Wednesday, September 07, 2016

IWSG: Finding the Time to Write

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means hundreds of us will be posting about our insecuritiesAnd this month, I'm a co-host, along with C. Lee McKenzie, Rachel Pattison, Elizabeth Seckman, Lori L MacLaughlin, and Elsie Amata! So thank you to all the visitors stopping by today.



Each month we have a question. This month's question is:

How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

This is a tough one, since my day is busy because I write! My daily goal is 2,000 words for my freelance writing clients, so most days are like this:



It's important that I work my own writing into all the writing I do for others, though. That includes personal blogging, which technically is part of the crazy world that is this:



I use my Gmail account to manage everything. When a new assignment comes in, I star it, which puts it in my "starred" folder in Gmail:



My latest email from my agent or editor is also in that starred folder. Throughout the day, I just go down the list, doing assignments, un-starring anything I finish. Every time I come around to that agent/editor email, that means I have to write one to two pages on my current manuscript (depending whether I'm on deadline or not.)



I've always felt that if you write a little bit on your manuscript every day, no matter what else is going on in your life, you'll stay "in" your story. Over time, those pages add up to this:



We also have an important announcement this month. The IWSG is holding an anthology contest!!!



Last year’s contest was science fiction – parallel world/alternate history, and the result was Parallels: Felix Was Here. This year, we have a new theme and invite all members to submit.

Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is encouraged to enter – blogging or Facebook member. The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free.

Word count: 5000-6000

Genre: Fantasy

Theme: Hero Lost. It could be about a hero turned villain, a villain's redemption, a hero's lack of confidence, a hero's lack of smarts, etc. It can be about any kind of hero including superheroes, mythological heroes, unexpected or unlikely heroes, or a whole new kind of hero. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines. No erotica, R-rated language, or graphic violence.

Deadline: November 1st 2016

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted, previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup.com before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details and if you are part of the Blogging or Facebook IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

We’re excited to see the creativity and enthusiasm that’s such a part of this group put into action. So don your creative caps and start writing. And spread the word!

Our amazing judges this year:

Elizabeth S. Craig
Richard Harland
Laura Maisano
Russell C. Connor
Dawn Frederick
Michelle L. Johnson
Ion Newcombe
Lynn Tincher

How do you find time to write in your busy day?

91 comments:

  1. Thanks for co-hosting today!
    It does add up over time. I like your way of managing that time and forcing yourself to write those little bits.

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    1. I admire you dedicating 2-3 hours a night to working on your manuscript. That's pretty amazing!

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  2. That's a clever tactic using your email inbox to manage your writing and get in short bursts of it during the day. Thanks for co-hosting!

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    1. I love "systems." If I have a system in place, I can function happily. If I don't have a system, I get very anxious about it. Some people say it's because I'm a Virgo. I don't know if all that is true, but it does fit the Virgo description! We like order.

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  3. It sounds like you have a good system that works for you, Stephanie. I agree about writing a little each day can really add up.

    I'd really like to enter the Fantasy Anthology contest. I have my thinking cap on!

    Thanks for co-hosting!!

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    1. Go for it!!! I would love to see all my bloggy friends in it.

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  4. Hi,
    Great idea with Gmail and starring your most important posts. I have started using an excel worksheet and that is good also.
    I enjoyed reading your article and thank you for being a co-host.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

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    1. Thanks, Pat! A lot of women in my freelance writer's group use apps like Trello to organize everything. I use a spreadsheet to organize my pitches to publications...but once it's assigned, I remove it from that list and the assignment is in my starred folder. I used to write my day's assignments in a day planner, but I figured out that just took too long. That was back when I was writing 5-10 articles a day. Now that I'm at 3-4 (for the same money, YAY!), I usually have a pretty good grasp on what's due.

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  5. Wow, that's a great way to use Gmail. I do file everything in it's own place, but this is certainly an extension of that. :)

    I will, time allowing, enter the anthology contest this year. Exciting!

    shahwharton.com

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    1. Sometimes I wish I could make notes on my emails in Gmail. I haven't figured out a way to do that. Maybe a big arrow that reads "DO THIS ONE FIRST!" But most of the time it works well--as long as I don't have an avalanche of assignments from different clients/publications!

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  6. Love your method of marking emails and using stars as a writing trigger. The screen shots anchored your solution. Wow, seeing the results of writing two pages everyday was awesome. That's gotta be a ream! Powerful visual. Thank you for co-hosting Sept. IWSG.

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    1. I should clarify that isn't MY manuscript--my books are either 8,000 words (about 40 manuscript pages) or 40,000-50,000 words (about 200 manuscript pages). Even when I wrote romance, I always wrote the shorter ones.

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  7. Deadlines--real or imagined--are a great way to stay on track! Writing everyday gets the job done.

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    1. I know there are MANY writers who wait until the final weeks to start really working. I try not to do that. A little each day works better for me. Mostly I just bounce things back to my agent. If I send her a partial, I start working on the next thing to send her. If she bounces the partial back with edits, I do those and volley it right back over the net to her! I like to keep multiple projects going at once. It keeps me busy!

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  8. Since I shifted gears, my writing centers around blog posts. What helps me most is to jot down ideas as they occur to me. I've given up thinking I'll remember them later. LOL.

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    1. I have a file in my Notes on my iPhone called "Ideas." I keep them there. Most of my ideas are pitches to editors at the publications I write for (or am TRYING to write for!). But I find that I get my best ideas when I'm out and about--often while walking on the track at the gym! I will often be typing ideas into my Notes while I walk! I also have a file for notes about my current book because those ideas strike while I'm walking, too!

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  9. It's surprising how quickly doing a little each day (of anything) will add up. Like the way you have things organized.

    Thoughts in Progress
    and MC Book Tours

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    1. That is SO true...and if you set your manuscript aside for a week or two, you'll likely find it's hard to get back into it. If you're writing at least one page a day on it, it's fresh on your mind and you may get great ideas about it while you're going through your day.

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  10. Thanks for co-hosting today! Wow, you have a lot going on. Your own writing, others, blogging, etc. But you're right everything does add up over time. As long as you keep at it.

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    1. But I write full-time--when I worked I.T. full-time and wrote on the side, it actually felt SO much busier. Probably because I wasn't doing what I love! And it is interesting that the writer's block doesn't happen if I'm writing about moving servers. But if it's my book, the fear kicks in that I'm going to take my book in the wrong direction and I end up procrastinating!

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  11. Nice. Deadlines like that actually stress me out. I try not to let them, but you know how it goes. If I'm NOT writing against a deadline, the ideas flow so much more freely...but again, once you're published, I think the option to write leisurely is gone.

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    1. Definitely. Although it depends on how quickly your publisher will publish your books. Seems to be a "hurry up and wait" game most of the time! "Thanks for the partial. We're buying it. Can you have it written by next month?" That sort of thing! So I've learned to write the complete if I have nothing else to work on--just in case they want it. Better than doing nothing, even if I end up having to rewrite it!

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  12. You are so organized! :)

    I agree about keeping our heads in our story. I find that even if I don't actually write, as long as I'm keeping myself in the story world in some way - thinking about it, jotting notes, researching etc. - I'm able to stick with it.

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    1. SO true. If you set it aside without thinking about it, you'll come back to it later and be distant from it for some reason. I can do it--you end up having to learn to do it once you have multiple books going at once because you have to set it aside to do revisions. But it's easier if I can stay in it every day!

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  13. Thanks for co-hosting this month. I admire your organization. Love your book covers! I'm going to check out your books for my granddaughter. Best wishes.

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    1. Thanks! I got VERY lucky with my book covers. The illustrator, Lucy, is amazing.

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  14. I need to start writing more. I should be getting some ideas down!

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    1. Definitely! Just start with 100 words a day and don't miss a day. You'll likely find you're writing more than that, but 100 words a day won't take long at all.

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  15. I like your email prompts trigger, thanks for hosting

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  16. Sounds like a really awesome system--and a job I would love having!

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    1. I am very lucky. I worked in an office for 21 years, so I never take it for granted that I get to work in my PJs.

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  17. Wow, I'm impressed with your system, Stephanie. Sigh...I used to be so organized when I still worked out in the world. Have fun with the anthology - I don't write fantasy, so won't submit, but it should be a blast.

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    1. Being retired means you don't have to worry about that sort of thing. That's the joy of it!!!

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  18. Um, make that population 2. Every day it feels like a starting gun goes off when I wake up and then I off to the races. After going full blast from activity to activity, I collapse in front of the TV and drift off after 30 minutes of watching House, drag myself to bed, and do it all again the next day.

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    1. I think that's a good description of how most people live! The treadmill of life. I'm lucky I got to leave office life behind...that consumed almost 12 hours a day when you include commuting time.

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  19. I love your starred email idea. :) I have been trying to work on new stuff each day, but as you mentioned, book marketing can be consuming.

    Hooray for the new anthology! Love the theme!

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    1. Book marketing can be exhausting!!! I finally finished my mailings for books #1 and #2, only to realize I need to send out postcards for book #3. I write a handwritten note on each one, so that part of it is pretty time-consuming. I also signed all the bookmarks I sent to schools and libraries, hoping it would make a bigger difference. Not sure if it mattered but it took MONTHS to do all that!

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  20. It's all about priorities, don't ya think? If it's important enough, a writer will chisel out writing time, no matter how hectic his/her schedule.

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    1. Absolutely. The problem is, we tend to procrastinate. We're scared of failure, I think...that's at the heart of it!

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  21. I completely agree with you that writing a little bit each day helps you stay in your story. I make sure I do that. Thanks for co-hosting and announcing the contest.

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    1. Thank you, Susan! I'm honored to be a co-host and get to announce such an exciting project.

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  22. You're very organized. :) I try to keep myself on a schedule, but some days, I fall off the wagon. Fantastic contest! I must think of a story for it this year.

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    1. Good luck! It does sound like a great contest.

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  23. Stephanie, thank you for co-hosting and for giving us such an organized and methodical approach to writing. I'm a note taker, a list maker, and this approach really appeals to me. Prioritizing, and sticking to those priorities, really is the only way to make anything happen! Happy Wednesday!

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    1. I think it's all about finding what works for us.

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  24. I was an administrative assistant and know all kinds of tricks for scheduling and managing calendars and inboxes. I use none of them in my real life. Feels too much like work.

    IWSG September

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    1. I can see that. I don't like to sit at a desk because I sat at one for 21 years. Now I write from a comfy chair.

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  25. Thanks for co-hosting, Stephie. I love your scheduler. I have a similar one that isn't being used much these days. We're trying to sell our house. I can see where yours really works. Good for you.

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    1. We bought/sold our house last year. It's definitely tough to keep up with everything!

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  26. I love your new look and I love that I can leave comments on your blog again.

    I always hated deadlines too. I had so many irons in the fire when I was working it was tough to keep up with all the different headlines.

    Have a fabulous day Stephanie. ☺

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    1. Just two more days of blog tour after this and it's over. Thanks for your patience!!!

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  27. I'm embarrassed to even post on IWSG today. Everyone on here is so busy and such an inspiration. Stephanie, your time management and organization skills are something I will definitely use--if my writing ever gets busy enough. I quit the rat-race a couple of years ago and now I have no excuse not to pursue my writing. I've found the busiest people are the most productive so I need to get busy with my writing!

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    1. Definitely--but the best thing about retirement is that you only have to do what you WANT to do!

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  28. That's true. Every little bit adds up. Great strategy. I need to use my Google account better.
    Thanks for co-hosting IWSG this month!
    Mary at Play off the Page

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  29. Well, aren't you the organized writer! Congratulations on doing so much better than I in writing. I should use you as a model to get my own writing in gear. I should, but will I? Probably not because I'm me.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  30. Right now, I'm in the process of carving in office hours for my writing.

    In my case, it's not as much a matter of "finding" time as "making" time.

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  31. That's great advice, even if you only write a little bit a day, it's a little but more added to the story. That's what I'm trying to do now; write every single day, even if it's only for a few minutes.
    I love the theme for the anthology contest, I'm looking forward to planning my story.

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  32. The writing a little bit at a time bit is so true! I don't do that often enough b/c I like big chunks of time to write. But the little bits help so much.

    Here's my September IWSG post - my secret tool for finding writing time

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  33. Love how you organize your Gmail account. I get starred and not-starred and that's about it. You've inspired me to be more creative with that tool.

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  34. Your comment to write a little on your manuscript each day to stay in the story is good advice. You certainly do have a full schedule. Thank you for co-hosting #IWSG for September.

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  35. You've got a great system in place! Mine is not even close.

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  36. First off, thank you for co-hosting the IWSG this month. :) Second, I've missed you so much! I like the way you handle your Google account. I think I'm going to try that. It's more efficient than the mess I've got going on with my emails.

    Enjoy the rest of IWSG day! Eva

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  37. I like the idea of writing an inch at a time. It's my theme for today anyway. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  38. You are so right, a little each day. Not only to keep you "in story" as you said, but also to keep the ideas flowing, the "writing mindset" in place. Thanks for co-hosting this month!

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  39. I love your system of check (starred) and unchecked. I've actually employed some of that, but not to such a productivity gauging degree. You can bet I will now ;-)

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  40. Wow, great picture. Great Post and Great Tip. Never thought about using my Gmail, which is my main email, that. I wam writing that tip down. Happy IWSG!
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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  41. The pages do indeed add up. When I look back sometimes, I'm amazed at how much I've written.

    Thanks of co-hosting this month's IWSG!

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  42. Your organization is my dream come true. I love that kind of skill! I'm very anal when it comes to work projects. Not so much when it comes to writing though ;)

    Thank you for co-hosting!

    Elsie
    co-host IWSG

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  43. Under a deadline, even a self-imposed one, I'm amazed at how much I can accomplish.
    Way to go, Stephanie!

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  44. Very clever way to keep track of your writing projects and communication. I like the idea of writing on the ms a little every day. You are a role model for all of us. Thanks for co hosting.

    JQ Rose

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  45. I like your idea: a little bit each day keeps you in the story.

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  46. Writing whenever you can find the time is important. Especially if you can get it in daily.

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  47. Since I'm a retired teacher, my time for writing is better than it once was. I try to write for two to three hours every morning I'm a slow writer, so I need all the time I can get. I don't know how writers who have outside jobs and children find the time. You are amazing. Happy writing, everyone.

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  48. I like how you organize your emails and projects. Thank you for sharing that. I also love your thoughts on doing what we can to stay in the story. Every little minute counts :)

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  49. That's a great way to get a bit of your own writing into your writing day. And you're right. Just a little bit of writing every day gets a lot of writing done over time.

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  50. Great idea for getting your writing in.
    Tweeted.
    http://victoriaadams.blogspot.com

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  51. I like your check off system. You're so right that a little goes a long way. Staying in the world of your story is important while you're drafting.

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  52. Your dedication is phenomenal! Starring Gmail helps, but I am not nearly as organized like you. Kudos!

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  53. I don't use Gmail to its full potential. You just gave me an idea for some organization I sorely need.

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  54. I can't write every day on my first drafts. I find that I need breaks to mull over where the plot is going. Ah, the disorganized life of the pantster!

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  55. You sound impressively organised! I really should try that.

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  56. Interesting idea to use Gmail that way. Glad it works so well for you! Thanks for co-hosting with me!

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  57. I agree with "write a little bit on your manuscript every day." It's the most practical way to go.
    It seems like you're well-organized and on top of everything.
    Thank you for co-hosting the IWSG this month!

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  58. Thank you for co-hosting. You are definitely amazing, Stephanie. Fitting in all that writing sounds tough. I think you're right, all those bits of writing towards your manuscript does add up.

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  59. A little bit each day does add up in the long run. I can't imagine trying to balance writing for others and myself, but I think I'd be willing to give it a try. ;) Thanks for co-hosting this month.

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  60. So the key is organization and focus! Great method, using Google as your daily planner for writing. My google mail is a hot mess most of the time...I just hate it. Perhaps I should try to sort it...I wish it didn't trail, tail tag itself. Thanks for hosting!

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  61. You are so organized. I will write more once I get some editing gigs done.

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  62. Brilliant the way you manage everything, Stephanie. You're an inspiration! :-)

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  63. Thank you for co-hosting! Good luck relieving some of that stress!

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