January 16, 2012

Another Monday Morning Spark AND The New Feature!!!

Last week when I put up the Monday Morning Spark it was a total spur-of-the-moment thing.  But it seems quite a few people actually found it fun and/or useful.  So I thought, what the heck?  I'll put up another one :)
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Today's spark works like this:  pick 5 words you like.  You can do this by pointing at random words on the page of a book or in a dictionary, or by choosing words whose meanings you like, or whose sounds please you.  Or take 5 words from the song you're listening to on the radio in your car or the first five words your daughter ever spoke.   Any 5 words.  Or you can use mine :)  Here they are:

rose
gold
whisper
ocean
feather

Now.  Take those 5 words (mine or your own) and write a story that includes some or all of them.

Take a moment to think about your words and all their possibilities.  Rose, for example, can be a color, or a flower, or a name, or an action - the enchanted bathtub rose into the air!  Gold can also be a color, but in addition it can be treasure or money.  A feather can come from a hawk or a duckling.  Or feather can describe someone's hair, or the way grass looks, or how someone decorates or furnishes their nest or home.

See?  Possibilities!

Now, expand on your 5.  Rose might make you think of other flowers - tulips or tiger lilies or black-eyed Susan's; ocean might make you think of seashells or starfish or pirates; whisper might make you think of secrets or slumber parties or the sound of a snake winding through tall grass....  See what you come up with!

So take your 5 and go!  Let us know if you come up with a good idea from them, and if you're feeling generous, share your five in the comments for someone who is having trouble coming up with words!  (Even if your words seem obvious and unexotic to you, they might spark ideas in someone else :))

Alrighty, then!  Everyone feeling sparkly?  Then it's time for

THE NEW FEATURE ANNOUNCEMENT!

Are you excited?

I'm excited!

Okay!  Here it is!  Fun for writers, parents, and teachers!

It's called, Oh, Susanna! and it's a version of Dear Abby, except not about relationships (well, not yours - character relationships would be OK :))  An advice column/question forum for those of us in the children's book world, as it were :)

Oh, Susanna! (which you have to say like you're calling me across a wide field, not like you utterly disapprove of me :)) will be a chance for you to ask me any question you want about writing, reading, teaching writing, being an author etc.  (Primarily focusing on the picture book and early reader age group.)

For example:

Oh, Susanna!
I am half way through writing my picture book about a pirate who commandeers an enchanted bathtub.  He now has a ship and a crew, but I can't figure out what should happen next.  Can you help?
Love, Lost At Sea

Or:

Oh, Susanna!
My two year old son is afraid of the dark.  Can you recommend a picture book or two we could read that might help him feel safer at night?
Thanks, Owns Stock In Nightlights

Or:

Oh, Susanna!
Can you suggest an enjoyable writing activity for my kindergarten?  Writing is not my area of expertise, but I want to make it fun for my class!  We are currently studying penguins, if that helps at all...
Love, Wants To Inspire Six-Year-Olds

Or:

Oh, Susanna!
I'm giddy with excitement but also extremely nervous!  I'm doing my very first school visit as an author next week.  My picture book is about a chicken who crosses the road.  How will I entertain a roomful of kindergartners?
Please help!  Weak In The Knees

Get the idea?

I will answer, of course, but then, all our lovely and devoted readers can chime in with their ideas, too.  Any question you ask of Oh, Susanna! will (hopefully!) give you all kinds of helpful feedback.  Struggling with your query letter?  Wondering what the average advance is for a first picture book?  Interested in entering contests but don't know where to find them?  Want to try submitting to a magazine but have never done it?  Wondering whether you're the only one who sneaks into the bathroom at 2 AM to scribble ideas on toilet paper by the nightlight?  Want to know who makes bookmarks?  Need an opinion on your homemade book trailer?  Wondering if anyone besides you will be able to read your rhyming couplets successfully?  Curious as to whether Snickers or Milky Ways make a better writing snack?  Ask away!  If I should happen not to know the answer, surely one or more of our readers will!  And remember, there are no dumb questions :)

Shall we give it the old college try?  Please email your questions to me by using the handy Email Me button in the right sidebar or addressing them to susanna [at] susannahill [dot] com.  Please put Oh Susanna in the subject line.

This sounds like fun to me - I always want to know stuff from other authors! - so I'm really hoping you guys will like the idea too!

I'll look forward to hearing from you!

(And if I don't, then I guess I'll know what you think of this idea! :))

Have a marvelous Monday!
Reactions:

87 comments:

  1. Are you kidding me!!! I love this idea!!

    Oh Susanna! Where do you come up with these fantastic ideas?

    creatively clueless :D

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  2. OK, I am singing across the field (quietly as the door to my work office is always open, due to me wanting to make the students think I am friendly!)

    I LOVE this blog... you have such cool ideas and you make everyone who visits feel like they are also a part of your coolness, Susanna.

    I am emailing you a couple of questions as we speak/write/read.

    incredibly inspired :-)

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  3. Great prompt words! You can do so much with them! And I'm looking forward to your new "Oh, Susanna!" feature! What a cute name! :)

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  4. Thanks, J.C.! Want to share your 5 words?

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  5. Thank you so much for your very kind words, Joanna! :) I got your questions - excellent both! - and of course wouldn't you know it, not something I know a lot about - a serious challenge right out of the gate! But I will do my best :) So glad you're inspired :)

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  6. Oh, Saba! I'm so glad you like the idea! I hope you'll send some questions :) (And you are certainly not creatively clueless! :))

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  7. Another great idea! I also enjoyed free-writing with your suggested words. Thanks!

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  8. I'm so glad you liked it, Alisha! Did you get anything good out of it?

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  9. As I read the prompt exercise, I thought I might steal - er borrow- my son's growing collection of flash cards. :) I LOVE the Oh Susanna idea. I'm going to tweet it too. I sent a lame question, but one I thought to ask. Have a great day.

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  10. I'm always wanting to know stuff, what a fab idea! You are awesome! I love your five words today. I think I'll use yours :) I'll be back to share ciao!

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  11. I'm so glad if the prompt was helpful, AND that you like the new idea! And your question is most certainly not lame and will be among the first to get answered!

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  12. Oh, Susanna! What a great idea. I love it!! Am excited to see what questions come in and will know where to turn if I have a question of my own. Hope you get lots of responses!

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  13. I'm so glad you like the idea, Catherine! I'll look forward to some questions :) And YES! definitely share if you get inspired! :)

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  14. I'm thrilled you like the idea, Kerry, and hope you will have questions! I've have actually gotten a few already (I'm so excited!) so we'll have at least one Oh Susanna Post :)

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  15. I like your Monday morining spark! My words are Bob, onomatopoeia, Lego, gait, calendar. I'll let you know what I write! I like your new feature! Cool idea!!

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  16. I don't know wy it's posting as my email (Erik The Great) - it's Erik This Kid Reviews Books :)

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  17. Great words, Erik! Thanks for sharing! And so glad you like the new feature idea - I hope you'll have some questions! Looking forward to hearing if you get any good ideas :)

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  18. Oh, golly. You're asking the wrong person about that. I never know why things on computers work the way they do. But no worries, we know who you are :)













    Erik This Kid Reviews Books (unregistered) wrote, in response to Erik The Great:

    I don't know wy it's posting as my email (Erik The Great) - it's Erik This Kid Reviews Books :)

    User's profile
    Link to comment

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  19. Love the spark! And I love the new feature- and the perfect title for it!

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  20. How exciting. I love your "Oh, Susanna" idea! Can't wait to read the column.

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  21. Oh Susanna!

    Can you recommend a book for fellow authors who need to find a way to spend more time writing stories than social networking? :-)

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  22. Thank you, Iza! I will most probably have to turn to you as an expert consultant, possible as soon as today :)

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  23. Thanks, Dashana! Please send in some questions (preferably ones I can answer :)) to get the ball rolling! :)

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  24. Susanna, I love both today's spark and the new feature. I've got plenty of questions too.... As today is a school holiday, I've got a very bored 4th grader at home. In an effort to give her something to do, I asked her to help me come up with five words and I think I can do a lot with them. Here they are:
    Bored, annoyed, cup, blue, pen. Oh the possibilities!

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  25. Why yes, Iza! It's called TURN OFF YOUR INTERNET BEFORE I COME OVER THERE! by S.L. Hill :)

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  26. Oh, terrific, Tracy! Thanks for sharing! Now if she's really bored, challenge HER to write a story - from her words, mine, Erik's - if she needs more help give her a genre - mystery, PB, adventure - or an opening sentence - "It all started when..." - and let us know if she takes you up on it! :)

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  27. Lol! I'm turning off the internet and going to my local bookstore to find it!

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  28. Hello, Pot? This is Kettle! (You'll note that I'm on the internet too :)) Ready? Let's count to three and turn it off at the same time. 1.... 2.... 3.... Hey! You're still on! Well, so are you... :)













    iza wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:


    Lol! I'm turning off the internet and going to my local bookstore to find it!

    Link to comment
    IP address: 69.206.132.64

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  29. Oh Susanna, you must have so much energy you do not sleep. I love both your ideas, and will probbably send you an e-mail. Need to turn off my computer as I have much to do to leave town or a few days. :)

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  30. I will look forward to your email! And have a great trip wherever you are going!

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  31. I love this idea! Thanks for being willing to do it. :)

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  32. Hi, Susanna. I stopped by during the comment challenge. In fact, your blog is my last one for today. But now I find one tidbit leads to another as I browse around your site. No wonder you have 311 followers---make that 312. You have a lot packed in here. I'll be back. Swing by my blog if you have time, at http://billkirkwrites.blogspot.com or my website at http://www.billkirkwrites.com .

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  33. So glad you like it! Though it does mean I have to rely on people for questions... (hint :))

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  34. Hi Bill! I'm delighted you stopped by and found lots to pique your interest! I will most certainly be over to see your blog!

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  35. I love writing prompts and exercises so this Monday Morning spark is awesome!! So fun!

    Your new Oh, Susanna! feature is a terrific idea. I'm looking forward to the questions and answers!

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  36. Susanna, I took your suggestion and ran with it. Two of my daughter's friends came over and there I as with three bored 10 year olds! I picked 6 words from the 15 total from you , me and Erik. I challenged them to write a short story (only a paragraph in length). The prize? The winner got 3 lollipops. I have to say, the results from these girls were pretty good. It also gave them something to do and me a little sanity on a day off from school. Great suggestion!

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  37. This is a great idea. I'm working on two books now and trying to pump out some pictures so I'll use this resource when I want to procrastinate (some more) and/or I'm ready for another story :)

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  38. I love both these ideas, and can't wait to see what questions people come up with (and the answers).

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  39. Thanks, Laura! Me too :) (And the sparks are nothing compared to your Wednesday feature!)

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  40. Glad you like it, Stina! And I can't wait either! :) I hope I get some!

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  41. I love your art, Helena! I'm thinking I should pop over to your blog for inspiration! Let me know if you ever want to donate a Monday Morning Spark (properly credited to you and linked to your blog of course!)

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  42. A win-win! You got some sanity, they did something creative, and someone got lollipops - I call that a good day :)













    Tracy Bermeo wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    Susanna, I took your suggestion and ran with it. Two of my daughter's friends came over and there I as with three bored 10 year olds! I picked 6 words from the 15 total from you , me and Erik. I challenged them to write a short story (only a paragraph in length). The prize? The winner got 3 lollipops. I have to say, the results from these girls were pretty good. It also gave them something to do and me a little sanity on a day off from school. Great suggestion!

    Link to comment

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  43. Erik - This Kid Reviews BooksJanuary 16, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    OK - here is my short story with my 5 words – Bob, gait, calendar, onomatopoeia and Lego...
    Bob was a Lego minifigure. Strangely, his parents were humans but they loved Legos. Bob had a friend named Fred (also a minifigure) who he liked to play video games with. One day, Bob wanted to relax but when he waddled over to his calendar, he saw it was the eighth, Bob got concerned. OH NO!" cried Bob. "I'm going to be late for the video game tournament I entered with Fred!" He waddled in his strange gait over to his hover car, hopped in (with some trouble), re-attached the roof and flew at 30 studs (a Lego measurement) per hour over to Fred’s house. When he arrived at Fred’s he knocked on the door and he heard “What’s the password?” come from inside. “Pizza?” Bob said, unsure. “Nope. It has to be an onomatopoeia.” The voice said. “ZOINKS! I don’t even know what an onomatopoeia is!” Bob exclaimed. “That’s it!” the voice said as the door opened. Bob looked at Fred, slightly confused and said “I’m here for the tournament!” “Tournament?” Fred asked. “That’s not until next month.” The story closes with Bob smacking himself on the forehead.

    I tried to pick words that had nothig to do with each other. I think I could make a whole story out of this but I just did what I thought of first. I hope it's OK.

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  44. I love it, Erik! Very entertaining (and exactly the kind of thing I'd do, mixing up calendar dates :)) I think you should get some kind of prize since you were the only one to post your story attempt! Let me rummage in my bag of goodies. I don't think I have any legos in there, but ZOINKS! (a word I'm going to have to use frequently :)) is there anything book/writing related your heart desires?

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  45. Jennifer RumbergerJanuary 16, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    Sounds like a great new feature! Can't wait!

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  46. Oh Susanna!
    That is so NICE! I would LOVE to have one of YOUR BOOKS!!! I already have (and love) "Can't Sleep Without Sheep"! :) Maybe a Punxsutawney Phyllis book? If that is not possible - anything :)
    Love, Your Very Happy Follower

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  47. I love the Oh Susanna idea!! I look forward to it :)

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  48. Thanks, Coleen! Please feel free to send questions :)

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  49. I would be happy to send you a copy of PHYLLIS and she would be happy, too, because her day is coming up soon! If you send me an email with your address and who you'd like the book signed to I'll get it out to you ASAP :)

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  50. Thanks so much Jennifer! Please feel free to send questions :)

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  51. Your spark idea is a great way to focus on vocabulary with students and have fun. I love the new advice column. I'll be checking into it and using it at times.

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  52. I hadn't thought of using it in conjunction with vocabulary, but you're right! Good idea! And feel free to ask some questions - I'll need some to get this off the ground! :)

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  53. I love the "spark" idea as well as "Oh, Susanna!" How wonderful! You are seriously brilliant! Constantly coming up with wonderful new ideas to help us all out. I LOVE IT! Thanks so much!

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  54. Aww! you're so nice :) Glad you like the ideas! :)

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  55. Oh Susanna! sounds like a fabulous idea. You're so creative! (I don't know why, but notifications of your new posts don't come to me until after 9 p.m., so I'm always late to the party.)

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  56. I'm still struggling with the choice between Snickers and Milky Ways! Oh Susanna is a wonderful idea, and I can't wait to tune in!

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  57. Love the Oh Susanna idea, which sings out loud in my head as I read the post. I very much look forward to the Q and A sessions to come!

    And I'm still gunning to do last week's Monday Morning spark, which I adored. I'm hoping that Wednesday morning while my kids are safe and sound at preschool after the long holiday weekend I will be able to pull out a pen and paper and steaming latte and write it out. I'll be sure to post what becomes of it. :)

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  58. Well, now you've opened up a can of worms, haven't you? You already know from my numerous emails that I LOVE to ask questions and pick people's brains, so I'll be sending something...Now, what should I ask first? (How about - are you in for my poetry thing or not??? Though don't know where you'll find the time!) ;)

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  59. I'm so glad you like the idea, Beth! And I don't know why that happens either! I get a lot of people's posts way behind like that even though I say to let me know immediately. Clar told me to schedule my posts earlier (which means getting them written... :)) but obviously that's not it because yesterday's post went up at 12:04 AM EST - so one would think you should have gotten it sooner.... It's a mystery! If you happen to figure it out, please let me know!

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  60. Oh Susanna is going to have her work cut out for her! The few questions that have come in so far are excellent and a little trickier than she was expecting! :) Glad you like the idea. I'm still chuckling over your TP post! :)

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  61. Thank you so mcuh for your enthusiasm, Alana! I'm so glad you like the idea of Oh Susanna (please send questions! :)) and I hope hte Monday Morning spark inspires a great story whatever time you get to sit down and write it! Looking forward to hearing what comes of it! :)

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  62. Glad you like the idea, Renee! And I'm sorry! I told you you'd have to nag me :) I'll send you an email :)

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  63. Oh my goodness! This sounds so awesome. *questions flood her mind* You are so made of awesome sauce with your giving back. Squeezing you. Tight!

    Doing the spark in the privacy of my office. :-) Great idea, btw.

    Oh no! Now that tune is stuck in my head. Really.

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  64. Oh my goodness! This sounds so awesome. *questions flood her mind* You are so made of awesome sauce with your giving back. Squeezing you. Tight!

    Doing the spark in the privacy of my office. :-) Great idea, btw.

    Oh no! Now that tune is stuck in my head. Really.

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  65. You are so funny, Robyn :) And thank you! I love the idea of being made of awesome sauce! I hope it's like caramel :) Good luck with your sparks. And Oh Susanna rarely gets stuck in my head quite the way "There's A Hole In My Bucket" does. Oops! Now I've gone and done it!

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  66. Great new feature! You are a blogging goddess! :)

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  67. You are so kind to say so! Thank you Marcie :) (And please feel free to send some questions!)

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  68. You come up with the best stuff! I'm looking forward to participating in "Oh Susanna" :) Time to start thinking of some questions for it!!!

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  69. I'm glad you like it! and oh, yes, please! Do think up some questions - that would be lovely :)

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  70. I always enjoy your blog. I'm sure I'll love the feature. I love the name!

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  71. Thank you, Theresa! Maybe some of your students will have questions... :)

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  72. Great idea! And I love your sample questions. Makes me want to think of a good one, too . . .

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  73. What an amazing idea! You are going to have to beat us off with a stick! =)

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  74. I love OH SUSANNA! I am going to have to think of a question. Oh I think I have one...I am going to send it right now!

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  75. Oh, please do! And you can ask one of the samples if you want to... I was giving examples, but some of them are good questions!

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  76. That's my problem too! But when I am here I find such fun links and I wind up clicking away on my 'work' time, trying to justify it as 'research' LOL

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  77. Oh Susanna! What a great addition to your blog! I really love it.

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  78. Thanks so much, Penny! I really hope you'll feel free to make use of it. I've got some great questions already!

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  79. Research is very important too :)














    Cathy Mealey (unregistered) wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    That's my problem too! But when I am here I find such fun links and I wind up clicking away on my 'work' time, trying to justify it as 'research' LOL

    User's profile
    Link to comment

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  80. Wow - so excited about this new feature! I'll be sending questions your way for sure.

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  81. Yes, you are very creative...and helpful...and ingenious. We all knew that...and now we know it some more. :)
    Lovely idea!

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  82. Thank you, Vivian! You're too kind. It's very nice to know that something you put your time and effort into is enjoyed!

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  83. sounds like a fun feature... looking forward to it. And thanks for participating in the 2012 Comment Challenge!
    Namaste,
    Lee

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  84. So glad if you like it - I hope you'll be back! And now, it occurs to me, that even though I'm doing the challenge, I'm not sure I've been to your blog yet! So I'll have to remedy that ASAP :)

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