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During my one-month sabbatical, I set out to write the first draft of an 80,000-word thriller to follow up on my novella, No Amends.


But every—single—word felt painful.


My brother-in-law, a professional comedic sketch writer, suggested I was out of practice. "Give it a week, and the words will flow."


One week after another, the words ground to a halt.




I dreaded the blank page.


Maybe I should do something else. Paint. Read. Take up another hobby.


But everyone encouraged me to soldier on.


I thought I might need a longer period of laying fallow. After all, I had written four books in two years. One year of rest wasn't enough.


Determined to refuel my creativity well, I vowed not to write during my vacation to celebrate my husband's birthday and our wedding anniversary. When we returned, I stared at the blank screen.


During my time away, I had jotted down some notes but as soon as I sat to compose them into a story, I froze.


Finally, a week before I returned to work, I proposed a last-minute, mid-week getaway to Monterey. "You always wanted to see the aquarium," I told my husband. He agreed to make the arrangements. I didn't have any expectations about the trip. I just wanted a reprieve from the relentless inability to write and one more chance to get away from the day-to-day responsibilities of work before I embarked on teaching another 10-week course.


But as soon as I stepped inside the quaint bed and breakfast my husband had booked, I said, "A Hallmark movie needs to be filmed here!" Every step I took throughout the 10,000 square feet of land and building confirmed my deep love and respect for this architectural masterpiece. Plaques on the wall announcing the award-winning vacation spot confirmed my feelings. This location, more than the city in which it was located, was a winner.


Of course, I couldn't write to Hallmark and demand a movie be set here, but I could write the story that would entice them to consider it.


Once my decision was made, the words flowed effortlessly.


I wrote the first draft of the manuscript in less than two months.


And that, dear reader, was the origin of Last Chance, a love story about finding your happily ever after in a place you can call home.