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Writing Hiatus (Not Really)

Hey all,

I guess it’s been a long time since I updated the blog and the reason for that is my mind just failing to wrap itself around life in general. Just a lot of things happening all in all which makes writing difficult. No it’s not writers block, and nothing health wise. Just choices I’ve been making in the last couple of months all catching up at the same time, and emotionally I’m frayed.

At the same time, yesterday I churned out 3000 words in about an hour as two different intros for an idea I have. Each of them an intro to a new story twirling about in my mind like a ballerina doing an endless series of pirouettes. So rather than trying to catch up to March blog posts and book reviews and the endless list of books I keep adding to my reading list, I’ll be going on a mini-hiatus.

So what will I be doing in the mean time?

Camp NaNo Prep

Camp NaNoWrimo is coming up next month. I’ve decided to write another novella (while my other one is still with my editor/publisher). The story is a horror romance temporarily named Upon an Endless Sea. That’s about all I have (I doubt I will use all previous drafts I’ve written haha) so I’ll be using the rest of March to put down some characters and a plot of some sort so I can pants my way through April.

Reading

I am so behind on my reading. Not that I haven’t been reading. On my bedside table (and following me around like a demonic shadow) is the book Happy Hour in Hell by Tad Williams. It’s about an angel who goes into hell to rescue his demon lover. Beautiful ain’t it? Not so much. It’s like Williams was playing DnD with his characters and every side of the die was an even worse situation than before. A true descent – pun intended. I also have to finish The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradubury and a bunch of other author requested book reviews.

Binge Watching (a.k.a Inspiration)

Yes, yes, yes. I will be watching all the series and movies and anime I haven’t seen yet. Me and Netflix/Crunchyroll gonna have a good time. On my list is:

  1. Altered Carbon
  2. Blade Runner 2049
  3. Insidious 2 + 3 (watched first already)
  4. Baywatch (Don’t even ask)
  5. Dexter
  6. The Machinist
  7. The Taxi Driver
  8. Jacob’s Ladder
  9. Requiem for a dream
  10. Zodiac
  11. A list-full of Anime

Talk about distractions inspiration. Anyway, here’s to a productive March of planning and onwards to an April of writing.

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll see ya’ll in April yeah!?

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#FlashFiction: Fees and Bodies Must Fall

“Fees and Bodies Must Fall” was my entry for Microcosms Fic for this past Friday. The prompt was:

(Gonzo) Journalist / House Party / Crime


You would think the blood spatter, taste of copper, and underlying stench of faecal matter would ward me and the others off 17 Mahogany Drive that hot July afternoon. It wouldn’t. Journalists are the curious type and like the proverbial cat, death is part of the gig. Confetti is still strewn about the leather couch, right next to a Ms. Davidson, 22, student at the University of Johannesburg. We look over the shoulders of a police squadron on site led by a Constable Gumede who is all frowns and glares.

“This isn’t a puppet show,” he growls. But we know it is. And not because we can see the threads of bed sheets hanging off the balcony, angling Ms Davidson across the couch like a modern-day Death of Marat. It’s because we know the M.O. That this is the third victim in the repertoire of a man we journos have affectionately labelled The Neoclassic Killer. Just the previous month, a house party in the pseudo-glitzy Parktown area revealed students from Wits University arranged as The Death of Socrates. Bed sheets and all.

It’s difficult to remain objective when faced with the surrealism that our city has a serial killer. The fear radiating through our bones. Poisoning our hearts. Lining our street poles with headlines screaming murder at each corner. Yet we must remain objective so we may assess the situation without emotion. To notice that the killer targets these students not based on any merit of their own but the continuous protests sweeping our streets; Fees Must Fall – which Ms Davidson led as an advocate of.

I am not a prophet, it’s not in my job title, but as more pledges rise, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next classic we see, is The Oath of The Horatii. And death.

Genre Writing: NaNoWriMo Prep

Man oh man is time flying or what. One minute I’m bidding “July” adieu and next moment I’m prepping for NaNoWriMo.  I also wrote and posted my Horror Genre Writing series during September which just flew by. Since it’s October, a.k.a. Halloween, I decided to carry on the series. The difference this time? It’s your journey through my mind as I plan out my NaNoWriMo Horror Novel!


I’m sitting here at my desk, wondering what I will be writing for NaNoWriMo. To be honest, I think my mind is tired and will need to be energized. The reason I say that? Well, when I created my beautiful new NaNo novel on the site, I used the following details:

Title: Some Horror Thing
Author: Silvanthato
Genre: Horror/Supernatural
Synopsis: There was a person and a creature and lots of people died horrible gruesome deaths.

Yes. That is exactly how I will be approaching NaNo this year. Zero plan. One premise. Two characters. Three plot points, and four weeks to coalesce it all into a 50,000 word novel. Fantastic ain’t it? It better be, since you’ll be along with me as we shape and mould nothing into something. I hope to please.

make my writing awesome? Challenge accepted.

The Plan

Right, so this is where I say something like “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” or “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” and extrapolating that into a 1000 word essay on planning. Well I’m sorry to disappoint, this will be very simple:

  1. Figure out an actual story.
  2. Detail actual characters.
  3. Define plot points.
  4. Worldbuild it all together into a masterpiece.
  5. Write 50,000 words. (In November)

This also covers what the following weeks in Genre Writing are going to contain for October. Building a horror story, creating characters for this story, defining horror plot points (without spoilers!), and worldbuilding to correlate characters to story to the world around them.

Onward to NaNo

I don’t really know how I feel about NaNo this year. There’s no real excitement or desire or fear or anything. Just another writing project to get through.

If you have any tips, advice, blogs, websites, Pins, Tumblr accounts, music or even YouTube vids that you think will help me craft a mind-blowing story (horror or not), then please let me know in the comment section below. I’d greatly appreciate your help.

Now back to writing!


Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Do you have your novel/story idea ready? What helps inspire you during the grueling 30 day challenge?

Hypocritical

Hypocritical,

These thoughts critical,

To my growth, spiritual

Yet daily I lack the strength and conviction to remain biblical.

Yet Prayers,

On barred heavenly layers,

My heart joining nay-sayers,

I’m disease ridden, call the CDC, I’m just an NPC among real players.

*

Hypocritical,

These thoughts heretical,

I’m at a stage critical,

Falling within pyres and hell’s fires where grace is my only miracle.

Daily invocation,

Sins of a generation,

Lost. I’m in a state of desolation,

No hope just trying to grope the rope leading to salvation.

*

“For by grace you been saved,”

Yet by sin I am enslaved.

Actions so despicable.

I am… Hypocritical.

 

 

You’re Definitely a Writer

I always thought being a writer meant spending the day working on books and short stories. Maybe editing, occasionally writing blog posts about your upcoming work and of course the usual social media thing.

Well I’m a writer by profession… a Technical Writer. I write those help documents and blog posts you see on websites that help you figure out how a program or system works. Like the support page on Mail chimp or an online FAQ.

This opened up my world; there’s a whole world open to writers.

My Writing Styles

I write for perhaps 12-13 hours a day, 9 of which are at work, the other 3-4 is spent on personal work or writing for Gamecca. While fatigue may seep in I found it doesn’t happen often. The reason is simple; I don’t write in the same style all day.

Technical Writing:

As you might imagine, Technical writing focuses on a very stringent, grammatically strong, rules based writing. Of using active voice instead of passive. Writing in a professional yet relatable tone. Keeping sentences short and concise. Ensuring vocabulary is not superfluous and confusing. Being consistent in style, tone, and perspective. Writing a logical progression of thought with a intro, body and conclusion format.

Game Journalist Writing:

As enjoyable and illustrious as this may sound, it’s not always fun and games (puns hehe). It’s still a great experience don’t get me wrong. Specifically I write game previews, book reviews, and conduct interviews with independent game developers. It’s a combination of technical writing and my own style and voice.

With previews, I look at upcoming games and write a condensed 250-350 word impression of it. Asking questions like: What is the game about? What view do I have on it? Is there a history to the game or developer? What interesting thing is there to say about the game? Answering these can be easy when the developer has a whole spiel of info. Other times I’m trying to siphon 250 words out of a 25 word brief and that’s never easy.

Interviews are so much easier but longer to compile.

Book Reviews

I do book reviews because its fun. The reading itself can be an enjoyable experience but trying to contain those emotions and thoughts into a concise, fair review? It can be quite a challenge. My book reviews tend to be more about my experience of the book. I think less about the structure of writing compared to when I do technical writing.

Fictional Writing

When I delve into my stories, my mind is so focused on what I’m writing I sometimes neglect that basics of writing. Things like punctuation and structure and superfluous descriptions and  grammar and whatever rules I would normally abide to. It’s a freedom of the rules while also using them as guidelines. Its about tone and style and perspective. About characters and story. Not that I neglect all the rules, but I occasionally break them for the sake of story.

Writing in General

Of course there is so much more to say on all these things. Each one I’ve highlighted can be broken down and explored separately to explain the thought processes they need.

There’s also all types of writing out there, subsections in both fiction and non-fiction. We could all be writers and be writing in completely different categories. The journalist vs the fantasy writer. The mystery writer vs narrative nonfiction writer. The self-help book writer vs the Sci-fi writer.

Suffice to say writing is not just a little box. Just because you’re not writing fiction doesn’t mean you’re not a writer. This gives me comfort. Knowing that the 9 hours I spend at work writing technical documents still counts as writing. As improvement that cascades across all other types of writing I do.

I’ve seen improvement in my writing already and that gives me hope.

Grey Magic by JT Lawrence – Review

Title: Grey Magic

Author: J.T. Lawrence

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Book procurement: Received a copy from the author for an honest review. Currently available on Amazon.

Synopsis:

No one appreciates the irony of her situation more than Raven Kane: she’s a burnt-out witch. Raven is a hip, hexing-and-texting sorceress – or at least, she used to be.

Now her ancient timber house is falling down around her, and the bank wants to repossess it. Nothing would make her cantankerous neighbour happier than seeing Raven and her messy menagerie out on the street. To add to her stress, the reckless Wicked Witches are causing mischief and it’s her job to reign them in. Worst of all is that her magic seems to be fading.

Just as everything seems to be too much to handle, there’s a knock on the (splintering) door. A not-unattractive man appears in her life: not to save her, as a fairytale would have you believe, but to arrest her for the murder of one of her clients. It wouldn’t be that bad for Raven, except that she knows she’s guilty.

Review:

First Thoughts

First and foremost, I thought this was a great book. It’s a fresh take on the whole “magic” and “witches” perspective. Grounds it in a natural and almost believable setting of earthly charms. Very apt for a South African novel considering the African cultural perspective on magic.

The entire story kept its center around the idea of “Grey Magic”, this idea that intention has nothing to do with consequence. Where something with the best of intentions can spiral towards a dark consequence.

There were a few inconsistencies or perhaps better to call them irregularities in the story, but they weren’t so major as to derail the story. They did break my sense of suspended disbelief though and it took a while to reign myself back in.

Writing

The writing flows well from beginning to end. It’s clear there was a good deal of research invested into the novel. Not only in execution of  the magic and spells, but the descriptions that captured places and events not rooted in our current age.

The clever use of technology and social media was also well written. If one can communicate with someone from across the world through Twitter, why not tweet spells and magical advice too. Perhaps we need more tech savvy-witches.

Raven, the main character, remains true to herself throughout the novel. Even as the story starts with Raven displaying sarcasm and wit, it’s all just building towards her self-discovery. The rest of the characters were also well captured. From detective Kruger, to Father Stephen Bishop, and the coven of witches with well-meaning agendas. I’d love to break each character down but then… I’d spoil the book for you. Some clever twists there.

I did feel as though their roles were to set Raven up as the main character. Thankfully their individual personalities made up for that.

Final Thoughts

Overall the novel is great. I really enjoyed the interconnected symbols appearing through the course of the novel. Ravens, fire, Fenrir and more. It was a beautiful amalgamation of fate, destiny and karma swirling about.

I was a bit disconcerted by the modern pitchfork wielding mob and the whole mob mentality, especially considering our time frame. Also the types of people who had shown up don’t seem like mob-mentality people, unless that’s just my ignorance speaking.

The criticism of the Christian ethos made me roll my eyes, as though every Christian is an ignorant fundamentalist with no concept of the bible (or God) they read. Picking and choosing context for their purposes. It’s not something I’ll get into now but it did annoy a bit.

Nonetheless it culminated perfectly, aligning all of the obstacles that had plagued Raven in the beginning to a perfect conclusion of karma, and the Grey Magic that spilled through lifetimes.

Rating: An enjoyable 3 out of 5


JT Lawrence

JT Lawrence is an author, playwright and bookdealer based in Parkhurst, Johannesburg. She is the mother of two small boys and lives in a house with a red front door.

She has written various plays for SAFM including ‘The Shelter’, ‘Unspilling the Milk’, ‘Every Breath You Take’, and serials, the most recent being the crime drama ‘Jigsaw’. Her short story collection ‘Sticky Fingers’ was broadcast in the last quarter of 2015, and will be available as a paperback and ebook in 2016.

Her first novel, ‘The Memory of Water’ (2011), is about a writer who would do anything for a story. Her 2015 offering, ‘Why You Were Taken’is a pre-dystopian sci-fi thriller starring a synaesthete, and takes place is a futuristic Jo’burg burdened by infertility and a water crisis. It was optioned by the national broadcaster, SABC, for a radio adaption.

She is currently working on her new novel, ‘Grey Magic’, slated for December 2016, about an eccentric modern-day witch, accused of murder, who must explore her past lives in order to keep her freedom — and find her way back to magic.

Website: Pulpbooks

Amazon: J.T. Lawrence

Twitter: @pulpbooks

Facebook: facebook.com/JanitaTLawrence

Instagram: pulp_junkie


Have you read anything interesting lately?

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What Does Your Story Say?

When I initially began writing, I was purposed to write stories with meaning. Not just fluffy fun tales of over-powered heroes saving damsels in distress, beating the familiar evil villain, and then riding off into the sunset with said damsel. It was too cliched. Too fake. Too fictional.

Hence that amazing quote by Anais Nin on the title of my blog. “Not what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.” There could be many reasons why we might not be able to say something, but in our writing we can most certainly elaborate on them. Explore and expound for others to read and comprehend.

I’ve thought about changing that quote a number of times in the past, but I can’t get past the truth it speaks. It guided my tentative steps into serious writing. As fun as writing fan-fiction and ghost stories can be, sometimes I needed to write something with substance. Something concrete, addressing a personal issue or belief. I attempted a lot these in the past, ranging from Christianity to relationships to my greatest fears.

Here’s an excerpt from a piece of writing I labelled The Past:

The Past…

…is like a dark cave, contaminated, murky, fearsome place, one that we cordon off and try to forget about, ignoring the signs all around us that point back to it. But we cannot escape it. We sometimes linger at its entrance, gazing within the dark confines to see what can be seen. Safe enough. Safe enough away from what we know is within its depths. We know of the familiar creature within, one that bares an undeniably resemblance to ourselves, except for its blank dead eyes, dead in trespasses and sins, blinded from the truth willingly.

I was in a dark place for a while.

Self vs Other

These days I seem to be driven by concepts that are ‘out there’ rather than close to me. Removing self from the story and characters to create something outside of me. It’s much easier to ignore introspection. To escape to books and movies and music and art.

I could only hope to recreate those sensations in my readers. However, what I failed to notice, was that each creator of those inspirational  works had their own directive to their creation, a source that guided their work. It not only made them unique, but I as the recipient of their creativity, was able to experience what they experienced much deeper and fuller.

Combining self and these external sources, can create something beautiful. For example:

  • Adele’s soulful musical style was inspired by her own heartbreak, relationships, and a desire to making up for all the lost time through nostalgia and melancholy – yet she was inspired by Amy Winehouse and the album Frank.
  • Masamune Shirow (Masanori Ota) is a qualified oil painter, and creator of Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed. He writes thoughtful post apocalyptic cyberpunk futures with female protagonists – inspired by (and creator of) erotic art.
  • Stephen King’s stories involve the “every day man” thrust into a horror-fueled adventure, with running commentary on abusive, religious mothers (or priests) – the king of horror was inspired by other kings of horror H.P. Lovecraft and Richard Matheson.
  • Quentin Tarantino’s non-linear stories driven by gore and satire, are a manifestation of his creative mind – inspired by old music, where he uses the music to create scenes in his head and bring them to life.

Prolific creative figures who have combined their own experiences with their inspiration to produce amazing works.

When I make a film, I am hoping to reinvent the genre a little bit. I just do it my way. I make my own little Quentin versions of them.

~ Quentin Tarantino

Truth in Fiction

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying every story I write will be an obscured memoir of things I want to say but can’t say. I am saying, however, that there will be elements of ‘my truth’ to each story. Drawing from me and drawing from outside of myself to create. Ultimately sharing my truth in fiction, and still having a great story to tell. Combined with world building and character building, I can fully embrace a character and world without feeling like a stranger in my own story.

Like a ghost in a shell.


What does your writing process entail? How much of yourself do you put into your stories? Is your main character usually you or a version of you, or do you draw other people as your characters? What’s your inspiration?

Focus: The Bane of my Writing

I am working on three novels at once. The other is a prequel to one of the novels, written as a collection of short stories. There’s also the Friday Fiction, a number of side novellas, and Wattpad writing competitions. There are also books to read, games to play, social events to attend, and the elusive activity known as sleep.

There’s also a folder full of ideas and stories that have been bubbling since I was in highschool. I have been craving a good horror story and since I haven’t found one, I’ve resorted to that age old writer’s quote “If the book you want to read doesn’t exist, write it.”

All of these have made me aware of something I struggle with when it comes to my writing… focus.

One Story at a Time

You might think this is easy to do. Take one novel  (or idea), write it, edit it, send it off to the publishers and work on the next one while you wait. In truth, it should be. Fortunately/Unfortunately my mind is a single bee in a gargantuan field of flowers. Buzzing with activity. Jumping from one flower to the next to the next to the next. Never satisfied with just the one. Seeing all the potential. All the benefits to reap.

Hence why I’m writing four novels at once. This is my attempt at appeasing my restless mind while being productive. The novels are all different genres, different worlds, and different characters. Each week I focus on one novel. Of course, I end up getting ideas for “that other” novel, or ideas for a new story and have to battle against writing them.

The Solution

I write everything down. I have a multiple notepad .txt files with ideas. Each in their appropriate folders. I don’t want to lose the idea. I also write what I was feeling and what I was trying to achieve with the story. This means I have a reference point to the me now, with the fresh idea as it is now. The me today, won’t be the me next month (or next year) when I revisit the idea and realise I have no idea where I was trying to go with it.

It doesn’t always work. I spend too much time in my head thinking of what I want to do next instead of just doing it. Sometimes all it needs is discipline. And sitting down to write. I’ll keep working on it, and writing.


Do you struggle with focusing on your current WIP? How do you keep writing one story down without losing interest? What inspires to keep going?

 

Doubt – The Writer’s Killer

I was writing. A lot. Too much perhaps. Drowning in an endless sea of fictional stories and characters all crying to see the light of day. Sometimes I was writing for myself. Other times I wrote for my future fans (I can dream). Occasionally I wrote because that’s what I do. There were days when I wrote only a few words and days when I scribbled notes and days when it was entire sections of story. Yet in each of these instances, there was that little sense of discontent that lingered in the dark recesses of my writing. Stalking every thought process. Every idea. Every word.

It didn’t stop me from writing. No. It merely created a sense of doubt to my writing. As though something was wrong with my strong female protagonist, or not enough depth to my wandering male character. The world I built wasn’t rich enough. The plot – not enough sustenance. How my previous works were written by a distinct version of me, in a different mental and emotional state. A literary genius with a fantastic grasp on what he was creating or a bumbling fool trying to sprint through oceans in baggy clothing.

Dissatisfaction rearing its ugly head, telling me “Your writing will never be good enough.” or “Stop this madness, you’re just another sub par writer.” Quit-since-your’re-behind kind of thought process. It can really be crippling.

It would be easier to lower your standards. To pass it off as a hobby for fun and nothing too serious. To give up.

But that is a mistake.

Writing is my passion above all other things. One thing I can claim as my own. That I embrace. To not write would be to die. Not because I have spent so much time and effort and energy into writing and to give up now is foolish. Rather because if I did not write, where would all these stories in my head go. How would I be able to express the feelings that rattle through my bones? To live vicariously through created characters and have the ability to alter their destiny with a couple of letters put together to make logical sense.

Doubt, like hope, can be fickle but powerful. I once wrote this beautiful, meaningful story that resonated with me on so many levels. Doubt snuck in once and I deleted it. I regret it so much, there’s not a time that doesn’t pass when I don’t think about that story. All that potential. Gone. What a waste.

I also, currently, have a story that is brimming with life and potential. I have random bursts of inspiration that mold this story into a masterpiece. Hope spurring it forward to completion because I think it’s a great piece of writing. If only I could have the time and energy and effort to sit through the whole thing and complete it and raise it above the masses like Moses splitting the red sea. Okay maybe that’s pushing it, but that’s what hope does.

I won’t sit here and tell you it’s easy to push doubt away. Or that you can simply manufacture hope on the spur of the moment. It takes sitting down and putting in the effort. To write. To take a break. To enjoy the process and hate it. To take long walks or lie in bed soaking up music or watching your favourite series. To work through your story and write even when it feels like it’s not doing anything.

I know the doubt will pass. I know hope will not be enough. What will remain, however, is every word I have written. So I will continue to write.


How do you deal with doubt in your writing? What has been the most crippling moment in your writing? Have you ever deleted a story and do you regret it?

Camp NaNo 2017 – The Beginning of the End

I have a draft folder full of all these ideas I never pushed far enough to publish. I was content with this. Figuring that eventually I would sit down and turn them into novels worth publishing. This was sometime in the future but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the years of spawning new drafts on a whim every time is this: if I don’t actually sit down and write, not just have the intention but put in the work, I won’t ever publish. Ever.

So future me will have to thank me for this camp’s ambitious endeavour: writing four novels in four months. Camp is the beginning of it all.

 

Camp NaNo Writing

The four novels (well three and an anthology) are as follows:

Junk Yard Angel – A Steampunk novel

She is a guardian, a saviour… an angel, spending her time in the scrap yards filled with discarded metal parts – fixing the broken with an amazing new technology powered by steam. They call her, the Junk Yard Angel.

However, some know a darker side to her. A murky, questionable past that still haunts her – for demons were once angels too.

Junk Yard Angel Short Stories – A prologue to JYA.

In the growing metropolis of Neandershöhle, a great revolution is on the rise. The Church and the State fight to keep their dogmatic rule and absolute Monarchy over the people, while the people fight for Enlightenment and individual liberty.

A young girl finds purpose in the fragile Age of Enlightenment. She stalks the scrap yards and uses the discarded metal to bring hope to the hopeless.

Yet something within rattles her soul. Whispers dark thoughts, and with the revolution so close at hand, she must choose her destiny wisely or endure the resulting consequences.

Last Robot on Earth – A Dystopian Novel

The world is a ravaged war-torn landscape still carrying the scars of nuclear war. Melted ice-caps have increased water levels, submerging much of the world under water. What little habitable land remains becomes a haven for those who survived the war.

Humans, living under the effect of the radiation, begin to mutate to their environment. Exhibiting bizarre adaptations and abilities.

Roaming uninhibited by the radiation is a single sentient machine. Living among the humans.

Waiting.

Watching.

Preparing.

Dominae Mortem – A Dark Fantasy Novel

Princess Arabella has a secret. Following her mother’s death, she sought the council of the Great Elders on what happens after death. Their answer drives her towards performing one of the Great Sins – suicide. Her premature death sends her to Orcus where she meets Death himself.

Following her defeat of Death, yet unable to reclaim her mother’s lost soul, she returns to the world of the living. The mantle of Death has been passed on to her yet she refuses her responsibilities.

But death is necessary. It calls to her. Summons her to its dark realm… and Fate decides to make a personal call.

The idea here is to write at least 12,500 words per novel between Camp and the next camp in July. That’s about 200,000 words in total (50K per novel although some will probably be much much longer than that eventually).

Thus this camp starts the real journey of becoming a writer. Of not just procrastinating and putting things off. A little ambitious I know, but…

“Ambition… is a great man’s madness.” John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi


Are you participating in Camp Nano? What are writing? If you need a cabin (there’s about 7 spaces left) comment your username and you can join us. Happy writing!

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