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 A Frustrating process

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Linzi



Number of posts : 17
Registration date : 2008-01-13
Age : 60
Location : Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

A Frustrating process Empty
PostSubject: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptyThu Jan 17, 2008 9:08 am

I've been looking for an agent for a few months now, and have found the process extremely tiresome and frustrating. So far I've accummulated about twelve rejections, almost all of them clearly form letters addressed to "Dear Writer" (despite the contention by some agents that they "personally" respond to each query). Particularly annoying have been those replies that have stated that the agent doesn't deal with that genre, even though in the market guides and the agent's website it says that he/she does. Then, of course, there's the proviso many have, stipulating that they don't want to be part of simultaneous submissions. This means waiting three, four, or more weeks to hear back from one before you can send off to another. You could waste a couple of years looking for an agent at that rate. Meanwhile, your manuscript is sitting gathering dust and possibly becoming less and less relevant to the marketplace. Of course, while you're submitting to agents you should be submitting to publishers, but that's even slower and more frustrating.

I find it especially amusing to be told that the agent is really only interested in writers with a "proven" track record with the big publishing houses. I think if I had such a record I'd not likely be searching for an agent; I'd either already have one or they'd be knocking on my door begging me to sign with them.

It's easy to see why writers can be scammed by agents and agencies whose only ambition would seem to be parting a struggling writer from his/her money. I almost fell for one of these myself a while back when searching the Internet for agents. Fortunately, having been somewhat burned with the publication of my first novel, I took the time to research the particular agency in question. There turned out to be a considerable amount of dirt on the outfit, and I was left breathing a sigh of relief that I hadn't been impetuous and submitted to them. Turns out they're little more than a conduit to sister companies, whose sole purpose it would seem is to provide questionable services for exorbitant fees. Basically they accept you as a client, regardless of merit, take your manscript, then tell you that it needs polishing and that they can provide editing services and the like -- for a fee, of course. At the end of all that, it's apparently unlikely that they'll actually find a publisher for your work, since by their own admission they've only made four deals in the past year, two of which were actually the result of work by the authors and not the agency. So only two deals in a year -- if even that's the truth, since the agency won't disclose its client list (even though most reputable agents do).

Unfortunately, it's far too easy for writers to get caught in these scams. Some of the bad agents and agencies are well known, but there are plenty of others that are cleverly camouflaged, or constantly change names and locations to avoid being disclosed for the lowlifes they are. But when you're struggling and desperately want to see your book in print, it's easy to throw caution to the winds and jump at what seems a great opportunity to finally achieve what you've so long desired. Unfortunately, if you get ensnared by one of these scammers, it's usually too late to do much about it. And even if you can get out of any contract you may have signed, you'll still have wasted time that could have been better spent submitting your work elsewhere.

Anyway, here I have this completed science fantasy trilogy, designed for a general audience (though with an emphasis on the young adult sector) and I just keep getting the brush off. I've had people read the trilogy, and the fact that they read through the entire 700,000 words in a short period of time suggests they couldn't have found it that onerous or terrible. A fourteen year old acquaintance likes it immensely, comparing it favorably to Pullman's His Dark Materials and the ubiquitous Potter books. Personally, I think it's some of my best writing, and I'm usually very hard on myself when it comes to my work.

There's certainly a market for this stuff out there. One that's far bigger than the SF genre I usually write in. I was so confident in this work, so pleased with the end result when I finished writing it, that I felt certain I wouldn't have a problem selling it. Now I find myself plagued with doubts and questioning my whole writing career. There are moments when I think of just giving up; I'm tired of toiling away in the dark, alone, waiting for that big break. At the moment I think the only reason I keep plugging away at it is because I just love writing so much (that, and a promise I made to my mother before she died). I can't honestly imagine not creating stories. But at some point I fear something will have to give. Sooner or later all dreams must die.

For now I guess I'll probably have to go back to submitting through the odious slushpile. With the trilogy and the follow up novel to In Darkness Bound in want of a publisher, that means a lot of waiting. I've found the average is six months before you hear back from a publisher after submission. It's a long time to stay patient; and it truly stinks if at the end of all that you have nothing more to show for it than an impersonal form letter rejection.

Is it any wonder that outfits like PA and vanity presses are able to thrive?

That's it for now. I might add that if anyone knows of any agent who might be interested in a YA science fantasy trilogy or my more adult sf military/time travel opus, let me know. And if an agent should happen by this post and be interested, contact me.

-Lindsay Brambles, Ottawa, 2008

[i]
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George Maciver
Four Star Member
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Number of posts : 376
Registration date : 2008-01-11

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptyThu Jan 17, 2008 10:47 am

Hi Lindsay, I hear you. Thought you might like to know that PoD hasn't made the submissions process any easier either. Quite the contrary, many of the big publishers now watch the online resellers book sales rankings, like Amazon, and cherry pick new material that is selling. It's less work and less risk.

I wouldn't give up just yet. Why run 24 miles and then sit down when the finish line could be round the next corner? Thinking that way keeps me going anyway!
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Malcolm
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Malcolm

Number of posts : 1504
Registration date : 2008-01-11
Location : Georgia

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySun Jan 20, 2008 10:41 am

Hi,

Some say that these days it's almost harder to fine an agent than a publisher.

The flip side of that cherry picking out of the ranks of POD authors that George mentioned is that while mainstream houses can see what POD books sell well, they will also tend to ignore POD books that don't sell well. This makes is a crap shoot for fiction authors since the public isn't likely to buy from an unknown who either can't afford or doesn't have a flair for publicity. So, the author going the POD route is also taking a risk that he may later be turned down by a mainstream house after a poor sales showing in POD when that house might have published him had he gone there first.

Best of luck in your search.

Malcolm
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Pam Kimmell
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Pam Kimmell

Number of posts : 37
Registration date : 2008-01-21
Location : Warrenton, VA, USA

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptyThu Jan 24, 2008 5:31 am

I hear you as well.....I've got you beat on the number of frustrating "Dear Writer" letters though - I think I had about sixty of them before I found an agent that didn't want to charge ME for representing me. However, she was new in the business, had a lot of clients and seemed to concentrate on the "client accumulation" process a lot more than "finding a home for your manuscript" side of things. Eventually a lot of us became fed up with her and she's not packed her bags and moved on. Not that I would wish that on anyone, but there ARE a lot of unscrupulous people out there who can "talk the talk" but are incapable of "walking the walk"......I decided to try and find a traditional publisher on my own and after accumulating yet another pile of "Dear Writer" letters, finally found a small press publisher who specializes in mysteries. Just what I was looking for. There seem to be a lot of databases out there for agents AND publishers and my best advice is just keep trying. Concentrate on those agents and publishers who are looking for your genre and send them a well polished, PERFECT submission. Your rewards will come - just not as soon as most of us would wish!

Best of luck........and I mean that sincerely.
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Malcolm
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Malcolm

Number of posts : 1504
Registration date : 2008-01-11
Location : Georgia

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySun Jan 27, 2008 9:12 am

Finding out who represents authors who are writing books similar to yours is not always easy. Debut offers seem to be more likely to thank their agents than veterans--or, at least the authors I'm reading.

One database, though, provides this information for a fair number of authors: QueryTracker . Personally, I don't need an online site to help me keep up with queries, but the information available there is very helpful.

Malcolm
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AidanaWillowRaven

AidanaWillowRaven

Number of posts : 2
Registration date : 2008-01-27
Age : 48
Location : Norfolk, VA USA

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySun Jan 27, 2008 9:50 am

I happen to be an independent agent; but I am a controversial one.

I actually don't follow guild tradition & do things my way to suit my clients' best interests.

I don't do impersonal letters, I treat my clients as if they were friends (typically people don't cheat their friends).

I work strictly on commission in regards to helping authors get contracts, but I am paid by a ph for my illustrations (hence why I am controversial) & I also submit to my home ph first in hopes of having leverage when making deals (taboo number two), but my clients are happy, they know the game plan before signing & they are getting great deals, both with traditional contracts & subsidy contracts.

So if unconventional is what you need, I'm your agent.

Having said that, I know from experience how hard it is to get your foot in the door, especially for new authors.

You need to build your credits list... no "established" agent will look at you twice without a proven record of great stuff, some authors get tired of the rejections & go subsidy with two or three books to build their names, create a fan base & refine their craft. Then when those best sellers start creeping into your credit list, then the traditional contracts will be practically thrown at you. Agent or no agent.

Aidana WillowRaven


Last edited by on Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:12 am; edited 1 time in total
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George Maciver
Four Star Member
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Number of posts : 376
Registration date : 2008-01-11

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySun Jan 27, 2008 9:54 am

Hello Aidana, nice post and an appreciated one too as well as being informative. Thanks!
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madhatter
Four Star Member
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madhatter

Number of posts : 502
Registration date : 2008-02-13
Location : Tallahassee, FL

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptyWed Feb 13, 2008 2:16 pm

Well...you know I have to put in my two cents on this one.

I totally believe in attending writers' conferences--good way to make new friends and make connections. Most have breakout sessions where you will have an opportunity to meet an agent and pitch your work. Based on my experience, I feel the face-to-face thing gives you an advantage.

You never know who you are going to meet, and where it will lead. Stay positive, believe in your work, and DON'T GIVE UP.

I am an obnoxious cheerleader. Shoot me. Rolling Eyes
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

Number of posts : 12601
Registration date : 2008-01-11
Location : UK

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptyWed Feb 13, 2008 2:41 pm

Don't tempt me. A Frustrating process GunLOL!

_________________
A Frustrating process 41ZdcL0lV7L._SL125_ A Frustrating process 41C9GeFDNWL._SL125_ A Frustrating process 41%2BmGkZJdOL._SL125_ A Frustrating process 51eDGllZXhL._SL125_ A Frustrating process 41y7VHKoszL._SL125_ A Frustrating process 51Zs4N4T4eL._SL125_
Amazon Author Central: Shelagh Watkins
I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- ©️Shelagh Watkins 2017
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madhatter
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madhatter

Number of posts : 502
Registration date : 2008-02-13
Location : Tallahassee, FL

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptyThu Feb 14, 2008 5:15 pm

Ducks, then heads for cover
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zadaconnaway
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zadaconnaway

Number of posts : 4017
Registration date : 2008-01-16
Age : 71
Location : Washington, USA

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptyThu Feb 14, 2008 8:19 pm

Some great thoughts, tips and good information here. Especially from the 'duck'! Shelagh is a riot with the little smileys!
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Pam
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Pam

Number of posts : 1790
Registration date : 2008-02-01
Age : 53
Location : Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptyFri Feb 15, 2008 6:19 am

Great discussion folks - I had not really thought about the writer's conference idea to make a pitch. Will have to see what is coming here in the near future!
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Malcolm
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Malcolm

Number of posts : 1504
Registration date : 2008-01-11
Location : Georgia

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySat Feb 16, 2008 10:09 am

Hi Aidana WillowRaven,

In a world where fewer and fewer people seem to be building up credits by writing short stories in "established journals," what do you see as the kinds of credits that are looked upon favorably by agents?

Is going the POD self-published route with a first novel before approaching an agent on a second novel worth the risk?

That is: Some people say that the POD novel is a worthy credit only if it sells a lot of copies. This shows, "they say," that the author must be doing something right. On the other hand "they say" that if the book sells almost no copies, that mainstream agents and houses will see the POD book as a negative credit regardless of whether the book was any good or not.

How do you see all of that?

Malcolm
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pol mcshane
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pol mcshane

Number of posts : 112
Registration date : 2008-02-04
Location : Texas

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PostSubject: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySat Feb 16, 2008 2:58 pm

I agree whole-heartedly. I, too, am searching, once again, for an agent. Even when I had optioned the screenplay for one of my books and had gone through that whole process with a lawyer, then went looking for an agent when they wanted to work with the Johnny & Joey series, I still had no luck. My query letter practically said "They want to do these movies, I need an agent to help me out. It's a done deal." Then I get letters back saying "Sorry, but the project's too large for us to take on". If it's not one thing, it's another.
Then, to make it worse, while looking for publishers in the Writer's Market, I'd say 70% don't take unagented submissions! Mad
But I guess all we can do is keep on keepen on, right?
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Pam
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Pam

Number of posts : 1790
Registration date : 2008-02-01
Age : 53
Location : Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySat Feb 16, 2008 5:52 pm

The agent issue makes me crazy too. Finding an agent before you publish is very difficult, and it seems that afterward it's not that much different. Unagented submissions are unwelcome, and at least from what I have learned about the Canadian market, there are terribly few agents anymore...I think a lot of them had to look for other work in order to pay their bills or something. Since I live at the coast I am thinking that in addition to the ships graveyard maybe there is a metaphorical one for agents and publishers...
A Frustrating process Pirate-with-parrot-emoticon
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Jenny
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Jenny

Number of posts : 531
Registration date : 2008-01-11
Location : Sheffield, England

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySun Feb 17, 2008 4:15 am

Rhett,

I agree Writers' Conferences are a great place to meet Agents, espeically if you attend one that offers a 15 minute pitch appointment. However, as most of the conferences are held in the US its a bit expensive for us Brits to hop across the Pond in the hope that we are one of the lucky ones granted such an appointment.

Last May I attended Pennwriters' conference in Pittsburgh. I applied for a "Pitch" appointment with an agent. Guess what? I didn't get one, because the organisation ensured that all their aspiring members were given appointments over visiting delegates, which my friend, who lives in Pittsburgh by the way, and I considered grossly unfair. No
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madhatter
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madhatter

Number of posts : 502
Registration date : 2008-02-13
Location : Tallahassee, FL

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySun Feb 17, 2008 7:40 am

Jenny,

Ah, this is where you educate me! Smile I assumed writers' conferences were a universal happening, and that most universities would have an equivalent.

I can see why you were unhappy with your experience. I would think anyone traveling so far should be afforded the first slot! Seems only fair.

It is difficult to gain an audience. No doubt. Even with a good query letter and wonderful writing, there are such odds!

Still, I believe in persistence. My mom has some little saying about just about everything. "Keep turning over rocks. Sooner or later, you will find your dream beneath one."
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zadaconnaway
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zadaconnaway

Number of posts : 4017
Registration date : 2008-01-16
Age : 71
Location : Washington, USA

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySun Feb 17, 2008 8:06 am

How terribly frustrating and disappointing for you, Jenny. I agreee with Mad. You should have been given first consideration due to the travel expense, if nothing else.
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George Maciver
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Number of posts : 376
Registration date : 2008-01-11

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySun Feb 17, 2008 9:22 am

I turn over dozens of rocks, every week, big ones, with a crowbar sometimes, in search of elusive gold nuggets . . .
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

Number of posts : 12601
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Location : UK

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySun Feb 17, 2008 9:24 am

... that he's going to melt down and turn into a ring.

_________________
A Frustrating process 41ZdcL0lV7L._SL125_ A Frustrating process 41C9GeFDNWL._SL125_ A Frustrating process 41%2BmGkZJdOL._SL125_ A Frustrating process 51eDGllZXhL._SL125_ A Frustrating process 41y7VHKoszL._SL125_ A Frustrating process 51Zs4N4T4eL._SL125_
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George Maciver
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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySun Feb 17, 2008 9:26 am

I've enough for one ring (smallish one) but would like to find enough for two one day. All the small gold will go into the rings though. Any nuggets I get this year I'll blow on a landrover.
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

Number of posts : 12601
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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySun Feb 17, 2008 9:35 am

Any Cinderellas out there with small fingers?

_________________
A Frustrating process 41ZdcL0lV7L._SL125_ A Frustrating process 41C9GeFDNWL._SL125_ A Frustrating process 41%2BmGkZJdOL._SL125_ A Frustrating process 51eDGllZXhL._SL125_ A Frustrating process 41y7VHKoszL._SL125_ A Frustrating process 51Zs4N4T4eL._SL125_
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I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- ©️Shelagh Watkins 2017
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George Maciver
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Number of posts : 376
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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySun Feb 17, 2008 10:02 am

Oh, she won't need small fingers, it'll just be a slender ring. A nice chunky Celtic ring takes about twice as much gold.
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Pam
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Pam

Number of posts : 1790
Registration date : 2008-02-01
Age : 53
Location : Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptySun Feb 17, 2008 2:06 pm

I love those celtic patterns, but love the rocks I turn over where I love...hermit crabs, oyster shells and sandollars. After growing up on the prairies, being close to the sea is like a treasure, glittering sand, stunning seascapes and wide open spaces. What a gift!!

...of course, there are few girls that will pass up a diamond, me I am all for the Landrovers!
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Brenda Hill
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Brenda Hill

Number of posts : 1297
Registration date : 2008-02-16
Location : Southern CA

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PostSubject: Re: A Frustrating process   A Frustrating process EmptyWed Feb 27, 2008 7:38 am

Pam, where are you living now? I've always longed to live close to the sea and haven't made it there yet. Talk about expensive . . .

I just remembered: you're in Nova Scotia. I'm housesitting for my son and his bride while they're on their honeymoon and her 11-yr-old son is never still. Talk about a pooped grandma. I can hardly keep my eyes open, much less think.

OH MY God! I just glanced at your blog and you have a Ph.D! I'm so impressed, Pam. Your accomplishments are phenomenal. Congratulations!
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