I Did It!

Yup, I wrote 51k words in November! It wasn’t for one book per se but two novellas (under 40k word books) although I don’t know when I’ll publish them.

I’ve kinda become gun-shy about publishing my books fast because the deeper I get into a series, the more I mess up the timeline because I forget what happened three years before book 1 or what color the heroine’s eyes were in Book 2. That’s also what happens when you’ve got too many stories swirling inside your head and even more characters just waiting for their turn.

CarlyQ and I used to talk about the bar inside my head where my characters all wait until I’m ready for them. The original guys—Ashe, Gareth, and Devlin (nope, didn’t forget him, Carly!)—have been waiting a while and they’re long overdue to come back even though Greg is basically in HEA (Happily-Ever-After) land.

I actually found the perfect interpretation of my characters’ current hangout in Gabe Leonard‘s work. He’s a painter who got his start on the boardwalks of Venice and his art is so full of mystery and energy.

The paintings below are featured in his book Power Love & Success which I’m eagerly awaiting in the mail any day now! My absolute favorites are Smoke Screen and Shark Tank because I see my billionaire characters in them especially the men my Naughty Pen writes about.

 

With December already here, it means there are only 30 days left before the end of the decade! Hard to believe, huh?

So far, my plans are to keep writing my books. And not just Liz’s books that are filled with emotional angst (and sometimes food) but other pen name books as well because there’s a thing called brand and once established, you really do have to maintain it. And the other pen names are there to scratch that itch of writing stories that are off-brand, that are insta-love and smutty, and sometimes dark, too. And since my goal for 2020 is for us to move into a bigger house, that means a lot more books need to be written.

What about you? What’s your plan for the last month of the decade?

No More Net… or Happy Book Birthday, Harlow and Dax!

Three years ago this month, I released my fourth book. It was a story that had been percolating inside my head about an older woman who falls in love with a much younger man. Originally planned as a novella, one that would have tons of funny and steamy scenes, it would end up taking a different road all its own the moment I sat down to write the first chapter.

I didn’t even know the heroine’s name that night in May. I just knew that she was on some kind of vacation in the Southwest, a place I’d been to in the past and had fallen in love with. There was just one catch.

This was one vacation she planned never to return from.

And so the original steamy lighthearted novella turned into something different but one that I realized was a story I wanted so badly to write. I had to write it like my life depended on it.

Around this time, I had already written three books, all of them commercial failures. I had been so close to quitting writing altogether and heaven knows what my friends and family thought of me and my sad attempt at being a writer. But something inside me decided to give it one more try. One more book.

One more story.

And so, I quit my massage teaching job that summer. I still had my main private practice even if it had already been cut back from five days a week to two days a week because of my son’s schedule which only made childcare costs more expensive because now I was paying per day instead of a monthly rate.

At this point, I’d lost whatever confidence I once had about being a decent writer. I really had no idea if I was good enough or not. I had no idea if the story would resonate with anyone outside of Wattpad (where I was posting each chapter). But I had to try. Quitting my teaching job which I had relied on for that extra boost of income was also that message to myself that said, no more net. Now show them what you got even if you have to bare your soul to do it.

For days and weeks after the book was done, I was so scared of letting it go. If I could have delayed the release, I would have simply because the book, to me, was too raw and too honest in parts. I had also changed my pen name and so people were basically seeing a brand new author at this point. Just another wannabe writer trying her hand in the author world.

But life has a way of reminding you that you’re on the right path. The singer-songwriter whose two songs inspired the book granted me his permission to include lyrics to one of the songs when I saw him perform in Los Angeles two weeks before the release, prompting me to go back and do those additions just in time.

There was no turning back now.

And so if my math is correct, October marks the third book birthday for Dax and Harlow’s story, Everything She Ever Wanted. It marked the official debut for my main pen name and it would remind me that you can’t sit back and wait for things to happen. You have to take that first step and put yourself out there.

You have to go after your dream, share your stories with those who need to read them and do it again and again and again.

I also learned that you do need to set a series bible and timeline but that’s a story for another day…

In the meantime, the ebook version of Everything She Ever Wanted is FREE for a limited time. It’s also available in paperback and audiobook.

When her husband leaves her for a younger woman, transplant surgeon Harlow James hits the open road and ends up in Taos, New Mexico hoping to find out where she went wrong.

Instead, she finds the perfect man.

Master woodworker Dax Drexel is gorgeous, funny, and represents every reason to keep going.

There’s only one problem: he’s too young.

But even if everything about Dax is perfect, can their fling stand a chance against the world that betrayed her… the same world she’s about to return to?

For Dax, a naked woman asleep in his bed when he thought his rental would have been available is the last thing he expected to find on his day off.

He could walk away… but he can’t.

For there’s something about Harlow James that he just can’t turn away from.

Sure, she’s thirteen years older than him, but she’s smart, independent, and beautiful.

She’s also broken.

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Musings Over Coffee: I’m a Hot Mess

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Another hot day here in Southern California and I’m still a hot mess without a Macbook to work with. I’d ordered a used iMac from a third party but it arrived damaged and so I had to return it and I’m still waiting for my refund to show up on my bank account. In the meantime, my MacBook is supposed to be ready to be picked up today. They’re just doing more tests on it to make sure everything is back to normal.

I guess I must have downloaded a virus or some kind of malware because they said the solid state drive was wiped clean so whatever I didn’t back up to the cloud is gone. I figured if I don’t remember what it was then I don’t need it (crossing my fingers). But it is what it is. I would love to get a brand new MacBook but I hate that all new Apple devices from what I’ve heard are designed to be tossed away. And given the state of affairs of the world where we have enough trash to contend with, I’m not a fan of that. No way you can simply upgrade stuff inside it like you used to (unless you go only to a certified Apple technician), and that’s why I’m not buying a brand new one yet. They’re also over a thousand dollars and with my book income on life support, even with a healthy credit limit, I just couldn’t push that Buy button.

But I’m still here. I’m surviving #firstworldproblems

I do have the HP Stream laptop I bought two years ago when DH needed to practice with Excel but never did and so it’s been sitting around with its barely there memory (32g) that you can’t even upgrade the operating system without first deleting everything. Well, I did just that and inserted an SD card as was recommended and almost bricked the thing. But luckily I was able to restore it to its system settings without all the bloatware that HP had included when I originally purchased it and so far, so good.

So, yes, I’ve had a crash course in Windows after switching exclusively to Apple products since 2006. And I still can’t write with the thing because my stories are ALL written in iOS apps like Ulysses and so I end up writing them on my iPad. It can be done and I have been writing but there are still a few limitations. I’ve also started uploading my files directly to Google Docs so that my editor can take a look at my WIP since I’m really behind everything.

How behind? According to TimeandDate.com, it’s been 163 days since I last published. That’s four months. Yikes!

But you know what?! The LilDude goes back to school in TWO DAYS!!!!

By the way, if you’ve read this far, Everything She Ever Wanted is $0.99 this week. It’s also part of a $0.99 weekend sale that ends today! Check out other books that go from sweet to steamy!

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It’s Monday or Day 5 Without a Laptop…

Day 5 (or is it 6 because it feels like 6 or 60) without my laptop and I’m feeling the withdrawal symptoms already. Even though I can still type as fast on my wireless keyboard and write on my iPad since thank goodness, I have my trusty writing apps that work on both the Macbook and all my iOS devices, it’s just not the same having a laptop to work with.

So I’ve been doing the laundry, cleaning the house, and wondering how on earth I get to tidy up our tiny house yet fit everything in it. I should be writing–and I have but it’s just not the same on my trusty ol’ Macbook!

But I’m not giving up just yet.

It’s only Monday.

Musings Over Coffee: When You’re Without Your Computer But You Need to Put Down the Words…

So my 2011 MacBook Pro fizzled the other night and it’s at the computer repair shop where they tell me it will probably be about five to seven days BEFORE they can even look at it since they’re backlogged. I could have taken it somewhere else but these same guys upgraded the hard drive to an SSD two years ago and made it work like new.

Of course, the body of my poor MBP isn’t the greatest anymore; the keyboard no longer works and the battery was starting to bulge which rendered the trackpad useless which means I’ll probably end up needing a new Mac. I do have an HP laptop but since all my writing/publishing apps are iOS based, I’m not bothering to use that one.

Yesterday, I typed 4K words on my Freewrite typewriter in a re-edit of The Replacement Fiancée and today, I’m working on my current WIP again, The Other Side of Love online using Plot Factory.

Plot Factory is an online story planner that can help you get your story from idea to completed story. You can even listen to a narration of your story if you’d like which is a great way to self-edit your story as you go.

They have a free plan but I’m using the Novelist plan ($10/month or $100 a year) to make use of all the features.

And with me being without my MacBook where I write, outline, and format all my books, Plot Factory is just what I need. I was already using it before my MacBook died as you can see from the dashboard below but even better, the app works perfectly on my iPad as well and that’s where I’m continuing Sarah and Benny’s story.

So if you’re looking for a tool to help you get your writing organized, check out Plot Factory. I’m not getting paid to say this, by the way. I just think it’s an awesome tool for writers and it’s one that’s saving my butt right now and helping me meet my deadline.

Hope you guys have a wonderful weekend!

Musings Over Coffee: A Motorcycle Club Anthology and the 12-Week Year

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LOVE, LOYALTY & MAYHEM: A MOTORCYCLE CLUB ROMANCE ANTHOLOGY
99¢ FOR RELEASE WEEK ONLY!

Nineteen of your favorite MC authors come together to bring you brand new, never released stories from some of your favorite motorcycle clubs.

Love-

Life with a biker is an adventure full of twists and turns. When love is involved, MC men never back down from what they want—they fight for it.

Loyalty-

Loyalty is the foundation in any motorcycle club. Break it, they break you. There isn’t a line they won’t cross to protect who or what they claim as their own.

Mayhem-

These men live a life made by their own set of rules. Chaos tends to always find them. You cross them, the consequences are swift.

Hold on for the ride as this talented group of authors come together to bring you an anthology like no other.

Your favorite clubs, new clubs, and everything in between can be found in this collection filled with suspense, action, adventure, romance and so much more!

**All profits from the Love, Loyalty & Mayhem: A Motorcycle Club Romance Anthology will be donated to Bikers Against Bullies USA.

BAB USA is a national not-for-profit organization created by bikers to raise awareness and empower the community to fight the terrible effects of bullying on young people through education, community outreach and fundraising. https://buff.ly/2ISWFkp **

AMAZON: https://buff.ly/2JFyHcv
IBOOKS: https://buff.ly/2YXebJj
NOOK: https://buff.ly/2Z20hGa
KOBO: https://buff.ly/2k8Jdip
GOOGLE PLAY: https://buff.ly/2xTYsyV

Snagged this from Facebook and bought my copy from iBooks. I normally don’t read MC (motorcycle club) books but they had me at Bikers Against Bullying receiving all profits from this anthology. And for 99¢ during release week, it’s a great way to be introduced to the MC genre — and help a good cause.

On the writing front, I’m kinda taking the summer off. I’ve wiped my slate clean of projects and started from scratch. Right now, I’m doing the 12-week year patterned after Brian Moran and Michael Lenington’s The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months.

The premise basically goes like this: “This book redefines your “year” to be 12 weeks long. In 12 weeks, there just isn’t enough time to get complacent, and urgency increases and intensifies. The 12 Week Year creates focus and clarity on what matters most and a sense of urgency to do it now.”

So I’ve set up a 12-week schedule for myself. No more “I have to get a book out every 4 weeks” mindset. Now, I’m going by 12 weeks. That’s 12 weeks to write, edit, and publish ONE book out. Yes, it will take me forever to get a book done that way but there’s a little add-on to the list of things I’ve set out for myself. It’s that when that first book is done before the 12 weeks (six to eight weeks is likely), then I start working on the second book. It gives me breathing room and less pressure.

It’s also summer vacation.

What about you? What are your plans for the summer? For fellow authors, what are your writing plans? For readers, what are you reading?

 

 

Musings Over Coffee: Writing to Your Strengths

Years ago, I did the Personality Type test that said I was ENFP, a Campaigner. I posted the assessment results on my blog and then moved on, mainly because while it was cool to be someone who was “a true free spirit,” or “the life of the party,” I had no idea how it applied to my life as a writer.

“More than just sociable people-pleasers though, ENFPs, like all their Diplomat cousins, are shaped by their Intuitive (N) quality, allowing them to read between the lines with curiosity and energy. They tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle where everything is connected – but unlike Analysts, who tend to see that puzzle as a series of systemic machinations, ENFPs see it through a prism of emotion, compassion and mysticism, and are always looking for a deeper meaning.”

-ENFP Personality, the Campaigner, 16 Personalities

Last month, I took a course by Becca Syme called Write Better Faster. It came highly recommended by authors I admired. It took me a while to get into it because I was still in the midst of tackling more projects than I could handle and feeling overwhelmed by them all. It also explains why I have four giveaways for February to celebrate the release of ONE novella.

It comes with the territory of being overwhelmed and not realizing I’d signed up for or set up so many promotions. All while trying to write three stories at the same time.

Anyway, back to Becca Syme’s course. Well, I finally had time to go through the lessons and one of the first things we had to do was take a personality test, the same test I took two years ago.

Guess what? Same result – ENFP.

But this time, Syme, who is also a life coach, explained the results in relation to being a writer or a creative. Her examples made sense as to why a very detailed story outline that I tell myself will take me two weeks to shape into a novel (as I pretend to be someone’s ghostwriter) often has me looking for more new projects instead… oh look! A squirrel!

It’s a vicious cycle but thanks to Syme’s Write Better Faster course, it’s a cycle I recognize doesn’t work for me and never did. The system that works for me is not an outline or an 8-image collage aesthetic. It’s a book cover, one that has my name on it already and the working title.

From that image, I go to town and write the story loosely following Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” and my understanding of Michael Hauge’s “identity to essence” which you can find here. When I’m stuck, I talk out loud to myself. Sometimes I talk to my characters (in my head) and ask them where they’re going with the story so far. Sometimes I write out the scene according to their eyes even if that chapter won’t make it into the final book. It’s my process and it turns out, it falls under my strengths as an ENFP.

I have my eighth-grade English teacher to thank for this, by the way. One day, she handed us a shoebox filled with pictures and she told us to select one picture and for the next half-hour, write something based on the photograph. It blew my mind and to this day, it’s one of the only days I remember from that year other than the one where I almost got suspended for writing an NSFW play months later… but that’s a story for another day.

So anyway, for so long I thought it wasn’t just weird. I thought it was wrong because I didn’t know anyone successful who did it. I mean, the successful authors in my peer group had visual schedules and publishing schedules that went all the way to two years with multiple series and books already outlined and written within the two-month window they allotted and then published. I mean, their systems worked. They rocked and they killed it in terms of sales and ranking. Of course, I wanted to do exactly what they were doing (although some now have ghostwriters to keep up with the crazy schedule).

Did it work?

Well, no, not for me.

So now I know better and accept that my process isn’t weird or wrong. It’s simply what works for me and I’m finally okay with that (I may have said I was okay with it before but I never believed it).

At this point, it’s not about writing or editing faster for me. It’s about letting my personality type work for me and not against me. So if I need a book cover to inspire that next story, then that cover will inspire that story. If I need to talk to myself or to my characters instead of writing the details down, then I talk as much as I want. It’s just the way my wiring works and after two years of trial and error, I’m glad I finally realized that the way I used to write was because of my wiring, my personality.

If you would like to find out how to write better faster, check out Syme’s course. I think she’s got a new one coming up this month. If not, sign up for her newsletter so you can stay updated about the next one. That’s how I heard about it. I signed up after one course was closed and then got signed up to the next one and I have no regrets.

Syme also has a new book out called Writer, You Need to Quit (and no, it’s not what you think).

Here’s the description:

The marketplace is crowded. The industry is moving fast. Everyone has opinions about how you should work and how you should run your business. If you’ve found this book, there’s a good chance you’ve heard them all. So, what am I saying that’s any different?

I’m saying, there are some things we all need to quit doing. What are they? Take a look inside and see.

Of course, you could still click away, and go about your business. Up to you, Neo. Red pill or blue pill?

I’ve coached a lot of writers–from the Uber-successful to the brand-new–and this book is a collection of what I’ve learned from watching patterns. There are some things we all need to quit, and I can tell you why.

So that’s pretty much all the musing I’m doing this Sunday. My coffee’s long gone cold and I might need something to eat before the caffeine hits me on an empty stomach.

What about you? What’s your personality type?

Procrastinating On the Beach

Today was procrastinating on the beach day.

I was so tempted to just lay out a blanket and hang out for hours like I used to when I lived one block from the beach. I still live a mile away from the beach but we have a breakwater where I live, unlike Hermosa Beach which doesn’t and so you get this:

Of course, there are pros and cons to living this close to the ocean. Sometimes, the tide gets too close to your front door but that’s when the city berms the sand right in front of your house during certain parts of the year. And other parts, you get the clear view of the waves the hear them from your bedroom window.

That means I haven’t been writing. After spending yesterday celebrating Lil Dude’s birthday, I was too tired to do any writing after he went to bed but I’m hoping to do some catch-up today. Got my cover for the first of ten novellas and I should get started with it. The goal is 17K (actually it’s 15k but I’m giving myself some leeway) and it’s going to be an exercise in getting a full story down in 15k words.

I’m actually looking forward to it. I just have to tell myself not to look at the two other novels that I’m supposed to get written by March!

Bring It On, 2019!

It’s the 7th of January and although I’m running a bit behind on my resolutions, er, goals, it’s okay. It’s still January.

I’ve got a lot planned on my plate for 2019 and whether or not I get to check them off one by one remains to be seen. But what matters is that I have something to check off, first of all.

I have goals.

For most of 2018, I looked at the world with dread. Dread over current events. Dread over political rumblings. Dread over what’s going to happen next. Dread over someone reporting my books for the tiniest typo and I’d lose my Amazon account. Dread, dread, dread.

Basically, FEAR.

Suddenly the glass was half empty every damn day. There was nothing to refill it and why would there be if my social media diet consisted of checking Twitter every day and getting caught up in one political upheaval after another. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another and while I thought I’d emerge unscathed, I was wrong.

That fear spilled into my writing. I didn’t enjoy any of my releases until the last one, Friends with Benefits, when something inside me pleaded pleaded pleaded, please be happy. You made something beautiful.

I recognized that voice.

It was from the child who wrote her stories to save herself from a narcissistic mother. It was the child who did whatever she could to be seen by her equally narcissistic father. And when she wasn’t heard, she just wrote and wrote because she heard herself. She heard her words and they were beautiful. Full of hope. No judgment.

I heard her.

And who knows? Maybe my son heard her, too, because today, from the back seat, he said, “Mom, can you write a little boy in your story? Someone like me with a mom like you.”

So for 2019, I’m putting the blinders on. I’ve got stories to tell and until the day comes when I can’t tell them anymore, I’ll keep telling those stories, chugging along, giving the same stories that save me each and every day.

SO WHAT’S THE PLAN, LIZ?

The plan so far is to write three novels. Daniel Drexel’s story, Gareth’s, and Todd. There’s also a sequel with Sarah and Benny that’s been in the works for some time.

And then there is Love in Taos, ten steamy shorts that will correspond with certain holidays, slice-of-life stories that go between the books. They’ll have a lot of romance and maybe, steamy scenes.

It’s ambitious, yes, but they’re boxes I’ll check off every time I accomplish one of them. Boxes that will keep me busy.

And then there’s this:

Writing this book was one of the hardest things for me as a writer. I wanted to write so much but I never expected the pushback from alpha readers who hated their version of Ashe Hunter torn down word after word. I didn’t expect the vitriol with some of their reactions and so I gave up on the book, set it aside in my hard drive for a year and a half until my son’s school aide chanced upon it on the Kindle I had loaned her. She said she sat on the couch for all weekend until the Kindle ran out of charge, paced until the device had enough charge to show the book and continued reading.

Because of her, Loving Riley finally got dug out of the box I might as well label FEAR and it would become my biggest, most profitable launch ever, even bigger than all the other books that would come after it combined.

And now Ashe Hunter is coming to life on audio. In the book, he’s originally from northern England in a little town called Reeth close to Grassington and the Dales. Wuthering Heights country. I hope listeners won’t mind hearing the Northern accent in his deep voice but he’s the Ashe I’ve been waiting for all this time (with shades of Sean Bean, too) and I can’t wait to share him with you this year.

Happy New Year, everyone. It’ll be amazing.

New Year Resolutions And A Look at 2018

So it’s 2019 and I see my peers declare their resolutions for the coming year on the forums I frequent. I’m tempted to do that but since I never got around to take a look back at the year that was, I figured I might as well do that first.

This gif pretty much sums up 2018 for me:

 

WTF just happened, 2018?

That’s because I failed to hit 80% of my resolutions from last year that I listed here.

But that’s okay. After all, it’s done. The year is over and there’s no point beating myself up over forgetting every single one of those resolutions, to begin with, including the one about being grateful for five things each day. Reading it again now, I thought, wow, I wrote that?

Instead, I’m going to focus on what I accomplished in 2018.

First, I published three books under Liz: Breaking the Rules, The Replacement Fiance, and Friends with Benefits.

And that’s pretty much it.

After finding myself having a great year in 2017, I spent most of 2018 mired in self-doubt. It didn’t help that 2018 would prove to be a tough year for my author business when sales dipped below 50% starting May and I’d spend the next few months thinking maybe if I put more money in ads, it would help. Unfortunately, what used to work for me before didn’t work for me anymore, and the only thing that helped me get my sales back up again was publishing new books in the last quarter.

Still, the whole thing left me in a depression for most of the year. I was never happy because I wasn’t hitting the same numbers my author friends were hitting, whether it was the number of Facebook or Instagram followers, mailing list followers or earnings.

Fortunately, one of the good things that happened in 2018 was discovering Seth Godin’s This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See. While I’d been taught in the past year to put out minimum viable products (i.e. books that may not exactly be perfect out of the gate but are good enough) and iterate (fix them) as you go, Godin basically says do work you’re proud of. Care enough to give your readers the best product you can possibly make and earn their trust that way.

Instead of publishing minimum viable books once a month so readers don’t forget you or the Amazon algorithm starts working in your favor, produce your best work for that minimum viable audience, i.e. the minimum number of people who will buy what you make and tell their friends about it, the same people who’ll miss you if you don’t show up for some time. These are the people who found your work, loved it and want to see more of it. People who trust that you’ll give them only your best work.

Discovering This is Marketing quieted the monkey mind that kept telling me I should have been making the same five figures a month my peers were making or publishing the 12 books (one book a month) they were pushing out. Instead, it made me look at the three books I’d published under Liz and go, you know, these are three books I am very proud of… and I want to produce more work like that in 2019.

If you’re a knitter, you’re probably familiar with the scarf. It’s called the Hitchhiker scarf by Martina Behm and I need to make myself another one soon because I miss creating things I can actually use. Turns out, a book doesn’t keep you warm but a scarf sure does.

I also want to read more books in 2019. I’ve started with Poldark (Book 1 with Ross) by Winston Graham and the audiobook is amazing. No, I haven’t seen the TV series and have no plans to until after I finish listening to this book. The writing is just impeccable. Another book I just started reading is True Places by Sonja Yoerg and her writing is just luminous. Sometimes I find myself rereading passages because every line is so rich with meaning.

I’ve also started using bullet journals this month. That means writing down stuff and checking them off as I go. The digital versions just don’t do it for me. Writing something by hand just works on my brain differently and more effectively than typing it on my phone or tablet and checking it off.

I do have a full publishing calendar for 2019, including a plan to publish ten steamy shorts under certain holidays. Valentine’s is the first one up which means I have to come up with a story very soon.

This also means I need to limit my time on social media. Easier said than done but I have to do it if I want to write those 10 novellas this year AND three novels for my three series. Hopefully, that’s where keeping a bullet journal will come in handy. I’ve had to write up a Things to Do Daily just to keep track. Once each one is checked off, then it’s time to write.

Come to think of it, thanks to my bullet journal, I just paid two tickets today, one was a street sweeping ticket ($60 ouch!) when the Lil Dude was home sick and it completely slipped my mind to move my car into the driveway and the second is a Metro ticket ($25) for driving in the HOV lane without a permit. I blame that on Siri directing me to the HOV lane on our way to the California Science Museum and by the time I realized what was happening, it was too late.

Sheesh. I really miss old-fashioned Thomas Guides…

Not the prettiest but if it gets the job done, then it’s fine with me!