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Yes, you read that correctly. If you’re using a fireplace, make sure the damper is open, so the smoke goes up the flue. Duh, right?

One of the hazards of creating fiction is that even when you are not sitting down and writing, the characters may still be chattering in your head impatiently waiting for you to get back to work. 

But daily life—mine, not theirs—must go on, and I need to take breaks to do routine chores. One of the least usual is lighting a fire although I had the kindling all set up the other night. Then I became distracted by one of my fictitious friends and couldn’t remember if I had opened or closed the damper. Of course, it’s open, I told myself. 

A few minutes later the haze in the room told me otherwise. Then the screeching of the smoke alarm confirmed it. The dog’s howling and the security company’s urgent call were unnecessary reminders that I had not been paying attention. 

All is well now. The house smells as if some neighbor is burning leaves even if we don’t intentionally do that in Arizona. I’m reminded to do a better job of being present. And telling my characters to give me a break from time to time. 

Be well, happy reading. And don’t forget to get your flu shot!

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Andrea Ibanez Kress ()


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