ICYMI Author Spotlight: Carey Heywood!

STATS:Name: Carey Heywood
Genre/s you write: Contemporary Romance and New Adult Romance
Birthday: 4/27
Number of books out: 14 


INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

-Is there an idea that has been stuck in your head that you haven’t written yet?
I’ve had an idea for a YA paranormal floating around in my head for a couple years but hit a roadblock every time I try to work on it. If I ever make any headway on it I promise to let you know.
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-What are you currently working on?
I’ve recently finished my rough draft of Why Not? (Love Riddles, book 3). I’m working on rewrites at the moment. I haven’t picked a release date but anticipate it being early Jan, 2017.
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-Is there a playlist available for your novels?

Yes! I have playlists out on Spotify for most of my books. I love it when songs speak to issues or emotions my characters are dealing with.
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-When/why did you become a writer?
It was around this time almost six years ago that I began writing my first book. I have always been an avid reader but was struggling to find my next read. I decided to try and write the book I wanted to read. Never in a million years did I think I’d write 2 books, let alone 15. Writing my first book flipped this switch within me and I can’t imagine not writing now.


FUN FACTS:

-What is your favorite way to relax?

My favorite way to relax is with a cup of tea, a yummy snack, a cozy seat, and a good book.
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-What is an embarrassing memory of yours?
I was in seventh or eighth grade my mom talked me into a drastic hair cut. She said I had a long neck and I should highlight it or something. My haircut was the worst. It made my head look like a mushroom. When I was dropped off at the bus stop the next day two of my friends thought I was a cute boy before they recognized me. One perk was I was finally allowed to get my ears pierced so people would know I was a girl. Good times.
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-Do you have any pets?
I have a yorkie and a black cat. Both of my pets are rescues and have their own little lovable quirks. They aren’t friends. I have this dream that one day they will be so I can Instagram pictures of them cuddling together.
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-Funny publishing/writing moment?
I had no clue what I was doing when I wrote my first book or what to do with it when I finished writing it. It was around the time indie publishing was really taking off so there was less information available compared to now. All I was concerned with was having a book written by me, on my bookshelf. When I should have been researching how to self publish, I was looking up how to craft and bind my own hard copy.


AUTHOR’S NOTE:
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I write somewhat steamy contemporary romance. I’m inspired by everyday people I might bump into at the grocery store. Real life can be funny, frustrating and heartbreaking all at the same time. It’s my goal, in each of my books to engage many emotions from my readers. There are pieces of me and my own personal story in each of the books I write. It’s funny that sometimes what readers believe are the most impossible things in my books turn out to be the parts that are based on real life. I love books and hope that love comes across in the ones I write.  


CONTACT INFO/MEDIA LINKS:

[Website] [Twitter]

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ICYMI Author Spotlight: Ava Jae!

Name: Ava Jae

Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Birthday: Feb 5
Number of books out: 1

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:
-Is there an idea that has been stuck in your head that you haven’t written yet?
Actually, yes! There’s a book idea I came up with early this year that I plotted over the summer but haven’t had the chance to write yet. But since I just finished my other writing responsibilities, I’m going to write it during NaNoWriMo this year.🙂
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-Are there specific steps you take when you write? Ex: Is it planned or spontaneous?
I am definitely a plotter, so I always always fully outline a book idea before I start writing. I also like to write a short elevator pitch before I start writing to keep me on target as I draft, and most recently I’ve begun writing a full synopsis as I plot, which I’ve found helpful and fun. Once all of that is done, then I begin first drafting. 
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-How long does it take for you to write a book?
It varies, but usually somewhere between three and six weeks to first draft. Revisions, however, take longer because I do multiple rounds of trading with critique partners and beta readers to make sure my manuscript is as polished as it can be before I send it off to my agent. 
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-What are you currently working on?
Well I just finished revising Into the Black, which is Beyond the Red’s sequel, so now I’ll be re-acquainting myself with my NaNo project and filling in any minor details I need to work out before NaNoWriMo begins.🙂

FUN FACTS:
-What book/s are you reading now?
I’m finishing up my Six of Crows re-read before diving into Crooked Kingdom! 
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-Do you have any pets?
Yes! I have a Yorkie. His name is Tye and he’s my buddy.
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-What is your favorite holiday? Why?
Christmas! I love everything about Christmas—the winter and potential for snow, how festive it gets everywhere, the nice dinner with my family, the presents…I will never tire of Christmas.🙂
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-What music do you listen to?
A lot of rock, but also alternative and upbeat stuff. Some of my faves include Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, My Chemical Romance, Muse, MIKA, Maroon 5, WALK THE MOON, and most recently Enrique Iglesias. 

AUTHOR’S NOTE:
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My debut, Beyond the Red, a YA Sci-Fi about a violent uprising on a distant, alien planet that threatens the reign of a teen alien queen is out now! It’s the first of a trilogy, and the sequel, Into the Black will be out next Fall. 

CONTACT INFO/MEDIA LINKS:

MY REVIEW/S FOR THIS AUTHOR:

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ICYMI Author Spotlight: Elle Alexander!

STATS:
 
Name: Elle Alexander
Genre/s you write: Mystery, Middle Grade Fiction, Suspense
Birthday: January 12, 1988
Number of books out:  

 INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

 
-Where does your inspiration come from?
I’m a reader! I mean, I’m the biggest book nerd ever. Sometimes I’ll be reading a book and a word or phrase will jump out at me and I’ll scream, “I’ve gotta use this!” Then I’ll jot it down in my notebook. (I always read with a notebook by my side just in case inspiration strikes.) 
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-How do you think you have grown as a writer?
The more I read, the more I discover, the more things and people I stop to observe, I find myself growing more not only as a writer but as a creative. My imagination knows no boundaries and with writing, nothing is impossible, nothing is off limits. 
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-What part of the writing process comes easy to you? Which part is difficult? Honestly, I never force the issue. I allow my stories to write themselves. No matter how long it takes, I wait for the pieces to come together, even if it takes years. So I can’t really say which part is easy and which part is difficult. I just let the process of writing take care of itself.
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-Do you edit your own books?
I used to but I learned the hard way that that wasn’t the best idea. I read a quote once that said when editing, a writer will always see what they meant to write. You need a fresh pair of eyes, someone who isn’t so familiar with your story, to give your manuscript the once over and point out your little errors. 

FUN FACTS:
 
-What is your favorite genre to read?
Mystery and suspense. Anything that will give me chills without scaring me senseless lol. 
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-Where are you from?
Detroit, MI but I like to imagine I’m from the grimy, gothic streets of Victorian England. 
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-Who is your main book boyfriend/girlfriend?
Mr. Darcy is the man of my dreams!
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-What is your favorite quote?
When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes. ~Desiderius Erasmus

 CONTACT INFO/MEDIA LINKS:
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MY REVIEW/S FOR THIS AUTHOR:

ICYMI Author Spotlight: Lindsey Winsemius!

STATS:
Name: Lindsey Winsemius
Genre/s you write: Romantic Suspense / Dystopian
Birthday: September 12
Number of books out: 3

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:
 
What are you currently working on?
I always have way too many projects going on at once. I just completed my adult Dystopian Romance series and am in the midst of writing a contemporary romantic suspense series; each book will be standalone but have interconnected characters. The first book is a mafia romance (which is my guilty pleasure read!) that takes place in Chicago. 
I’m also working out a YA book about a teenager living with a father who is a functioning sociopath. I’m excited to put to use my background in Psychology for this one!
I’m also excited to write a new Dystopian / apocalyptic book that will be a sort of prequel to my series, which will explain how the world came to ruin and the society that is the focal point of my 3-book series came about.
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Why did you choose to become an author?
This is always a tough question to answer. I didn’t really choose to be an author. I’ve always loved writing, even as a child, but doubted my ability to create a career out of it, so I followed other paths. Through my “big girl” job as a marketing manager, I had the opportunity to do market research on the indie publishing industry. As I tried to understand this unique and growing industry, I thought “what better way to know what it is like to be an indie author than to actually become one?” And so Reaper was born, my first book, which I published a year ago.
Writing has become a strange addiction to me. After each book, I tell myself I’ll stop and go back to my normal life. But then the need to write becomes too strong to ignore, and once I’ve started writing a book, I am compelled to finish it. I don’t write for money or notoriety, because God knows I haven’t gotten much of either anyway😉, but because I love the process, I love the people I’ve met along the way, and I love creating new worlds where before none had existed.

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 What part of the writing process comes easy to you? Which part is difficult?
I try to be a planner, rather than a “pantser”, but even when I take copious notes, the characters always have a mind of their own and follow a different path than I had originally planned. This is both frustrating and wonderful at once. I love when I’ve created such strong characters that their decisions and actions become their own, and I’m just the one recording it all. But this does make it challenging, because I’m constantly changing elements of the plot to fit the characters. My books are first about people and their relationships; the action and suspense is always secondary in importance to me.
I will also add that it is so difficult to decide when a book is ready to be released. I could keep tweaking my novels for years and never be fully satisfied, but at some point, I need to just release it. In my mind, it can always be better. 
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What inspired your first novel?
The opening scene of my first novel, Reaper, came from a dream I had that seemed very real. I have difficulty sleeping, and to settle my over-active mind at night, I create stories in my mind. I’ve done this since I was a child to help calm myself; I go to my fantasy world where a story is always waiting. I began creating the story surrounding this dream each night, and it was still in my head when I decided to try my hand at writing a book. I tried to find a time period to fit this story, originally planning for it to be a historical romance. However, when I couldn’t find the right era to fit the intrigue of the plot, I created my own time in the near future which would fit the story. And here is my confession: Until I wrote Reaper, I did not read Dystopian / post apocalyptic books. Now, I love the genre.

FUN FACTS:
What is your favorite genre?
My favorite genre is Romance, and I’ll take it however I can get it: Romantic Suspense, Dystopian Romance, Futuristic, Historical… I love it all. I’ll read any book that has a good love story in it.
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Do you have a job besides being an author?
In my real life, I’m a full time stay-at-home mom to two precocious children, part time digital marketer for an amazing marketing software company that has generously supported my writing habit, and a huge nerd for statistics and psychology.
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What are your 3 life essentials?
3 things I can’t do without on an average day: Coffee, wine, and my computer (not necessarily in that order).

AUTHOR’S NOTE:
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I want to use this “anything goes” section to thank Cassandra for her support of indie authors, and all the amazing readers, bloggers, and fellow authors that have offered their advice, support, and a shoulder to cry on along this fantastical journey.
If you like Romantic Suspense or Dystopian books, I hope you’ll take a moment to join my mailing list, which includes special offers and exclusive giveaways.
 I also love to hear from readers, authors, and bloggers, so contact me anytime through my website or on Facebook. Watch for my upcoming Romantic Suspense novel Just to Keep You coming next spring. You can request an exclusive sneak peek on my website.

MEDIA LINKS:
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Book Buy Links: 

My review/s for this author:

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ICYMI Author Spotlight: Khaled Talib!

STATS:
 
Name: Khaled Talib
Genre I write: Suspense-Thrillers 
Birthday: 14 June 1965

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:
-Why did you choose to become an author?
I didn’t choose. It chose me. Writing is a calling. Why do some people paint? Not everyone is an artist.  These skills are given. I am a highly imaginative person, and I enjoy delving into adventure. In school, I hardly paid attention in class because I found the teachers and the way they taught the class to be boring. So I would run away into my own world. I got started in journalism, trying to feed my writing cravings though at the back of my mind there was always that yearning for fiction
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-Where does your inspiration come from?

You know, inspiration is like picking ripe fruits from a tree along the street. Or a shiny coin that you spotted on the curb. It’s exactly like that. So it’s not from one single place, but it can be everywhere, and at anytime. Sometimes, a chance meeting with someone or at a location that left an impression. Then you keep it in a treasure chest in your head and use it when the time comes. Inspiration doesn’t have to be a direct message; it can be indirect, sideways, upside down, inside out – whatever. After that, all you have to do is connect the dots.   

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-Is there an idea that has been stuck in your head that you haven’t written yet?

Yes, plenty. I hope to bring them all out but you know, a writer’s mind is a bit like a confectionery conveyor belt, you keep churning out stories because there’s a backlog of things in your head. Time is a writer’s greatest enemy, so you have to keep writing.

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-How do you choose the title for your book?

My upcoming novel is titled, INCOGNITO. It complements the first one, SMOKESCREEN, even though the stories have no relation to each other. But I thought the idea of giving the novel a one word title would become my signature or style, until a period comes when I can move on. Naturally, the title also has to relate to the story to create familiarity. 


FUN FACTS

-What is your favorite genre to read?

I read anything and everything under the sun that appeals to be, including horror, literature to non-fiction works.

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-Where are you from?

I’m from Singapore. My ancestors originally came from the Middle East. 

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-What is your dream vacation?

My dream vacation is to travel all the time. From camping in the Arizona desert to travel on a  houseboat down the English river.  

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-E-Book or physical book? Why?

I see the debate on this topic too often. Truth, the ancient Egyptians never saw a physical book, nor did Moses. They had papyrus scrolls and stories carved in stone. So I don’t think it matters. Personally, I don’t have an issue with eBooks. They are as good as printed paper. Would you believe it that I was initially prejudice about eBooks, until someone convinced me to give it a try. Then I got hooked. It’s so convenient. You don’t have to go to a bookstore when you want the book fast.  People have been conditioned to accept things the way they are, and like anything else, change takes time. For some of us, the change came rapidly. Its the same with wristwatches, isn’t it? There are so many beautifully designed timepieces, yet why do more and more people wear smart watches? Why did the inventors think people would go for these modern wristwatches? More importantly, for every eBook tablet someone gets, a tree gets saved. 


AUTHOR’S NOTE:

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My upcoming thriller, INCOGNITO, is scheduled to be released some time in 2017.  Specialist Ayden Tanner is dispatched by a covert division of the global hacker group, Anonymous, to find the pope who is missing. A frantic search begins in Italy and beyond its borders amid speculation that the Holy See may know more than they are telling. 


MEDIA LINKS:

[Twitter[Facebook[Website]


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ICYMI Author Spotlight: Alice Rachel!

STATS:
 
Name: Alice Rachel
Genre/s you write: YA Dystopian Romance/Forbidden Romance
Birthday: 9 October
Number of books out: 5 (If I count the short stories)

 INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

-What part of the writing process comes easy to you? Which part is difficult?
It’s easier for me to write the emotional and romantic scenes.
The hardest part is writing the action scenes. I hate writing those and I feel like it shows in my writing.
Also, English isn’t my first language so I have difficulties with that sometimes. It truly slows down my writing process because I have to second-guess each sentence. But I’m writing faster now. 
People always ask me why I don’t write in French instead… The answer is simple: Not as many people speak French around the world, and most of my readers come from the United States, the Philippines, Pakistan, or India. Besides, I like a challenge. 🙂
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-Do you have any advice for an aspiring author?
Just write what you want. Do NOT follow trends. Trends kill creativity.
Write for yourself and for your readers. Never write because you want to make money because if that’s your goal, you are in the wrong business.
Always listen to your beta readers and take their advice.
ALWAYS have someone proofread your books before publication. There will be mistakes left behind, it’s almost impossible to get every typo, but nothing screams “I don’t care about my readers” more than a book that has one typo per page.
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-What genre would you love to attempt to write but are scared to?
I would like to write NA contemporary romance, but that would be really hard because I’m sure it’s really difficult to write such stories without falling into clichés that have already done and redone. Also, I don’t think I could have a book out with vivid sex scenes. There is one character in my series for whom I would like to write a NA version, but I am way too coy for that, ahah. 
Otherwise, I wish I could write sci-fi or mysteries, but those require scientific knowledge I don’t have.
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-If you could switch places with one of your characters, who would it be? Why?
Oh Gosh! I wouldn’t want to be any of my characters. Their lives are truly horrid and painful!
Mmmmm oh goodness, that’s tough.
Which character has the least horrible life in my series? Mmmm…
Maybe I would want to be Narumi. She doesn’t appear until one of my upcoming stories. I would choose her because she kicks butts all the while being sensitive. She’s completely covered in gorgeous tattoos, which is something I want for myself, but will never do. And then there is another reason I can’t give because it would be a spoiler. 🙂

FUN FACTS:
-Who is your main book boyfriend/girlfriend?
Gambit from X-Men
Patch from Hush Hush
Chase Martinez from Under Ground (Yes, I created him for myself. My readers know Chase is mine. I’ve created plenty of other male characters for them to choose from. =p)
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-Who is your favorite fictional character? Why?
Sebastian Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments series. Because my maternal instinct wants me to protect him and take him away from his awful parents.
Frodo Baggins. Because he is selflessness personified. He is the kind of person I can only dream of being. 
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-What is your favorite way to relax?
With a book and a guinea pig in my lap.
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-What is your favorite movie?
Rock of Ages

AUTHOR’S NOTE:
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Join my Instagram Read-Along event starting in September. There will be questions, discussions, and a giveaway!

AUTHOR LINKS:

My review/s for this author:

ICYMI Author Spotlight: Linda K. Sienkiewicz!

Name: Linda K. Sienkiewicz
Genre/s you write: Contemporary, Poetry
Birthday: N/A
Number of books out: 2

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

-How did you come up with the title of your book?

At its heart, the story is about love and what people will do for love. A mother goes to extreme lengths to protect her daughter. A father takes action unlike anything he’s done before to keep his daughter from going astray. A woman spends a lifetime comparing every man to the first she ever loved. A man sends yellow roses, which signify friendship, to the one he loves, hoping she’ll understand the deeper meaning.

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-What is the most interesting thing you discovered when doing research for your novel?

The way Hungarians swear! I stumbled across a page on the internet that had the most colorful Hungarian curses you could imagine. I’d never heard anything like it. A fellow writer and native Hungarian was a big help, too. She said Hungarians don’t say “damn you to hell” because that’s too easy. I can’t share what they’d really say here. It’s too lurid. You’ll just have to read the book!

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-How would you describe your main character?

She’s a great big heart in a little 4’9” body. Her mother calls her a mesomorph, which Angelica thinks sounds more like a rock formation than a girl! She’s altruistic and forgiving, a seeker of truths, and when she finally finds her strength after a devastating setback, she becomes a force to reckon with.

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-Where did you find your inspiration for your novel?

From my friends’ families and the secrets and scandals in my own, which I have to keep secret! I think every family has a couple of good whoppers to tell, don’t you? I also believe there is a level of dysfunction in every family, too, even those that look so perfect from the outside.


FUN FACTS

-What are your pet peeves?

Distractions when I’m writing: A barking dog, the telephone ringing, itchy tags in a sweater, cold feet, hot flashes, buzzing lights, the sound of a television in another room. Cravings. Kenny G on the radio. My husband walking past my writing room. Often just the expectation of him walking past my room is enough to blow my concentration.

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-What is something no one else knows about you?

I had strange compulsions when I was a girl, such as thinking if walked past the huge picture window in our house at night three times without freaking out, my parents wouldn’t die in a car wreck.

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-Who was your first celebrity crush?

Jim Morrison! Listening to him sing was nothing short of an orgasmic experience. His lyrics blew me away—“his brain was squirming like a toad”—my God, who else on the planet wrote like that? As an angst-filled, artsy teen in the 70’s, dealing with a bad breakup, Jim’s darkness was a beacon of light for me.

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-What’s your next project?

So many of my readers want to know about the other characters, so I’m writing about Joe Vadas, Angelica’s first love. He’s a fascinating character—the “Hungarian heartthrob, the gypsy king,” the boy all the girls wanted. I also plan to write a sequel, maybe from the point of view of Angelica’s daughter. I love to hear ideas from my readers after they’ve read the book, so please let me know!


AUTHOR’S NOTE:

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I love the sense of purpose writing gives me when I push the world in a certain direction. It all comes down to the message, whatever that may be. As a writer, let me help you make sense of the chaos we call life through my stories. Let me entertain you. Let me show you something new. Let me turn your world upside down and set it right again.

I’m delighted to share that IN THE CONTEXT OF LOVE was named a 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist, and given an Honorable Mention in the Great Midwest Book Festival! If you like engaging books that make you laugh and cry, and leave you with a sense that the world is still a good place to live in, you’ll enjoy IN THE CONTEXT OF LOVE.


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