Spiral Learning Applies To Writers

A comment on a post I’d left on a writer’s group Facebook page gave me pause. It was something I re-blogged because the writer’s honesty encouraged me. I love sharing writing tips, mine and others. The commenter remarked, “every writer knows this stuff, and this post was a waste.”  I shook my head and decided to explain on my blog why “I beg to differ.”spiral

Spiral Learning

Educators explain people learn in a spiral. Simply put, reviewing the basics before adding a new concept helps a student retain and expand on the information. Therefore, material is repeated at every grade level year after year. The basics of math and reading are reviewed in early elementary school. It takes a few years to master the foundation. Every grade level through high school spend the first portion of the year reviewing the materials last presented in the previous year. Most students don’t remember enough from past lessons in earlier years to build on a new concept. We remember it while we are using it.  (Think high school French class.) Then we forget some or all of what we learned. We continue to relearn, remember, forget, relearn until we own the skill and don’t forget.

Spiral Refreshing

The same applies to writing. I attended a writing retreat years ago. One subject was correct grammar. Later someone bemoaned the waste of time. After all, writers know this stuff. For me, there were things I’d forgotten. And punctuation issues, I needed clarity on.

Reviewing what you know

Familiar topics on writers’ conference brochures could be the deciding factor to skip the event when we’ve attended those same classes before.

I’ve discovered I’m always learning things I missed the first time. The review refreshes my knowledge. Applying what I learn may take a few times of hearing it to get it right.

If we’re honest, we can list at least one new thing we learned and determined to apply, but didn’t. It can take several more classes, blog posts or articles, before we followed through.

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Learning to avoid bad advice

How many times have you seen those ads that promise big bucks, even if you don’t know how to write? Everyone knows not to pursue it. But writers do. A desire to write full-time and quit a day job can drive an aspiring writer to waste time on content mills. How many will raise their hand along with me and say… “I did.” After I was so foolish, I read many articles debunking my choice, and I own that concept now.

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My email fills with several blog subscriptions weekly. I’m amazed when the familiar comes along right when I need it. Recently, a post reminded me of the ten most common novel writing errors. It reset my mind and put me in tune with those things as I edit my latest WIP. I knew the tips well, but knowing and doing can sometimes trip over each other.

Relearn from each other

Although I am a traditionally published author, I subscribe to indie authors blogs. Both traditional and Indie can teach me things. One example: why multiple levels of editing are important. As a traditional author, I get those edits from my publisher. But indies need to hire the editors or do it themselves. I’m more mindful of what to expect from the publishers I work with.  Another example: marketing. Most authors struggle to remember what and how to do it correctly and consistently. It helps me to decide what types of marketing beyond what my publisher offers I might want to explore.

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Final Word

My tip when we are tempted to say, “we all know this stuff.” Don’t.  Someone may not be familiar at all. I’m amazed how the old adage, “You don’t know what you don’t know” applies to me. I’ve seen best-selling authors taking copious notes in classes on subjects I assumed they were an expert. Often, they remark. “I’ve learned something new.”

What new or review information were you grateful to have received in your Inbox or social media? Were you at the learn or forget stage when you read it?

Comment below I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And don’t forget to subscribe before you leave this page to follow Jubilee Writer.

 

 

Romance, Research and Fun Factoids

Sandra Merville Hart is my special guest today. She writes Civil War Romance. I love historical romance. I’ve read a Stranger on My Land the first book in her Civil War series. I’m very interested in her newest release A Rebel in My House. Sandra tells us about it.SandraMervilleHart_Headshot2(1)

A Rebel in My House is set during the turbulent Battle of Gettysburg. The townspeople lived through a nightmare that extended months beyond the battle. This novel gives a glimpse of that suffering through the eyes of a Gettysburg seamstress. A Confederate soldier caught behind enemy lines after retreat needs her help. Sheltering him ushers in more difficulties than she ever imagined. Lines become blurred as her feelings for him grow. Loyalties threaten to divide them as Confederates seize the town.

Both have made promises to family members.

Some promises are impossible to keep.

How do you research for your book?

I read articles online to learn some initial facts. Then I check out nonfiction books from the library and take copious notes. I try to travel to novel settings. Visiting local museums and walking the historic streets piques my imagination. I learn the history and, along the way, the story is born.

What inspired you to write this book?

When it was time to write my next Civil War romance, I knew there was story waiting for me in Gettysburg. My husband traveled there with me. We spent long hours in the battlefields and attended several ranger tours.We took a private ranger tour with a Battlefield Guide who tailored the tour around my questions about Tennessee regiments. A hazy idea formed.

We visited museums in town and learned of the horrific nightmare the women and children endured. Then I knew I had to write their story as well as the experience of the Tennessee regiments.

Share a few Civil War factoids about Gettysburg most people are not aware of.

The Confederate Army gathered both runaway slaves and free citizens when they crossed into Pennsylvania in June of 1863. Many African Americans had fled by the time Confederate General Jubal Early entered Gettysburg on Friday, June 26, 1863, a few days ahead of the famous battle that began on July 1st.

After the battle, Confederates left behind 7,000 comrades too severely wounded to retreat.

The first Confederate soldier killed at Gettysburg was Henry Raison of the 7th Tennessee Infantry. The hero, Jesse Mitchell, in A Rebel in My House is from that regiment.

The Battle of Gettysburg ranks first among our bloodiest Civil War battles with over 40,000 casualties.

Now, I’d like to ask a few questions about you that my readers might find interesting.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” Revelation 3:8 (NIV)

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Start writing now. Don’t let someone else determine whether or not you follow your dream. Take writing classes. Attend writers’ conferences. Learn as much as you can about the craft of writing. Pray that God guides your steps.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My husband is amazingly supportive. If I tell him I need to go to Gettysburg for a research trip, he checks his work calendar to plan a week he can take off with me. I take photographs; he logs where the picture is taken. He helps me figure out directions and mileage between historical towns. When I’m baffled by some historical object in a museum, he helps me figure out how it might have been used. He is amazing.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I love to read romantic suspense, cozy mystery, contemporary romance, but my favorite genre to read for pleasure is historical romance.

About Sandra Merville Hart:

Sandra Merville Hart, Assistant Editor for DevoKids.com, loves to find unusual or little-known facts in her historical research to use in her stories. Her debut Civil War romance, A Stranger On My Land, was an IRCA Finalist 2015. Her second Civil War romance novel, A Rebel in My House, is set during the Battle of Gettysburg. It released on July 15, 2017. Visit Sandra on her blog at https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/.

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A Rebel in My House Book Blurb: Click to order.

When the cannons roar beside Sarah Hubbard’s home outside of Gettysburg, she despairs of escaping the war that’s come to Pennsylvania. A wounded Confederate soldier on her doorstep leaves her with a heart-wrenching decision.

Separated from his unit and with a bullet in his back, Jesse Mitchell needs help. He seeks refuge at a house beside Willoughby Run. His future lies in the hands of a woman whose sympathies lay with the North.

Jesse has promised his sister-in-law he’d bring his brother home from the war. Sarah has promised her sister that she’d stay clear of the enemy. Can the two keep their promises amid a war bent on tearing their country apart?

If you’d like to find out more about Sandra visit any of the links below.

Sandra’s Blog, Historical Nibbles:  https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandra.m.hart.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sandra_M_Hart

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandramhart7/

Sandra’s Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8445068.Sandra_Merville_Hart

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/100329215443000389705/posts

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Merville-Hart/e/B00OBSJ3PU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j3JI-wECyY&feature=youtu.be

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Interview with Dystopian Co-Authors Glenn Turner & Angel Torres

Today is a first for me. I welcome Glenn Turner and Angel Torres to Jubilee Writer. They co-authored The Coming Future, a YA Fantasy. I’ve never had co-authors on my blog so I’m curious about your journey.

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Glenn: I grew up being a reader of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.  I come from a fairly artsy family, and did a wide range of artistic activities, playing Keyboard, Guitar, Saxophone, French Horn, and Clarinet (maybe a few others that I forget now), as well as a bit of drawing and painting. When I was sixteen, I became a Christian, and I noticed in my Christian community that many folks did not approve of my love of fantasy.  So, with plenty of other things to focus on, my affection for that genre grew cold over the years.

Fast forward to my thirties where I had some free time at one of my jobs, and I just felt inspired to write a bit.  So I did.  And as I did, some of the old stories I read as a kid came to mind.  I began looking into fantasy again, and I made a discovery:  the entire Fantasy genre was started by two Christians: J.R.R. Tolkein, and C.S. Lewis, the latter of which was a prominent theologian.  I realized that some Christians that I had been around had wholesale rejected a literary genre that was created by two solid believers.

As I began writing some stories, I encountered Angel Torres at work.  Angel shared some of his work with me, and then asked if I would like to collaborate on a project with him.  So, began The Coming Future. Honestly, I didn’t take it serious at first.  But as we worked on the project together, I got to be like, “Man, this isn’t too bad. It might go somewhere.”

We finished our first draft in 2015, and got about the business of finding an Agent or a Publisher, culminating in Clean Reads accepting our work in January, 2017, and we were published on 6.20.17.

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Angel: I wasn’t much of a reader in my younger days; I was more into sports, friends, and video games. But everything changed in summer of 1998, when I put my hands on a video game that forever changed my life, Final Fantasy VII. My world was opened wide. I’ve always imagined himself being a professional basketball player, but now, my imagination was inspired by role-playing stories from movies and games. I filled up notebook after notebook with stories, but after moving from Puerto Rico to the United States, my creative vision shifted to writing song lyrics and pursuing the American dream. Then, around 2010, I met Glenn.

Tell my readers, about your project.

Glenn: I’d be happy too.

The Coming Future is a coming-of-age story about a young man, Aalok, who doesn’t quite fit into the place he was born in. He lives in a crystal city on a flat planet where the sun rises out of the sea and sets on the other side of the planet. Aalok belongs to the ‘owr clan, which is the clan of light.  But when he reaches the age where members of his clan begin developing abilities congruent with their clan, Aalok’s abilities are largely silent.  Instead, he begins having apocalyptic dreams of a coming disaster. Suspecting that this is a form of his developing ‘owr abilities, Aalok goes to his instructor at the school, and then the Prime Minister of his city, but his dreams are largely ignored; until the disaster actually happens. Aalok then discovers there may be more to events than natural coincidence.

Intermixed within the book are various struggles with school, sports, and girls, much of which are formed out of the authors’ personal experiences and observations of kids today. Angel, at the time of writing, was a youth group director.

This book was a fun write, and is a fun read.  It has elements of steampunk, fantasy, and a hint of dystopian future that should appeal to today’s young adult audience, but one of our reviews from Amazon reads:  While the story is obviously geared to young readers, it was a very enjoyable read for me, a great-grandma.

What kind of research did you do for The Coming Future?

Angel & I read a fair amount of young adult novels and I made a special effort to watch a few Steampunk movies and shows to better understand the genre. There’s something about Steampunk that just seems fun to me. (Editor’s note: Steampunk is history with a twist of modern science. For example: machine guns during the Renaissance period.)

You may not realize it on a first read, but the work is heavily influenced by the Bible. From the names, many of which are from Biblical Hebrew or Greek, to the clans, whose origins can be found in the first chapter of Genesis, there is a strong Biblical influence to the work.

Several other character names were derived from other languages as well.  For instance, the main character, Aalok, means ‘Light of God’ in Hindi, and he is from the clan of light, the ‘owr, which is the Hebrew word for light.

How does co-authoring work?  How do you guys do this together? 

Initially, the process was a little disjointed. Angel and I got together and discussed what we wanted out of a story. Who is our audience? What style?  What kind of ‘magic’ is in the story? What is our main character going to be like? What about supporting characters? The world? We answered and debated those questions a little, and initially, we agreed on most of that.
After that, I sat down and started writing. The first few chapters came out pretty quickly, and what we see now is pretty similar to what came out initially. Then, after 4 chapters or so, Angel began outlining each chapter with ideas that we wanted to put in the chapter, and I would flesh it out.  Most of the time, I included (almost) all of what he wanted, and then added a bit more as I was inspired.  I kind of walked through the story with Aalok, and thought, “What would he encounter next? What logically flows here?”  I also would ask, “How can I create some more conflict?” and I would sometimes think, “We need a new, interesting character here.”

All of the kids in school, with the exception of Tenebris Pruir, a raging nerd, were mostly Angel’s doing. Aalok’s Dad, the instructor from the exile nation/school, and the coach of the domeball team (domeball is similar to soccer, except, well, in a dome) we worked on together.

So our process was (1) work together on the concepts, characters, and setting, (2) Angel outlines, (3) I write out what Angel outlined, (4) Angel reads what I wrote, adds in a few details or things I forgot, or just stuff that would make it cooler, (5) I edit based on Angel’s feedback, (6) I go back to #3 and write out the next chapter.  Repeat infinitum, or at least until we are done!

What Inspired you to write The Coming Future?

Angel & I set out to write a fun book with relatable characters facing issues that teens face.  We wanted to write characters facing problems where they made good and sometimes bad decisions, and then saw the consequences of those decisions.  At the time we wrote the book, Angel served as a Youth Director at his church, and we modeled some of the struggles the characters face off of what he saw in the lives of kids he knew.

I love layered stories that you have to peel back, so within the book, there are multiple mysteries and things that are happening that you may not realize. Then, when you arrive at something that will come out in book 3, you will go back and look at 1, and realize, “oh, that was that the whole time, and I never saw it!”

We were also inspired by our youths and things that we just didn’t get growing up.  One silly example: as a kid, I never understood stretching before playing baseball. Neither does Aalok. He struggles through stretching exercises when playing sports, wondering why he is doing it.   He also finds himself without appropriate equipment for practice, making him a little unsteady and unsure of himself.  These are all things I’ve faced in my youth.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Glenn: I very much love Matthew 6:33 – but seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Growing up, I struggled with anxiety a lot.  Working as a Registered Nurse, I always found myself worrying about what I may have missed or forgotten.  This verse calms me and centers me, allowing me to direct my nervous attention to my God rather than my worries. Now, twenty years later, I find that God has given me grace to embrace this verse, and freed me from the worries of my youth.

Angel: My favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” God knows the plan that he has for me and by walking beside him, reading his word, gaining his wisdom and learning perseverance, I always find the love and joy that only he can provide}

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing? 

Glenn: I think much of my focus is self-motivated.  I feel like I have stories living inside me that want to come out!  In my work environment, I will sometimes have an hour or two of dead time without any responsibilities, so I use it to write.  But if I had to select some sort of muse, I would say it comes from conversations I have with my friend, Marc, whom I will be releasing a book and game with in 2019.  I am often excited about writing after chatting with him.

Angel: My best support system to keep me focused on writing is music. My passion and love for music has always been a core value towards the imagination to create stories just like The Coming Future.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Glenn: I love the fantasy genre.  Good ole swords and sorcery and saving the world.  I have enjoyed some urban fantasy as well.

Angel: I love everything in the young-adult fantasy genre.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Glenn: I dunno. I have a romantic image of myself writing in Medard Park in Dover, FL, but I haven’t gotten around to actually doing it yet.  Plus, I’m in the middle of July right now, and it feels like 100 degrees. I think my current favorite is on the back patio, overlooking some trees and, presently, a pond (though it dries up in winter).  It’s very peaceful.

Angel I love to write and get ideas in small close places, like my closet or even in the bathroom. Headphones, music and an open imagination.

Do you listen to anything while writing? 

Glenn: Hmmm… I don’t mind silence.  I like the sounds of nature.  But I also like a Pandora station I made that plays instrumental movie soundtracks.

Angel  I like to listen to instrumental music, like movie soundtracks and instrumental bands like “Hammock”.

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Back-cover blurb for The Coming Future

Living in a crystal city on a flat world, Aalok Collins is an ordinary boy living in an extraordinary place. But Aalok fears that he is a little too ordinary.

All Aalok cares about, besides playing domeball, and, much to his surprise, girls, is his final exam which will determine whether or not he can move on to the Academy next year, or whether he is forced into slavery or exile.  But as he waits on nature to develop within him the powers, or anima that all in his clan possess, he is haunted by dreams of an imminent tragedy.

As he begins exploring the meaning of his dreams, Aalok encounters a plot to take control of an ancient artifact which could change the base of power in the city of Sherendot, and possibly throughout the ‘owr clan.

About the Authors:

Turner & Torres is comprised of Glenn D. Turner & Angel Torres, who met at work at a doctor’s office around 2010. Sharing a love of writing, they began getting together at lunch to comprise a story that young adults could enjoy with characters that readers would be able relate to.

Glenn has some additional writing projects that he is noodling with that may be put into print someday. He deeply adores his wife and four children, and is trying to learn how to play nice with others.

Angel, too, is a dedicated family man who lives in the Tampa Bay area, working in the medical field.  He is excited about the Coming World, Turner & Torres’ second installment of the Aalok Collins series.

Thanks for stopping by, guys. Sounds like a fun adventure in store for your readers.

Click the title to purchase The Coming Future.

 

 

The Importance of the Copy Edit

This is a great reminder. Never leave out any part of the editing process. Hope all of you find Linda’s honest confession as helpful as I did. Thank you Linda for allowing me to repost this.

Linda W. Yezak

A friend is doing a massive favor for me and the other authors of a collection we’ve already released. She’s doing the copy edit we should’ve done to begin with.

Even though I had already edited the bulk of the stories included in the collection, our friend is finding a gazillion mistakes. She says she hates going in and editing after someone else has edited because she’s afraid she’ll offend the other editor.

Far from the truth. Actually, it shores up my contention that manuscripts need at least two edits prior to release.

I’m primarily a content editor. My friend is a copy editor. The things that I pay most attention to pertain to the craft of writing; the things she pays most attention to pertain to the mechanics of writing. The mistakes she’s finding in our novellas pertain to the mechanics—things I tend to overlook as the first-round editor.

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Larry W Timm shares His Suspense Writing Journey

Suspense writer Larry W. Timm is my guest today. I always love learning what passion brought an author to write their story.  I’m sure you’ll be encouraged by Larry’s journey.

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Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

The power of words has always fascinated me. However, it wasn’t until the last ten years that I finally decided to chase this dream. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers, and that led to some life-changing friendships that fueled the fire. I started studying the craft and business of writing, joined a local writer’s group, finished a couple of novels, started a few more, pitched my two finished manuscripts, refused to let rejections crush me, then signed a contract for my first book to be published with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. The road has been tough—with plenty of ups and downs. But, at the same time, it has been a thrill. I’m glad I’m on the journey!

What is your latest published project?

My debut suspense novel is called MURDER FOR EMILY’S SAKE. It’s about three women who are being stalked by a man who believes they are responsible for his teenage daughter’s death. He has convinced himself that had the women not confronted his daughter, Emily, outside of the abortion clinic and convinced her not to end her pregnancy, she would still be alive.

But they had spoken to Emily, and she had listened. Emily had made the decision to let her child live. Sadly, however, a few months later, a rare complication would cause Emily’s death in the delivery room.

Now, her father, sinking deeper and deeper into dark despair, vows he will bury the three women, just like he had to bury his beloved daughter. And he’s sure that after he buries them, they will eventually die…for Emily’s sake.

How did you research your book?

I drew from a variety of sources when working on a story. Like most writer’s, there are tidbits from personal experience that I used with the hopes of adding depth or believability to a scene. I also contacted people who answered my many questions. I also used the internet and the library, as well as various materials I have gathered over the years.

Basically, I do as much research as I think I need to do to make something believable enough that it doesn’t stop a reader from enjoying the story.

 What inspired you to write your book?

MURDER FOR EMILY’S SAKE grew out of an intense desire to write a story that highlighted the gifts that God gives to us, starting with the gift of Life. I wanted to use suspense as the fiction vehicle to both entertain and enlighten. My goal was to paint an engaging word picture of how Life is not only one of God’s greatest gifts, it is also one of the most fragile. I pray that readers will see that the sanctity of human Life is not only threatened before birth, but many times it is threatened afterwards by choices we make.

I was also inspired by my experiences serving with and around others who are on the frontline of the intense work of defending the lives of the unborn.

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When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

My fascination with storytelling goes back as far as I can remember. But a sense of “calling” began directing that fascination after I became a Christian in 1981. At first, I wrote non-fiction (devotional articles, ministry-related articles, etc.), but always wanted to also write novels.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would it be?

I love this question! I would probably go back to the evening of January 18, 1981. That was the evening I became a Christian. I would pull myself aside and say, “Don’t wait to start writing novels! Get started now!”

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

This is easy to answer! My wife, Kristal, (and our family) is my best support system as I stumble my way down the writer’s pathway. She has always believed in me, and made me feel like this was possible. And she’s been willing to sacrifice so I could go to conferences, writer’s groups, buy books, and spend money on various writing-related things. She’s awesome. She understands that writers are “different” and she puts up with me.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Suspense is my favorite, but I will read books from other genres. I suppose I prefer reading and writing suspense because it keeps me engaged in the story.

 Where is your favorite place to write?

Oddly enough, I don’t have a “favorite” place. Or, at least, I haven’t found one yet. The best places for me to write are places with a comfortable chair and room for me to pace. And if Dr. Pepper and snacks are allowed and available, that’s a bonus!

What are your goals for your writer’s journey ahead?

I hope to travel on both the fiction and the non-fiction roads. I have one more novel completed, and a few others started. I also have a series of 10-day devotionals finished, and more on the drawing board. And recently, a good friend and fellow-writer urged me to write a non-fiction book describing my family’s battle with my daughter’s cancer. I will do the best I can to pursue all of these things.

What could readers of this blog do to help tell others about your book?

Since “word-of-mouth” promotion is the most effective form of getting others engaged, I’d be grateful if those who read and participate in Jubilee Writer’s would post my website information on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media venues they use. My website address is www.booksbylarrywtimm.com

Additionally, if someone reads—and likes—the book, I would appreciate it they would take the extra time to rate the book on Amazon and Goodreads. Obviously all 4 and 5-star reviews are helpful…especially 5 stars (wink, wink, grin).

Your novel sounds intriguing. I enjoyed having you as my guest.

Thank you very much for giving me the privilege of talking about my book, MURDER FOR EMILY’S SAKE.

More about the author:

Larry W. Timm is a husband, father, preaching minister with the Morton Christian Church is Morton, Illinois, and a writer.

Website: www.booksbylarrywtimm.com (the website has links for those who want to buy the book, as well as a “Contact” form for those who want to send a message to Larry.

 

If you find help and encouragement from author interviews like this one, and the writing tips I share don’t forget to subscribe. You can get Jubilee Writer in your email twice a week.