BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

NORA INTERVIEWS TOSCA LEE


ABOUT TOSCA LEE: Tosca M. Lee is a sought-after speaker, consultant, and writer. She received her BA in English and international relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, with special studies at Oxford University. She holds the titles of Mrs. Nebraska-America ‘96, Mrs. Nebraska-United States ‘98, and first runner-up to Mrs. United States. Tosca has appeared on radio and television to promote women’s charities, health, and family causes.

You are one busy lady Tosca, when do you find the time to write and can you tell everyone what you do for a living? What time of day works best for you? Where do you enjoy writing most?

I work as a Senior Consultant for a consulting and research firm. I travel almost every week. So writing happens in airports, on planes, in hotels sometimes. Days at home are more conducive to good writing since all my research and stuff is there, but it’s hard to be disciplined at home; I’m totally one of those people who doesn’t feel able to concentrate or be productive if my kitchen is messy or my laundry isn’t done, or my hairbrush has hair in it, or my garbage can needs to be washed or I suddenly realize I haven’t polished my silver jewelry in a decade. Seriously, I can find just about any excuse not to write.
These days, around 11pm or midnight or 1am… when my eyelids start dropping and I literally find myself nodding off, fingers on the keyboard, bed becomes so much more important than chugging a vat of coffee. I start thinking of viable ways to push back deadline, or what I can cut out the next day to get the extra time I need-—and some sleep.







I will write through the night if necessary--I wrote 84 pages between 5pm and 7am the night before Demon was due (I have no idea how). But I definitely don’t like it.







The best times for me are mornings and nights. During the afternoon I feel sluggish and stupid. Noontime I’m hungry and distracted. So I either have to get up early and tell myself I’ll clean/run errands/answer e-mail/sanitize my vacuum cleaners later in the day or stay up late.
Some writers plot out what they are going to write step by step and others say they write by the seat-of-their-pants, which style of writing best describes your style?


Part 1 of Linda Evans interview - Story Line for Demon

Finding time to write isn’t the problem—-it’s finding time to sleep! When I was in my 20s I was far less mortal. Living on two hours’ sleep a night wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t a big deal, either. I stayed up through the night if necessary to do what I needed to get done.
Something mostly in between. With Demon, the story unfolded as Lucian telling his life story. I went in later and added Clay’s story alongside the unfolding of Lucian’s.
With Havah, I had a really messy list of ideas and scenes all jumbled together. I went through the file and started moving things around mostly in order as much as I could. I never got more organized than that. I printed that sucker and just crossed off ideas as I used them.
I seriously fantasize about having storyboards, about detailed scene outlines with tension and arcs all neatly outlined in order so that when I sit down to write all I have to do is just that—-write. I also fantasize about world peace, which is likely to happen first.


How did you come up with the idea for Havah? What was your inspiration? What research did you do for this book?












The biggest “wow,” though, is when readers write and say their view or understanding of God has been impacted by one of my books. Because I know that does not come solely from me. There is something at work there that I could not have done on my own. So in that way I get to wonder at this idea that God works alongside and through us and in a way we are only a part of the process. Wow.




What was your favorite scene to write in Havah? What was the hardest? Why?
I really loved writing the part where Adam names her. First of all because they are fighting and the fight was based on real emotions from real fights I had had. But then because when he names her “Havah” she says the name is a “fiery exhale.” I just liked writing that last small section of the chapter.

The other part I loved writing was the end. I switched from past to present tense at the end of the book to make it more immediate. By then, Eve is old, Adam is dead, and she knows her own end is imminent.

Those are my two favorites. Read and tell me what you think.

Does fiction come easy to you? Who do you turn to to help you with the twists and turns of your story writing?

Fiction comes easily to me. Ideas, however, do not. I am creative with characters and scenery and words. But I am not creative at coming up with twists.


Jeff Gerke, who acquired both of these books for NavPress, was helpful to me with Demon. I got stuck at one point and just did not know what to do. He helped talked me off the ledge. Meredith Efken was helpful to me with the intricacies of Havah, pointing out where I had missed opportunities and could do so much more with the story.

I’m fortunate to know talented writers and brilliant and savvy readers—-all of whom I could hate a little bit were they not so funny and smart and just good. I can usually take questions to them and get some great feedback.

Other than that, the only thing I know to do is to walk away from it when it isn’t working—-which goes against my natural inclination to dig in harder-—and go do something else for a while. It usually comes to me in the middle of folding laundry.

What was your favorite scene to write in Demon? What was the hardest scene to write? Why?


TV INTERVIEW Friends and Neighbors - How came up with idea for Demon

There is a scene where Clay finally breaks down. He has tried to keep everything together, but his one last support is taken away and he breaks. His world is in a shambles, much as the earth was in an earlier scene narrated by Lucian, the fallen angel. I think of that one because I like the similarity between his story and imagery from earlier in the book.

PART 2 of Interview with Linda Evans Shepherd - Talks about Grace



My hardest was also in a way my easiest. They’re the parts that deal with the idea of obsession--Clay’s growing obsession with Lucian and his story, his former obsession with his ex-wife’s affair and paramour, his obsession with his computer calendar. I understand obsession; it’s very much a part of me.

How much of you is in Havah?If you are in this story, does it make it harder or easier to write?
The human, female part of Havah is me—-that urge to draw close to Adam even when she’s angry and hurt and would much rather punish and shun him. I mean, don’t we all know that feeling? Please tell me I’m not the only freak here.

(You are DEFINATELY not alone my friend - we can totally feel that with you!)

I think relational behaviors are hard to put a finger on and language around. Perhaps because of that, I tend to walk away from interactions and upsets and analyze them to death. Maybe I finally found one good thing that comes out of it, because writing about emotional interactions comes more easily.

What part of this story came first for your books Demon and Havah? Plot, characters, setting, subject matter?

Definitely the characters. Lucian’s character-—even though I didn’t know his name yet or whether I would refer to him mostly as “he” or “she”--came to me while musing about a new character for online collaborative storywriting group.
The Eve character, Havah, came to me as a weathered woman’s voice, Out of Africa style. So it’s always about the character to me. Even now, as I begin to toy with new ideas, it’s about the POV character, the voice, the quiet musings inside that character’s head.

I've heard authors say that their characters come alive and took them places they didn't expect to go? Did this happen in any of the books that you have written? If not, did you set out to tell a story and when you sat down to write it just started to change as you kept working on it?

I really used to think this was crazy talk. I instilled the reflection of this opinion in Clay (who is himself a writer) in Demon—up to the point that Lucian’s story takes over his life.
But you know, there are some things you can’t plan for. I don’t know if it’s just that four-hours-without-a-bathroom-break zone or the hypnotic throbbing of carpel tunnel or just the fact that my butt is numb and I can barely feel my lower extremities, but I find myself typing things for characters that I definitely didn’t plan.

How hard is it for you to come up with names for your characters? Please describe how you went about coming up with the final names for your charcters in this story?

You know, it’s never that hard, normally. With Clay, I needed a nondescript name for the character who represents the Everyman—-and the mortal clay humans that Lucian disdains so much. Mrs. Russo I knew would have an “R” last name. Katrina just seemed like a Katrina. Her last name I stole from a colleague of mine at work. A few other names I stole from friends—-Carson’s last name, Julie’s two boys.
Havah was harder. The main names were already set, but the “Adam and Eve” was posing a problem. What do you think of when you hear “Adam and Eve?” Two naked, pale-skinned people standing next to an apple tree with a snake coiled around its trunk. (Am I right? Or am I right?) That was one of the reasons I chose to use non-transliterated and Hebrew names for the characters.

QUESTIONS YOU WERE AFRAID TO ASK TOSCA SO I DID. :D

If you were trapped in a dangerous and life threatening situation, which fictional character would you choose to save you?

Bond. James Bond. Because if you're going to get rescued, it might as well be by someone hot armed with a ready martini.

If you could have super-powers what would they be and how would you use them?
I would love to be able to know when people aren't being honest. To have a built-in lie detector. Man, that would have saved me from a lot of grief in my first marriage!

Imagine you have $200.00 in your pocket, and you MUST spend it right away. How would you spend it? Why?

Caviar! And champagne. Because, you know. It's not like I get caviar and champagne every day. Especially in Nebraska.
Oh wait. I probably should have said I'd give it to charity, shouldn't I. Is it too late to change my answer?
(The Cats out of the bag now Tosca - No take backs!But you know you can do BOTH (I know that you have done both when you were Mrs. Nebraska!! I do know about this!The internet tells all! :D Not kidding! Ha! Ha!)

If you had a time machine and could visit ANY past event,where would you go and why? This can apply to historical events or a time in your own life..
To have run into Jesus on a regular day when he was, say, 25 or something and just doing his carpentry thing would've been cool. To say, "Hi. I'm technically not born yet, but you know who I am," and have him know me and call me by name--either the one my parents gave me or the one that I think he has for me all his own... to see him face to face and hear my name from his mouth. It makes me weak in the knees.

What is a special quality or talent you have that would surprise people? What makes your talent or event so special? And/or What special event have you experienced that would thrilled you and would surprise people?


So, uh, while I was studying international economics at Oxford, I learned how to levitate peas. It's really pretty impressive--I mean, you have to see it in person. But I can put a pea in my lips, tip my head back, and blow on it, and blow it into the air where it spins in the air like it's floating. Until I run out of breath and it falls down into my mouth and I choke on it. That part isn't as cool.

(Pretty Cool! Please don't show my boys that trick - One of my son's already had a near death choking experience I don't want to give him any ideas for his next magic trick Ha! Ha! Not kidding!!)

If you had all the time in the world (and just as much money); to do ANYTHING you wanted to do, what would you do? Why?




I'd travel ALL over. Safari. Mongolia. Antarctica. Tibet. Bhutan. The
Galapagos. Egypt. Morocco. Iraq. Jerusalem. I'd go by private jet and take
my mom, and my sister, and my beloved, Rick. But not all of them at the same
time, because then I'd be crazy.

What is your favorite restaurant to have breakfast? Dinner? Why? (now money is not a problem here - the sky's the limit) What would you order and why?

Breakfast: I know it's gross. I know in my heart it's gross. But I love biscuits and gravy at a great hole-in-the-wall with a side of eggs and sausage. I'm thinking the Hungry Bear in Woodland Park, CO

(Doesn't sound gross to me. I'll be right over!!)


Dinner: I like simple, like hamburgers and stuff. Though if I eat at the Hungry Bear in the morning and money's not an issue, then I want raw oyster bar, Veuve Cliquot, live scallops (I'm Asian--we're supposed to eat raw stuff like that), and maybe a bone-in ribeye (I live in Nebraska, where "vegetarian" means chicken instead of beef). And then I need pilates classes for a week as part of the deal.

(I LOVE Scallops and I'm willing to try the meat OK, I'll try the pilates class too! I may not be able to move after the week though! Ha!)

What was the first film you remember seeing as a child? What impact did it have on you?

The Sound of Music. That was my first movie. And I really didn't get it,except that I really dug the Do-Rae-Mi song. I had no clue what it meant,but I liked that song because my parents sang it with me.

(I LOVED THAT MOVIE and the song too!!So, do my kids!)

What TV shows were you passionate as a child? Why? (You know the shows that you just couldn't miss each week)


Fantasy Island. I was really into that. In college, it was Twin Peaks and Star Trek the Next Generation.

If you found a magic lamp and a genie was going to grant you three wishes - What would those wishes be?

So, the former beauty queen in me is piping, "world peace!" though I don't personally think world peace is possible in this life and world.
For every human--to know truth and find resolution and healing. For myself,personally, to write for a very long time.
And for a cure for cellulite.

Out of all the interviews you have done is there a question you WISHED SOMEONE would ask you but they never did??? What is that question and what is your answer to that question?

Q: "So, Tosca, what's it like to have just hit #1 on the NY Times bestseller
list?"

No one asks me that.

(Soon it will happen and I will ask you that, then you can tell me how it feels!!)

ARE THERE ANY FINAL WORDS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE MY READERS WITH.
I'm really looking forward to meeting all of you at book club. I love to talk to reading groups - It's always so much fun. I would like to leave you with this quote from Marianne Williamson:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence
automatically liberates others."


Thank you, Nora, so very much for including these fun questions in your interview. I can’t wait to meet your reading groups!! It will be nice to see you again. Thanks for having me on your blog.

From Tosca:Just in time for the holidays--a gift! I'm giving away a free copy of Havah
and a Havah travel mug. Leave a comment here and a way to reach you before
the 7th to enter.












Giving Havah or Demon as a gift, or already have a copy of your own? Let me
personalize them for you! I've just gotten in some gorgeous new bookplates
that I will sign and send at no cost. Send requests to tosca@toscalee.com

TOSCA
http://www.toscalee.com/
Research… Everything from the Pentatuch to translations of Genesis to plant propagation to flora and fauna of the Levant, Mesopotamian history, ancient farming, basket weaving, history of pottery, child bearing, ancient toolmaking, the Midrash, wolves, lions and other animal behavior, early sacrifice… have I bored you yet? I had more books on field survival, horticulture, Middle Eastern cuisine and the archaeology of the Zagros Mountain area than any sane person should possess.


Patti Lacy and Tosca Lee at the Mall of America 2008 - Book Fair

Can you tell me of two "Wow" moments you have had since you have been published? What made the moments so special for you?

Signing at my first book at events was a “wow” moment. It was so surreal; it had been a dream for so long.

Some time a few years ago, I’m not sure why, I started writing the musings of an old Eve. Just a few notes, here and there.

And then I put it in a drawer.

I didn’t take it out again until Demon was getting contracted and the publisher asked me what else I had. Those early scribblings became my prologue. The bad part was that’s all I had. Oops. So some time after Demon released, I started writing the rest of the story in a fit of panic.

36 comments:

  1. Tosca, you're one of the most fun writers I know. :D One of these days we'll get a chance to hang out for a while. LOL

    Great interview, Nora!

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  2. I am reading Havah right now at the expense of clean clothes and a real dinner for my kiddos. Sick huh!LOL I love the novel and am going to give a copy to my sister for Christmas so don't tell!!!

    by the way I love all the pictures mixed in the post. Very creative and fun to read.

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  3. Well, Havah is my top pick for all of 2008 for fiction. Last year Demon was one of my favorite reads, too. And regarding obsession... I kept thinking about both of Tosca's books long after I closed the covers and finished each story. That is amazing. I've read about 90 books in 2008 at Havah rose to the top! Kudos to my sweet friend, Tosca. It's absolutely brilliant I promise. And I also think it's cool that you used the video Angie (my roving reporter) did of Tosca at the MOA. She recorded it on my flipcam. Neat, huh?

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  4. Great interview Nora! Loved all the pics. And I loved Demon. Will read Havah for sure.

    Whew! So obsession isn't always a bad thing. Especially for a writer.

    Julie

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  5. Wow! What a fun, informative interview! Tosca, I haven't read your stuff yet, but I'm certainly looking forward to it! Please enter me into the drawing!

    ~Cecelia~
    dowdywriter (at) aol (dot) com

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  6. Your books sound wonderful, Tosca. Thanks for the interview. It's a great way to find new (to me) authors.

    Nina

    sqrlmom at gmail dot com

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  7. I was standing right behind you, Tosca, at the MOA book signing, but we never officially met. Definitely interested in reading both "Havah" and "Demon." Toss my name in the hat! Hopefully, we can meet at another ACFW event.

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  8. Tosca is a great writer. I enjoyed Demon and am looking forward to Havah... I'd love to be entered in the drawing.

    sheriboeyink[at]cox[dot]net

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  9. Tosca,

    I love both your books. I cannot tell you how much they made me think. I am not a deep thinker (just surface) and both books made me really think. I loved them. The interview was great too and I'm so glad I got to meet you with Nora earlier in the year! Can't wait to see you again.

    Nora,

    Great interview as always. Thank you so much for all you do. See you on December 15th.

    Gail Mundy

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  10. Tosca, this was a wonderful interview. I would love to read this fascinating book!!

    Please enter me in the contest.

    Thank you,

    Becky C.

    rec(at)hiwaay(dot)net

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  11. Wonderful interview, Nora. Did you see the bag Tosca gave away at the MOA? I was the lucky winner and enjoyed visiting with Tosca so much. What a fun, talented lady. Please include me in the drawing. I think I need the cup to go with the bag, don't you?
    carla(dot)stewart(at)sbcglobal(dot)net

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  12. Please enter me in the drawing, I have heard some great things about this book!

    What a wonderful interview, I loved all of the pictures.

    Melissa
    parcelhome at comcast dot net

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  13. What a lot of information about you, Tosca! I am thrilled for the chance to win a book and mug in this contest. What fun it was to meet you this past September, not at the Mall Book Signing but at the hotel. I think your books sound great and am very much looking forward to reading them. The only times I can make myself stay up all night are: 1. When we are travelling home and we can't afford a motel room for the night, 2. When I'm upset about not getting things done around the house for too long and dig in with a vengence or 3. When I'm reading the book of the month for ACFW discussion and the next day starts the discussion. I don't want to miss out so I stay up and finish it and get to discuss the next day. I've done this three times in the last six months.
    Pam Williams
    cepjwms at yahoo dot com

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  14. I love both books. Nora and Tosca best post I've read all year! Thanks, ladies. Can't wait to meet you.

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  15. Fabulous interview! I can't wait to read the books (ugh, I haven't read Demon yet). Thanks for entering me in your contest.

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  16. Tosca is such a lovely person, both inside and out. Demon was one of my favorite books of last year and I'm dying to read Havah. If I don't win, I'll definitely be buying it after Christmas :+}

    Thanks Tosca and Nora for a great interview!

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  17. OOPS, didn't leava a way to contact me (if I get blessed and win)
    jallee725[at]hotmail[dot]com

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  18. Nora,

    I had no idea how creative you are at combining pictures and words! Now I understand why you asked me for so many pics! I can see this is a labor of love with you--not your usual book blog, to be sure.

    As it happens, I recently sent DEMON to one of my sisters on Long Island.
    Now I have to get one of Tosca's bookplates for her--neat! Actually, I'll ask for two since I want to get and read that book, myself. I'd like to read HAVAH too, for that matter. It amazes me that anyone could write either book, and I'm fascinated.

    Looking forward to my upcoming visit here with you, Nora!

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  19. I've really been wanting to read this, it sounds amazing! Plus people are saying it's the best book they've read in 2008 and that's a pretty good recommendation seeing as how it's December! :-) Thanks for the great interview and giveaway!

    Lindsey
    ladyufshalott at yahoo.com

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  20. I just hope if I don't win this giveaway, that SOMEONE I've dropped MULTIPLE hints to about reading Havah, will get it, and give it for me for Christmas. LOL!

    Lalycairn (at) gmail.com

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  21. I am looking forward to reading them, thanks for the giveaway! :)

    elvineve01[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  22. I love the way you do your interview with the pics and great descriptions. I'd love to win a copy of this book, I didn't know anything about it till I read this. Thanks!

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  23. I'm so excited to read Havah! I'm crazy about Demon and have been recommending it to everyone I know. I 'get' the obsession thing : )

    cheers

    Deb

    sylverlighte@hotmail.com

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  24. Tosca & Nora: Great interview. I learned even more about you than when we had the opportunity to meet earlier this year. Can't wait to see you when you're back with us Tosca.

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  25. I'd love to drop my name in the hat. I can be reached at: valerierco AT yahoo DOT ca

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  26. I've heard many great things about this book, and I would like to read it. Please enter me in the drawing.

    Blessings,
    Deborah M. Piccurelli

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  27. Hi, everyone! Thanks so much for coming by my interview with Nora! And Nora, thank you for doing such a great--and fun--job. What a pleasure it is to meet you all. I wish we could give away copies to everyone. Regardless, I hope you'll check the book out and drop me a note with your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Tosca

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  28. What a great interview! The book sounds great! Please enter me in your contest.My email is tabby2004 [at] hotmail [dot] com

    Shelley

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  29. I have just learned of Tosca and her writings. I would love to win Havah. Thanks for the great interview.

    bev

    b{dot}werts{at}sbcglobal{dot}net

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  30. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read and enjoy the pictures in this interview with Tosca. It was definately fun to do. I appreciate your encouragement. Thanks Tosca for agreeing to this interview. We are really looking forward to you speaking at our book club next year.

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  31. The winners are Julie for the book and Jennifer for the mug. Congradulations ladies

    MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL

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  32. Great interview! I just want to know how Tosca eats at The Hungry Bear and stays so beautiful!

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  33. What an outstanding interview. I'm just sad I found it after the deadline to enter for the book drawing. Still, I loved both questions and answers. It went beyond the usual. Thanks to you both.

    Becky

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  34. Chiming in late but with enthusiasm... I loved Havah. Tosca, you drew me in from the first scene.

    I'll definitely buy Demon, too.

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  35. Nora & Tosca -
    Great interview as always Nora.
    Tosca,it was such a pleasure to meet you when you were with us last year. I look forward to hearing from you again.
    Sheryl

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