My real life mother-in-law and fictional heroine died in 2009. Knowing my plan to write her life, the family bequeathed me a box filled with her personal journals, thinking these bound books would be a treasure trove of information about her somewhat murky history. I recalled her hesitant responses to some of my questions. I hoped these books would fill in the gaps, not only about the heroes, but also the scoundrels, in her past. I envisioned spending hours delving into personal thoughts, plumbing the depths of emotions, fitting the puzzle pieces together. Imagine my dismay seeing the chicken scratches of unintelligible symbols that could have been written in Sanscrit. Then I reread her memoir, noting that she’d attended Rasmussen Business College in the 1940’s where she apparently become adept at shorthand, which was essential for any aspiring private secretary charged with the responsibility of taking the boss’ dictation. Unfortunately, clever Patsy had developed her own private version so research would lead nowhere. I remembered times when even she struggled to decipher her own notations. This was a dead-end. I would have to return to plan A: make it up as you go. The plot thickens.