Time to Paint What I Want! - Guest Post by Laurie Shanholtzer

September 28, 2012
Today I am featuring the amazing work of Laurie Shanholtzer! All images in this post are of Laurie's work (used with permission of course). Make sure you check out her shop through this link!

I do have an artistic, if somewhat neurotic family heritage. Grandfather, Vincent Maragolotti a well known painter and muralist, Aunt Iris Guarducci, a Pulitzer Prize winner in portraits and my mother, Gina Tetzlaff, a New York dress designer and portraitist and there were others. So being surrounded by all this talent, I always felt a need to create art.

After growing up in a stressed out, but creative world, I moved from Westchester, New York to “Wild, Wonderful” WV-Went to college, got married and started my family. With a consideration of my unsettling background, I decided to have a career where I could be home with my children and they would have a settled "happy" childhood. So I started doing commissioned portraits ...and continued doing them for over 45 years. Yes, long after my little ones left me alone in my nest.

As I am sure with almost anyone that does the same job every day, for so many years, you are tired! My husband and I agreed that I now can now take some time to paint what I have had little time to do in the past. This was like opening a door to a locked room.

My first love is painting little story pieces that are nostalgic or romantic. This is either from observations or recording a memory of my own daughters. The pastel “All Together Now... First Ballet Recital” is my memory of my daughter Christy. I have such a vivid picture of all the cuties on stage, each doing their own dance.

The work “Bedtime Story” is my remembrance of my little one snuggling in my lab for our nightly ritual. And, on my romantic side I have some works that show my musings and love of peaceful surroundings.

I started my Etsy shop to have a good home for my newly created works. I am having such a blast experimenting with new things and having a venue to showcase the artworks I have wanted to create.

Find out more about Laurie and her creative work (as well as how to buy the paintings you see here!) through the following links:



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Conquer Your Writing Weaknesses

September 27, 2012

Okay, so, I have a confession:

I hate getting critiqued and rewriting.

Trust me, I know that this is in the category of "very important" in terms of the writing stages. It's something I have to get used to, I know.

But you know what? It really sucks. I hate hearing negative things about my writing. But I also hate hearing only positive things. That annoys me too! I feel like the overly positive person is just telling me good things because they don't really want to help me. But I also feel like the overly critical person is purposely trying to hurt my feelings as much as possible.

Plus I feel like every step I do take to rewrite just makes things worse.

And you know what? All of this is so exhausting.

But I heard on a writing forum recently that if you never address the troubled areas of your writing than you are always writing on one level - the draft level - which means you never work to improve yourself and your writing stays the same quality.

And they're right.

So I feel I have conquered the "can't finish" stage. Now...it's time to conquer the next - the rewriting stage.

And I'll probably hate every step of the way, but I can do it.

Which writing weaknesses have you conquered? Do you have any you are trying to overcome now?
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Weekly Writing Prompt

September 25, 2012
Take it away Carrie!
Oh, my gosh, I cannot believe September is almost over. This is the last week to get an entry in for the monthly ad contest and then next week, I'll let you know who has won. :)
For right now, let's see how we did last week.
Unnoticed by Leanne Sype
Deadly Brunch by Randy Lindsay
Step On My Grave by Lauren Ritz
Cold Death by Carrie Sorensen
The Spinach Cafe Display by Scott Taylor

Thank you to everyone who has participated. If you're interested in submitting some artwork or photography for the prompts, check out the information here.

As for this week's Snapshot Prompt, let's get going. First, the rules:

There will be one photo, and five words - both of those elements must be a feature in the brief story you create.

2) There is also a 500 word maximum.
3) You have until the next Wednesday to create your post.
4) When you have finished your post, come back here and link up below and let me (or whoever your blog host is) know in the comments that you have done so!
5) We were going to tell you to not take this too seriously, but reconsidered it because we know full well that asking writers to write something means that they will take it seriously. So, take it seriously, but don't fret/panic/pass out/hyperventilate/lose sleep/run in fear over it.

This week's photo:

This week's words:






So, here we go. Get your stories in by nest Tuesday at 8 pm EST so I can pick a winner in time to get the post out. Good luck everyone. I can't see what is created.

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Show Off Your Book Cover - "A Stop In The Park"

September 20, 2012
Today I am proud to be part of another cover reveal (part of my latest blog theme, "Show Off Your Book Cover")

And today's cover is the novel, A Stop in the Park by Peggy Panagopoulos Strack.

About the Book:

Michael Stolis, a DC attorney, is frustrated by twelve-hour work days, tightly scheduled weekends, and his family's chaotic habits. He explodes over minor irritations like being stuck in traffic, and his tantrums need to stop. His disillusioned wife, Jamie, is sick of his anger outbursts, and wants him out of her life. Michael longs to reignite the passionate love they once felt for each other. Jamie prefers to spend her time fostering illicit Internet relationships. Michael had simply followed his Greek father's instructions for a successful life, but something went terribly wrong. When his family is about to implode, Michael finds hope through Rufus, an astute retired bus driver he meets over a game of blitz chess in Dupont Circle. Michael is intrigued by Rufus's prescription for fulfillment, but is it too late to change a life, chase a dream, revive a marriage? Michael must decide how much he is prepared to lose if he embarks on a quest so very different from the world he created. Touching, romantic, and deeply provocative, A Stop in the Park, follows the story of a man and a woman who yearn to escape the trap of the modern American dream.

I have to say that this definitely caught my attention! And now for a little sample:

Michael stepped inside the dingy space and pulled a string to turn on the ceiling light. His old guitar case welcomed him. A sense of calm flooded his insides. Like a boy who spotted a tire swing dangling from a tree near a river, the instrument summoned him to play. Michael folded his arms. What if someone heard him? He chuckled. The clamor of his household would drown out a herd of elephants parading through the street. No one would detect the humming of a guitar in this hideaway. So, he pulled it out of the case, sat with his back propped against the cold concrete wall, legs outstretched, and played and sang. After several minutes of plucking and strumming, his stress receded.

About the Author:

Peggy Strack hosts the award winning blog, "Kick Back Moments," for the Saratogian Newspaper. She is a speech-language pathologist living in Saratoga Springs, NY with her husband, Keith. She has two adults sons and enjoys an active lifestyle that includes hiking, kayaking, and skiing.

Make sure you check out Peggy's novel! I think it sounds fantastic. Click here to check out her website and this for her Facebook page.

The novel comes out today and you can purchase it by going to this link here!

Plus, ten percent of all profits will be donated to The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, an organization whose mission is to keep music alive in schools.

Thank you Peggy for sharing this awesome read with us!

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Writing Prompt Wednesday

September 19, 2012
Yay! We're back!

We had an awesome week last week, so make sure you go by and check out these amazing posts:

For Keeps by Chasing Revery

...just one entry again???? You guys!!!

Alright, to make myself feel better I will showcase the entries from the week before. Anyways, I don't think we did that last week. Here are a few other entries to check out:

The Sweetest of News

Waiting to Be Released

They Need an Older Brother

Alright...I feel better. And in case you forgot, each entry into the writing prompt is a chance to win a prize! So make sure you check out the details! Also if you are a photographer, we'd love to feature your work. Click here to find out how to make that happen!

Don't forget about the rules:

1) There will be one photo, and five words - both of those elements must be a feature in the brief story you create.
2) There is also a 500 word maximum.
3) You have until the next Wednesday to create your post.
4) When you have finished your post, come back here and link up below and let me (or whoever your blog host is) know in the comments that you have done so!
5) We were going to tell you to not take this too seriously, but reconsidered it because we know full well that asking writers to write something means that they will take it seriously. So, take it seriously, but don't fret/panic/pass out/hyperventilate/lose sleep/run in fear over it.

Okay, here is the photo this week:


And the five words:






When your ready, submit your link below!

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Join Me At The Muse Online Writers Conference?

September 14, 2012

So, in my fit of looking for online workshops I could take part in, I found this online conference going on between October 9th and 12th!

My novel is nowhere near to being ready for submission, but my main interest are the online workshops they have available!

And guess what?

They are free! And I like free.

Their workshops appeal to everyone, from the person at the query letter stage to the person facing the blank page. The one I'm interested in the most is:

Writing 101 with Mary Andrews

This will cover a lot of the writing basics, and one I need help with the most - self editing.

This appeals to me even more because she is a science fiction writer as well.

Also another one you might consider if you want to go, is this course:

How to Hook an Editor in 500 Words or Less with Lynnette Labelle

You can also send her your first 500 words for a critique. How cool is that?

So, the conference runs from October 9th through 12th. It's all online, too!

If you happen to bump into me in this virtual world, you will find me under the username: seasaltsoap (I hate thinking up user names).

Here's the info:

Online Workshops

Where to Register

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Writer Wednesday Blog Hop

September 12, 2012
Today we have Tena hosting the blog hop! Let's see what the prompt is today!


Hey Everyone!! It's once again

Seeing as how yesterday was September 11, a date that many will NEVER FORGET... I figure it only apro po to use the following picture/photo for this weeks Photo Prompt:

And the Five Words that must be used are:








Your story must be related to the photograph and include ALL five words in it. There is a 500 word maximum. Most important, remember to have fun

Don't forget to link your story (using the little blue "froggy" link at the end of this post or send a link to your host (in a comment will work).

Can't wait to see what everyone comes up with so come on let's get those thinking/writing caps on!!!

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Just Trust Me, Please - A Bit of Short Fiction

September 10, 2012
Alright, so if you recall, many, many weeks ago, I introduced you to a new blog story. And it has taken so wonderfully and I'm sad to see it end.

And the awesome thing is, I do get to write the end!

But before you read on, make sure you know what happened last time:

Part One: Two Doors

Part Two: Shall I Turn On The Lights

Part Three: The Estate

Part Four: You'll Know It When You See It

Part Five: Message, Hold The Bottle

Part Six: Secret Letter

Part Seven: The Truth

Part Eight: The Secret of Time Travel

Part Nine: Broken Threads

Once you are all caught up, you can continue on...


Freddy handed her the snow globe without another word. Gnat held it in her hands for only a few seconds, before she held her breath and smashed it to the ground.

An explosion of light blinded her.

Freddy's face twisted with rage and pain. The older Naomi, the one she may become, cried in agony. Gnat couldn't feel any pain at all.

The light surrounded her. Warmed her. Whispered voices hushed her. Calmed her. The chops around her, just background. It wasn't reality. Just noise. Reality was quiet. Silence.



"...hush, hush, Naomi. It's a bad dream. Just a bad dream."

Naomi blinked open her eyes. Slowly. It couldn't be real.

The soft brown eyes of her mother looked concerned. She sat on the edge of Naomi's bed with her old house coat on, the one Naomi insisted she replace. She smelled of baby powder and coffee. Naomi stifled a sob. She threw her arms over her mother.

"It's okay, it's okay. It was just a dream."

"You're here..." Naomi whispered, barely able to hold back the tears.

"Of course, I am. Where else would I be?"

The fire. Naomi realized this was the day of the fire. A flood of memories rushed forward - the time travel. The smashed snow globe. And Tyler, both young and old.

Naomi thought of a quick lie. One to get her parents out of the house. "Could we go to the park today? All of us?"

Naomi's mother brushed back her hair. "Maybe, sweetie. I have some things to get done."

"No! You can't. Please." Naomi heard herself begging. She hated to, but it was the only way.

"What's so important that we must go to the park today?" Her mother searched her eyes. Naomi knew the answers. But couldn't reveal them.

"Just trust me, please."


The park was beautiful. The sun was bright in contrast to the blue sky. Children screeched and played on the elaborate park structures. Game of chase, tag, and invented games played out before Naomi. She sat with her parents on the park bench. She chewed the last bit of sandwich her mother had packed.

"Noami, look! There's your friend, Tyler!"

Naomi gasped. She stood from the bench. She peered past the children that raced in front of her. Between the swing sets, there he was. The Tyler she knew all along.

She walked towards him. He smiled. When she got closer, it seemed like the world stopped. He was beautiful. She couldn't believe her eyes.

"It worked." She said.

"It worked." He repeated, a laugh in his voice.

"So you really can change the past."

He shrugged. "For now anyway."

The sound of a siren interrupted their peace. A fire engine screamed down the street. It was then that Naomi noticed the smokey air. It got worse by the second as the smell of soot and fire burned Naomi's nose.

"What happens now?" Naomi asked. She heard her parents call for her. An emergency they said. The house was on fire.

"I don't know. We'll have to see. What can I call you, by the way?"

"Naomi. You can call me Naomi." She turned to look for her parents. As she walked away, she looked back on last time. "Hey! Want to do math homework with me later?"

Naomi could hear Tyler laughing all the way across the park.

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The Adversity of Virtue - A Guest Post by Fallon Christy

I am proud to turn over the blog reigns to Fallon Christy, a fellow writer who wanted to share her experiences on the life of a writer.

A lot of people want to be writers, imagining themselves as well known authors after their first book becomes a best seller.
Because that is the life that we writers lead. We spend everyday socializing in coffee bars and writing in large groups. While we are writing, we have fun with fellow writers in that group and discuss parts of our books. We constantly criticize each other’s work so we can improve ourselfs in the writing business. On weekends we have signings and afterwards we all have dinner together. Sunday is our day of rest when we can read books by other authors. If you want this glorious life, DON’T BECOME A WRITER.

Because to be honest, the writing process is kind of a lonely process, especially for starting writers. Connecting with other writers happens mainly through the internet. And if you are one of the few that is part of a real life writer's group, you’re lucky if you meet up twice a month. You criticize each other’s work when you have the time, and that is not very often. Because, and I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, you don’t write a bestseller overnight. It is most likely that you don’t write a bestseller at all. Getting as much luck as the writer of '50 Shades of Grey' is a phenomenon that is very rare, just like winning the lottery. A lot of people win the lottery every week, but it’s never you right? If you want something, you have to earn it by working very hard for it.
Yes, writing is like any other job, very time consuming, stressful with a dreadful salary, or even no salary at all. Because you only get paid when you actual sell some of your work, and that may take months, or even years.

If you have the luxury to write full time, without a job or studies that also consumes time, like I did for a while, you mostly spend your days waking up after hitting the snooze button ten times.

Followed by dragging yourself out of bed and crawling to the coffeemaker or the nearest Starbucks, to get a hot cup o’ joe. While eating your breakfast and drinking your coffee, you read up on your social media and update your profiles and blogs if necessary. If you have a freestanding house it’s easy to write at home, but if you live in a crowded apartment building, like most of us poor writers, it is not that easy. It’s usually a very noisy place and it might not be very inspirational if one of your neighbors is drilling since 8 pm, so you escape to the libray or a coffee bar with your laptop. But if you’re out of luck these aren’t very quiet places to work at either. Moments that you expect to be blissful can turn out to be complete horror scenarios. Like when pavers decide to repave the sidewalk in front of the library, so the reading lounge is filled with the beautiful sound of hammering on tiles. So try the coffee bar, only to discover that a woman had the urge to take her whole family out for coffee, including screaming and running toddlers.

And when you finally have found a nice spot to work, the other source of hold up pays a visit, a lack of inspiration. Writer's block is not a well known phrase for no reason. There are a lot of days that you have to deal with that devil. How do you beat it? Go for a walk or go see a movie, visit a relative, just change your scenery. But observe everything, because everything can be inspirational. For example talking teen girls on a bus, or someone that is waiting in line at the bakery. Or you could just curl up in a corner and cry until it’s over.

But then, at the end of the day, when you finally got a part of your story on paper, you feel fulfilled and you’re realizing that this is all you want to do for the rest of your life. It makes you the happiest person in the world, until your alarm clock goes of the next morning, and it is all starting over again. So, a life of a writer is not something to write home about, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. And if you’re not scared of by this, then you might be a writer!

Thanks Fallon! Make sure to check out other awesome posts by Fallon by checking out her blog!

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I'll Put 3 Chips on God, Just In Case There is One by Preeti Gupta

September 7, 2012
Today I am here to tell you about a new book that I was introduced to, which just made my "to-read" pile that much larger.

For some, religion and the things we believe in, are pretty much set in stone. Without a doubt or question, we believe what we believe.

But for others, it may not be as clear.

Yet, whatever category you fall under, you will want to check out I'll Put Three Chips on God, Just in Case There is One by Preeti Gupta.

Here's an excerpt for you:

Agnosticism + Logic + Faith = My Spirituality

These are the ingredients in my ice-cream cone, along with Soul Energy, Reincarnation, Karma, Detachment, Vegetarianism, Astrology, Meditation, and the Ego. I believe these concepts make some sense based on the tenets of logic and science. Even to a skeptic like me.

But I am entitled to change my mind at any time. If tomorrow someone were to show me some indisputable, miracle-backed proof that their way is the correct way and I will go to Hell if I don’t squat on one foot chanting 3.5 times a week, I will happily throw away my chocolate cone and switch to strawberry.
For now, here is what I believe, and why . . . .

About the Author

Preeti Gupta was born in Chicago to parents emigrated from India. She has been published in several community newspapers and magazines. 3 Chips on God is her first published book.

In addition to being an author and a seeker of Spirituality, Preeti is a Financial Planner and CPA who loves money (yes, she is aware of the irony). She lives in New Jersey, alone with her laptop and chocolate. She does not have any plants or pets, because she is traumatized after the death of her cactus which she killed in 1999*.
*Obituary in Ch 4, "Reincarnation"

If you are intrigued, make sure you check out her website, or check out a complimentary download here! You can purchase a print version on Amazon.

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Writing Prompt Blog Hop - Recharge Your Creative Self!

September 5, 2012
Carrie has the reign's for the blog hop! Take it away!!
Okay, it looks like whatever slump we were in is working it's way through. Look at all these stories we have from last week's prompt.
A Cowboy's Grace by Chessny Silth
A Phone Call by Scott Taylor
Promise @ My Unpublished Life
Maybe It's A Dream Sequence? by Nicole Pyles
Cast Adrift by Carrie K Sorensen
Amazing. :) Everyone must have remembered it was the last week to enter for the Ad contest. Do you want to know who won? Random.org says .....

Leanne Sype it's you!!

Congratulations, Leanne!

Now we have a week to work on your button. Let us know if you have one, if you would like to make your own or if you would like us to make one for you. :-)

If you would like to know how to win, you can check out the details at this post. Also, we have found we need to expand on the rules a little bit (how exciting is that), so we will be creating a Contest Rules Page one of these days to help you with the nitty gritty of it all. Also, don't forget we are accepting photo submissions. We haven't gotten one yet, but that just means you could be the first.

Okay everyone. Here is what you will be writing toward this week:

The Photo:

The Words:






Be sure to let us know how it goes and link up below.

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Maybe It's A Dream Sequence? - A Bit of Short Fiction

September 4, 2012
This is my response to last week's writing prompt! It's also a part of an ongoing blog story I created, so make sure to read what happened last time to catch up.

Brittney blinked a few times. When her eyes cleared up, she realized she was at the end of a street. The street that led to their cabin. She wore the clothes she had on before she disappeared. She had on the necklace she got for her 18th birthday and never took off. She checked her wrist and found the turtle shaped tattoo she got for her 21st. Now, she wondered how long she had been gone, because the snow had cleared away. But the cold bit through her clothes and she shivered in response. She just hoped her friends were still there.

She started walking in the direction of the cabin. For a while, her feet were the only sound on the still street. After a few yards, she heard the distant rumble of a car engine. An old car engine. The sound of Lance's busted Ford truck.

"What are you doing out here?" Lance called out from the truck.

Brittney turned and felt more joy and relief to see him than she ever cared to admit. She had to remind herself of his usual zoo animal like behavior, so she didn't get too relieved to see him.

He stopped the truck and hopped out. He rubbed his head. A sign he felt guilty about something.

"Listen it was just a joke we pulled on you back in the house. I didn't think you'd be on freak out mode for the whole week."

Brittney shrugged. She raised her hand to cover her eyes from the sun. "Where are the others?"

He hopped back onto his truck and reached over to open the passenger side. "Been lookin' for you!"

Brittney headed for the truck and stepped into the passenger side. She wasn't sure where to begin to explain her absence. Maybe it didn't even happen at all. Maybe it was just a freak dream sequence. The kind you read in a book and the writer ends up concluding this huge elaborate plot line as being just a dream.

"Oh, I have your cell phone. It's on the dash."

Brittney buckled her seatbelt and reached over to get her cell phone. Aside from a few random text messages and missed phone calls, everything seemed usual. Except for a Facebook friend request.

From a woman named Brenda. Brittney accepted and decided to shelve the dream sequence idea for a bit.

She couldn't help but wonder though...what the hell happened to Figuro and his assistant?

"Were gonna fix you up with some tonic and gin when we get back," Lance said as he turned the truck around. "That'll loosen your tongue a bit so you can explain where the hell you went all day."
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Sex In Fiction - Guest Post by Angelica Dawson

September 3, 2012
Today, I turn over the blog reins to Angelica Dawson, author of the newly released book Blue Moon House. Make sure you go by her blog and check out her book!

Nicole was kind enough to let me stand on my soapbox on her blog instead of mine. The occasion is the release of my first novella, Blue Moon House, through Naughty Nights Press. With a publisher like that, you might guess I have a little experience writing sex. I do! In fact, I have written YA novels under my real name, as well as a family saga dealing with sexual abuse, so I've dealt with sex in many different styles. I thought I'd share with you how I go about writing them.

Young Adult

When dealing with an under aged audience, sex isn't off the menu, but it must be dealt with carefully. Teens do have sex. Having your teenaged character in a book written for teens have sex is not beyond the pale. On the other hand, if you wanted to be accepted by the parents of those teens, they should probably have a good reason for having sex, or the outcome should properly reflect the risks that come with sex. In any case, you cannot describe graphic sex. That will get you thrown right out of the genre. How do I write YA sex? I don't. I write about my characters kissing, sleeping next to each other, waking up feeling different than they went to bed. Leave it to the reader. They can put the pieces together. You might delve into a little fore-play, describe some light touching, but even that can damn you from the shelves. Any sex in a YA book should be delicate and appropriate to the story. If you can avoid it, it's probably for the best. If you can't, tread lightly and remember that those kids are smarter than you think they are.
They are going to know what you didn't write and probably pause in reading to fill in the blanks.
Then they'll come back eager for what happens next.


In classic romance novels, even 'bodice rippers,' graphic sex isn't normally on the table.

Euphemisms, shadowy action, foreplay are used to build the atmosphere for the sex and then, like in YA, we fade to black and put the onus on the reader to fill in the scene. A man would take a woman, kiss her and tear her clothes, moving her to the bed... and she falls asleep on his arm, satisfied. Here you can get away with broad strokes, emotions rather than actions, and some description of sex. Again, it's usually vague: he entered her, they became one, etc.

Erotic Romance

Next on the scene come those writers and readers who say, “but I don't want to fade to black! He is kissing her breasts and I want to describe that!” Fair enough! So in this scenario we have a romantic story, focusing on these main characters and their relationship, but rather than gloss over their activities in the bedroom, we describe them in detail. We talk about how each makes the other feel by their actions or inactions. We discover more about them by what they say and do in the bedroom.


I recently read a post by Keta Diablo about the difference between Erotic Romance and Erotica. As Blue Moon House is erotica, I thought I'd highlight that difference as well. In Erotica, the aim isn't the stable relationship of the main couple. These can lead to satisfaction without a relationship, which as consensual adults know, isn't always necessary for mind-blowing sex and self-discovery. That's the road my novella takes. Julia is working her way through the vampires of Blue Moon House to prove herself worthy of joining them. She has to reach each of these Dominants in her brief encounter with them and show them who she is and why they want her. Of course, along the way, she discovers a lot about herself as well as them. Erotica has a story. This is a difference between it and porn.

My Cover:

So, what type of sex is appropriate for your book? In the end that decision is always up to the writer, but hopefully, by laying all the cards on the table, you'll be able to choose wisely.

Thank you to Angelica Dawson, author of the newly released book Blue Moon House. Make sure you go by her blog and check out her book!

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