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My favorite writing guru, Donald Maass (“The Fire in Fiction”) had a suggestion: think of something that ticks you off, then have one of your characters riff on the subject. What ticks me off? Paperwork!

Paperwork is now the title of a novel starring the character Cheryl Markovic Dugan, a war bride from Dubrovnik abandoned in the US by her soldier husband. As a single mother struggling to hold on to her job as a night aide in a nursing home, Cheryl believes the ability to cope with paperwork is an over-rated skill. The only thing she really needs to read, she insists, is the human heart. Her formula works until the medical director of the home taps her to care for his aging mother, a retired high school English teacher. Cheryl pits her belief in intuition against the older woman’s insistence that, to succeed in life, you have to learn to read the fine print.

Paperwork will be published from my personal publishing empire, Turquoise Cat Books, next month.