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Editing. Edits. Edit.

I love waking up in the morning because I get to open my inbox and discover new things inside. The benefit of living in the tropics is that I sleep through everyone else’s day. Well, by everyone, I mean those of you in the US. Not sure about Europe and Australia. Anyway, when I opened my email today, I found one from my editor for Taste.

Drum roll please…

My first pass edits have arrived.

Oh my!

I will not be ashamed to admit that I was nervous. It was time to roll up my sleeves and get dirty. It was time to take my baby apart and put her back together again. Who knew writing would be such gory work? I feel like Frankenstein half the time when it comes to cannibalizing manuscripts and putting scenes together screaming “It’s alive!” at the very end.

I’m not new to editorial notes. When I used to have an agent, he’d send me notes on how to improve my manuscript before we submit. This time around isn’t any different, but it feels more real now. Before, I was just preparing Taste for submission. Now, I’m preparing her for publication. Adds more pressure. But, I say, bring on the pressure! I work my best with it looming above me like an anvil about to fall.

So, here goes my process. I print out the notes, read them through, and take the day to ruminate on ideas. Then I read the notes through again and create a plan of attack.

I start out nervous because I don’t know what the notes will contain, but once I’m finish reading and ideas start piling in, I get excited. Having notes, no matter how daunting they may seem, actually helps you focus on what you need to do. There’s nothing harder than editing blind, and I guess that’s how we all start when our babies haven’t found homes yet.

Now, as I’m writing this post, I feel exhilarated. I can’t wait for tomorrow so I can get cracking.

Why not start today? You might ask.

Well, the answer to that is simple. If I start today, I won’t stop until I’m dead. In short, if I don’t hold myself back, I’ll get obsessive, and when that happens, I lose chunks of time I can’t recall no matter how hard I try. Happened to me when I was writing my very first novel in high school. I didn’t leave my room for a week. I barely remember getting any sleep. Worse, I produced crap work because of it. Delaying gratification by starting tomorrow gives me a form of discipline over myself. It gives me comfort to know I can stop myself from pushing too hard or else I lose sight of the bigger picture.

Guillotine 01-26-12

Source

Chapter 6
The Interim





The day felt longer than usual for Zander when he finally walked through the threshold of his house late into the night. Nate and Adam stopped pestering him about showing the footage, finally accepting it as a new episode. They moved on to speculations about Pope. Even if he hadn’t seen her after the encounter in the bathroom, it was like she was in the editing room with them from the way Nate and Adam kept talking about her. They peppered him with questions like who was she, what were her capabilities, could she really perform an Exorcism. All the answers were “I don’t know” until Zander got fed up and snapped at them that if they wanted to know more about her then they should hunt down the Pres and ask. That shut them up for about two seconds. Realizing Zander was in a fouler mood than when he’d arrived that morning, Nate and Adam kept to themselves. Not that Zander minded being left alone. He was actually relieved for it.
“Kara,” he called out. He closed the front door behind him and removed his cap, allowing his scalp to finally breathe. He wasn’t used to wearing any sort of head gear, only choosing a cap on bad hair days that not even generous amounts of gel could fix.
In the foyer, he caught his reflection in the mirror as he dropped his keys on the wooden bowl he used for that purpose. The containment symbol was still there. He was so busy that he’d forgotten he had it.
His doubts of Bishop returning in time to perform the Exorcism resurfaced. Maybe he should take a chance on Pope?
The moment the thought occurred to him, he dismissed it, shaking his head.
“What’s got you all shaken up?” Kara glided down the stairs, more specter than solid today. At the bottom step, she stopped short and gawked. “Where did you get that?” She pointed, unashamed.
Zander instinctively covered the mark with his hand. Realizing what he had done, he dropped his hand and crumpled the cap he held in his other hand.
“Something definitely followed me home from work,” he said.
“You’re possessed?” Kara hissed then clucked like a mother hen, hovering around Zander.
He waved her off. “It’s fine. The containment symbol can hold whatever it is back until Bishop comes back.”
He moved to the kitchen to start dinner only to remember he had nothing in the fridge to make dinner with. He quickly turned around and collided with Kara. Technically, she passed through him. Goose bumps rose all over Zander’s body. He hated the sudden electricity that zinged inside him every time a paranormal entity touched him. It came with the job, but it still gave him the creeps. He shook off the feeling of eerie and stomped back to the front door.
“Where are you going?” Kara asked, at his heels like a dog. “You just got home. And from the looks of it, you need to lie down.”
“Just grabbing some groceries. I forgot to restock.” He grabbed his keys, patted his pockets for his wallet and cell phone, and jammed the cap back on.
“Why not just order pizza? You’re gone half the time anyway to have anything in the fridge.”
Zander cocked an eyebrow at her.
Kara sighed. “Alright, alright. You like to cook. Go.” She shooed him away with both her hands.
“I’ll be back in half an hour.” He pointed at her. “No boys while I’m away.”
She stuck her tongue out at him and vanished.
Zander shook his head. He loved teasing Kara. It may seem cruel, but he couldn’t help himself. He promised to apologize later by buying her a couple of batteries to drain.
He locked the door behind him and froze on the porch. The lights of his car were on and all the doors including the trunk were open. He rushed down the front steps and slammed all the doors and the trunk closed. The demon in him must have been stronger than he thought. Manifestations of a possession like items going missing or things being moved or opened usually happened well into the process, not the day after.
Zander got into the driver seat and stared at the steering wheel, just as he did that morning. Things were progressing too rapidly for his taste. But, then again, it could have been a fluke. He shut the door and started the car.
Ten minutes later, he entered the local grocery store. Its glass doors parted for him followed by a gust from the air curtain. He hated air curtains. Why they were needed was beyond him. He checked the digital clock by one wall. Half past nine. He still needed to pack for their next job in the morning. Maybe Kara was right about ordering out instead. But on the job, it was always fast food and the occasional diner. The only time he could have a home-cooked meal was when he was home.
He grabbed a basket from a stack and strolled through the aisles. Maybe pasta, he thought. Or meatballs. He went through the list of what he could cook on the fly. Nothing too complicated, and nothing that required too many pots and pans. He’d have to clean up everything afterward. It might mean not sleeping a wink if he made too much of a mess. He always had to make sure he left the house clean or his OCD wouldn’t let him concentrate on the job.
His phone vibrated in his pocket as he moved to the frozen foods section. He reached into his front pocket and pulled it out. Adam’s goofy expression flashed on the screen. Zander had to suppress a groan. He tapped the screen and waited.
“Hello? Hello?” Adam said. “Z, you there man? Hello? Hello?”
Annoyed that Adam would just keep saying hello if he didn’t say anything, Zander sighed. “What’s up?”
“Where are you right now?”
“Buying groceries.” He picked up a carton of milk and read the expiration date. He would be on the job for a week. The best before said two weeks.
A pause. “You’re aware that we’re leaving tomorrow for a job, right?”
He put the carton back and walked away. He didn’t need milk for now. “Yes, Adam,” he said exasperatedly. “I was there at the staff meeting, remember?”
“Right.”
The thing Zander loved about Adam, no matter how annoyed you sounded at him, he still had a smile in his voice. He was that kind of guy. “What do you want, Adam?”
“Nate told me to remind you to set your alarm.”
Zander rolled his eyes. “Tell him I don’t need a babysitter.” He ended the call.
An elderly woman pushed a cart into the canned food aisle. Zander watched her disappear between selves taller than her hunched frame. It didn’t surprise him that someone, who must live alone, would prefer to wonder around a grocery store at night. His grumbling stomach reminded him why he was there. He opted for his fail safe food of choice: spaghetti and meatballs.
He quickly assembled his needed ingredients: pasta, ground meat, bread crumbs, tomato sauce (the bottled kind since he had no time to make some from scratch), onions, garlic, organic eggs, and several condiments. On his way to the counter, he double checked the contents of his basket. He grabbed a pack of batteries for Kara at the last second. Satisfied he had everything, he smiled at the sleepy high school grad that had the misfortune of getting the late shift.
“Paper or plastic?” he droned. Zander half expected him to yawn from the way he blinked lazily.
“Paper,” Zander said. He heaved the basket onto the conveyor belt and let the clerk ring up his purchase. “You see that old lady?”
The clerk paused in swiping the jar of tomato sauce through. “Dude, I don’t know what your on, but you’re the only one who’s come in since I started my shift half an hour ago.”
The blood in Zander’s body froze. It wasn’t everyday that he encounter a ghost at his local grocery story. He scanned the aisles and they did seem devoid of humans, let alone a grandma pushing around a cart.
“That will be 25.56,” the clerk said, snapping Zander back to the now.
He fished out his wallet from his back pocket and paid. Then he balanced a paper bag in each hand and thanked the guy, who had since returned to his catatonic state.
Arriving home by ten, Zander set about his cooking while Kara floated around, being no help at all. He boiled water for the pasta, chopped the garlic and onions, mixed them in with the ground meat and bread crumbs, cracked an egg, added a pinch of salt. He washed his hands, dumped the pasta into the boiling water and added olive oil to another pan for the meat balls.
“I love watching you cook,” Kara said from her perch on the counter. “It’s like a ballet, only you’re in jeans instead of tights.”
“Of course you’d want to see me in tights,” Zander said while he formed the meatballs with his hands.
“With those chicken legs, no thanks.” Kara lifted her nose in the air.
“And to think I went out of my way to buy you batteries.”
Her eyes lit up. “Batteries! You bought me batteries!” She floated to his shoulder. “Where, where?”
Zander set the meatballs he formed on the hot pan and pouted at Kara. “You called me chicken legs. How can I recover from that?”
Kara bobbed like a dribbled basket ball. “You have the nicest, longest legs in the whole wide world. Not chicken legs at all. That kid in that vampire movie can’t compare.”
He had to smile at that. He knew how much Kara loved those vampire movies. She practically threatened to go full poltergeist on him if he didn’t get her the DVDs. Saying the kid who played the werewolf in those movies couldn’t compare to him was the closest she would get to an apology.
“They’re in the bag.” Zander tilted his head toward the paper bag he’d left on the table.
Kara zipped and squealed when she peered in. She couldn’t really remove the batteries from the bag, but she didn’t need to. In seconds, Zander knew they were drained, judging from the bliss etched all over her face.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!” She clung from his neck from behind like a monkey while he worked.
Zander shook off the goose bumps as he fished out the meatballs from the pan and added the tomato sauce. A pinch more of salt and pepper then he let it simmer. It was insane how much he enjoyed the domesticity of the situation. Being in his kitchen, inhaling the aroma of tomato sauce and cooked meat, couldn’t compare to anything. He’d cook every night if he could, but the show kept him on the road more days than he was home. He was about to strain the pasta when a crash had Kara shrieking.
“What happened?” He turned off the stove before heading for the living room.
Kara floated over a picture frame that had fallen from the mantel. “I didn’t do it. I swear.”
The guilt on her face was proof enough that she had nothing to do with the fallen frame. Giving the mantle a quick glance, Zander knew which frame had fallen before he picked it up. He flipped it over and frowned. It was a picture of him, Nate, and Adam during their first successful investigation. The epicenter of the break was concentrated on his chest and spread out in lines that mimicked spider’s legs, like someone had taken a shot at him.
“That’s creepy,” Kara said from behind him.
“It’s just a coincidence,” he said over his shoulder. “I must have placed it too close to the edge. Even the slightest breeze could knock it over.”
“Right. Keep telling yourself that.” Kara floated up and through the ceiling.
Zander followed her with his gaze. “You’re not joining me for dinner?”
“Already ate.”
A pang of loneliness pinched Zander. Just a little one. It was quickly replaced by uncertainty as he stared at the cracked glass again. He swallowed and sent a silent prayer asking for fortitude. He had a feeling he’d need it.

Celebration

Writing a novel is by no means an easy task. It’s fun. It’s full of challenges. It sometimes entails sleepless nights thinking of character arcs and plot lines. It’s scary. It’s a crazy salad peppered with doubts, personal or otherwise. To those who find writing a novel easy, I envy you. But writing a novel isn’t what I’m here to discuss in this blog post.

Today, it’s all about celebrations. And I want to share the happiness with you.

I have three things to celebrate about.

First, I’ve finished writing Suicide Whisperers five days before my deadline at the end of the month. I started it January 1, 2012. As promised, I wrote a chapter or two a day until I reached the end yesterday at chapter 27. It’s a liberating feeling because it means I can move on to the editing process, which I have learned to love. It’s in the editing where I can really look at the clay I have kneaded for days and days. I can finally mold it to the kind of story it wants to be. Now, the real work begins. But I’ve decided to put off editing ‘til the beginning of February. A few days away from the material helps to give me fresh eyes when I dive in again. I hope to have an excerpt for all of you come third week of February. After my critique partners have taken a knife to my latest baby. One down, five more to go.

The second cause for celebration involves my side project Guillotine. I already have five chapters up and will be posting chapter six soon. A new friend I’ve met by chance at the beginning of this year asked if I’d ever considered writing for a comic book. I told him I couldn’t draw to save my life, so I never considered putting a comic together. Although, I’ve always wanted to. He told me that all I needed was a comic script. So, I gave him the link to Guillotine. He liked it and said let’s make it into a comic. He sent me sample comic scripts, I did a little research, and set out to convert chapter one into a script. It’s actually so much fun. I finished it last night, and after a few edits this morning, I sent it off to my friend. Let’s hope I did it right. I really want to see what Guillotine as a comic looks like. Lesson: don’t run away from an opportunity.

The third thing I’m celebrating is still a secret, but not for long. I can’t tell you yet. Just bear with me a little bit more. You don’t have to wait long.

I want to leave you with this image. From afar it’s a portrait of Don Quixote, but when you look closer, the painting actually contains the different images and symbols found in Cervantes’s book. The image reminds me that nothing is always as it seems. Look past the surface and you’ll find the treasure hidden beneath.

Source

P.S.

I have taken to Twitter to share what happiness is to me. For example: Happiness is a good book. I hope that you can also share what happiness is to you by using the #Happiness. There are so many things trending on Twitter, not all of them good. Someone even killed Cher on Twitter today. I hope that just by sharing what happiness is for you and me, we can spread the appreciation of the little things and affect some positive change in any way, shape, or form.

Have a great weekend!

Bridge Of Light

Are you feeling beaten? Is the day just hard to get through? Do you feel like you can't hold on anymore? Or that your hope is crumbling? Don't give up. Just listen:



I dedicate this to you.

Dreaming

I went to sleep one night. Had a dream. And never woke up…

In that dream, I was a writer. I had written several books and endeavored to find each one of them a good home.

The first to find her place, as you all know by now, is Taste. She is currently residing on the moon along with the other books of Crescent Moon Press. It’s a wonderful home where I expect her to grow into the beautiful book she was born to be.

And because Taste is with Crescent Moon Press, I find myself in the company of supportive authors who are never afraid to help one another. And as this dream continues, I find myself officially on the author list. Here’s the proof:


Taste also has a page of her own:


Here you will find the blurb and further information about her, along with the Playlist. Hop on over when you have the time. It’s surreal.

Another part of the dream involves putting together the book trailer.

I leave that in the capable hands of Zyn and Mei and Noey. I’ve already seen the draft of the storyboard. Gave me goosebumps. And as a bonus, Mei drew this:


It’s a preliminary sketch I already absolutely love.

This dream has so many facets. So many long corridors to go through. So many doors to open. I have much more to share, but as of now, I must continue dreaming to see what else unfolds.

Come. Dream with me.

Guillotine 01-21-12

Chapter 5
The Mark






In a stare down, no one won against Zander. He had a technique of keeping his eyes open longer than anyone else. He’d let his vision focus on the irises of his opponent then he’d let his mind go blank. That way, he doesn’t notice his eyes drying out, which was usually why someone blinked during a staring contest. That was way neither Adam nor Nate played the blinking game with him during their down time at investigations. But there was something about staring at the new Exorcist that had Zander breaking eye contact first. Her pale gaze looked through him, bared his rancid soul for all the world to see. He felt buck-naked in that office filled with his colleagues. He had to stop from cupping himself out of misplaced modesty, it felt so real. Not very many people intimidated Zander, with the exception of the Pres, but this chick made him shrink inside himself. She managed to creep him out and annoy him in equal measure. And to make matters worse, she might not even be older than he was.
Yup, definitely annoying!
The Pres went straight for Zander and took his hand in a firm handshake, breaking the girl’s spell. “Good ratings last weekend, Z. Very good. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for our viewers this week,” he said.
“I think we have our most compelling footage yet, sir,” he said.
“How many times do I have to remind you to just call me Logan?” The Pres grinned.
Zander let go of Logan’s hand and pumped his fist. It had gone numb from Logan’s grip. “Until you stop being the president, sir.”
Normally, a comment like that would have gotten someone else fired for insubordination. The gasps from the newer members of the staff proved Zander had stepped out of line. But Logan took it in stride. He was, at the root of it all, a paranormal investigator, just like Zander. If there was someone who understood Zander well, it would be him.
The president of the network stepped back to address the crowd gathered. “Everyone, as you might have already heard, Bishop is currently away on official business.”
“It’s news to me,” Nate mumbled to Zander, which got him an elbow to the stomach. He had the good grace to take it without flinching when a lesser guy—namely Adam—would have doubled over and groaned.
“So, to fill in for him here,” Logan didn’t miss a beat, ignoring the antics of his lead investigators, “is this wonderful young lady.” He motioned for the Goth chick in the cassock forward and she took one step, gracing him with a tight smile. It was clear to Zander she didn’t appreciate being called a young lady. He already five percent liked her for that. The other ninety-five percent, on the other hand, was still to be determined. “She graduated at the top of her class and was personally hand-picked by Bishop himself to act as his stand in here at IPA.” She blushed at the praise, suddenly finding the floor very fascinating. “Everyone,” Logan continued. “Please welcome Pope to the Institute of Paranormal Activity. I already know she will be an asset to this team.”
Polite applause broke out. The loudest of which came from Adam, who even whistled. He was never one to hide his enthusiasm, which reminded Zander of his youngest brother. Nate frowned, but clapped anyway. Zander remained motionless, studying the girl. How could she have been hand-picked by Bishop? He couldn’t believe it.
And just as he stared at her, she returned it blow for blow. At least she was fearless, Zander thought. Another five percent of liking there. A weaker girl would have been fawning over him by now. Drooling at the very least. He was sure his reputation had reached the academy.
But the real test of what she could do would be on an actual job. Could she handle an Exorcism without blinking twice?
“Alright,” Logan announced, “back to work, everyone.”
The crowd dispersed amidst murmurs. Nate and Adam made an about-face, but before they could take a step toward the editing room, Logan stopped them.
“Zander, Nate, Adam, wait please.”
Nate and Adam flanked Zander, who by now had crossed his arms over his chest. His gaze remained on Pope, wishing he could access what she was capable of without needing to bring her out into the field. The last thing he wanted was for an Exorcism to go wrong. Lives depended on the ability for an Exorcist to cleanse the environment being haunted. One mistake could make things worse for those living there. It could even invite more unwanted activity. Many investigators have suffered for the mistakes of an unskilled Exorcist. It was like the spirits knew who was at fault for bringing in the fool who wanted to send them away. Hell wasn’t a fiery place. It was having an entity attach itself to you. Zander resisted the urge to touch his forehead. It had gotten hot all of a sudden.
“Pope, let me introduce our best paranormal investigation team,” Logan said. “From your right to left. Adam, the equipment tech, Zander the team leader and host of Paranormal Investigations, and Nate, producer, camera man, you-name-it-all-around guy.”
“Basically, I get the jobs these two wimps are afraid of doing,” Nate said, hiking a thumb at Zander and Nate and giving Pope a wink.
She didn’t shy away. Instead, she grinned and nodded at each of them. “It’s a pleasure meeting you, gentlemen. I look forward to working together with your team.”
Zander couldn’t stop the snort of derision even if he’d wanted to. It took all of them by surprise, including himself. Adam was slack-jawed. Nate shook his head. Logan narrowed his eyes at Zander, who’d dropped his gaze, but not before he caught a corner of Pope’s grin twitch.
“I trust there won’t be any problems, boys.” Logan pierced all of them with a-world-of-hurt-will-come-for-mistakes stare.
Zander coughed into a fist, which suspiciously sounded like a cuss, and said, “Welcome, Pope.” Then he focused on the Pres. “Logan, it’s going to be a long day for us. We have footage to edit and narration to write and dub if we want that episode ready for the end of the week.”
The Pres nodded his assent. Zander quickly turned around and practically sprinted toward the editing room. Adam and Nate were hot on his heels.
“What happened back there?” Adam asked with the kind of wonder of someone who’d just seen an alien.
“You know Z doesn’t play nice with the new kids,” Nate teased. “His OCD doesn’t let him.” He opened the door to the editing room and motioned for them to proceed.
Adam walked through first, cracking his knuckles and rotation his bawled head to work out the kinks. Zander stopped in his tracks and stared at the farthest wall of the room. The cap he wore absorbed the sweat that dampened his forehead. He wished he could say the same for his hands. They shook.
“Z, something wrong? You look out of it, man.”
Nate’s remark knocked him out of his stare. His vision had begun to tunnel. He looked at Nate and managed to say, “Go on ahead and start. I just need to use the bathroom.”
The worried expression of Nate’s face made Zander nervous. He twisted to the left and hurried to the communal bathroom. He pushed against the swing door and thanked God the place was empty. All the stall doors were open and no one stood by the urinals. He stumbled to the nearest sink, trembling. With shaking hands, he pushed the tap handle up. Cold water whooshed out of the faucet, drowning out his suddenly too loud heartbeat.
He stared at his ghostly reflection in the mirror. A spot of red lifted on the front of his cap. He reached up and removed it just as someone walked in. He turned to look at who it was and sucked in a breath.
“How long have you been possessed?” asked Pope. She leaned against the back of the door, acting as a stopper in case someone else decided to come in.
“None of your business,” Zander barked. He felt the need to stand his ground, even if it was his ego dictating the action and not his common sense.
“Oh, I’d say it’s my business all right. Better not drip all over your shirt.”
Zander touched his forehead with clammy fingers and came away with blood on the tips. He faced the sink again and slashed cold water on his already cold face. He gasped at the icy contact. Normally, it would be refreshing, but considering the circumstances, he had to use all his willpower not to sink into a panic attack.
“The bleeding will stop, but the wound won’t heal until your Exorcised,” Pope said as if she was suggesting a different color shirt for him to wear.
Zander’s breathing became shallow and labored. “Are you volunteering for the job?”
“I don’t see any other Exorcists available, do you?”
“Bishop—”
“Oh, don’t be a baby.” She grimaced. “I may look young, but that doesn’t mean I’m inexperienced. I can have that thing out of you in under an hour.” She drew a symbol in the air and chanted the way Exorcists did—a mix of Latin and a language far older. The symbol, a circle with an arrow pointing up, floated toward Zander and attached itself to his forehead. “That’s a containment seal,” she said.
“I know what it is.” Zander touched the symbol that now covered the three scratch marks.
“Then you also know that it won’t last long.” Pope pushed away from the door. “You don’t trust me, I get that. I saw it in your eyes the moment I stepped out of that elevator. But you’ll have to learn to tolerate me if you want that demon in you exorcised. Bishop isn’t returning for a while, so you’re stuck with me, pretty boy.” She pulled at the door and stepped out without a glance back.
Zander yanked hard on the towel dispenser for three sheets and scrubbed his face dry until his skin was an irritated shade of pink. He balled up the paper towels and threw them into the trash like a professional baller—swish, all net. Damn if Pope wasn’t right, but he wouldn’t admit to it if it killed him. The containment symbol had him feeling better in seconds, but he was far from out of the woods this time.
According to his research, it would take a while before the demon took full hold of him and switch him to full Linda Blair mode. Projectile vomit and body contortions would be the least of his worries. Three to five weeks at most before things got worse. By then, Bishop would be back. He had to be back.
Zander took one last look at the containment symbol and jabbed the cap back on. Seems like he wouldn’t need any hair gel for a while. He considered make up to cover the marks and the symbol, but only for a second. No make up.
He closed the tap and left the bathroom just as a group of fact checkers walked in. Why did girls always have to go to the bathroom in groups? Zander spared them a tight smile before returning to the editing room.

Writing Cave

Source
Every writer needs a Writing Cave. A place dedicated to writing alone. A special place where the writer can bring her guard down and let the story flow without over-thinking things. A place comfortable enough that the writer forgets she is seated and typing away on a keyboard.

A Writing Cave doesn’t need to be lavish. And it certainly doesn’t have to be secluded. It doesn’t even have to be an actual cave, but hey, if you can find yourself an actual cave where your writing flows like water from a fountain, then be my guest. Bring lots of food and water, and make sure you tell someone before you leave so that they can have the Pinesol handy when you get back to douse you with. It can get ripe inside the cave after a while.

Some writers really do need seclusion to write. A cabin up in the mountains or woods or woods in the mountains. Sometimes it’s by a lake or it’s surrounded by hillsides. I envy writers who can go out alone and write. I find that when I’m all alone, I tend to worry about being all alone. Sounds seem louder. The silence looms like a reader over my shoulder. Maybe one day I’ll be accustomed to a kind of seclusion somewhere…unless it drives me nuts and I become the crazy lady who hordes. I usually prefer to stay home most of the time—having done my partying in high school (but that’s another story)—provided you air me out at least once a week for a movie, I’m happy.

There are writers who can tune out anything without the aid of earphones and sit down and write anywhere. These are the nomadic writers who don’t have a set cave they need to be in to produce something. I wish to be one these writers. If I’m not comfortable about certain location, I usually can’t write anything. And if I do get to write, I delete it anyway because I know it wasn’t any good.

At the moment, my writing cave is a coffee shop at the local promenade near the mountains where I live. And when I say mountains, don’t imagine Colorado. My mountains aren’t as glamorous. But one day, I dream of writing somewhere near the Rockies. Oh, and Ireland! I dream of renting a house there for a month and just write. Maybe I might even meet a handsome bartender who happens to have the last name of Gallagher. If this sounds like a Nora Roberts plot to you, you’re not far off. I suggest you read this series. One of the best set of romance novels you can get your hands on. What’s the title? I leave it up to you sleuths to find out.

I digress.

As you have already noticed, a Writing Cave can be anywhere. It can even be a place in your own mind, but that might be scary because you might never get out. I suggest finding an “actual” place. As long as you can sit down and write, and this is the place you go back to time and time again, you have found your Writing Cave.

Where do you write?

Jane by Design

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If you’ve been a long time reader of my blog, or happen to catch my countless posts about my TV watching exploits, you’ll now that I love watching TV. Mind you, not hours on end, although I have been known to have late-into-the-night marathons of seasons upon seasons of shows, which the result of is a cold the next day. I’m no longer young enough to withstand continuous late nights. Okay, I felt my age there a little. Anyway, this is another one of those posts where watching TV is a major factor.

January marks the beginning of premiers. And one of the new ones I’m falling in love with is Jane by Design. It combines two things I really like: teens living a double life and fashion. As I’ve mentioned in one of my previous posts, Jane by Design reminds me a little of The Devil Wears Prada in terms of you have a girl working for a ball buster and manages to make it through whatever impossible task she is given.

The show follows Jane, a high school student who loves design. By some mix up with her internship, she ends up as the assistant of one of the top fashion buyers in the industry, who also happens to be very difficult to work with. The show has a Cinderella quality to it. In high school, Jane is a virtual nobody, but as the assistant to Gray, she’s someone promising in the fashion industry.

Three episodes in and I’m hooked.

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My favorite character would have to be Billy. Everyone needs a best friend like him. The tension between him and Jane is wonderful to watch. It gives the viewers hope that one day they might get together, but I don’t think that will ever happen because it will mess up their dynamic and Jane loses her trusty sidekick. He’s always there to help her since he’s the only one who knows the double life Jane lives. Sometimes he steals the show, which is weird since Jane is supposed to be the lead.

I can’t wait to see what happens next for Jane. They’ve already introduced potential love interests, but nothing’s happening there yet. Although, the episode with Nick in it did make me giggle like…there’s no image for what I giggled like. And for a woman my age, it was bordering on creepy, so I won’t saddle you with that picture.

The storyline is simple, but it’s endearing. There aren’t that many feel good shows with dramatic elements on TV. I look forward to seeing what the writers and producers have in store. Sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with watching something predictable. Jane by Design is perfect fashion eye candy filled with promising characters. We’ll leave the conspiracies to shows like Alcatraz.



Writing and Coffee Shops

There’s something about leaving the house and going to a coffee shop to write.

Firstly, writing at home is filled with potential distractions. At least, that’s what I’ve noticed for myself. There’s the TV. There’s the internet. There’s a pile of laundry needing to go into the machine. Now, I know I can multitask and juggle, but I decided to actually leave the house to give my writing my full attention. Oh, and I go to a coffee shop that purposely doesn’t have WiFi. I know, right? A coffee shop without WiFi? How archaic! But, yes, no WiFi means no distractions. My writing gets jealous when I don’t give it my undivided attention.

Secondly, the atmosphere of a coffee shop allows me to concentrate. Granted, I have my earphones on, blasting the soundtrack appropriate for what I’m currently writing, but still. I’m not really a coffee drinker. I just love how relaxing the smell of freshly brewed coffee is. Plus, the more people hanging around, the better I manage tuning them out. Weird, but true.

Thirdly…okay, I’m stopping counting the reasons why. I just wanted to make a point.

I’ve discovered that many of the writers I know prefer writing in coffee shops, too. I can write anywhere—well, except my house unless I’m super focused—but there’s something about being in a coffee shop. The one I go to has great wooden chairs that never get uncomfortable even at the four hour mark of sitting down and typing away. And they have these tables at perfect height, so I’m sitting up straight and not straining anything. Don’t even get me started on the lighting. It’s the kind I love the most: soft yellow. My eyes love it since they’re particularly sensitive to harsh lighting. The yellow overhead acts as a perfect balance for the white of the computer screen. I end up forgetting I’m staring at a white sheet I need to fill up. It’s one of my phobias, you know. A white, empty sheet, taunting me. GaH!

Okay, enough scaring myself.

When I was writing Impulse, I managed to complete the whole manuscript at home, even with my mother vacuuming in the background, but this year seems totally different. I feel like I need to get away. Like to an office, when I still had one. It was a place I went to. Writing is by far not work for me, but I love going to the coffee shop with the idea that I will be spending a few hours there writing and nothing else. It’s like a date with someone you love. You go to a place where most likely no one knows you, so even in a sea of people you have some privacy. That’s me and my writing. We get to spend some quality time in a coffee shop that we can’t seem to have at home.

But maybe, when I get my groove back and I can fully concentrate, I might not need to leave the house. Right now, that’s not looking possible, so out of the house I go.

Day 18 = Chapter 21.

Review Request: King of Paine by Larry Kahn

A sexy, fast-paced suspense novel for all of you today. Please read the blurb, and if you're interested in reviewing King of Paine, leave your name and email address in the comments section so that Larry can send you a copy right away. Happy Reading!


A desperate patient. A rumored cure. How far would you go to find the fountain of youth?

King of Paine is filled with characters who grapple with a range of intriguing end-of-life issues while everything they care about is at stake. The story follows two investigations, Special Agent Frank Paine's pursuit of a stalker committing a series of kinky Internet crimes and a reporter tracking the disappearance of wealthy senior citizens across the nation. Both paths lead to a hidden enclave where a brilliant biochemist harbors a deadly secret. Somebody is going to die there, and it may be Frank Paine's soulmate. Or him.

"Larry Kahn has managed to create a cast of unforgettable characters, throwing in a bit of sex and misadventure, while infusing it with legal, moral, and ethical dilemmas. To say that I thought the King of Paine was brilliantly written would be an understatement. I sat down to read the book in the morning and was unable to put it down until I read the very last page!" -The Write To Make A Living

"The writing is perfect...Plus, that plot? Holy hell! I never could have seen the twists and turns coming." -Owl Tell You About It

"...a roller coaster ride of who done it, oops, no they didn't. But it's not just that, the story makes you think and ask yourself some really important questions." -Forbidden Reviews

Want more books to review? Just check back here at Reads, Reviews, Recommends.


There's no limit to the books you can get from the authors willing to offer them up for review.


Please leave a tip on your way out by following me on Twitter or "liking" me on Facebook, or if you already have, I hope that you encourage your friends and followers to do the same. 


Thank you!

Couple Alert: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

Awards Season is upon us, boys and girls, and with that comes the red carpet. I love watching who’s wearing what during these award shows. The dresses are spectacular. And who doesn’t melt at seeing handsome men in dashing suits? Seriously. It’s the night they dress up to the teeth. I’ve already mentioned in one of my posts that I love sparkly, shiny things. What’s more sparkly and shiny than stars on the red carpet? So, for this post, I focus on the Golden Globes.

Did you see Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt on the carpet? They were the best looking couple out there. Here’s the proof:


Personally, Angelina Jolie can do no wrong for me. She especially looked stunning tonight, opting for a red lip, cat's eyes, and having her hair pulled away from her face. She usually has her hair down, but tonight, with the dress she was wearing, I believe she made the right choice to keep her hair slicked back. Statuesque.

I love how elegant her fashion choices are. Again, she blew me away with that asymmetric dress by Atelier Versace. That red fold across the chest matched by her lips and clutch? I could stare and stare and stare. No one could have pulled off that dress better than she did. The way it fit her body? Superb. And what better accessory to have than Brad Pitt in a Tom Ford tux? Even with the cane. All in all, I give this match up a 10/10!

When they got together, all was right in the world. And every time they step out on the red carpet, it’s a joy to see. Many blogs and internet sites are already named them the best dressed couple at the Globes. I wholeheartedly agree. I’m biased, of course. But you can’t refute the evidence. Just stare at their picture together a little longer. I certainly will.

Have a Mani/Pedi Party

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It’s only the beginning of the year and you’re feeling stressed or blue? Well, according to Today’s Talk, a great way to beat the blues or shove away stress is to have a party. In this case, have a mani/pedi party with your girls.

I got some writing done today, and because I finished a chapter and started another, I told myself I was in need of a little “me time” with a manicure and pedicure. Having great looking nails boosts confidence; at least, in my experience. I always love seeing newly manicured fingernails.

So, get your finger-and-toe pampering kit and call your girlfriends over. If you don’t have a mani/pedi kit, make sure to invite someone who does. *wink*

Also, ask the girls to bring their favorite shade of nail polish.


While waiting for your friends to arrive, stick some popcorn into the microwave. We’re still trying to shed those mashed-potato pounds we’ve gained over the holidays. But if you really want to make this a guilty pleasure mani/pedi party, bring out the snacks. Alcohol optional, but not unnecessary.

When everyone has arrived, have them take out their favorite polish and stick the bottle into a hat/bowl/sack/whatever you have that can be used as a choosing pot. Then you can choose between two things: sounds or movies. If you prefer sounds, put together a fun playlist that keeps the party mood upbeat. Remember, we’re relieving stress and getting over the blues. If you want movies, then choose your favorite ones. I would personally pick fun romantic comedies. You know…something you can swoon over.

Once everyone is gathered, get the party started. Make everyone pick out a bottle of polish from the pot and that’s what they’ll have to wear. Give your nails their much needed pampering. Hang out with your best friends. Giggle over cute boys. You’re never too old to giggle over cute boys. Here’s my default cute boy:


At the end of the day, you had fun. That’s the most important thing. You were able to share the moment with your friends and walk away with great looking nails. :-)





Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun

Release: Perigee Moon by Tara Fuller

My writing sister is celebrating a Book Birthday today! So, while I'm at the edge of my seat keeping an eye on the Broncos game, I wanted to share this birthday with you.

The Kindle edition of Perigee Moon is out now!


Genre: Young Adult/ Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press

After a horrific fire claims the life of her mother, seventeen year old Rowan Bliss finds herself in the miniscule town of Ipswich, Massachusetts. It’s here that she meets Alex, a deliciously mysterious boy who holds the key to unlocking her family’s dark secret.

As Rowan falls helplessly over the edge for Alex, the secrets that he insists on keeping refuse to be contained, and the truth that she uncovers challenges everything she has ever believed. Alex is a witch. And now he’s awakened something within her she never even knew existed. But out of all of this, the one thing Rowan won’t accept is the fact that Alex is destined to die.

Now Rowan must unearth the buried power she harbors within to escape a deadly prophecy, defy the very laws of time, and prevent the hands of fate from taking yet another person she loves.






GRAB YOUR COPY: http://www.amazon.com/Perigee-Moon-ebook/dp/B006X4GNQ2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1326588566&sr=8-2

Cover Reveal: A Stiff Kiss by Avery Olive

I'm so proud to share with everyone the cover of A Stiff Kiss from my fellow author from Crescent Moon Press Avery Olive. Check it out:


Who knew kissing a corpse would change everything?

Death always hits Xylia Morana too close to home, but she likes it that way. She hangs out with the terminally ill, attends random funerals, and every so often, when the weather is right, she sleeps in open graves.

But after Landon Phoenix, the high school hottie, dies in Xylia's arms, she sneaks into the morgue to say goodbye. How could she know stealing a kiss from his corpse would wake him up?

With Landon returned to the living and suddenly interested in Xylia, life has new meaning. But what Xylia doesn't realize is that by kissing Landon back to life, she's thrown Life and Death off balance. The underworld demands a body, and it might just have to be Xylia's this time.

For the latest news on A Stiff Kiss and more about Avery, please visit her website: http://averyolive.blogspot.com/

Review Request: Days of Vengeance by Tim Kizer

I have a paranormal horror to add a little more chill to your nights. Read the blurb. If you're interested in reviewing Days of Vengeance, please leave your name and email address in the comments section so that Tim can send you a copy immediately. Happy Reading!


With the last six years of his life wiped out of his memory, Frank begins to suspect he may have murdered his wife Kelly, who went missing three days before the car crash that caused his amnesia. While struggling to remember his wife and the events surrounding her disappearance, Frank is shocked to find out that Kelly's family has the same suspicions as he does.

As his memories trickle back to him, Frank is still unable to figure out why he has slaughtered his wife. Things take a darker turn when the in-laws give him to understand that they will stop at nothing to make him remember what he has done to their beloved sister.

Frank's search for answers becomes a fight for survival after he rediscovers that his wife's relatives are a clique of bloodthirsty serial kidnappers serving a mysterious one-legged man.

However, the question still remains: Why are these people so hell-bent on getting hold of Kelly's dead body?

His options are limited: he either finds his wife--dead or alive--or dies. In his race against time Frank has all the clues to the puzzle, he just has to remember them before it’s too late.

Want more books to review? Just check back here at Reads, Reviews, Recommends.


There's no limit to the books you can get from the authors willing to offer them up for review.


Please leave a tip on your way out by following me on Twitter or "liking" me on Facebook, or if you already have, I hope that you encourage your friends and followers to do the same. 


Thank you!

Fashion Find: Silver Cat's Ears Ring

I'm totally in love with Jane By Design. It's a new series that reminds me a little of The Devil Wears Prada. I'll write more about it in my next post. What I want to share with you is the idea watching the show gave me. I love to shop, and like any girl, I love cute, shiny, sparkly things. So, as often as I can, I will post about my Fashion Finds. When I love something, I just have to share it with the rest of the world.

So, here's today's Fashion Find:


A Cat's Ears ring! Who would have thunk? It's quirky and terribly cute. Perfect for cat lovers. And if you into the canine persuasion, this is still something you can add to your daily fashion choices. When you're feeling whimsical, put this ring on to complete your outfit for the day. It's also perfect for making subtle fashion statements. And the most perfect thing of all? It's less than $1.

So, do you like today's Fashion Find? Click on the link below to see where you can buy it.


Heart Psalm

Review Request: The Sleepyland Slide by David Lasaine

I think we have something to share with the little ones today. Read the blurb and ask for a copy now. If you're interested, please leave your name and email address in the comments section so that David can contact you right away. Happy Reading!


A stormy night awakens a young child to call for his daddy. Daddy, who is the storyteller and book reader takes his sons on an imaginary magical journey along the Sleepyland Slide. Along the way they meet Mr. Man in the Moon, Ms. Cow, hear of a Gizeeblegizaable...and that is not all! From the perch they can see Sleepyland. Can you imagine a volcano that spews candy and caramel, a river of hot fudge, a jelly bean road, ice-cream mountains, fish that wear bathing suits...and Twistyneckspringswallows bouncing across the landscape? How about a Fregmellian Frog dancing on a log playing a honky tog...on his Saxophone? The Sleepyland Slide has steps that flash colors as they are touched, doors and windows that lead to other places, and markings of letters and symbols used by all civilizations since the beginning of time. There is no doubt this adventure excites a young child's' imagination. Experience the fun of reading to your child(ren) this story full of silly and whimsical action such as when Daddy is being tickled by a Gizeeblegizaable with it's large purple feet and his children see him laughing out of control. Have your child draw their favorite parts and see what kind of pictures they create. Share this story with them and create a memory that will last a lifetime.

Want more books to review? Just check back here at Reads, Reviews, Recommends.


There's no limit to the books you can get from the authors willing to offer them up for review.


Please leave a tip on your way out by following me on Twitter or "liking" me on Facebook, or if you already have, I hope that you encourage your friends and followers to do the same. 


Thank you!

The Vampire Diaries and the Art of Cliffhangers

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Did you catch the latest episode of The Vampire Diaries this week? All I can say is: Daemon, my heart is yours! And whatever major artery you so choose.

I’m not kidding.

If there was a vampire you’d want falling hopelessly in love with you, it’s Daemon. Happy New Year to you, Elena! The ending of the episode? I won’t spoil it unless you haven’t seen what I’m writing about. But, seriously, if you haven’t watched the episode yet, stop reading this post and go watch.

Meanwhile, I want to segue into writing techniques. I need to work off some of the buzz the ending of this week’s episode gave me.

I’ve mentioned before that I watch TV because it teaches me something about writing. Sounds oxymoronic, I know. But there are specific shows I die to watch on a weekly basis not only for the compelling story lines, but also for the lessons in creating scenes they teach me. TV allows a writer to envision a scene. How compact it can be. The detail put into it. And the dialogue and body language of the characters. Putting all these together, especially when beginning and ending a scene can make for effective writing.

I’ve sighted the Sons of Anarchy when it comes to creating multidimensional characters. Ones you love to hate and hate to love. Today, I want to focus on The Vampire Diaries and the art of writing cliffhangers.

When I read a good book, what really gets me turning pages is a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter. There are even writers who have several cliffhangers in a single chapter. That’s what I call effective story telling. If you can have one for each and every chapter, I believe you’ll have a very compelling if not breathless novel. Of course, ending on a cliffhanger can be difficult because you need to know when exactly to end a chapter so that your readers will say “I need to know more!” and then turn that page. This is the beginning of their sleepless night, turning page after page in the quest to know what happens next.

The writers of The Vampire Diaries have writing cliffhangers just right. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll know what I’m writing about. Each episode is ended in such a way that will keep you wanting more, if not wondering why you have to wait a whole week for your next installment. It’s like a drug, I tell you.

If you’re not a fan, you can actually take any episode from any of the three seasons and you’ll still see what I mean. Each episode is like a chapter in a book. It’s ended either on an action about to take place or a revelation or something utterly shocking. Each of these can be used to force a reader into needing to know what happens next.

Sometimes, when writing a chapter, you know exactly where it ends. It feels right. But ask yourself, will the reader want to continue reading or will she call it a night and put your book down for the next day?

For example, you’re character is about to make an important decision in a chapter. Instead of ending your chapter with the decision being made, why not end it at the moment where he or she is about to make said decision. Let’s say jumping off a cliff. You can end the chapter just as she reaches the edge.

Or what if your character is about the confess something to another character. A great way to end the chapter is by cutting the confession. Maybe something significant happens that pushes the actual confession to a later chapter. Or he’s just about to say it and you cut the chapter there. So you have your readers holding their breath, but they can’t exhale until they read the next chapter, then you start the whole cliffhanger all over again.

I may go on and on about what you can do, but in the end, writing your novel is in your hands. I just love sharing what works for me. In this case, cliffhangers. Something to consider when writing a chapter. And a great way to learn is by watching The Vampire Diaries. The writers on that show…I swear, they are wicked awesome!

So, let’s talk about the ending to this week’s episode…

Review Request: The Marx Brothers Meet Robin Hood by Dan Castell

We have an awesome short story in store, dear readers. Check out the blurb. If you want to read and review The Marx Brothers Meet Robin Hood, please leave your name and email address in the comments section so that Dan can send you a copy for review right away. Happy Reading!


In this rollicking short story, Groucho finds himself captured by none other than Robin Hood.

Listen, Rob,” he says, “there's something I've always wanted to ask you.”
“What's that?”
“Don't those tights give you a rash in the summer?”

Soon Groucho finds himself in the front lines of the desperate war between Robin Hood’s men and the king’s army of Nottingham. There’s Little John and Friar Tuck and much woodland derring-do involving swords, arrows, and roast boar. And the fun really begins when Chico sets his sights on winning Maid Marion away from Robin Hood.

In these deadly woods, will Groucho find a way out, or get an arrow to the forehead?

Part of the larger “Marx Brothers Meet…” series, this story will appear in the short story collection, The Marx Brothers Meet God 2: Lost Tales of the Lost Boys in Paradise. Other mind-bending titles are in the pipeline, including the novel that started the whole cockamamie collection, The Marx Brothers Meet God, due in 2012.


Short story. Available in e-book formats: .mobi, .epub., pdf

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There's no limit to the books you can get from the authors willing to offer them up for review.


Please leave a tip on your way out by following me on Twitter or "liking" me on Facebook, or if you already have, I hope that you encourage your friends and followers to do the same. 


Thank you!

Reading while Writing Ban

January marks the beginning of my writing year with a work in progress born from the manuscript I’d written at the beginning of 2011. Yes, the one you read about in my 2011 in Review post. In my post explaining why I didn’t participate during NaNo last year, I challenged myself to write six novels this year. I know how crazy that sounds, but I’m sure there are many writers out there capable of this feat. I’ll certainly try to accomplish this goal. Six novels mean a novel every other mouth. And I calculated it this way: the writing months will be January, March, May, July, September, and November. The months after every writing month will be spent editing and preparing for the next novel to be written and devouring as many novels as I can (the last point I will explain shortly).

I’d say I’m off to a good start. I drove myself to my favorite coffee shop and, amidst the rush of so many people, managed to bang out two chapters. This means I’m already ahead of schedule. I promised I wouldn’t worry about the story too much, letting my character take me where he wants to go. Plus, the kinks can always be worked out during editing. As long as the story makes itself on the page, I have something to work with. I find that writing a chapter or two a day every day for a whole month is a formula that works with me. I have no time to procrastinate and definitely no chance to worry about plotting. When I wrote Impulse, I tested out this formula for the first time last year in June. Let’s see if I can keep it up this year for six alternating months.

Besides this formula, I’ve discovered another thing that worked for me while I’m writing: not reading anything during my stay in the writing cave. I know I’ve said before that reading is a great way to learn how to write, but I’ve realized reading while you’re creating your own story has the tendency to influence your writing. Not that you’re copying the story, but maybe the style of writing rubs off on you or the narrative or the way a character acts. There are so many influences that can subconsciously make in onto your pages without you intending them to be there. So, I’ve put off reading anything this January, or at least until I finish writing my latest WIP. With the rate I’m going, I might be finished before the month is over, but I don’t want to count my chapters before they are written. Anything can happen. Delays have the tendency to pop up when I least expect them. But I will try to stick to my schedule as much as possible.

Of course, this ban on reading doesn’t last into the editing phase. While editing, I start reading again. It’s a good way to unwind. It also allows me to take a step away from the work as a writer and look at it critically as an editor. Very different hats these two. They often fight and have hissy fits, but they get along when they need to. I call one Jekyll and the other Hyde. You decided which is which. *smiles*

Review Request: Enemy in Blue by Derek Blass

Here's a book where you're not exactly sure who's good and who's bad. Read the blurb, and if you want to review this novel, please leave your name and email address in the comments section so that Derek can contact you right away. Happy Reading!


The streets aren't safe when your enemy wears a blue uniform and a gold badge.

What if the good guys weren't good? What if a cop went rogue and killed an innocent man? What if it was all caught on video and the cop would do anything to cover it up? Try to keep up with the action as Cruz Marquez, a young attorney, gets drawn into an action-packed journey to preserve the evidence--all while defending against the raw force of Sergeant Shaver, his enemy in blue.

"The plot is as gripping as it is chilling. The story flows smoothly, and each chapter ends with the perfect amount of suspense to keep you wanting more. A fantastic and exciting read, as I could not put the book down." -B.Burton

"A great first thriller for this young author. I would compare this story to John Grisham's book of "The Innocent Man." It is that captivating and more." -M. Bautista

Want more books to review? Just check back here at Reads, Reviews, Recommends.


There's no limit to the books you can get from the authors willing to offer them up for review.


Please leave a tip on your way out by following me on Twitter or "liking" me on Facebook, or if you already have, I hope that you encourage your friends and followers to do the same. 


Thank you!
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