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Sometimes in life, a tool belt is required.

 There are few people who haven't experienced the feeling of everything around them falling apart. As far as I can tell, there are three basic ways to deal with this situation. 

You could ignore it. Just pretend none of it is happening and go about your business. This will work for a while and you'll live in blissful ignorance for a time. Mark my words, though, it will catch up with you. Another choice is to wallow. That's right, wallow. Sit around and lament your situation and think of all the reasons why you can't make it better. Probably the worst choice since not only will you not solve or fix anything at all, you won't have any fun at all in the meantime. Then there's option three: do something. Stop listing the voice in your head reciting the myriad reasons why you can't change or improve your situation and think of just one reason why you can and just one thing you can do to make things better. I'd bet the farm that not only will you improve your situation, you'll also feel better; and that's something that always improves everything.

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Malena Lott's Fixer-Upper is the story of Macy Baxter, political wife living a seemingly perfect life with a seemingly perfect family in Atlanta. Only like most things that seem so, it is in fact too good to be true. Tired of acting picture perfect when her marriage feels anything but, she takes her daughters and heads to the Oklahoma farm/vineyard of her childhood for some R & R. Upon arrival she finds that the property is not only in disrepair, but is also on the verge of being lost. The vineyard and the family hardware business as well, are both failing. Added to her marital discontent and the PR fallout of her abrupt departure in the middle of her husband's senatorial campaign, Macy finds her world--all of her worlds, actually--in serious need of renovation.

Choosing the "do something" option, she dons her tool belt--both figuratively and literally--and gets down to the business of trying to save her marriage, fix up the Oklahoma homestead, and revive the family businesses. While knocking down physical walls in her childhood home, and confronting the deceptions of both local and national politicos and gossips, she breaks down the walls that have been standing in the way of a truly fulfilling life. Macy ends up rediscovering her inner country girl and reinventing the savvy modern woman that she is; and she does it all on her own terms.

Fixer-Upper is a story that many will relate to, that will help some find motivation to do their own "fixing," and that will provide many laughs along the way. It's easy to get caught up in the melodrama of a crisis (or two, or three), and stay a little too long at the pity party. But it's important not to take ourselves too seriously and rather remember that sometimes in life a good attitude and a tool belt are not only helpful, they're required.


Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman


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Melaina Phipps

After university and a lifetime love of reading and creative writing, it dawned on me that what I really wanted to "do" (in the way of responding to all those adults who ask you what you want to pursue after graduation) was read and talk about it. This prompted several more years of education pursuing an MA (University of Virginia) and then a PhD (University of Toronto) in Italian Literature. And while I soured on the concept of pursuing academic tenure, I was led in the right direction nonetheless as I discovered my interest in publishing.

Now more than ten years later, I've worked as a book editor both in-house and freelance on almost every genre of book you can think of, both fiction and nonfiction, trade and academic. The creative writing of my youth, the academic writing of my university years, and the professional writing of my adult life have developed into writing that tells a story and tells the truth. Now solidly ensconced in the freelance world I write and edit while enjoying the things I love: horses, dogs, horse racing , polo, food, fashion, and of course, words, words, words.