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Thread: how I wrote my novel

  1. #1
    quackers2computers
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    how I wrote my novel

    I thought new writers might be interested in the way I write novels. Iíve completed three novels now, my first Abduction with Malice just published. The average length is 150,000 words and directed at older teenager young adult one of the most difficult areas of writing. Basically action adventures, I used the technique favoured in the Harry Potter series keeping the easy read approach but with lots more going on. I donít plan my books; I believe if you plan you canít hide the plan from a reader. I try to end a chapter with the reader wanting to know more. I live the book, I become the characters and when I write Iím in their world. I laugh and yes I often cry, with real tears. Is it Exhausting? Yes. Exhilarating? Yes, but well worth the experience. So donít plan, set word targets, just enjoy the experience and write.

  2. #2
    figuring it all out
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    Brutha, kudos on getting published... but: Tell me something I don't know.

    However, I also believe that a writer who (dare I say) sucks follows the Harry Potter style and lives his/her book will still end up with a crap book. Yet, the talented writer may use a plan or not use a plan and have a book that is good.

    Personally, I'm no authority on writing. I haven't a clue what makes a good writer. As a kid I used to think you were either born with it, or you weren't. Then I went to college and met people who I thought sucked in high school but over the summer their parents had sent them across the country to workshops and writers festivals with private tutors and such and ta-da, they didn't suck anymore... Can money buy talent? Possibly. I'm no philosopher either so I won't endeavor to answer that.... BUT, I can tell you this- Welcome to the boards! And you're already published (groveling) that ain't bad at all...

  3. #3
    A Work in Progress aadams73's Avatar
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    Is this your book?

    http://www.troubador.co.uk/matador/default.asp

    Interesting premise. Keep up the hard work.

  4. #4
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by quackers2computers
    I donít plan my books; I believe if you plan you canít hide the plan from a reader.
    Just wondering if you don't plan ANYTHING and just write the book as it comes out? If so, how do you avoid writer's block, which is something I have found happens when left to my own devices in this way. Not sure I agree with 'if you plan you can't hide the plan from the reader', but each to their own ...

    How long did it take you to write a first draft of 150k words? and what is your writing schedule (like how many hours / words, how often...).

    Also curious as to why you decided to publish the book yourself, rather than go down the usual channels?

    Thanks
    Last edited by LadyLazarus; 06-30-2005 at 05:02 PM.

  5. #5
    Swordsman zornhau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aadams73
    Is this your book?

    http://www.troubador.co.uk/matador/default.asp

    Interesting premise. Keep up the hard work.
    From the troubador website:

    Self Publishing - Matador Online....
    The Matador imprint was specifically founded for authors who have been unable to publish their work through a commercial publishing house and who do not wish to pay the large charges levied by vanity publishers.
    Kudos on completing three novels. Why didn't they go out with a regular (as in "they-pay-you") publisher?

    Edit:
    Just glanced at the sample pdf: http://www.troubador.co.uk/image/books/Hoare.pdf
    You might want to fix the typo on page 1:
    It was just one of these schemes that had brought Susan to the park. Her farther had met a man who wanted to talk to one of the girls in her class, said he was the girlís uncle, but the family had broken up with some silly argument.
    Last edited by zornhau; 06-30-2005 at 06:34 PM.
    (Newly Agented but unpublished author. The usual caveats apply.)

    German Longsword in a nutshell: "I'd shake your hand... but I'm not sure where it landed."

  6. #6
    A Work in Progress aadams73's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zornhau

    Edit:
    Just glanced at the sample pdf: http://www.troubador.co.uk/image/books/Hoare.pdf
    You might want to fix the typo on page 1:

    Edited to delete comment.

    Nevermind :-)

  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    What about the missing "of" in the first sentence?

    Susan, a big girl for her age, used this to her advantage pushing
    smaller girls aside as they all scrambled to get out __ the school at
    lunchtime.
    I don't mean to pick on you, but I think the general feeling is that we don't want to be told how to write, or even worse: advertised to. The truth is, you've completed novels, which is an accomplishment in its own right. Most of the people in this forum (myself included) can't say the same, so you should be proud of that.

  8. #8
    haz a shiny new book cover Christine N.'s Avatar
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    Well, not in defense of this obvious advertisement (who just shows up on a messageboard and touts themselves as a guru, I can't imagine), but I also don't really plan my books. I have a general idea about what I want it to say, but I pretty much write by the seat of my pants.

    Writers block? I haven't really had a bad case of that in a while. I just write through it. If it sucks, I go back and take it out. OR I'll go work on something else for a while. I also find that reading helps me overcome block. I get inspired when I read a really good book.
    Christine

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  9. #9
    Swordsman zornhau's Avatar
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    The OP didn't post a link to their novel, just mentioned the title. I don't think they were advertising. Nor did they quite set themselves up as a guru:
    I thought new writers might be interested in the way I write novels. Iíve completed three novels now, my first Abduction with Malice just published.


    However, until they've sold their novel to a real publisher they don't count as professionally published. In fact, they're one of us wannabes. To pretend to be anything else on these boards is to risk a good kicking.

    (Newly Agented but unpublished author. The usual caveats apply.)

    German Longsword in a nutshell: "I'd shake your hand... but I'm not sure where it landed."

  10. #10
    haz a shiny new book cover Christine N.'s Avatar
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    No, but I couldn't think of any other words off the top of my head. To say "see how I did it, you can too" smacks of one of those infomercials with the "financial gurus". I guess that's where I got the word.
    Christine

    Young Adult Fantasy Author

    A CURSE OF ASH AND IRON: Coming Spring 2015 from Curiosity Quills Press

    "The Watchmaker's Ball" (short story), to be included in BEWARE THE LITTLE WHITE RABBIT (anthology), coming April 14 from Leap Books


    Represented by Jordy Albert of Booker Albert Literary

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  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW LloydBrown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ace
    . The truth is, you've completed novels, which is an accomplishment in its own right.
    Well, completed first drafts anyway. The number of errors in those opening pages and the lack of polish made me quit reading. It's a good thing the sample chapter was there, or I would have purchased it!

    I have to admit that the teaser was fascinating, though. The racy subject hooked me and I definitely want to go read a good book on this topic. Now if I can only find one...
    Lloyd Brown
    www.lloydwrites.com


  12. #12
    keyboard monkey Garpy's Avatar
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    Hmmmm...smacked a little bit of self promotion. Obviously, I can see the temptation there....but the trick is to be a tad more subtle perhaps.

    Like me for instance, casually tacking my amazon listing on to the end of this thread;-)

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/...424875-3733469

  13. #13
    quackers2computers
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    Red face Quackers reply

    Lots of insults and yes plenty of Ďit canít be a good book because itís not professionally publishedí. Why didnít you add the next bit about the closed shop attitude of the industry? I canít enter my book in any competition, as Iím not a publisher. Why! Donít they eat and **** the same as me? The only difference is they make nothing from me. Iím proud of my writings, Iíve sold hundreds already from my website (yes I do have one) and okay Iím not that literate, just a working class writer trying to make a name, like you all. Iíve got no help from professional proofreaders, advice on polish, they wanted hundreds of dollars, and I even had to design my own cover. But Iím on all the big internet book sellers listings and top of the search engines, by the side of professionals, my local bookshops sell for me, my readers enjoy it and I can show you loads of letters and mails asking when the next book is out, and itís only in the second week from publishing, and no I wasnít advertising just making an observation against the way others approach writings. Besides, what writer tries to sell their novel on a website read only by other writers? Get real!

    If you think about it for one moment, the novel is only the beginning of the story. To get it read, is for a writer, the pinnacle. So I decided against hocking round the publishers. I planned not only the writing of the books but also how I would introduce myself as a writer. I only need one publisher to pick it up, read, then perhaps they will see potential and maybe my next will be Ďprofessionally publishedí. Then it will be on my terms not theirs.

    So letís talk about writers block, how to overcome it and stop knocking a few words missed in hundreds of pages of checking. Look at the so-called professional ones, the spelling and punctuation is just as bad.

  14. #14
    Erotica is not a four letter word! SRHowen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quackers2computers
    Lots of insults and yes plenty of Ďit canít be a good book because itís not professionally publishedí. Why didnít you add the next bit about the closed shop attitude of the industry? I canít enter my book in any competition, as Iím not a publisher. Why! Donít they eat and **** the same as me? The only difference is they make nothing from me. Iím proud of my writings, Iíve sold hundreds already from my website (yes I do have one) and okay Iím not that literate, just a working class writer trying to make a name, like you all. Iíve got no help from professional proofreaders, advice on polish, they wanted hundreds of dollars, and I even had to design my own cover. But Iím on all the big internet book sellers listings and top of the search engines, by the side of professionals, my local bookshops sell for me, my readers enjoy it and I can show you loads of letters and mails asking when the next book is out, and itís only in the second week from publishing, and no I wasnít advertising just making an observation against the way others approach writings. Besides, what writer tries to sell their novel on a website read only by other writers? Get real!
    Quote Originally Posted by quackers2computers

    If you think about it for one moment, the novel is only the beginning of the story. To get it read, is for a writer, the pinnacle. So I decided against hocking round the publishers. I planned not only the writing of the books but also how I would introduce myself as a writer. I only need one publisher to pick it up, read, then perhaps they will see potential and maybe my next will be Ďprofessionally publishedí. Then it will be on my terms not theirs.

    So letís talk about writers block, how to overcome it and stop knocking a few words missed in hundreds of pages of checking. Look at the so-called professional ones, the spelling and punctuation is just as bad.


    I don't think so---your post here, reflects many of the "myths" new writers believe that get them hooked on vanity press. You say "Iím not that literate, just a working class writer trying to make a name, like you all."

    I'd say just about anyone who wants to make it as a working class writer (whatever that is) is literate. You can't make it as a writer otherwise. You need a grasp of grammar and spelling to make it. And not "like you all"--many many writers here are published--by regular publishers, many here have agents. You did make it sound as if your way is the only way to write, you must plan or else.

    Hmm, I've written 9 novels now--none planned. I don't get writer's block. My agent combed my ms for spelling mistakes, and my publisher will as well. I doubt if those boo boo's on those first pages are the only ones--it follows to rule that if there are that many in the first chapter all others will be just as full of them.

    And 150K is very long for a first novel. period.




  15. #15
    haz a shiny new book cover Christine N.'s Avatar
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    I don't think it's what you said, but the WAY you 'said' it. I did this, here's how I write novels. You've been vanity published. Ok. On this particular board, that's not really a big deal (although kudos for getting to "The End"; many writers never do.)

    But if you've explored this board just a little (not say you didn't; perhaps you weren't paying attention) you'll see that we have quite a little group of well published and often published authors and industry professionals here.

    I suggest a jaunt through the "Writing Novels with Uncle Jim thread" where author James D. MacDonald (hey, there UJ) gives us much sage advice not only about writing but about the industry in general. The real publishing industry.

    It's not a closed shop, as you seem to think. Lots of people get in, all the time. The rest of your post I won't touch. I'll let Uncle Jim do it.
    Christine

    Young Adult Fantasy Author

    A CURSE OF ASH AND IRON: Coming Spring 2015 from Curiosity Quills Press

    "The Watchmaker's Ball" (short story), to be included in BEWARE THE LITTLE WHITE RABBIT (anthology), coming April 14 from Leap Books


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  16. #16
    Dreamer of dreams, teller of tales Absolute Sage Susan Gable's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quackers2computers
    Why didnít you add the next bit about the closed shop attitude of the industry?.


    The shop is not closed. It's not easy to get into, but then, nothing worth having is easy to achieve. I sold the second ms I ever wrote to one of the big publishers. I didn't sell the first because it was flawed. They were right to reject it. The second ms was much better. After I'd learned a bit more, I was not proud of the first ms, I was embarassed by it and so glad it got put away where no one could see it.

    Quote Originally Posted by quackers2computers
    okay Iím not that literate, just a working class writer trying to make a name, like you all. Iíve got no help from professional proofreaders, advice on polish,


    First of all, you'd better be literate if you want to be a writer. Very literate. As for professional proofreaders, I daresay the people who pointed out the spelling errors to you are not professional proofreaders. It doesn't take a professional to read for spelling, grammar or missing words. It does take someone who's fairly literate and well-versed in grammar and spelling. Those are the tools of the working writer. One would expect a carpenter to be familiar with the use of drills, hammers, saws, etc. just as one should expect a writer to be well familiar with his tools.

    Advice on polish - that's what places like this are for. We can give you advice on polish, or advice on where to find advice on polish. I always recommend the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. That will help you polish your work into publishable form.

    Quote Originally Posted by quackers2computers
    they wanted hundreds of dollars, and I even had to design my own cover.


    I don't pay my publisher, nor do I have to design my own cover. There's something to be said for shooting for the top - the door is not as closed as these companies that prey on new writers would like you to believe - as long as your work is of high quality. Yes, there are other elements involved as well, but yes, your work has to be good. (I'm not saying it's not. How many rejections from the big publishers did you gather before you tried another avenue?)

    Quote Originally Posted by quackers2computers
    I only need one publisher to pick it up, read, then perhaps they will see potential and maybe my next will be Ďprofessionally publishedí. Then it will be on my terms not theirs.


    The odds of another publisher picking it up are very, very slim. Although editors love to read in their spare time, they tend to pick and choose carefully what they read because they just don't have as much leisure reading time as they'd like. And the odds of being published completely on your terms, not theirs, are even slimmer.

    Now, onto your original question - I'm a mix. I'm a partial plotter and a partial pantzer. I need to have a basic structure in place so I know what the story is about, so I know my characters' goals, motivations & conflicts, so I can keep the tension up. I like to know where I hope to end up. (Although that's always subject to change.) It's even more important to be able to come up with some basic plot once you start selling on proposal.

    That said, I always let the story lead me. My favorite thing is when the story surprises me with a sudden twist. That's fun! And my editors know that things can change from a proposed synopsis. But I can't just jump off the cliff and wander blindly. That doesn't work for me. The creative process is different for everyone.

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  17. #17
    A Work in Progress aadams73's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Gable
    [/size][/font][/size][/font]


    Now, onto your original question - I'm a mix. I'm a partial plotter and a partial pantzer.

    That said, I always let the story lead me. My favorite thing is when the story surprises me with a sudden twist. That's fun!

    .
    I write mysteries so I always line out "whodunit and why" and given that I'm working on a series, I jot down what "goals" I want to see the main characters achieve in each book. Having said that, one of them just threw me a major curve ball so I'm having to work with that.

  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW Mike Martyn's Avatar
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    I'd have to echo what others have said here. You, me all of us have to be literate and constantly hone our skills. I've found this site invaluable. As part of this forum, there is a critique section where you can post a sample of your writing for others to review. Try it. Remember, people are providing critiques of your writing, not you as a person. Admittedly,when it's my stuff others are tearing apart it's hard not to take it personally.

    My first novel, I plotted nothing, to answer your original question. With my second novel, I did brief character biographies and let them go at it. Check out an earlier thread in this forum on exactly your question. We seem to fall into two camps, plotters and non plotters with shades of grey in between.


    I agree it's a fascinating sometimes terrifying process, the writing of a novel. Good luck and good wishes.

  19. #19
    Write For You, Edit For The Reader scribbler1382's Avatar
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    To say you're a writer but "not very literate" is like saying you're a carpenter but "not very good with wood".

    And I'm getting kind of tired of this whole "I don't have a reader" excuse people use lately for letting sloppy work out the door. What the hell do you call this forum? Or any of the hundreds of other forums, groups and bbs' out there? For a few minutes courtesy you could have had your book proofed by hundreds of people. This is just laziness, plain and simple.

    If you don't like the rules, don't play the game. Only children try to change the rules when the game seems too hard. (Well, children and politicians.)

    I'm sorry if this comes across harsh, but a lot of people (myself included) work DAMN hard to make it in this industry. And the last thing we want is someone making all our hard work seem like a waste of time.
    Marty

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  20. #20
    Erotica is not a four letter word! SRHowen's Avatar
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    I'll add that I get tired and weary of those who come to this board and others and play out the "I am the god of writing" act. This is how I did it and how it should be--because, drum roll, I am self published.

    If you have publishing credits--real ones, novels, non-fic, articles, are a teacher, teach workshops, already have a real agent--I'll listen to you--you've paid the dues. But when someone says this is how I wrote and you should to so that you to can be published--but that publishing credit is through a vanity press--no thanks I'll pass.

    Please don't further the myths about publishing with the "big guys" being a closed door, or getting an agent being costly, or a closed door for a select few.

    It's not--it's a wide open door, If you are willing to put in the work needed to get through, then you will make it. But if you write a poor book, and want an easy in then don't blame the industry for not being willing to put the effort in.

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW
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    Hmm, "illiterate writer." I believe we've coined a new oxymoron.

    Publishing is only a closed shop to those who can't write well enough to unlock the door.

    I mean, really, what does how much anyone charges have anything to do with how little you know? You can't blame your illiteracy on anyone but yourself. There's a fairly easy way to become literate. It's called studying. And being illiterate is no excuse to foist illiterate novels on an unsuspecting world.


    Get over the idea that publishing is closed to writers. It isn't. But you have to do your part, which means learning how to write, learning grammar, learning punctuation, etc. This is why they publish how-to books and text books. Ths is why they build libraries.

    You aren't just like most here in any way. Take a time out and LEARN all these things you think you have to pay someone else to do. It won't take all that long, but you do have to be willing to sit down and actually do it.

    Every last thing you need to learn how to do is readily avaible to you at no charge, either online or at a library.

    You can be illiterate, or you can be a writer, but you can't be both.

  22. #22
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Niapri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quackers2computers
    Lots of insults and yes plenty of Ďit canít be a good book because itís not professionally publishedí.


    No one's trying to insult you. They are rightfully upset, though. What you just did is the equivilant of a new carpenter with a shoddy chair saying, "Look at this chair! I've sold hundreds like it in my town, and I know everyone's dying to know how I did it, so here's how..."

    I was under the impression that this was a place for people to ask questions/seek advice, or share opinions - except for the "Learn Writing with Uncle Jim" board, of course, but he has some credentials to his name.

    Quote Originally Posted by quackers2computers
    Okay Iím not that literate, just a working class writer trying to make a name, like you all.


    *sigh* I know I'm repeating others by saying this, but you MUST be literate to be a writer. There are a lot of sources for you to go through to either have someone edit your work, or to learn the proper grammar and punctuation yourself; just brush up with any English textbook.

    Quote Originally Posted by quackers2computers
    I only need one publisher to pick it up, read, then perhaps they will see potential and maybe my next will be Ďprofessionally publishedí. Then it will be on my terms not theirs.
    Quote Originally Posted by quackers2computers

    So letís talk about writers block, how to overcome it and stop knocking a few words missed in hundreds of pages of checking. Look at the so-called professional ones, the spelling and punctuation is just as bad.
    A few words missed? If people are spotting very basic errors in your first chapter, there is a problem, and no publisher is going to put out a book that is difficult to read because of simple grammar errors. No matter how great the story, no matter how compelling the characters, if you shirk the most basic rules of the trade, not many people will bear with you. And I know that from some difficult first-hand experience.

  23. #23
    Swordsman zornhau's Avatar
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    The OP's tone was fine. If a pro had dropped in and said "Hi, I'm published. Thought you might be interested in how I write" we'd have all fallen over ourselves to make them welcome.

    However:

    Publishing is a business.
    Writing is a profession.
    Reading is a pastime... nobody is entitled to be read.

    If a book doesn't stand on its own merits, then people (strangers to the author) won't read it except out of a morbid curiosity.
    If it does stand on its merits, then a publisher will pick it up, since that's how they make their money.

    If the original poster's novel is good, then they are a fool, or have been fooled, for not going down the conventional route. If they've sold hundreds of copies off their website, that's one ##### of an an achievement. However, how many more copies would they have sold through a proper publisher?

    As for closed shop, professional editors and all that rubbish: the pros I know personally hacked their way in through main force of talent and hard work. They got their friends to proofread, they still workshop their work amongst their peers. And, before you ask, I met these people because I joined a crit group - hardly a closed shop.

    Final word: it is discourteous, nay, dishonourable, to send a badly proofread book out to readers.
    (Newly Agented but unpublished author. The usual caveats apply.)

    German Longsword in a nutshell: "I'd shake your hand... but I'm not sure where it landed."

  24. #24
    quackers2computers
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    Talking don't knock it till you try

    Well what a lot of words for two typos missed in the proofs and a disputed missed word, which I donít agree should be there.

    Sounds like sour grapes and jealousy from many of you. But I thank the ones that have made encouraging and constructive remarks. I only wanted to talk about writing not how it was published. I too was unset that the spelling errors got through but to pre suppose the book is full of them, it isnít, in fact there are six which is far better than most. Then to tell me 150000 words is too much for a first novel, in my view thatís a minimum. I write for the older teenager. They want value for money; few want a slim masterpiece perfectly written, providing the finished work is readable. As for agents, in the UK they get thousands of budding writers sending work every month most sent back not even looked at. The majority canít even spend the time to read the first page let alone a chapter. But why should I care? Yes I paid for my book, and yes I marketed it myself. But I clear £4 per book on my site and £2 sold by others. Thatís netted over a £1000 above book unit cost in two weeks and still orders arrive each day. The hit rate on my site is now over two thousand a day so who's right? You all maybe, after all what do I know? And yes I listen to critique, but only by those whoíd take the time and read it all, then itís constructive. Mind you I wouldnít advise any of you to buy it, itís defiantly not your type of book, itís for readers not writers with attitude.

  25. #25
    A Work in Progress aadams73's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=quackers2computers]

    Sounds like sour grapes and jealousy from many of you.[/QUOTE]

    Hardly. Anyone can *pay* to have a book "published". Best of luck to you despite your poor attitude.

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