My Word for 2017

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Welcome to 2017, a fresh chance to make your year the best yet!

I’ve put some thought into my word focus for the year. What will help drive me to achieve my possibles and impossibles? Let’s look at my list of Resolutions (more of a guideline, really):

  • Spend more quality time with my husband and children. Admittedly, I’m a bit offish with my kids sometimes…I have so many things I need to be doing All. The. Time. This leads me to the next one:
  • Prioritize and organize better. I’m considering making a daily and weekly list of things that need to happen in the order they need to be completed. Of course, this list is probably going to be fluid enough to give me some flexibility. With a large family, you never know what wrenches will be thrown into the machinery.
  • Publish three books. This includes the one I’m currently editing to re-release. Books include my standalone 900 AD Ireland mythological fantasy, my post-apocalyptic shapeshifter novel, and the third installment to the Sabella Hall series. These by themselves require the utmost in discipline, ergo my next list item:
  • Write for 20 minutes, every day, no exceptions. Edit a chapter a day. Make no excuses.
  • Get back to FlyLady. I used to use her cleaning and organization technique religiously. I fell off the bandwagon when I went back to work full time and need to get back to my routines. This includes 15 minutes of loving movement. I’m thinking yoga is a good place to start. And last but not least:
  • Tend to my health. I have some health issues that have become larger unaddressed or have been looked into but not treated to full capacity. I have painful lumps in my neck and a section of the spine near my neck is tender to the touch. I get constant headaches from these lumps. I need to have them rechecked (already gone through a HUGE round of steroids and daily stretches). I need a partial hysterectomy. I need to have my abdominal hernia mesh reevaluated and possibly removed. I only list these things to give myself more incentive, because when you stop to think about the issues, they aren’t little bitty paper cut problems. I need to take care of myself so I’m better equipped to be a good mom, wife, and overall human being.

And so, my word of the year is one that best puts all of this into perspective. 2016 (and previous years) have been full of laziness, self-doubt, procrastination, and frumpiness. This year I know I can do it.

Dedication.

In family, in friends, in work, in life may I hold the dedication to see things through.

Happy New Year 2017, y’all!

What’s your word for the year? Comment below!

Have a few moments for some awesome? Please visit my sister’s blog over at An Oregon Homestead for her word of the year and much more!

Using Pinterest To Plan Your Novel

With NaNoWriMo looming just 9 days away, many writers are scrambling to plot, plan, and assemble their tools. I’m no exception, as I just wrapped up a WIP and am now using my last week(ish) to get prepared and pumped up for the next one. As a pantser, I do most of my planning in my head, with the odd rambling segment written down before it escapes me. What I make the most use of these days, however, is Pinterest.

Pinterest? You mean that website where people collect wedding images and pictures of cute animals?

Um, yeah. BUT it has SO much more use and potential than that! See, Pinterest has blossomed since its infant days into a deep pool of ideas, information, and ways to collect them so that you can make sense of them. Better yet, it’s all virtual. I clipped out magazine models almost obsessively as a teenager, pasting them into notebooks and labelling them with the characters I saw them as. Now, Pinterest provides a much less tedious and much more portable way of doing the same exact thing.

I normally have my book planning folders Secret (a fairly new feature), but I’ve brought them out of the darkness and into the light, blowing the dust off the covers so you can have a visual demonstration.

Click each cover to be taken to its corresponding Pinterest folder.

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If you spent a bit of time in those folders, you’ll get a feel for the story in different ways, such as physical attributes, personality, clothing, powers, weapons, and who I found inspirational to the story in any way. It’s a collection of my own, personal thought process in relation to each individual book.

So how do you get started? Well, if you’re one of the cavemen who aren’t signed up yet, you need to sign up for a free account, first. Then, just create a Board (your personal corkboard for ideas) and name it. I use the titles of the books and a disclaimer that it’s material for inspiration ONLY.

Then, do a search for the things you want to be inspired about. For me, collecting images of what the character might look like, act like, and dress like gives me a quicker feel for the character. This enables me to flesh them out in ways I might have otherwise struggled. You can pin straight from Pinterest, from other websites, or even from uploading a document/image from your computer.

The sky is the limit.

So, grab your Pinterest account (or make one) and give it a go. Comment here with some of your book inspiration links. I’d love to see them!

~*~ H ~*~

Virtual FantasyCon Blog Hop Stop!

Hi, I’m Hannah Gray Gordon, author of The Vu and I’m your host for this stop in the Hunt.

 

If you would like to find out more about the Hunt, please click here – http://vfcscavengerhunt.weebly.com/

Somewhere on this page is a hidden number. Collect all the numbers from all the authors’ posts, and then add them up. Once you’ve added all the numbers, and if I am your last author, please head to the official website and click on the ENTER HERE page to find the entry form. Only entries will the correct number will qualify to win.

 

The author I’m pleased to be hosting for Virtual FantasyCon’s Blog Hop Hunt today is Kat Caffee, author of The Followers of Torments saga.

 

What you need to know about Kat

 

Born in Houston, K. Caffee has a long history of spinning captivating tales for a wide range of interested people.  One of her earliest memories is being lost in a huddle of adults as a kindergartener on her way to a church choir camp.  Whatever she tale she had been telling was captivating enough the entire group missed a rest stop, and the bus driver proved to be very patient when the twenty or so adults all requested an emergency stop about an hour after the scheduled one.

After several years of running various role-play campaigns, K. Caffee thought her story telling days were done.  She entered the work force, then school, but the stories were not done with her.  The Followers of Torments saga ambushed her in tow thousand and fourteen with the ultimatum “write or don’t sleep.”  As you can tell, despite a valiant effort to focus solely on school, K. Caffee lost the fight.  And, now, despite still carrying an overloaded graduate schedule, she continues to write and more of the pukah who gave her the ultimatum in the first place are lining up at the mental doors demanding to be let in.

What free time she can pry out of the hands of her story and her school work she devotes to her two furry, feline owners, human family, and discovering new friends on Facebook, Twitter, or keeping up with documenting the various non-story thoughts she gets on her blog.

 

You can connect with K. Caffee on all of these sites:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/PukahWorks

Blog – https://pukahworks.wordpress.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/PukahWorks

Google + – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KatCaffee/about/p/pub

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/K-Caffee/e/B00TMQEJPU/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

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Torments Summary:

 

When you encounter a pukah, you can usually expect to have joy, laughter, jokes, and a faerie helper enter your life to add a touch of mischief that raises your spirits.  However, not all are like that.

The Followers of Torments saga is the tale of one such pukah who has become everything his fellow faerie kin are not – a cold-blooded killer, a vicious fighting machine, and a slaver.  The nameless child was born an orphan and reared in the slave pits of the Melkreschen Realm.  It is from these dark beginnings that the tale grows and develops into a tale of personal discovery and possible personal redemption.

Along the way, the nameless one discovers that not everyone is as harsh or unforgiving as his masters, and that the goddess he pledges himself to is not the only deity who is watching over him.  He also discovers who and what he is, and must ultimately make a choice that will radically alter his life, and the lives of those who are closest to him at the time.  Will he choose to return to his comfortable ways, or will he choose to continue to learn?

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Out of the Darkness sale links:

http://ow.ly/LvwAm – Smashwords

http://ow.ly/LvTo1  – Barns and Noble

http://ow.ly/LvTrN  – iTunes

http://ow.ly/LvTBF – Scribd

http://hyperurl.co/Out-of-Darkness – Amazon

 

Blurb:

When the worlds were young, and the races still new, a nameless champion arose.  From the darkness of his feral childhood, he struggled to survive in a realm where lives meant little and power meant everything.

Bred to fight in the arenas, will this nameless one be able to find acceptance among the freeborn who fear him?

 

Excerpt from Out of the Darkness, from the chapter “First Days of Freedom”:

 

Though he knew the routine of the Arena, he did not know what went on outside those confined walls. His sense of what was right demanded that he begin his exercise, but he was uncomfortable enough in these new environs that he resisted his impulse. Instead, he continued hiding in the shadowed nook watching the bewildering activity around him – the ebb and flow in the crowds through the area. While he watched, time passed which caused his stomach to wake and begin clamoring for its allotment of food. His throat answered with convulsive swallows as it began to become sticky with thirst. He ignored this with the sure knowledge that food and drink would be provided eventually. He did not understand that as a free man he was now required to provide these for himself.

As he continued to watch around him in complete bewilderment at the unregulated, unguarded movement of the crowds, a slight headache began to develop from the ever-present light from the ever-glowing buildings around him. The continual low hum of the crowds as people talked amongst themselves punctuated by an occasional screech from the nearby children at play added to the sensual overload and overall discomfort.

His dark-adapted eyes began to water once again from the (to him) punishing light. As he squinted to relieve the tear-refracted glitters of light, he felt a very small sense of relief as the overall intensity of the light dimmed. But there was nothing he could do about the constant noise. He tried putting his hands over his ears instinctively at first, but that only served to intensify the sound rather than mute it.  He responded by uncovering his ears and hoping the noise would go away.

After several glass of lurking, his presence finally attracted the type of attention he had initially been afraid of receiving. A guard finally approached him with the air of supreme authority demanding, “What are you doing here? If you do not have business with the house, then move along!”

Nameless looked at the guard puzzled. Angrily the guard reached for his arm, “I said move along!”

When the guard’s hand touched his arm, the man finally moved. He exploded out of the nook, catching the unsuspecting guard’s hand and wrenching it around, dropping the guard to the street, and glowered down at him. Unthinkingly, his other hand struck, crushing the guard’s trachea, and causing enough blood to flow that people around him fled the scene screaming.

Some disappeared into the buildings, others continued up the street until they were out of sight. He did not understand what was going on, but his old understanding was that to live he could not allow anyone to touch him. Even when he had been moved between his cell and the Arena, or between his cage and the 71 Sands, no one had ever tried to touch him. This stranger had tried to grab him.  To his Arena trained mind, this meant he had been attacked. He responded as his training demanded. Eliminate all threats, win and live.

 

Did you find the number? If you did, then click Kat Caffee’s link – https://pukahworks.wordpress.com to continue Virtual FantasyCon’s Blog Hop Hunt.

 

Totally Judging this Cover

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Remember the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” It’s. Total. Bullshit. Okay, while it is definitely applicable to many aspects of life, it simply cannot be applied to books, the very literal thing it’s about. Everyone does it: You’re browsing the shelves of your local bookstore or scrolling through the listings on Amazon bypassing book after book because the cover just doesn’t jump out at you. Then, you see it. That magnificent-looking book that just screams “Read me!” You finally grab it to take to the register or click “Buy it Now” on the website. You can hardly wait to get started! Right?

The importance of the book’s cover was beyond me when I first published in 2013. I figured hey, I wrote this awesome book. I made what I thought was a pretty ingenious cover, but I didn’t research popular covers or look into what pop culture favored…which is terrible considering my bachelor’s degree is about pop culture at its core. I should have known better. I didn’t.

The years went by and I continued with these covers. The next one was even more terrible. The third featured some awesome art from an amazing friend and author, and she gave me exactly what I asked for: a cover to match that of the first book. All well and good if it was the kind of cover and text that was selling. Not only does the image matter, but the TEXT FONT is essential, too! Who knew?

You don’t want to make the same mistake I made. I promise. Good covers don’t come cheap, but thankfully there are hoards of premade covers that sell for much less than a custom cover and are usable. In fact, my new go-to designer is from Fiverr – Vikncharlie. Her best package comes with a kindle cover and paperback wrap and, when combined with the option for the source file so I can make my own adjustments if desired, only cost $57.

I am transformed.

Not sure what makes an acceptable cover? Visit Derek Murphy’s rundown on the subject. He’s an expert on cover design and book marketing.

Look at these before and afters and be the judge. Which would you be more likely to purchase and read? If you decide reading them really is for you, click the picture and you’ll be take to where you can grab them for only 1.99 and .99, respectively.

 

OLD                                                        NEW
vucopy          the_vu_front

 

OLD                                                   NEW

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Don’t forget to sign up on my mailing list to stay in the “know!” All new subscribers get a free story!

 

~*~ H ~*~

Sunday Post #4

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Get your free short story by signing up for my mailing list! I promise not to spam you.

There’s not much to report right now except that I ordered the proof for The Shades of Orthea‘s new cover. I love the rebranding project I’ve started! The order’s in for a new cover for The Vu and I wait with baited breath for the designer to show me her magic. In the meantime, I’m writing on The Shades of Orthea: Book Two and hoping to finish in time to shoot for an early 2017 release date.

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On a personal note, I’m gearing up for autumn and one of my favorite holidays: Samhain (Halloween). I want to buy all the decorations! Thankfully, my husband can (sort of) keep me in check or we might have a decked out house with no rent on it. I pulled out my witch cat mug and enjoyed my coffee so much more yesterday morning! Who else is a Halloween fan?

Brief, but I must get back to writing! Have a great and safe week!

~*~ H ~*~

Sunday Post #3: Current News

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There have been a lot of things going on around here. I completed my first article for Preview Magazine. Although I didn’t get it done in time for the anthology I was shooting for, my short story is well underway. As I did with my previous short, I decided to delve into yet another genre I haven’t previously written in: paranormal romance. Intrigued? Well, make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter to get it for free upon release!

I’m also getting back to finishing Book Two of The Shades of Orthea, in which we’ll see if Fiona can stop the marauders in time or if Alena will manage to harness Oldgrange. In addition, Book One is getting a makeover that I’m really excited about! Stay tuned for more on that later.

On a personal note, I’m probably the most excited person in my house for Autumn’s arrival. I’m already set up with pumpkin spice everything–especially my coffee. Maybe a Halloween story is in order. Samhain is one of my favorite holidays!

Much love to my readers and guests!

~*~ H ~*~

Reach

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I LOVE writing prompts. I haven’t discussed it much here, but I wrote some of my best poetry through 3-5 word prompts from an old Cafemom group I’m not sure even still exists. Today I discovered the 1-word prompts from The Daily Post and I was thrilled. I mean, what way to take a break from writing novels? It’s fantastic! Now, I bestow upon you all a five minute write-up of my new poem.

Reach

Reach for the stars,
Reach for the night.
Reach for the gumption
to finish the fight.

Reach for the smiles,
Reach for the tears.
Reach for a way to
enjoy your years.

Reach for the sanity,
Reach for the pain.
Reach for the loss and
everything you gain.

~*~ H ~*~

How to Beat Writer’s Block

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If you have been a writer for any length of time you know how it goes: that moment you reach for the keyboard (or pen) and your fingers pause. Your mind is blank. What was that masterful line you thought of in the shower? Where were you going to artfully take your characters? What’s happening to you? Why can’t you think of anything?

Welcome to the living hell of writer’s block, the condition in which a writer simply cannot write. It particularly plagues the pantser, a writer who writes by the seat of his or her proverbial pants rather than following an outline. However, it can hit anyone. Here are some tips I have for battling through the mud and mire, pulling out of the quicksand of words, and getting back on track.

  • Listen to music. Absolutely my favorite thing to do, even if I’m not experiencing writer’s block. I pick out a song that really hits me in the feels, close my eyes, and envision a scene to match it. For example, while writing The Vu, I wasn’t sure where I was going with the ending until I heard The Fray’s Hold My Hand. It clicked, then, that I needed to, as William Faulkner put it, “kill my darlings.” So, I did. Music is a strong force that can be essential not only in pulling a writer out of their funk, but also continually fueling their creativity. Some of my personal favorites include Two Steps from Hell, Audiomachine, and Celldweller. Thank me later.
  • Read something. Make it within the genre you write in, or, something different. Try both and see which works better. Taking a break from writing to read can be the refreshing change you needed. It can also give you inspiration.
  • Go do something non-literary. Take a walk, play dinosaurs with your kids (if you have them), attend a festival. The breath of fresh air will most likely do you some good and you can come back to your WIP with a brand-new outlook.
  • Write something different. Dragging yourself through 60k of writing? Try something shorter, like flash fiction or a poem. One of my favorite things to do is pick four random words and creating a poem out of them. It’s how I have written some of my best poetry, to be honest.
  • Seek out others. You are certainly not alone, so don’t try to be. Join a writer’s group, or pal up with a local writer through online groups. Find genre-specific clubs, even. The sky is the limit, and the socialization is a necessity. Yes, I said necessity. Writing is a lonely trade, and you need to be around like-minded individuals. Everyone knows writers are a tad bit (or a lot) crazy. Be in good company.
  • Look at pictures. Stock images, deviantart.com, even just a simply Google Image search can render countless possibilities for inspiration. When I wanted to envision what my shapeshifting unicorn lady might look like, I googled it. Oh, the possibilities.
  • Get away from social media. This is called virtual clutter. While I have already mentioned joining clubs/groups on the Internet, there is a time and place for online surfing. When you get too much electronic time, your brain starts to…you guessed it…clutter up. Get out in the real world and experience the smell of the barbecue pit or the wind in your headphone-pressed hair.
  • Write at different times and places. Switch it up. If you normally write at your dining room table at ten o’clock at night (as I am currently doing), try going to a coffee shop in the morning. Write in bed after your nightcap. This can turn the gears in your brilliant mind to create all-new brilliancy for your…well you get the idea.
  • Go for blocks of time rather than a word count. I know, I know. I’m a huge proponent of NaNoWriMo, the masterpiece of an event that pushes writers to write 50k in 30 days. I get it. Words. However, if this is hanging you up rather than helping you, shoot for an hour of uninterrupted writing time, instead. You’d be surprised how many words you find yourself with at the ding of the microwave timer.
  • Do a mindless chore. Shut your brain off, don’t try to brainstorm, don’t actively participate in an effort to kick your character into the next scene. Wash those dishes, sweep that floor, check out for awhile.
  • Jump scenes. If a scene is bogging you down and you’ve inadvertently written yourself into a corner, write a separate scene. It can be from a different part in your book, and it can even run the risk of not actually being included in the story. It’s fine. Just change up the line of communication from your inner muse to your writing fingers. Again, you don’t have to keep what you wrote. Then again, you might want to.
  • Destroy your inner editor. NaNoWriMo gets this. If you’re busy worrying about whether or not the sentence is properly structured or conveys the right message to the reader in the first draft, then you’re going to grind yourself to a halt. Lock that bad boy in the closet and don’t let the stinkin’ Grammar Nazi out until you’ve finished. You can fix it later. That’s what editing is for.
  • Cut yourself a break. Seriously. Don’t down on yourself for getting hung up. It happens to the best writers. Just dig yourself out and get back on the horse.

 

Like these tips? Please, do share! You’ll see buttons for posting on Facebook and Twitter below. I’d be honored if you helped spread the good news to other writers like yourself.

King of the Hill – A Character Interview with Alvin Atwater

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First, an explanation. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Facebook group I participate in has a featured King of the Hill, in which an author and their book are presented at only 99¢ for as long as it’s “King of the Hill.” For this one, I’m honored to showcase a character interview for Abaddon, from Alt Antwater’s novel Fragment.

 

Part I: Let’s Start at the Beginning…

1. What’s your name?
I am Abaddon.

2. Give me your full name…
You humans ask for sensitive information. If I see any pathetic guards come after me, I will find you.  *sigh* Abaddon Terres.

3. Do you have a nickname? If yes, what is it and how did you come to have it?
The Grim Reaper. A courtesy name of you humans.

4. What species are you? (Human, werewolf, etc? Or are you an alien?) I know you have some special gifts that aren’t entirely human.
Reaper. My original being is a secret.

5. Where/when were you born?
Olympians called my birth realm The Unknown. I am bound by that book carried by the creator of the universe and it doesn’t allow me to speak or write the true name.

6. Okay, now…do you believe that you are good or bad or are those terms not definable?
I am neither good nor evil. I am me and I do what I want. I followed laws until those pathetic cowards framed me.

Part II: Tell Us More About Yourself…

8. How would you describe your personality?

I’ve lived for a long time. I’m calm. Some of my minions may feel that I’m a little dark, I can tell but always calm. Calculating. Sometime my patience can be tested.

9. Would you say you’re someone who can handle pressure? What’s a good example?
Well, for one running an entire army of demons isn’t as easy as you think. Sure, their fear of me make it easier, but they’re not just an army. My minions are loyal to the bone.

10.. Do you get along with others?
…. Maybe. I’m the blasted Grim Reaper. A lone wolf. A leader. Of course I don’t! Well there is one but she doesn’t respect any boundaries I set. Annoying woman, she is.

11. Who are your main enemies, people you would like to see stopped from whatever they are doing?
The Twelve. I want to kill them all ESPECIALLY that blasted White Witch.

12. How about allies?

My armies of course. That’s all I need…and that annoying angel woman…

13. What is one things that you would like to see happen in the immediate future?

The Twelve dead, Zeus dead, his head rolling across the realms with a shocked expression.  That Jonas boy, who wields the holy sword, and is bounded to me, dead. But not easily dead. I’ve got something special prepared for him.
Part III: Hypothetically…

14. Suppose that you could become any creature you know of. What would you pick, and why?
I would be the first reaper-god, unstoppable. Everyone will fear the name Abaddon, more than ever, to their cores.

15. One of your enemies just complimented you. What is your response?
Kill them and then drag their souls to the depths of Hell.

  1. One of your friends just insulted you. What is your response?

Kill them and then drag their souls to the depths of Hell.

  1. If you could change anything about yourself…

I would make myself impossible to seal.

18. Tell me about where you grew up…
*tsk* *tsk* Human. That book will not let me speak of that place.

Part IV: Now We Get Personal

19. What’re your parents like?
Strict and pleasant to the eye. I always hated that.

20. Do you have any siblings?
No.

21. What’s your occupation? Do you like it?

Even though my power was sealed and title stolen, I am still the Grim Reaper. And I had no hate about my job. Just got it done.

22. Are you seeing/dating anyone?
…That woman is quite persistent. Her angelic allure is nearly impossible to resist.

23. If not, did you ever think about getting engaged or married and to whom? No.

24. Tell us your biggest secret.
If you tell anyone, expect nightmares. My biggest secret is…that I love that woman. I may not show it, I may be dark, but I’d erase the souls of anyone who’d harm her. She’ll never know this of course. Showing love is a weakness. Hell, love is a weakness. I guess even the Grim Reaper has one.

25. Your worst fear? You don’t have to answer this one if you don’t want to.
My worst fear… HA! I am the fear! I am the one who haunts every nightmare. I am the dark to the light, the snatcher of your soul.

26.  Tell us one thing you’re the most proud of and why?
How easily it is to advance into Zeus’ territory and no one can stop me. I really am quite powerful and they have every right to fear me.

 

Alvin Atwater is a fantasy enthusiast and master storyteller at heart. He currently serves in the US Navy. He’s stationed in Mississippi but hopes to have his final home in New York City. As a Florida-born voice, he wishes to bring upon his own writing style geared to epic fighting scenes, development in romance, humor, and a reason to grow attached to his characters.
Provide Links:
Where can we buy the books? Fragment’s paperback/kindle amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fragment-Alvin-J-Atwater/dp/1533069441 

 

Sunday Post #2

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I have had an interesting week filled with overtime at my day job and coming close to finishing the short story I owe the wonderful people who have signed up on my mailing list. Want to be one of those lucky people? Click Here!

I also wrote a blog post about Race Tendencies in Literature, a fast overview of the way I see literature moving despite today’s pop culture views. The topic has been eating at me for awhile, so it’s great to get it out there, even if the post is just skimming the surface enough to beg an important question or two.

Camp NaNo is gearing up to kick off again July 1! I am excited to utilize this event to spring board finishing the next Shades of Orthea novel, since it has been long overdue. I’d like to see Fiona kick Ravi’s ass, eh? We’ll see what happens.

How’s your week been?

 

~+~ H ~+~