-Val. They share their story of the fundraising masks for the NHS. To date, they have raised £30,000 for the National Health Service.

Here I am wearing one of their colourful masks:

MJ Mallon wears a mask

D.G. – I concur. I too am both and extrovert and introvert. I need my social outings, but also my quiet time to work.

 

The fabulous authors/bloggers and creatives together, the contributors are:

Richard Dee , (Sci Fi , Steampunk, Amateur Detective author,) Catherine Fearns ,
(Amazon Bestselling Author of Police Procedural/Mysteries and Music Journalist,)
Lynn Fraser , (Author,) Jackie Carreira , (Writer, musician, designer and aspiring
philosopher,) Willow Willers , (Poet and writer,) Sharon Marchisello , (Murder
Mystery, Financial non-fiction,) Fi Phillips , (Author, Copy Writer) Jeannie
Wycherley , (dark stories, suspense, horror,) Chantelle Atkins , (urban fiction,
teen/YA,) Tracie Barton-Barrett , (Speaker/author,) Peter Taylor- Gooby , (Crime,
Love Stories, Political Fiction,) Ritu Bhathal , (Chick Lit romance, poet,) Alice May ,
(Author, Artist and Speaker,) Miriam Owen , (Blogger and Doctoral Researcher,)
Drew Neary and Ceri Williams (Ghost Horror, Supernatural,) Katherine
Mezzacappa , (Author name: Katie Hutton,) (Historical Fiction/Romance,) Sally
Cronin , (huge supporter of indie community/blogger/author) Debby Gies ( D G
Kaye ), (Memoirist/NonFiction,) Adele Marie Park , (Fantasy, horror, urban
fantasy,) Marian Wood , (blogger, poet and writer.) Samantha Murdoch , (Writer,
Blogger,) Beaton Mabaso (Blogger, African Storyteller,) Frank Prem (Poet,
Author,) Anne Goodwin (Author, Book Blogger) Sherri Matthews (Writer, Photographer, Blogger,) and Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-ValCommunity Masks 4 NHS.

 

First Review:

Adele Park

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 July 2020

This is lockdown is a collection of diary entries, poems and photos from a collection of authors under the umbrella of M J Mallon. This is a definitive look at what the real people did during the lockdown, which is still in place in certain parts of the country. The writings and musings offer a real look at how people felt, what they did or couldn’t do and all delivered from different voices. From the day to day struggles, worries, and laughter to poems which will make you laugh, think and cry. This is a wonderful book I thoroughly enjoyed and I will keep going back to read again and again.

Excerpts:

 

Behind The Mask by Sherri Matthews

Based in the UK
© Sherri Matthews

 

Covid-19 struck and with it lockdown. I didn’t jump into baking bread, online classes and endless quizzes on Zoom. Instead, my brain went into meltdown. Then, Survival Mode.

Stock-piling at the supermarket stripped shelves bare. For the first time in my life – in my generation – I worried about finding basic essentials for my family. Lockdown plunged me into my new role as Hunter/Gatherer. I shifted into action.

My immediate quest turned to hand sanitiser. None. Liquid soap then. None. Right. Bar soap? None. Didn’t people wash before coronavirus? Shelf after empty shelf mocked me with their special-offer price tags to non-existent products and a slow-rising panic clenched my chest. A rapid mental inventory of the soap I had at home told me we could manage. I keep a spare. Dishwashing liquid works, my middle son texted. Of course, yes. We have that. Never mind no fresh meat, bread or eggs. At least we could safely wash Covid from our hands.

My sons. My adult children. Three of them. My youngest lives at home with me and my husband. Lockdown separates us from our two older sons who live far away. We cancelled March, hoped for May. Then July. Maybe. More like August. We don’t know.

Anxious thoughts lace my outings to The Wasteland. But this isn’t an episode of the Walking Dead and there are no zombies here. Reality means I must keep safe. My husband too. He works from home now. I am carer to my youngest who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Now, too, for my eighty-something mother who needs shielding. Who will look after them if I succumb?

Food shopping is my mission. An expedition for which I need gear. Survival gear. A mask, primarily. It is black. The material heats my breath and fogs my sunglasses. Wisps of too-overlong lockdown hair itch my eyes. Don’t touch your face! I mantra as I manoeuvre through the aisles and try to focus on my shopping list, blinking hard to clear the blur and people-dodging when they come too close too many times.

My mask and sunglasses double-up as a dark disguise – they hide the stress and, yes, the anger I know is tight upon my face. It keeps at bay those spewing germs from the woman who sneezes and the man who coughs openly as they walk by. It stops the words I want to say but know I will regret. To them and those who huddle in the aisle chatting, laughing, not a foot apart. I need to get by. Excuse me, please. To them I want to say, don’t you know this is a pandemic?

Three months into lockdown, food supplies are plenty. Sanitising hand gel and soap is back!

Families and friends can gather, no more than six. But tell that to the crammed in beach-goers and not a mask in sight in the hottest May on record leaving tons of weight in litter, gridlocked roads and major incidences in their wake. How can we win like this?

An invisible enemy designed to bring us down circulates with relish. Will we humans prevail in our efforts to destroy it? Many will never know normal again. Loss and grief does that. We are forever changed.

My normal means hugging my boys again, my family gathered together on that wonderful day, safe and well. In this I have hope. Always, we must hope. And until that day, it doesn’t hurt to wear a black mask.

© Sherri Matthews

 

Shopping Hell (2)- Flash fiction

A woman is standing in front of me in the supermarket queue. She’s young, barely twenty, wearing a bright red jacket, a face mask, her hair is dark, her eyes accusatory. Turning her head, her body twists, she glares at me, her body language screams you are too close, as if I am invading her territory. Her glossy red jacket screams help! I’m staying away from her, following the social distancing rules, but still it is not enough. She fears me, her eyes peer at me above her mask and I know this is true. I hope and pray she will stay well. She is a similar age to my daughters, but fear has made her an anxious stranger.

© M J Mallon

 

I have also written my thoughts and contributed this Etheree poem:

 

Cabin Fever

 

Anxiety exacerbates within.

The pandemic reigns on human life.

We grieve the lost art of living.

While idling in neutral,

We remain suspended,

Awaiting normal,

A new concept.

Lessons taught.

Observe.

Breathe!

©DGKaye

 

It was a thrill to have you over today Marje. Wishing you lots of success with the book, and may we all stay safe and be able to start a new life soon!

 

Follow Marje’s BlogTour Schedule!

Blog Tour and Promo for #new #release – This Is Lockdown

 

Follow Marje on Social Media:

Authors Website: https://mjmallon.com

Authors Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L

Twitter@Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mjmallonauthor/

#ABRSC: Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17064826.M_J_Mallon

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-j-mallon

Collaborative Group: https://www.facebook.com/pg/5SpiritualSisters/

 

©DGKaye2020

bitmo live laugh love

 

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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.

62 Comments

  • Robbie Cheadle

    It is very interesting to see how people have reacted differently to the current environment and circumstances, Debby. I am looking forward to reading this book. Here in SA people have only recently started to become scared. It has taken four months for us to get there. We had nearly 600 deaths on Wednesday, up from our previous high of 200. Unfortunately, because our government closed down to early, people were disdainful of the threat. Our schools are closed again from Monday, but my boys have been at home.

    • dgkaye

      Thank you so much Robbie, for adding to the conversation. I am so sorry about SA now, I’ve read how it’s been escalating there. This virus is like a tsunami that rolls over different countries at different times. A shame people thought there was no threat when initial precautions were taken. That seems to be the downfall of many – not believing. Please stay safe with your family and WEAR a mask out in public, it does save lives! <3

    • Marjorie Mallon

      Hi Robbie, thank you. It’s a little snapshot of history I suppose. One to refer back to hopefully when this is all in the past. Worrying time for us all, hope your family and yourself keep safe and well. Sorry to hear schools are closed. And yes wear a mask. We now have the regulations to compulsorily wear a mask in shops – should have been earlier in my opinion.

  • Joy Lennick

    Hi Debs and Marje, What an excellent idea to keep a record of how the pandemic affected different people in different ways. Of course, we all have to stay positive, but it’s easier for some and not for others…I experienced how resilient, brave and quite amazing, human beings are in WW2, and they are showing that ‘we will not be defeated’ stance again. We will overcome! All credit to you both. Hugs xx

    • Marjorie Mallon

      Hi Joy/Debby. Yes, it’s interesting to see how people cope at this time. My hubby and youngest daughter have definitely found it more difficult than myself and eldest (bookworm, writing,) daughter! There have been signs of many positive changes such as people being more friendly in the street (to say hello) at a safe space apart! I was talking to my dad about his experiences (he was born in 1929,) and has been through many turbulent and difficult times. It seems that most generations experience something of this magnitude and the few that do not are very fortunate. Apparently his grandfather had a blissful life compared to many.

  • Marjorie Mallon

    Thank you so much Debby for this fabulous post, sharing excerpts, a Q and A and early review. And for taking part in this anthology. It has been such a positive experience in many ways and a way of coping with the stress and fear that plays a daily part of COVID19. It has kept me sane! Stay safe and well.

    • dgkaye

      Thank you Marje, for inviting me to be part of it. It’s a beautiful book for a testament of our times – globally. Thrilled to have you over and talk about the beginnings of your inspiration to write this book. <3

      • Marjorie Mallon

        Who would have thought I would have got involved in such a project. It just goes to show you never know where writing and blogging will take you. I couldn’t have hoped to have compiled this without the wonderful contributions and help from you all.

  • Adele Marie Park

    A fantastic interview and peak of This Is Lockdown. A fantastic book and I am very proud to be a part of it. <3

  • Pete Springer

    I enjoyed this excellent interview with Marje, and I look forward to reading this collection. Other than the obvious health concerns, I wonder how much of a toll this experience is affecting mental health. As an extroverted person,” it’s hard for me to comprehend when I hear others say, “Oh, not that much has changed for me.” I simply miss being around my friends. Zoom is great but not nearly as intimate as in-person human interaction.

    At the same time, I am so frustrated with people who blatantly disregard how their decision not to wear a mask is leading to more lives lost. Is it pleasant to wear a mask? No, but we have a responsibility to look out for one another—including strangers. Choosing to gather closely in herds without wearing a mask is selfish and irresponsible.

    Schools are getting ready to reopen when conditions are much worse now than when they closed. It doesn’t make any sense. We keep doing things that continue to perpetuate the potency of the virus.

    • dgkaye

      Pete, I sorely have to agree with you on all fronts. Schools opening will be just another ‘oh we shouldn’t have’ after how many children and teachers die? Don’t get me started. You’ve seen my FB page 🙂 Yes, everyone needs to wear a damn mask! Thank you for leaving your thoughts here and for your interest in Marje’s book 🙂

    • Marjorie Mallon

      Hi Pete, thank you so much for your kind interest in the anthology. Yes, I think there are definitely observations to be made about how we cope with the lockdown and accompanying anxiety of this time. Some people cope better than others, I’ve noticed huge changes in some family members since lockdown and it is very sad to see. And I can’t understand the not wearing a mask philosophy – surely it must help and is it really that difficult to don a mask if it will help you and the person near you. People are so focused on their civil liberties that they forget a simple action can save lives. Stay safe and well, and hoping for better times. Marje

  • Diana Peach

    A wonderful interview, Debby and Marje. I’ve heard so much about this book, and what a great way to share feelings, experiences, and stories related this lockdown. I especially liked Marje’s answer about the learning curve. I think all of us have those wishes to advance our skills and reach more readers. Writing is a vocation that never really allows us to sit back and rest on our laurels. Congrats on the book!

    • Marjorie Mallon

      Hi Diana. Yes, that is so true about writing being a vocation. There is always something new to learn, at times it can be frustrating but the rewards are endless too! I wonder where it will take us all in the future, I hope it is to happier times. Here’s to fulfillment and health and happiness in the years ahead. 🙂

  • Jessica Norrie

    A great response to lockdown with so much variety! I particularly like the community masks initiative. Lockdown has really brought out the best in so many people so I’m trying to concentrate on that side of things. it would be so easy to start a rant against our government here in the UK – no – I’m not going there!

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Jessica. I think many of us have our criticisms for our governments these days. So yes, best to focus on the positive 🙂 xx

    • Marjorie Mallon

      Hi Jessica, yes that was my intention to make this a positive endeavour. Having said that I do touch upon the Government’s handling of the pandemic in the diaries section of the book. The anthology is a personal account so I hope it brings across many aspects of this time in a light-hearted but truthful way.

  • Jacqui Murray

    Clever topic. It’s amazing how differently people react to this. I bet these stories are intriguing.

    And I love that you say the one word you’d describe yourself as, as a writer, is ‘contented’. I concur.

  • Claire Fullerton

    What a delightful post! I hope to one day see photographs of the Cambridge village in which Marjorie lives!
    And I laughed out loud at this: “It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six-foot hunk of a Rock God husband. My two enchanted daughters often return with a cheery smile.” LOL! Loved this inspirational post. Now here’s a healthy attitude!

    • Marjorie Mallon

      Hi Claire, thank you so much for your kind comment. Ah, you will see lots of photos in this collection. I love photography! My grandfather and uncle were professional photographers and I enjoy taking photos and sharing them very much. There are photos taken during my walks in Cambridge by the local river and park where I live, photos in my garden, etc. And thank you for the comment about my funny bio, I’m glad you like it! I’ve always wondered if it is a little off planet normal but perhaps that is a good thing. Lol.

  • Marjorie Mallon

    Hi Jacqui thank you for your kind comment. Yes, I like the word intriguing too! And yes writing and blogging has brought me to contentment! In this autumn of my life…

  • Olga Núñez Miret

    A great project, judging by the samples and the accumulated talent, and for such a good cause. I hope it goes very well. Thanks for bringing us Marjorie’s interview, Debby. It’s great to learn more about the people we keep bumping onto (virtually, of course) on the blogging universe. Good luck!

  • Liesbet

    I really enjoyed reading this interview between you and Marje, Debbie! Good for her to turn this Lockdown experience into a positive and productive time with creating this book and other tasks that had been on the list. Very inspirational! I find it extremely hard to stay motivated and focused during periods of distress and stress. Not that I’m new to uncertainty, far from it (our lifestyle is based on uncertainty), but all the restrictions and lack of freedom and options are starting to drive me up a wall. It’s a bit different for people with a normal house, familiar activities, and close family. This book sounds like a treasure! 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Good word Liesbet – treasure. This book will be interesting to read years from now too. Your story feelings of unmotivation have also been felt by others, some in this book too. <3

  • Jane Sturgeon

    Debby, what a cracking interview and Marje, your vibrant energy shines through. I love how the collective here have responded to our global crisis. What a creative, thoughtful, connected sharing this book is and it’s ready to read on my reader. Much love flowing to you both and to us all. <3 <3

    • dgkaye

      Hi Jane, thank you so much for your lovely comments. So glad you picked up a copy. Yes, Marje’s energy does shine through this book so I do hope you enjoy a read with the collective. <3 <3 Hugs flowing back. xx

  • Vashti Quiroz-Vega

    Great interview! I enjoyed learning more about Marje and this anthology. Congratulations to all the participating writers on the new release! I’m looking forward to reading it. Thanks for hosting, Debby! <3 xo

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    Lovely interview and so enjoyed reading thank you both of you… Good luck Marje with your book… So nice to meet you through Debby’s interview.. And Loved your poem contribution also Debby… I continue to Breatheeeee also..
    Much love my dear friend…
    Sending well wishes and Hugs your way.. 💖🙏💖

  • Darlene Foster

    This is a great idea. There are a few books like this, I’m on one of them. A great way to document what we have been going through. It will be good to read them in a few years time. This is part of our history. Good luck with the book!

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