November 29, 2013

merry & bright: the soundtrack

Now that it's the day after Thanksgiving, it's officially OK to turn your radio stations and playlists over to holiday music. And here's a little something to help you get into the spirit musically.

Today, I'm pleased to welcome a few of my fellow Merry & Bright authors to Change the Word. Each of us picked five songs to accompany our holiday shorts to create a soundtrack for the anthology.

Soundtrack for A Very Dixie Christmas by Lauren Clark

Soundtrack for Twelve Drummers Drumming by Laura Chapman

Soundtrack for Ice Dating by Nancy Scrofano

Soundtrack for Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Isabella Louise Anderson

You can listen to the full Merry & Bright soundtrack on Spotify:



And YouTube:



About the Book
Sip your eggnog, linger under the mistletoe, and make a Christmas wish. Merry & Bright brings you six tales of Christmas cheer, featuring stories of budding romances, Southern charm, lost loves, heaps of humor, and lots of pie by authors Isabella Louise Anderson, Cindy Arora, Laura Chapman, Lauren Clark, Libby Mercer, and Nancy Scrofano. From sunny Los Angeles to the Rocky Mountains to the Deep South, Merry & Bright will take you on a heartwarming adventure you'll love to visit again and again. Wrap yourself in holiday mirth and prepare to be swept off your feet.
Merry & Bright, featuring "Twelve Drummers Drumming" is available from Simon & Fig. Add to Goodreads. Buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Kobo.

Receive Change the Word's latest updates in your Inbox. Subscribe by entering your information under "Follow by email" in the sidebar. Follow me on Twitter @lmchap or "Like" Change the Word on Facebook.

November 28, 2013

happy thanksgiving!

My contributions for this year's Thanksgiving feast.

Happy Thanksgiving, my fellow American readers. To everyone else, happy Thursday -- and I sincerely hope it's a great one.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. For one, it signifies the kick-off of the Christmas season, which is a magical time of year. With all of the Christmas lights, trees and sentimental music and movies playing non-stop, it's hard not to feel a little festive (unless I'm having one of those unfortunate bad days).

Thanksgiving also means spending time with my family eating some of my favorite foods. I have pumpkin and pecan pies cooling, and a caramel apple pie baking in the oven as we speak, and I'm getting hungry.

But most importantly, Thanksgiving is a time of year when we pause to think about our blessings. It's something I should do more often, but it's great to have a day to pause and remember.

I have so much to be thankful for this year. I have a wonderful family and friends. The cats and I are settled into a new home. We're thankful for the windows that give us natural lighting and the space for them to run around and play.

I am thankful to have not one but two publishers sharing my stories with the world this year. Becoming a published author has been a dream of mine for as long as I could read and write -- maybe even longer. I realize how blessed I am to have this opportunity. It's important to take a moment from the nerves and frenzy of marketing campaigns, drafts and more to remember how fortunate I am.

My books wouldn't be possible without the support I've received from friends. Some of you beta read and critiqued my stories, which made them better. Others have been there to offer encouragement. I have a job that supports me while I pursue this dream. With it comes co-workers who are probably more excited than I am about all of this.

I'm a very thankful girl this Thanksgiving. And whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving, I still want you to know how much I appreciate you. This is a journey, and it would be lonely without such great company.

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November 26, 2013

eats from 'twelve drummers drumming'


Early in Twelve Drummers Drumming, the romantic holiday short in Merry & Bright, the main characters Autumn and Tuck go on an exploratory walk around Breckenridge -- the setting of their first Christmas together as a married couple. That adventure is capped off with a delicious breakfast at a cafe on the edge of the town's main street. I based this restaurant on the place my friend and I had brunch during our day-trip to the ski resort town.

We're celebrating Thanksgiving here in the United States, and with the promise of piles of delicious food, I figured now was a good time to tell you a little more about that delicious restaurant.  


We looked up this restaurant while we were stuck in traffic en route to Breckenridge and developing quite the appetite. The drive took a couple of extra hours for us, so we were pretty much starving when we arrived. Blue Moose sounded like what we wanted -- hearty breakfast with the option for something unique.

And even though I definitely had the caffeine shakes from the large coffee I drank earlier, I went ahead and ordered a cup. Fact: My only regret from this trip was not buying one of these mugs. But they were a cash-only type of establishment, and I was burning through my paper money.


And here's a picture with my friend Jacie and our cups of Joe.


Jacie is one of my writing buddies. When she lived in Nebraska, we regularly got together to write. During National Novel Writing Month 2011, she was one of my in-town motivation buddies. On this trip, she was good enough to welcome me into her home for a fun weekend. Plus, she drove me around the mountains and was patient and gracious when I was so struck by inspiration I had to jot down notes, potential dialogue or snap photos.

We had some fun people watching while we were there. A few tables were filled by other travelers. One was a group of twenty-somethings on a skiing weekend. They were sitting right across from me, and I probably stared at them a little more often than was polite while I tried to pick-up on their mannerisms and conversations. I also paid a little too long at the older couple a few tables over. I know, I'm a total creeper, but I was researching.

Fortunately, it didn't take long for our food to arrive, so I could stop my weird behavior. And what did I have for brunch at this delightful cafe? This delicious dish:


This was the California Benedict. That's English muffin, poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce and avocado. It normally comes with tomatoes, but I ordered without, because tomatoes are gross (unless they're in ketchup, salsa or marinara sauce). It also came with a side of country potatoes (or home fries if you like). I topped it with hot sauce, because I've recently discovered I like hot sauce on eggs (and pizza). It was all pretty delicious. And now I'm hungry.

Ultimately, the location of Autumn and Tuck's breakfast wasn't crucial, but Blue Moose definitely inspired me to include a breakfast scene in this story. So thanks for the wonderful dining experience.

About the Book
Sip your eggnog, linger under the mistletoe, and make a Christmas wish. Merry & Bright brings you six tales of Christmas cheer, featuring stories of budding romances, Southern charm, lost loves, heaps of humor, and lots of pie by authors Isabella Louise Anderson, Cindy Arora, Laura Chapman, Lauren Clark, Libby Mercer, and Nancy Scrofano. From sunny Los Angeles to the Rocky Mountains to the Deep South, Merry & Bright will take you on a heartwarming adventure you'll love to visit again and again. Wrap yourself in holiday mirth and prepare to be swept off your feet.
Merry & Bright, featuring "Twelve Drummers Drumming" is available from Simon & Fig. Add to Goodreads. Buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Kobo.

Receive Change the Word's latest updates in your Inbox. Subscribe by entering your information under "Follow by email" in the sidebar. Follow me on Twitter @lmchap or "Like" Change the Word on Facebook.

November 25, 2013

recreating home

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to host Quanie Miller, author of It Ain't Easy Being Jazzy, as she embarks on her Chick Lit Plus blog tour. After learning she grew up in Louisiana, my interest was immediately piqued. After spending four years make bimonthly week-long visits around the state, I wanted to know how growing up in the state shaped her writing. I was particularly excited to see she grew up in New Iberia, because I visited railroad customers in the area, and often drove through on my trips from New Orleans to Lafayette. Reading her guest post made me homesick for one of my favorite places to visit back when I lived half of my life on the road.

By Quanie Miller 
Guest Blogger

I grew up in New Iberia, Louisiana. There wasn’t much to do in the small town so my family and I often sat on the porch at my grandmother’s house, even in the heat, drinking coffee and gossiping. We listened to the train pass, went to the store, went back home, and listened to another train pass, and then (because my grandmother had forgotten something on her first trip to the store), went back to the store again, often for some gumbo filet, or a carton of eggs, or some bologna. And then it was back to the porch for more gossip: “Did you know,” my grandmother would say, “That  _____________ had a baby on his wife?”

And someone, my mom or one of my aunts, would sip her coffee and yell, “Stop!”

My grandmother would nod. “As ugly as he is. Do you know he left that girl by herself and ain’t called to check on them kids? With his bad walkin’ self. Need to put him under the jail. Ole beady eyes. Lookin’ just like his daddy.”

“Unh unh unh.”

I lapped it all up, sometimes taking a break to read a book, or to iron shirts for my Uncle Moto for three dollars a shirt—until I wised up; if he was drinking he’d forget whether or not he paid me, so when he asked, “Mamoo, did I pay you for ironing my shirts?” I’d give a sly smile and say, “No,” and then he’d scratch his head and look at me from the side and say, “I think you’re scheming me.” But he’d smile too and give me another three dollars.

There was excitement there on that porch. I got to hear grown folk business, or scheme my way into a candy bar from my grandmother’s umpteenth trip to the store. Years later, those days on the porch always trickle into the things that I write. My characters are funny, loveable, and have no problem telling some poor man just where he can stick it. There’s never a dull moment for me at the computer because I am always recreating home. 

About the Book
Jazzy secretly wants to get back together with her ex-boyfriend, Curtis, so when he calls and reveals that he’s got something important to tell her, she’s got no idea that he’s about to propose—to her first cousin and bitter rival, Mercedes.

The annual family dinner is coming up, and fearing that she will spend the evening seething while Mercedes flaunts her four carat engagement ring in her face, Jazzy asks Reggie, an Adonis she met at the mall, to accompany her. As fate would have it, not only did Reggie and Mercedes used to date; that backstabbing, leopard print wearing cow is still carrying a torch for him! Revenge. It’s never been so sweet.

But falling for Reggie? Holy crap! That wasn’t part of the plan! She’s got enough on her plate as it is; restaurant shootouts, a neurotic boss, a mother who spies on the neighbors, and a sister and best friend with man problems that could land them on Jerry Springer. Who has time to fall in love? So when Curtis comes sniffing around again—this time, with an accusation that sends her blood pressure shooting through the roof—the one good nerve that Jazzy’s got left has just about run its course.

Excerpt
My best friend, Serai, invited me to her aunt’s seventy-fifth birthday party because she thought it was a secret ambush by her family that would end with her marrying some guy that they had found on Craigslist. “You have to come, Jazzy,” she begged me. “I think I saw a wedding gown in my mother’s trunk. They’re getting desperate.”

“You’ll find somebody. Besides, you can’t marry just anybody.”

“I don’t think they care anymore. It’s been too long since Chuck and I broke up and they’re starting to wonder about us.”

“Us?”

“Yes. You don’t have a man either.”

“That’s by choice!”

“I told them that even if I were gay, you wouldn’t be my type, but that only made Aunt Cleotha clutch her pearls.”

“Fine, I’ll go. But if the guy from Craigslist is cute, I have first dibs.”

When I arrived at Aunt Cleotha’s house and rang the doorbell, I heard music and laughter inside. Serai’s nephew, Jordan, answered the door with one of those Super Soaker type water guns and squirted me right in the eye. His mother, Kimmy, scooped him up and squeezed his cheeks. “Jordan, baby! Don’t do that!” She looked at me apologetically and handed me a napkin from her bosom. “I’m sorry, Jazzy. He hasn’t had a nap yet.” As if that explained it. The truth is that the little fucker was just bad.

Kimmy took the water Uzi from Jordan, who kicked and screamed and said, “Put me dow-own!” He wiggled free and ran around the room kicking people in the shins while Kimmy chased him. I wiped my face with the napkin (it smelled like Victoria’s Secret Amber Romance Body Splash and tangerines) and walked around saying hello to the people in Serai’s family whom I knew; Uncle Raymond, Aunt Delores, and her cousin, Byron, who, no matter how hard I tried to dissuade him, seemed to have the hots for me. I had tried numerous times to pawn him off on my sister, but he insisted that Annie was not his type.

I’d said, “Wait a minute; you mean to tell me that a smart, sexy, confident, and beautiful woman is not your type?”

“No,” he’d said, “I prefer someone like you.”

“Define someone like me.”

“No bells and whistles. With those pretty, independent women, you always have to worry about them sneaking behind your back because they have so many options. But with someone like you, I wouldn’t have to worry about that.”

“So just a regular, run of the mill woman.”

“Exactly.”

“Someone who doesn’t have many options when it comes to dating so she spends her nights baying at the moon.”

“Exactly.” He looked so nice wearing that punch bowl. In fact, the best I’ve ever seen him look. So when he saw me that day, he took off in the other direction. I guess having spiked Hawaiian Punch in his eye really cured him of his crush.


Check out the other stops on Quanie's tour here.

About the Author
Quanie Miller grew up in New Iberia, Louisiana. She fell in love with reading at an early age and spent most of her time at the Iberia Parish Library discovering new authors like R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike (she was often found walking back home from the library with a stack of books that went up to her chin). She holds degrees from Louisiana State University and San Jose State University. She has been the recipient of the James Phelan Literary Award, the Louis King Thore Scholarship, the BEA Student Scriptwriting Award, and the Vicki Hudson Emerging Writing Prize. She loves writing humorous stories about strong willed, sassy women who can’t keep themselves out of trouble. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband and is currently, as always, working on another novel.

Connect with Quanie
Website: www.quaniemiller.com
Blog: www.quanietalkswriting.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QuanieMillerAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/QuanieMiller
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/QuanieMiller
Email: info@quaniemiller.com or quanie@quanietalkswriting.com

Buy the Book
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FVAFA4A

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November 22, 2013

interview with the author of 'zoey & the moment of zen'

Blogger's Note: I have the distinct pleasure of interviewing Cat Lavoie, author of Zoey and the Moment of Zen and Breaking the Rules, as part of her Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour. It's a real thrill. Not only is Cat my label-mate at Marching Ink, a "Downton Abbey" fan and a fellow Chick Lit Chat host, but she's also my friend. And because she is all of those things, for today's interview, I decided to ask Cat about what we could expect if being label-mates meant we could go on a physical tour together instead of one on the Interwebs. And her answers are amazing, which is no surprise as she's pretty much awesome. Oh, and be sure to enter the prize drawing with the Rafflecopter below.

Change the Word: As label mates, we've decided to go on tour together. What are three locations we must visit?
Cat Lavoie: Let's hit the road! The Marching Ink Tour will definitely include stops in New York City, London and Paris. (This is a no expenses spared kind of thing, right?)

CTW: Oh, we're going all out, so why not hit the big three? You're releasing an album to accompany, Zoey & the Moment of Zen. What are some of the songs featured on the soundtrack?
CL: The Zoey & the Moment of Zen soundtrack would open with "Un-Break My Heart" by Toni Braxton and "Someone Like You" by Adele. It wouldn't just be songs to cry along to, though—they'd be some happy, upbeat numbers as well… like "Pocketful of Sunshine" by Natasha Bedingfield. (It's stuck in my head right now!)

CTW: How will you decorate your room on the tour bus?
CL: Since I'm a crazy cat lady, you know my tour bus room will be covered in pictures of Abbie! And I'd also bring a little piece of home with me and take one of the Union Jack pillows that I keep on my bed.

CTW: Maybe we should find a way to sneak our cats on board. I don't think we should have to be without them. What three books are you packing in your suitcase for the trip?
CL: I'm going to be bringing my Kindle, so I'll have ALL my books with me and still have space in my luggage for all the shopping I want to do.

CTW: You're so efficient. It's movie night on the bus, and it's your turn to pick. What are we watching? 

CL: Bring on the chick flicks! How about "Love, Actually" or "Bridget Jones' Diary"? Or we could catch up on some British TV series like "The Paradise" or "Downton Abbey?"

CTW: Sounds like we have entertainment covered for our tour. What are a few must-have items for your backstage dressing room? (Go ahead and channel your inner Beyoncé and diva out if you like.)
CL: I don't think I'll be a huge diva when the time comes to stock my backstage dressing room. A few bottles of Coke Zero, some English Breakfast tea and (of course) snacks. I think I need to work on on my diva attitude before we leave. Maybe I need to ask for bowls of Peanut M&Ms—but only red ones!

CTW: While chatting between tour stops, we naturally strike up a conversation about "Downton Abbey" and our mutual crush, Mr. Bates. What's your winning argument for why he's yours and I should turn my fancy elsewhere? 


CL: Oh, Mr. Bates! I've had a crush on him from the very first limp. In fact, a chronic ankle issue causes me to limp now and again, depending on the weather. So I think that Mr. Bates and I have that extra connection because of our ailments—and, for once, I can use this pesky condition to my advantage!

CTW: Fine, you can have him. We're meeting for a post-show dinner. What are you ordering to drink and eat? What dessert should we split?
CL: I'll probably order a Chicken Caesar salad and Coke Zero. (Perhaps we've had a pre-dinner cocktail?) Since my main course was relatively healthy, I'll probably go super decadent for dessert. How about we split a hot fudge brownie sundae?

CTW: Sounds delicious. Maybe we should start with dessert during cocktails. Who are you taking as your date to the tour wrap party? Let's put a fictional character and a real person on the guest list to give you options.
CL: If I could bring a fictional character to life, I'd pick Jude Weatherington from Brea Brown's novel Daydreamer. He's my latest book boyfriend and oh-so-dreamy. Speaking of Jude… my "real person" date would be Stephen Merchant because I'm a huge fan and I want to convince him to play the part of Jude (no relation to the aforementioned book boyfriend) in the Zoey & the Moment of Zen movie.

CTW: Oh, Jude Weatherington sounds so dreamy. I might have to break girl code and try to steal him from you. What's next for you and your writing career once the tour has wrapped?
CL: Is it over already? We've been having so much fun! I guess all good things must come to an end. When I get back home, I'll continue working on my third novel and, hopefully, you and I will be planning the next Marching Ink tour!


About the Author

Cat Lavoie lives in Montreal, Canada with her tempestuous cat, Abbie. Her debut novel, Breaking the Rules, was published in August 2012 by Marching Ink. If Cat isn't reading or writing, she's most likely watching too much TV or daydreaming about her next trip to London.

To find out more about Cat and her books, please visit www.CatLavoie.com.

Connect with Cat
Website: http://www.CatLavoie.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Catenabi
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CatLavoieAuthor

Buy the Book
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Amazon
Marching Ink



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November 21, 2013

catching fire: let the games begin


Grab your bow and arrow, because the party starts at midnight. Yes, tonight the much anticipated second installment of the Hunger Games movie franchise will make its big screen debut to the masses, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing Catching Fire.

I also have a healthy dose of nerves. While I generally enjoyed The Hunger Games, this one has more at stake for me. Mostly, because this was my favorite of the three books, I hope so badly I'll enjoy the movie as much as the book itself. I'll try not to let myself get too judgmental, but I can't be held responsible if Hollywood forgets to include my favorite scene from the book. Or if the teens also attending the midnight screening won't keep their mouths shut.

For serious teens of Lincoln, going to a midnight screening is a privilege. Act accordingly, or I'm fully prepared to bring my Julliard-quality shushing skills to work. (If you don't get what I mean by this, than you absolutely have to watch this clip from Dane Cook.)

To mentally prepare myself for this cinematic event, I thought I'd take a quick look back at some of the fun I've had on this blog thanks to the series. If you've been following for a longtime, then you'll remember my series of culinary experiments, which included me recreating dishes described in the books. If you're new to the blog, well, then these are new to you.

Making any of these dishes would be a great way to put yourselves in a Hunger Games state of mind.

Hunger Games Recipes
The Dandelion Salad is the only non-seasonal item for us northerners, but if you're looking to recreate the dish in honor of the film coming out, I'd suggest subbing arugula, which you can almost always find in your grocery store.

You can also make the Apple and Goat Cheese tart as one, large tart if you like. (It takes less time.) Follow the same instructions, except... make it one tart pan. You also don't need as much pastry crust. I did this a while ago (though it had to be in a pie tin, because that was all I had), and had great results.


So delicious. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

The next step for getting mentally ready to head back to the Games would obviously be re-reading book two and/or re-watching the first film. I did a mix of both. I only wish I would have had enough time to make one of those Apple and Goat Cheese Tarts to sneak into the movies with me.

However you choose to celebrate the new film's debut, may the odds be ever in your favor.

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November 20, 2013

prince charming - the three hunk-os


Between the craziness of moving into a new home, doing NaNoWriMo and preparing for the release of my anthology and novel, I kind of messed up something. I know -- I haven't posted my Fantasy Football Prince Charming of the Week in forever.

So let's do some quick catch-up. First, the business of it all. Right now I have two very different records in my leagues.
  • Cinderella's Fellas is 10-1, and I'm ranked 1 of 10 teams. With only two more weeks of regular play, I've already clinched a spot in our playoffs. This league uses a three-week system, and I've already automatically progressed to the second week based on my score. Obviously I'm pleased. I'm proud of my boys for their consistent domination.
  • Cinderella's Ball is 6-5, and I'm ranked 5 of 12 teams. This league is trickier. There's a frequent change of power, especially amongst the middle-ranking teams. If I keep winning, maybe I'll score a playoff spot, but I'm not holding my breath. This league uses a standard two-week playoff, which means there are three weeks left in the regular season.

Obviously, I'm pleased with Cinderella's Fellas and wish Cinderellas Ball would do better, but that's life.

As for my princes, I had some pretty good options to choose from. Here they are:


No. 9: Giovani Bernard
The Cincinnati Bengals running back scored me a cool 22.4 points in his week nine game against Miami. And even though he got a little banged up in the game, he was back in week 10 scoring 15.5 points. He's been a staple of Cinderella's Fellas, and in week nine he saved a team that could have suffered during bye-week hell. Plus... I really like saying his name. Giovani. Oooh, I'm all tingly.


No. 10: Golden Tate
The Seattle Seahawks wide receiver caught six passes, had 106 yard and a touchdown in week 10. I'll admit, he spent most of the season on my bench, because I worried about his consistency. But he saved my life during a rough bye week, and managed to help Cinderella's Ball win its first victory in weeks. As far as I'm concerned that's enough to have a national holiday named after him.


No. 11: Calvin Johnson
I know he's been a Prince Charming in the past, but da-aaaaaaaaaaaaaamn Megatron. Dude caught six passes, scored two touchdowns and made 179 yards in Sunday's game. Now that we're well into our second season together, he may go down as the freaking football playing love of my life. Mrs. Megatron. Mrs. Laura Megatron. Mrs. Laura Chapman-Megatron. Oooh... That sounds damn fine.

Hugs and kisses, boys.

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November 19, 2013

making the band


In "Twelve Drummers Drumming," the romantic holiday short in Merry & Bright, Autumn is newly married to Tuck, the drummer of the chart-topping band Rolling Mountain.

I'd actually written the first two scenes before I decided on a name for Tuck's band. I put BAND NAME until I could figure out what I should use. Then, serendipitously one of my writer friends Anna Garner (aka Libby Mercer) posted a band name generator on a Facebook writing group wall.

Band Name Maker will come up with a name out of nowhere. Or, if you like, you can enter a word (or name, I imagine) to shape the title. Fresh from my trip to Breckenridge, I entered "mountain" and clicked "Generate Band Names."

A whole list of results appeared, but right away one stuck out to me: Rolling Mountain. Dear Lord, it was beautiful. It fit the sound I wanted for the band perfectly. I imagined the Colorado-based band to have a folksy, rocking sound as evidenced by the music I was listening to at the time.

Like Mumford & Sons:

Photo from fanpop.com.

Or The Lumineers (minus having a lady):

Photo from metrolyrics.com.
I liked these guys for my band inspiration, because I knew I didn't want this story to be about hard core rock and rollers. And I liked that some of the band members could have beards from time to time. I know this was only supposed to be a short story, but already I was starting to think this could pan out into more stories. I already have the starts of a book featuring the band in the works, so we'll see what happens with that.

Anyway, knowing the name of the band and their style helped me shape the characters. If they were into this kind of music, this is how I'd imagined they'd be in real life.

Tomorrow, I'll be back to share some of the songs I listened to for inspiration as I wrote and edited this novelette, so be sure to check it out.

About the Book
Sip your eggnog, linger under the mistletoe, and make a Christmas wish. Merry & Bright brings you six tales of Christmas cheer, featuring stories of budding romances, Southern charm, lost loves, heaps of humor, and lots of pie by authors Isabella Louise Anderson, Cindy Arora, Laura Chapman, Lauren Clark, Libby Mercer, and Nancy Scrofano. From sunny Los Angeles to the Rocky Mountains to the Deep South, Merry & Bright will take you on a heartwarming adventure you'll love to visit again and again. Wrap yourself in holiday mirth and prepare to be swept off your feet.
Merry & Bright, featuring "Twelve Drummers Drumming" is available from Simon & Fig. Add to Goodreads. Buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Kobo.

Receive Change the Word's latest updates in your Inbox. Subscribe by entering your information under "Follow by email" in the sidebar. Follow me on Twitter @lmchap or "Like" Change the Word on Facebook.

November 18, 2013

the music of 'twelve drummers drumming'


Music is an important part of my writing process. Even when the main character’s love interest isn’t the drummer of one of the hottest bands working its way up the charts, like the situation in "Twelve Drummers Drumming," my holiday romantic short in the Merry & Bright anthology (now available!). Music helps me set the tone when I need to get lost in a scene. Part of my planning process involves creating a preliminary playlist, which I add to as inspiration strikes while I write.

While writing this novelette, most of the songs I listened to were ones I imagined Rolling Mountain – Tuck’s band – playing. Or they put me in the mood to tell Autumn and Tuck's story.

"I Will Wait" by Mumford & Sons



"After the Storm" by Mumford & Sons 



"Ho Hey" by The Lumineers 



"Stubborn Love" by The Lumineers 



While editing, I listened to “Stubborn Love” and Mumford & Son’s “Hopeless Wanderer” on repeat.



You’ll have to give me a moment to recover. That video still slays me. Can’t. Stop. Won’t. Stop. Laughing.

I also listened to a couple of songs by The Neighbourhood and Maroon 5 while writing this. Maybe that means Rolling Mountain has an alternative undercurrent to its sound. Or maybe they were all over my radio station and Spotify playlist while the story was a work in progress.

"Sweater Weather" by The Neighborhood 



"Daylight" by Maroon 5 



While writing a particularly angst-filled scene with Autumn, I listened to "Just Give Me A Reason" by Pink featuring Nate Ruess, the lead singer of Fun!



Because I’ve want to write more full-length novels about Rolling Mountain, my playlist keeps growing. I’ll be sure to discuss how the songs I listen to change as the band’s story evolves.

Funny, but I didn’t actually listen to any Christmas music while I wrote this, and I love Christmas music..

You can access the full “Twelve Drummers Drumming” playlist on YouTube and Spotify.





About the Book
Sip your eggnog, linger under the mistletoe, and make a Christmas wish. Merry & Bright brings you six tales of Christmas cheer, featuring stories of budding romances, Southern charm, lost loves, heaps of humor, and lots of pie by authors Isabella Louise Anderson, Cindy Arora, Laura Chapman, Lauren Clark, Libby Mercer, and Nancy Scrofano. From sunny Los Angeles to the Rocky Mountains to the Deep South, Merry & Bright will take you on a heartwarming adventure you'll love to visit again and again. Wrap yourself in holiday mirth and prepare to be swept off your feet.
Merry & Bright, featuring "Twelve Drummers Drumming" is available from Simon & Fig. Add to Goodreads. Buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Kobo.


Receive Change the Word's latest updates in your Inbox. Subscribe by entering your information under "Follow by email" in the sidebar. Follow me on Twitter @lmchap or "Like" Change the Word on Facebook.

November 15, 2013

mobile writing and 'merry & bright' release day

Today's a pretty exciting day in the world of Laura Chapman. "Twelve Drummers Drumming," my romantic holiday short, is now available for sale in Merry & Bright. The anthology published by Simon and Fig will be a fun read for the upcoming holiday season.


Here's the scoop on the book in case you don't already know:
Sip your eggnog, linger under the mistletoe, and make a Christmas wish. Merry & Bright brings you six tales of Christmas cheer, featuring stories of budding romances, Southern charm, lost loves, heaps of humor, and lots of pie by authors Isabella Louise Anderson, Cindy Arora, Laura Chapman, Lauren Clark, Libby Mercer, and Nancy Scrofano. From sunny Los Angeles to the Rocky Mountains to the Deep South, Merry & Bright will take you on a heartwarming adventure you'll love to visit again and again. Wrap yourself in holiday mirth and prepare to be swept off your feet.
So, yeah, pretty exciting stuff. I'm honored to be associated with such a talented bunch of ladies, and I'm looking forward to reading their stories.

Today, I wanted to share another behind-the-scenes story about writing "Twelve Drummers Drumming." Wait, cue the special marker...


There we go. Now for the story...

I've mentioned how I found a lot of inspiration for this story on the drive to Breckenridge and during my day touring the town. And I've alluded to the fact that I was so inspired by my surroundings I had to jot down my thoughts while I was a passenger in my friend's car...


And while we were walking around exploring the area...


I don't always write on my iPhone, but when I do, you'd better believe it's because I'm freaking excited and motivated.

Merry & Bright, featuring "Twelve Drummers Drumming" is available from Simon & Fig. Add to Goodreads. Buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Kobo.


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November 14, 2013

excerpt of 'unfinished business'

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to share this excerpt of Carolyn Ridder Aspenson's Unfinished Business. The first book in the Angela Panther series was a No. 1 best-seller on both Amazon and B&N. It also placed 42 on B&N's top 100 Nook books for sale and 99 on Amazon's top 100 paid kindle books. It placed in the top 10 of three other B&N best seller lists and two of Amazon's. Congratulations, Carolyn.

About the Book
Angela Panther has a perfect life: A lovely home, an attentive, successful husband, two reasonably behaved children, a devoted dog and a lot of coffee and cupcakes. But while her life might border on mundane, she's got it under control. Until her mother, Fran dies-and returns as a ghost. It seems Fran's got some unfinished business and she's determined to get it done.

Now Fran's got some nifty celestial superpowers and isn't opposed to using them to levy a little ghostly retribution on her granddaughter's frienemies and even her own daughter, which doesn't make Angela happy.

While Angela's shocked and grateful to have her mother back, she's not thrilled about the portal to the afterlife Fran opened upon her return. Now every ghost in town is knockin' on Angela's psychic door, looking for help-and it's a royal pain in the butt.

Now Angela's got to find a way to balance her family life with her new gift and keep her mother in line. And it's a lot for one woman to handle.

Excerpt
The air in the room felt frigid and sent an icy chill deep into my bones. Searching for comfort, I lay on the rented hospice bed, closed my eyes, and snuggled under Ma’s floral print quilt. I breathed in her scent, a mixture of Dove soap, Calvin Klein Eternity perfume and stale cigarettes. The stench of death lingered in the air, trying hard to take over my senses, but I refused to let it in. Death may have taken my mother, but not her smell. Not yet.

“You little thief, I know what you did now.”

I opened my eyes and searched the room, but other than my Pit Bull, Greyhound mix Gracie, and me, it was empty. Gracie sensed my ever so slight movement, and laid her head back down. I saw my breath, which wouldn’t have been a big deal except it was May, in Georgia. I closed my eyes again.

“I know you can hear me, Angela. Don’t you ignore me.”

I opened my eyes again. “Ma?”

Floating next to the bed, in the same blue nightgown she had on when she died, was my mother, or more likely, some grief induced image of her.

“Ma?" I laughed out loud. “What am I saying? It’s not you. You’re dead.’

The grief induced image spoke. “Of course I’m dead, Angela, but I told you if I could, I’d come back. And I can so, tada, here I am.”

The image floated up in the air, twirled around in a few circles and floated back down.

I closed my eyes and shook my head, trying to right my brain or maybe shake loose the crazy, but it was pointless because when I opened my eyes again, the talking image of my mother was still there.

“Oh good grief, stop it. It’s not your head messing with you, Angela. It’s me, your Ma. Now sit up and listen to me. This is important.”

As children we’re conditioned to respond to our parents when they speak to us. We forget it as teenagers, but somewhere between twenty and the birth of our first child, we start acknowledging them again, maybe even believing some of what they tell us. Apparently it was no different when you imagined their ghost speaking to you, too. Crazy maybe, but no different.

I rubbed my eyes. “This is a dream, so I might as well go with it."

I sat up, straightened my back, plastered a big ol’ smile on my face, because it was a dream and I could be happy the day my mom died, in a dream and said, “Hi Ma, how are you?”

“You ate my damn Hershey bars."

“Hershey bars? I dream about my dead mother and she talks about Hershey bars. What is that?”

“Don’t you act like you don’t know what I’m talking about, Angela."

“But I don’t know what you’re talking about, Ma.” I shook my head again and thought for sure I was bonkers, talking to an imaginary Ma.

“Oh for the love of God, Angela, my Hershey bars. The ones I hid in the back of my closet.”

Oh. Those Hershey bars, from like, twenty years ago, at least. The ones I did eat.

“How do you know it was me that ate your Hershey bars? That was over twenty years ago.”

The apparition smirked. “I don’t know how I know, actually. I just do. I know about all of the stuff you did, and your brothers too. It’s all in here now.” She pointed to her, slightly transparent head and smirked.

She floated up to the ceiling, spun in a circle, and slowly floated back down. “And look, I’m floating. Bet you wish you could do that, don’t you, Angela? You know, I’d sit but I tried that before and fell right through to the damn basement. And let me tell you, that was not fun. It was creepy, and it scared the crap outta me. And oh, Madone, the dust between your two floors! Good Lord, it was nasty. You need to clean that. No wonder Emily’s always got a snotty nose. She’s allergic.”

“Emily does not always have a snotty nose.” She actually did but I wasn't going to let Ma have that one.

The apparition started to say something, then scrutinized the bed. “Ah, Madone, that mattress. That was the most uncomfortable thing I ever slept on, but don’t get me started on that. That’s a conversation for another time.”

Another time?

“And I hated that chair.” She pointed to the one next to the bed. “You should have brought my chair up here instead. I was dying and you wanted me to sit in that chair? What with that uncomfortable bed and ugly chair, my back was killing me.” She smiled at her own joke, but I sat there stunned, and watched the apparition’s lips move, my own mouth gaping, as I tried to get my mind and my eyes to agree on what floated in front of me.

“Ah, Madone. Stop looking at me like that, Angela Frances Palanca. You act like you’ve never seen a ghost.”

“Ma, I haven’t ever seen a ghost, and my name is Angela Panther, not Palanca. You know that.” My mother always called me Angela Palanca, and it drove both my father and me batty. She said I was the closest thing to a true Italian she could create, and felt I deserved the honor of an Italian last name. She never liked Richter, my maiden name, because she said it was too damned German.

“And that recliner of yours was falling apart. I was afraid you’d hurt yourself in it. Besides, it was ugly, and I was sort of embarrassed to put it in the dining room.” I shook my head again. “And you’re not real, you’re in my head. I watched them take your body away, and I know for a fact you weren’t breathing, because I checked.”

Realizing that I was actually having a discussion with someone who could not possibly be real, I pinched myself to wake up from what was clearly some kind of whacked-out dream.

“Stop that, you know you bruise easily. You don’t want to look like a battered wife at my funeral, do you?”

Funeral? I had no intention of talking about my mother’s funeral with a figment of my imagination. I sat for a minute, speechless, which for me was a huge challenge.

“They almost dropped you on the driveway, you know.” I giggled, and then realized what I was doing, and immediately felt guilty, for a second.

Ma scrunched her eyebrows and frowned. “I know. I saw that. You’d think they’d be more careful with my body, what with you standing there and all. There you were, my daughter, watching them take away my lifeless, battered body, and I almost went flying off that cart. I wanted to give them a what for, and believe me, I tried, but I felt strange, all dizzy and lightheaded. Sort of like that time I had those lemon drop drinks at your brother’s wedding. You know, the ones in those little glasses? Ah, that was a fun night. I haven’t danced like that in years. I could have done without the throwing up the next day, though, that’s for sure.”

Lifeless, battered body? What a dramatic apparition I’d imagined.

I sat up and rubbed my eyes and considered pinching myself again, but decided the figment was right, I didn’t want to be all bruised for the funeral.

There I sat, in the middle of the night, feeling wide awake, but clearly dreaming. I considered telling her to stay on topic, seeing as dreams didn't last very long, and maybe my subconscious needed my dream to process her death but I didn't. “This is just a dream." I tried to convince myself the apparition wasn’t real.

She threw her hands up in the air. “Again with the dreaming. It’s not a dream, Angela. You’re awake, and I’m here, in the flesh.” She held her transparent hand up and examined it. “Okay, so not exactly in the flesh, but you know what I mean.”

This wasn’t my mother, I knew this, because my mother died today, in my house, in this bed, in a dining room turned bedroom. I was there. I watched it happen. She had lung cancer, or, as she liked to call it, the big C. And today, as her body slowly shut down, and her mind floated in and out of consciousness, I talked to her. I told her everything I lacked the courage to say before, when she could talk back and acknowledge my fear of losing her. And I kept talking as I watched her chest rise and fall, slower and slower, until it finally stilled. I talked to her as she died, and because I still had so much more to say, I kept talking for hours after her body shut down. I told her how much I loved her, how much she impacted my life. I told her how much she drove me absolutely crazy, and yet I couldn’t imagine my life without her.

So this wasn’t Ma, couldn’t possibly be. “You’re dead.”

The figment of my imagination shook her head and frowned, then moved closer, and looked me straight in the eye. I could see through her to the candelabra on the wall. Wow, it was dusty. When was it last dusted?

“Of course I’m dead, Angela. I’m a ghost.”

I shook my head, trying hard not to believe her, but I just didn’t feel like I was sleeping, so God help me, I did.

My name is Angela Panther and I see dead people. Well, one dead person, that is, and frankly, one was enough.


Learn more about the book and stay connected with Caroyln at www.carolynridderaspenson.com, www.facebook.com/unfinishedbusiness and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/awritingwoman.

Buy the Book
Amazon:
http://amzn.com/B00CICPH6A
Barnes & Noble: http://dld.bz/cT5nh

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November 13, 2013

little laura gets worms

Blogger's Note: Thanks to my family's pack-rat tendencies -- and my vanity -- I've managed to keep documentation of my progress as a writer from kindergarten on. Instead of letting those cedar chest gems go to waste, I figured I might as well do what I do best -- post them to my blog. This is Little Laura Learns the Ropes.



No. 18: Write about having a worm for a pet.
Date: May 1993
Age: 6

A worm would be a good pet because it would make my soil good. It make a tunol so it would be funny. It would work herted


Oh brother. Where to begin? I know you're six year's old, Little Laura, but his reads more like hieroglyphics than a short story or essay.

I can understand misspelling tunnel. Kind of. And at least the spelling you chose for that word shows you were trying to sound it out. But what the hell do you mean by "work herted?"


Were you saying work hard? That's the only thing that makes sense, but I can't figure out how you got where you did with that spelling.

I'm not even going to touch the missing punctuation at the end. You can at least end your sentences with a period, LL.

Your vocabulary could also use some development. You opened with "good" twice in one sentence. Asking you to say "awesome pet" and "fertile soil" would probably be asking too much, but I think we can do better than a double good.

I'm also trying to figure out what's funny about a hard-working worm making a tunnel. You realize that's what they do, right, Little Laura? They make tunnels. (And fish bait.) Here's a lesson for you, girlfriend. Working isn't funny to watch unless it's scripted TV, like The Office or Workaholics. Otherwise, it's just work.

And even on the best days, work doesn't have as many laughs as you'd like.

Nice illustration, by the way. I'm guessing that's a worm farm. Or a really fat worm. Either way, this whole concept makes me think of Harry and Lloyd's future dream business, I Got Worms.



This will be the last "Little Laura" series post. After covering more than a decade of my "early work," I feel like we've checked out enough skeletons in my closet for now.  Does this mean we'll never see Little Laura again? Not necessarily. When the time is right, I'm sure she'll come back to us.

For the series finale, I selected a leftover selection from the early days. I figured it would make a nice comparison to show where we started five months ago. Plus, how could I resist using a headline like "Little Laura Gets Worms."

I've appreciated the kind comments and support along the way. These old writing clips always made me smile when I stumbled across them during spring cleaning sessions or when moving. And it was fun to share them with you and laugh at myself along the way. I'm grateful for the opportunity to give these cedar box keepsakes a second life with this series. 

Grown-up Laura also learned some important lessons from Little Laura. We all have to start somewhere. The path to becoming a better writer never ends. It's something you always have to work at. And it's important to never take yourself too seriously. In fact, it's good to laugh at yourself. It's better than crying.

Thank you for following this adventure with me. We -- like my writing -- have come a long ways.


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November 12, 2013

a one-of-akind writing scarf

Blogger's Note: Author Jayne Denker is on tour with Chick Lit Plus for her novel, Unscripted. I asked her to share one of her writing rituals, but first, here's the scoop on her novel:
One of Hollywood’s hardest working women is about to discover there's a lot more drama behind the camera than in front of it...
Faith “Freakin’” Sinclair probably shouldn’t have called her boss a perv…or grabbed his “privates.” But as creator of the hit dramedy Modern Women she’d had enough of his sexist insults. Now she’s untouchable in the industry—not in a good way. The only way to redeem herself is to convince Alex the wildly popular wildly demanding former star of her show to come back. But there’s one obstacle in her way—one very handsome broad-shouldered obstacle…
Professor Mason Mitchell is head of the theater department where Alex is studying “real” acting. The only way he’ll let Faith anywhere near Alex is if she agrees to co-teach a class. It’s an offer she can’t refuse—and as it turns out the professor just might end up teaching Faith that there’s more to life than work—and that real-life love scenes are way more fun than fake ones…

My One-of-a-Kind Writing Scarf

By Jayne Denker

Guest blogger
It’s seven o’clock on a weekday morning. I’ve managed to rouse my son (no mean feat), and I’ve made sure he’s accomplished all the necessary morning tasks: Dressed? Check. Fresh underwear? One can only hope. Groomed? Check, although I take another couple of swipes at his mop of hair with the brush, just for good measure. Fed, watered, jacketed, tromboned, backpacked? Check, check, check, check. Forty minutes later, I try not to appear too eager to fling him out of my Fiat at the front doors of the elementary school, try not to pull away from the curb too quickly.

Why am I so antsy to get rid of my darling, my pride and joy? Because it’s time for me to start my day job as a writer. Now that the house is empty and silent, I can begin. Right? Er... Well, first let me check Facebook. And Twitter. And my three e-mail accounts. Then I should take a look at my published books’ ratings on Amazon. And Barnes and Noble. And iTunes.

Wait. Let me put my son’s cereal bowl in the sink. Make my coffee (of course!) Catch just one DVRed TV show while I have my breakfast. Oh, I should call my mom, take a shower, maybe vacuum a little.

No, no, no. Really, I must write. I stretch out on the sofa, open my laptop, and pull up my work in progress. Just as I start wondering if it’s too early for lunch, I’m busted.

My cat, Jasmine, having woken up from her third nap of the morning, slinks into the living room and stretches, her black behind pointing skyward, her green eyes squinched shut for a moment. She yawns, assesses the situation, and heads straight for me. Uh oh.

She sits beside the sofa and stares up at me accusingly.

“I’m writing! I swear!”

She’s not buying it. She crouches, and I hastily wonder if I need anything—water? a snack? a bathroom break? Too late. She springs.

I adopted Jasmine from a local vet’s pet rescue service when she was about six months old. She’d been picked up as a stray, with her mom and sibling. One of the vet techs had kept the mother, and her sister had already been adopted. Jasmine was hanging out in a cage, alone, staring up at me. When the assistant handed her to me, she reclined in my arms like a baby and started playing with my hair. It was quite clear she’d chosen me.

She’s been my little girl ever since, my buddy. Oh sure, she likes the rest of the family, but she sees me as her responsibility. When I’m unwell, or sad, she headbutts me to remind me that she’s there to keep an eye on me. If I’m lying in bed, out of sorts, she perches on my pillow, up against the top of my head, and starts up her powerful, healing purr.

And when I decided to write novels full time, she became my Writing Scarf™. If I’m on the sofa (and I usually am, because I don’t have a desk) and typing, she appears out of nowhere and lies on my chest, her tail wrapping around my neck, pinning me in the most uncomfortable position imaginable. For hours. It’s kind of nice in the winter... not so nice in the summer, but I’m not going to argue. She’s doing her job.

You know those clever computer programs that lock out everything but your document for a set amount of time, to make sure you write without distraction? Never mind those. And never mind fellow writers exerting peer pressure, looming deadlines, nagging editors, expectant beta readers. I can do end runs around all those things. But I can’t get away from the sandbaggy weight of my furbaby when she has a job to do.

She never thinks it’s too late, either—if I’m writing in bed at one o’clock in the morning, she arrives and settles in, usually as a weight on my forearm (which makes typing fun) until I shut down the laptop and turn off the light. Then she wanders off to patrol the house and keep it free of monsters.

All authors have their little rituals and specific items they need to get them settled enough to focus on writing, whether it’s music, coffee or tea, snacks, or even (shudder) some pre-writing physical exercise. But all I need is my ol’ fuzzybutt. She keeps me in line.

Jasmine is getting pretty old now—the vet guesses she’s seventeen—and although she’s in good health, I know she’ll only be with me a few more years if I’m lucky. I can’t really bear to think about what it’ll be like when she’s gone. My son wants a kitten, a pet who’ll like to run and play. I get that. Sometimes I feel the same way. But there’s no replacing my favorite Writing Scarf. It sure will be cold writing without her.


About the Author
Jayne Denker is the author of three contemporary romantic comedies, By Design, Unscripted, and Down on Love, and is hard at work on a fourth. She lives in a small town in western New York, USA, with her husband, son, and one very sweet senior-citizen basement kitteh who loves nothing more than going outside, where she sits on the front walk and wonders why she begged to go outside. When Jayne’s not hard at work on another novel (or, rather, when she should be hard at work on another novel), she can usually be found frittering away stupid amounts of time online.

Connect with Jayne
Blog: http://jaynedenker.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JayneDenkerAuthor
Twitter: @JDenkerAuthor

Buy the Book
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Unscripted-ebook/dp/B00BTG44M4/ref=pd_sim_sbs_kstore_1
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/unscripted-jayne-denker/1114865242?ean=9781601831316
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/unscripted-5

(Also available on iTunes)  

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November 11, 2013

my debut novel's cover reveal


Today I'm pleased to reveal the cover of my debut novel, Hard Hats and Doormats, which will be published with Marching Ink this winter.

Without further adieu, here it is:


About the Book:
Lexi Burke has always been a stickler for following rules and procedures. As a human resources manager for a leading Gulf Coast chemical company, it’s her job to make sure everyone else falls in line, too.

But after losing out on a big promotion––because her boss sees her as too much of a yes-woman––Lexi adopts a new policy of following her heart instead of the fine print. And her heart knows what it wants: Jason Beaumont, a workplace crush who is off limits based on her previous protocol.

While navigating a new romance and interoffice politics, Lexi must find the confidence to stand on her own or face a lifetime of following someone else’s orders.

Who says nice girls have to finish last?

It's also up on Goodreads, so now you can add Hard Hats and Doormats to your to-read list. And I'm on Goodreads as an author, which means you can follow me, too!

In celebration of today's cover reveal, I'm sharing "Hard Hats Confessions" with several other bloggers, who generously shared their space with me. The confessions include tidbits about the story behind the story such as how I came up with the title, character names and more. Be sure to check them out.


Confession #1: Catenabi Chronicles
Confession #2: Chick Lit Pad
Confession #3: eBook Addict


Confession #4: Meredith Schorr's Blog
Confession #5: Clippings in the Shed


Confession #7: Books by Banister
Confession #9: Books Etc.


Confession #10: Chick Lit Goddess
Confession #11: Martha Reynolds Writes
Confession #12: Written by Deb


Confession #13: Courtney Giardina's Blog
Confession #14: Carolyn Ridder Aspenson's Blog (Scroll to the bottom of the post!)
Confession #15: Sara Palacios' Blog


Confession #16: Fictionella
Confession #17: Elizabeth Marx Books
Confession #18: Jen Tucker's Blog


Confession #19: Julie Valerie's Book Blog
Confession #20: Book Mama Blog
Confession #21: Step Into Fiction

You can also show some love to my publisher by visiting Samantha March and Chick Lit Plus. Without her and my fabulous cover artist, this wouldn't have happened. Lots of thanks to both.

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