Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

Welcome Sheila Hurst

140 Comments

100_1226Today I’m excited to welcome my friend, Sheila Hurst. We met several years ago through Word Press and during that time we discovered we have a lot in common. One big commonality is that both of our first published books were a result of participating in NaNoWriMo. She’s here today to share her experience and some terrific advice. Mention in your comment that you’d like to be entered in the drawing for a free e-copy of her book. The contest will close December 10, 2016.

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Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog to talk about the writing process for Ocean Echoes. I’ve always loved visiting here because your posts cause so many smiles, laughs, and memories.

Anyone who has ever participated in NaNoWriMo knows all about the beginnings of my writing process. It was fueled by chocolate, coffee, take-out food, and insanity.

Unfortunately, I must not have had enough leftover Halloween candy because I didn’t make it to 50,000 words back in 2010. Still, by the end of the month I’d probably written more than ever, and that’s saying a lot because I used to be a reporter. Ironically, I left that job because I didn’t want to feel like a writing factory and there wasn’t enough chocolate involved.

I loved the wild ride of NaNoWriMo. I didn’t outline beforehand so I had no idea where the story might take me. There were rough character sketches, but that was about it. The NaNoWriMo craziness made me throw twists and turns and a few silly things into the book, things that I probably wouldn’t have done in any normal writing situation. That’s really something to embrace about NaNoWriMo, because if you’re not having fun while writing it, then reading the book isn’t going to be all that fun either.

Writing partners cheered me on through it all. We checked in with each other and commiserated often. At one point, it felt like another character should be introduced but I had no idea who that person should be. Instead of stopping to think about it for too long, I asked friends on Facebook to suggest a character.

A friend from college told me that a character based on her brother would be perfect because he’s always been interested in science and likes to wear a gorilla suit. Amazingly enough, that character is still in the book and he’s one of my favorite characters.

After NaNoWriMo, I researched and revised for years. My novel is about a marine biologist who studies jellyfish. I work at an oceanographic research facility, so a lot of that research naturally happened at work. I also made sure to read books, newspaper articles, and anything else that would help to add more details. Sometimes I’d simply be reading the newspaper and an article filled with needed facts would start waving at me. Through it all, I kept revising.

It’s true that by the end of NaNoWriMo, you just might end up with a crazy draft. But it’s also true that you’ll have a huge chunk of writing that can eventually be developed into a book. So to any NaNoWriMo writers out there, whether you made it to 50,000 words or not, keep going, keep revising, and remember – you can do it!

ocean-echoes-final-kindle-version300-1

Sheila Hurst grew up in Michigan and Massachusetts, contributing to a split personality involving a love of farmlands and the ocean. Early influences include Harriet the Spy, Bozo the Clown, and the books of Judy Blume and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

She received a journalism degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and worked as a reporter while writing fiction on the side. Her short stories have been Glimmer Train and Writer’s Digest finalists. All-time favorite authors are Barbara Kingsolver, John Steinbeck, and Carl Sagan.

Sheila’s book is available on Amazon.com.

A percentage from the sale of this book will go toward nonprofit organizations working to protect the world’s oceans for future generations.

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Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, published by Harlequin Love Inspired released on February 21, 2017 and is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

140 thoughts on “Welcome Sheila Hurst

  1. Jill, it is lovey to meet your friend Sheila here, the same bright positive personality that imbues your blog. Her first comment was so spot on and echo my feelings exactly: ‘I’ve always loved visiting here because your posts cause so many smiles, laughs, and memories.’

    Sheila, wow, that NaNoWri month sure sounds an exciting ride, I really felt I was with you! How wonderful that a suggestion for a character is still in the book and I had to laugh that you left journalism as you were too tied to writing!! Probably not just the right type of writing! Also you can have your own stash of chocolate on hand! 😀😀. Good luck with your book and I would be honoured to be entered into the draw.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you for introducing us to your friend Jill. I liked reading about her NaNoWriMo experience. Regarding her book, I took a marine biology class in H.S. and it was more fun than I could have ever imagined. One of my favorite classes. I remember it fondly.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great advice, Sheila. You and Jill and all the other NaNo participants are so brave! I canNOT even contemplate writing 50k words in a normal month, let alone a holiday month. What a tremendous accomplishment and CONGRATULATIONS!

    Thanks for introducing us to Sheila, Jill. Wishing you both a glorious, NaNo free weekend. xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: NanoWriMo Insanity and a Giveaway | Sheila Hurst

  5. I love hearing that it’s a good thing to throw wild things into the stew and that some will work out!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Sheila and Jill – I love learning more about Sheila here, and how she felt about NaNoWri. I participated once – last year – and as painful as it was (being on a deadline during a busy work and holiday time), I produced a LOT. I also didn’t plot, but I’d already had characters and a synopsis and a couple of chapters before I began. By the end of the month, I had the title (which had escaped me and yet I felt it important to know) and about 35,000 useable words. Didn’t quite make the 50,000, but that didn’t bother me a bit. I felt I’d accomplished a lot. I’m vowing to do my own NaNoWri in January, when the NE snows may keep me bound at home – and in front of my writing tablet.
    Sheila, your book sounds fascinating – put my name in the draw!!! And lots of luck to you. Jill, you’re the best. xo

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Pam! It’s funny how much can be accomplished when you force yourself to tune everything else out – that’s one of the other great things about Nano. I didn’t care about not making it to 50K either – I was just happy to participate in the craziness! Thank you for entering the giveaway!

      Liked by 2 people

    • You did accomplish a lot, Pam. Thirty-five thousand words is a word count to be proud of for one month. Without the deadline of NaNo, I know it would have taken me a lot longer to get those 50k words on the page. Of course it’s more bad than good, but that’s okay because I love the editing and rewriting stage. For me, the hardest part is getting that first draft on paper. By the way, I hope you’ll come by and share your latest release with us. You’re always welcome. Have a great weekend! xo

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  7. Hi, Sheila (and of course, Jill)
    Your work sounds fascinating, Sheila. Congrats on making it through NaNo and producing that book! I love the idea of a science dude in a gorilla suit!
    I didn’t participate in NaNo this year, but I participated one other year. I set a goal of 30,000 words, and wound up writing maybe 35,000.
    I’d love to be entered in the drawing, Jill. Thanks for hosting! Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! It’s funny how fun the gorilla suit character became. It’s almost as if the suit took over his personality. The fun of it all made it easier to get those words down too. I wrote at about your speed – I think around 35K is where I ended up – it’s hard to remember because it was so long ago now! We’ll have to do it again next year – or maybe in January while hoping for lots of blizzards.

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    • My pleasure, L. Marie! Thirty-five words is fantastic. Imagine if we could do that every month…or maybe every other month. 🙂 Your name is in the hat…good luck! I hope have a great weekend!

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  8. Hello Sheila! I love that Jill does these posts because I can always come back and visit her blog to look for books written by people Jill knows! Thank you, Jill!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’ve shied away from the month long writing spree. Maybe soon. I was uncertain how to approach it by your advice, “if you’re not having fun while writing it, then reading the book isn’t going to be all that fun either.” helped a lot. I don’t know how you do it and hold down a full time job. I’m researching the best approach to it. Who knows? Thanks for sharing your formula, now where is the chocolate?

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  10. What an inspiration (that this book came from NaNo). As is your personal fable. Love reading this and it does make me think I should try that format. Hmm…

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s a lot of fun! Writing partners can really help – whenever any of us got stuck we’d ask each other for ideas or spur each other on in some way. I liked the idea of meeting up with other local Nano participants for write-ins too. I never did do that, but maybe next time. I haven’t participated in it in years because I was always revising. Now I’m looking forward to more writing craziness.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I really think you could do it, Jacqui. Have a great weekend!

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  11. Hi Jill,
    This Sheila person seems so familiar to me!? Reminds me a lot of a woman I knew back in college—at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst—and that woman was quite a character in her own right! 😉
    I’ll enter the drawing, but only because I’m competitve and want to win. Please donate to another fan on this page if I win. I’m going to buy the book.
    Congrats Sheila….
    Peace,
    Dan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dan! Thanks for making me laugh (like usual)! I have a feeling that the gorilla might be one of your favorite characters too. Thanks for entering the giveaway and for wanting to get the book – I hear you’ve been on a winning streak lately so you never know!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dan! I have a feeling you’ve made Sheila laugh for many years…I can see why. Do you have a blog? Let me know because I can use some good laughs. Thanks for stopping by and showing support for our mutual friend, Sheila. Enjoy the weekend!

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  12. I’ve already read–and thoroughly enjoyed–Sheila’s book, so no need to enter me in the contest. I found it to be a wonderfully descriptive read. I felt like I was in the ocean with the characters when they were scuba diving. But that’s the closest I’ll ever get to scuba diving…

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Thank you Jill for inviting me over to talk about the craziness of Nano! I hope your latest round went well and hope you’ve been recovering with chocolate ever since. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love to have visitors, Sheila, so you’re welcome anytime. You definitely captured the craziness of NaNo in your post. What a wild month it was….I’m still trying to recover. By the way, thank you for your sweet blog post today. You all keep me blogging when I feel ready to quit, so thank you for that. Have a great weekend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Another success story! Yay!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I love that what you produced from NaNo is actually being published! Congrats, you are an inspiration. I finished my first NaNo this year with 50,508 and can’t wait to get it finished. Please enter me in the drawing. I plan on visiting often.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Okay…typically I wait for the guest to comment first, but I have to say WELL DONE! I’m so happy that you shared your accomplishment with us JoHawkThe Writer. With a name like that, how could you not reach your goals…congratulations! I’m excited to finish up mine as well. Keep us posted on your progress. Enjoy your weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you and congratulations on winning Nano! You’re an inspiation to me – that’s a great accomplishment. I’ll keep trying to win – maybe next year! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Thanks, Jill for introducing Sheila. I have to admire both of you for your accomplishments. 😀

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  17. I’m at 50,000 words and have exchanged my draft with another memoir writer with about the same manuscript length. Posts like these keep my engine chugging along. And, yes, I’d like to entered into the contest for Sheila’s fascinating book.

    Thank you, Jill!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I am an avid fan of Sheila’s blog, and I’ve been following her writing journey for a few years now. I was so happy for her when I heard that she published her book. I’m sure it’s a terrific story, and I can’t wait to read it. Thank you, Jill, for interviewing her and spreading the word about Sheila and her new book! 🙂

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    • Thanks Kate! I’m so glad we’ve gotten to know each other through all these years of blogging. Next time you’re anywhere near Cape Cod, definitely let me know and I’ll take you out to “The Pirate” (which is a place in the book but you can probably figure out the real name for this place in Woods Hole).

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m a fan too, Kate, so it was a no-brainer when it came to spreading the word about Sheila’s book. I’m thrilled for her too! Thanks so much for stopping by and supporting her.

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  19. I had a quick look in Amazon and it looks like a really good read. 🙂 I was puzzling for a while where a chap in a gorilla suit might fit into the ‘plot’ but then I realised… different book? I have no conceivable idea how to write fiction so I’m impressed anyway. Thanks for the intro, Jill. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Congratulations! 🙂 I’ve thought of doing it but in the end I always feel like I can’t afford the time. Excuses, excuses. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve always felt that way too but one of the great things about Nano is it forces you to put writing first for once. If you tell yourself it’s only for a month and then warn everyone you know that you’re going to have to write for a month, amazing things can happen. I’m thinking of doing it in January – let me know if you want to try it and we can be writing partners!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Great to see you, Lynette! It’s amazing how you can make the time if it’s something you really want to do. I think you should give it a try even if you commit to a couple hundred words a day for one month. You might surprise yourself. Have a great weekend!

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  21. I like reading about people taking a plunge into something I feel as though I cannot do, NaNoWriMo, being one of them. You make it seem inviting and the support you received and shared with your NaNoWriMo community sounds like a big plus. Maybe next year for me?

    Congratulations on your novel. It sounds like a labour of love and that’s something I admire,

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  22. Thank-you so much for this interview with Sheila, Jill! Writing a novel is something I know I couldn’t do but reading about author’s writing methods and experiences is endlessly fascinating. Congratulations Sheila!

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  23. Great to learn more about Sheila through this post here, Jill! I think it’s awesome that Sheila took the plunge into the writing frenzy that happens every November, which I’ve never done – way to go!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Christy! Before Nano, I had been working on another novel for years so when I heard about the whole writing a novel in a month challenge, I thought it might be fun to see if that kind of thing could be possible. 🙂 In the end, at least a chunk of it was written in a month and it was a lot of fun.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Christy! I’m glad you enjoyed reading about Sheila’s experience with NaNoWriMo. It’s complete madness, but so worth it in the end. Maybe you’ll give it a try in the future. Let us know. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂 Happy Weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Taking notes here, Sheila and Jill. In all CAPS I wrote the words CHARACTER IN GORILLA SUIT and LOTS OF CHOCOLATES. 🙂 But I learned so much more, and I thank you both. Glad to meet you, Sheila!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. It was great to read about Sheila’s writing process and the benefits of NaNoWriMo – congratulations Sheila on completing the book 🙂

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  26. Sheila, I respect science, research and the impact of coffee with chocolate. 😀 I usually just request books to be purchased for the library so won’t take advantage of your incredible book and “deal””
    Jill, you are a wonderful, encouraging friend. It has been such a pleasure to know you for a few years now. I was so excited when your book was chosen for a re-write, then when a book cover and details of an early 2017 publishing release came, I was in seventh Heaven! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Hi Jill! Thank you for introducing us to Sheila – Hi Sheila! As a non-fiction, memoir writer, although I do write some flash fiction, I break out in a cold sweat thinking about writing a novel, but each time NaNoWriMo rolls around, I consider it. But not until the memoir is finished, right Jill?! You give some great advice Sheila, not least of all making sure to stock up with plenty of chocolate and coffee (although it would be tea for me lol!) should I ever take the plunge. But there is no doubt, with the work afterwards in the revisions and research, that first 50K draft brings great dividends and I congratulate you both on your recent and upcoming publications, your hard work and tenacity paid off big time! Thank you both for a wonderfully inspiring post…and yes, Jill, I totally agree with Sheila about your blog, I love coming here for all the same reasons and thank you so much for your amazing encouragement and support 🙂 ❤ xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was my pleasure to introduce you all to Sheila. I loved her advice too. NaNo is a challenge, but worth it in the end, especially if there’s chocolate. Thank you for your sweet words, Sherri. Meeting you through blogging has been such a blessing.<3 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Nano is worth it just for all the fun and craziness it subjects you to – I hope you’ll give it a try sometime! You could always try setting a goal of 30K or a certain number of words per day. I think I ended up with around 35K and that seemed like a lot to me. Mostly, it was just a lot of fun and think of all the tea you could drink! 🙂

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      • Thanks Sheila…any excuse to drink lots of tea sounds good to me! I bashed out the first draft of my memoir, in fits and starts (a little each day is much better, I’ve discovered!) over 2 years and ended up with a jumble of 125K words I’ve been rewriting and revising ever since (over a year). But taking your advice for Nano I can see how fun it would be in all that craziness. 35K never mind 50K in 30 days is a fantastic achievement! Thanks again for the great advice and encouragement…I wish you every success in all your writing endeavours! 🙂

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      • Wow – 125K words is amazing in two years – congratulations! It can seem as if the revising is taking forever (especially after six or so years), but it’s worth it so keep going! Wishing you all the best with your writing.

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      • Thank you so much Sheila…needless to say, I’ve done an awful lot of cutting!!! Lovely to meet you … thanks again to you and Jill 🙂

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  28. Enjoyed the post, Jill. Thanks for introducing us to Sheila.

    Sheila ~ the line that jumped out and waved at me: “Sometimes I’d simply be reading the newspaper and an article filled with needed facts would start waving at me.”

    Yes! When the Universe knows where we are headed . . . it offers a trail of breadcrumbs to help us find our way there.

    Write on!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Nancy. It was my pleasure. Have a great week!

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    • Thanks so much! I believe in the Universe for those kinds of magical things too. Sometimes it can even feel as if we’re not writing the words ourselves (or maybe I just had too much chocolate and coffee). 🙂 Really though, that kind of magic is why I love to write. When the magic does happen, there’s nothing like it.

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      • Yes! Sometimes the words seem to flow through us on to the page . . . with no effort on our part other than putting keys to keyboard.

        We won’t talk about the “other times.” 😉

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  29. Congrats, Sheila. I hope to do the ride one November. Thanks for the tip about chocolates and coffee, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. It’s great to meet you, Sheila, especially through such a sweet person as Jill! I wish you great success with your book. I would love to read it for sure! I am an avid ocean fan (especially sea turtles) but also jellyfish and all of the other amazing creatures in the deep! 🙂 Thanks for sharing Sheila with us, Jill!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s nice to meet you! I’m glad we share such a love for the ocean along with sea turtles and jellyfish – they can be so mystical and beautiful. Thank you for your interest – we’ll make sure to add your name to the drawing!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Patsy! Thank you for your sweet words. Oh, the minute I saw Sheila’s cover, I thought of you. Perhaps the two of you should collaborate on a picture book…your sea turtle drawings are amazing. Speaking of amazing…I just saw the painting you did for Sherri. Wow! What a special gift you’ve given her…just like the hummingbird painting you gave me. You’re a special person, Patsy. ❤

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      • Hi Jill! I have had to refrain from calling you during November! Is it a good time yet? 😉 Thank you for thinking of me! I was glad to hear how much Sheila loves sea turtles also! I would greatly love to have someone else do the writing! LOL! I was just telling George that he needs to write something I can illustrate. Thanks so much about the fox painting. I really enjoyed doing that one. She sure loves it which makes me very happy, too. Thank you, Jill. I think you are pretty special yourself! You bring joy to many people. 🙂 xoxo

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  31. Hello,
    The winner of the e-copy of Sheila’s book is Annika Perry. Congratulations to Annika!
    For those who didn’t win, if you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited you can still read the book for free up until January 10.
    Thank you all for supporting Sheila!

    Like

  32. NANoWriMo is always one of those things one promises to do but it seems like we writers may miss out on support and new friendships if we don’t. It’s great to see it help you through to publication.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ste J! This year, while participating in NaNoWriMo, I just wrote. I really didn’t have time to spend on the community sites…it was too crazy. You should try it sometime. Enjoy your new place!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I always mean to try it and then it is n me before I have chance to put stories and character ideas in place. I do aim to do it one year as it will spur me on to write that book I have notes for, they just aren’t coherent enough yet. maybe next year…the utterance of so many people besides myself.

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      • I’m going to hold you to your words, Ste J. I’ll come looking for you next year. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Before trying Nano, I had tinkered away on another novel for years. So I tried it mostly to see if it could be possible to write a novel in a month. It’s not really possible, but it did force me into putting writing first for once and then once you get hooked on the story, you’ll keep writing it after Nano. I was surprised by how fun the whole thing was – and the writing partners really help. Let me know if you end up doing it next year – by then I should hopefully be fully recovered from all the revising.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Really enjoyed reading about Sheila’s experience. I’ve written a few short stories in the past but 50,000 words? Never… I am impressed with anybody attempting the NaNoWriMo.

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  34. Enjoyed meeting Sheila, and reading about her experience with NaNoWriMo. Hats off to anyone who who has done that!

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Enjoyed this post so much!
    I am trying to look Aldine your blog more Jill (cos I have been seeing you on sherri’s blog for so long and I have been here before- but still need to peruse more)
    Anyhow – I love how shiela said that info articles would be “waving” at her at times…
    And also love the encouragement vibe to all readers (reminding that a chunk of a draft has much value, relax, etc)
    And what a fun topic of jellyfish and marine life
    😉

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Sheila so great to learn more about you and your novel. Maybe one day I will bring my NaNoWriMo crappy draft out and think about writing it. I did enjoy the rush of reaching the 50,000 mark but the big challenge is to make it into something worth reading. Which you have done by the sounds of it, well done congratulations. I will put it on my wish list I have so many piles of ebooks to read at the moment. Thanks Jill for sharing Sheila’s journey.

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