Friday, July 15, 2016

An Interview with Al Lamanda author of "With Six You Get Wally"

For Sunset, my Edgar Award nominated mystery. " The latest from Lamanda is an exciting thrilled filled with tough but sympathetic characters who drag you breathlessly along to the final scene" Kirkus Reviewers.

For This Side of Midnight. (Nominated for the 2016 Nero Award) "For all his flaws, Lamanda's tough detective has his own moral compass, and his empathy and bulldog tenacity are as admirable as his bone-deep detective skills" Kirkus Reviewers

Interview with Al Lamanda

Question 1. How did you decide upon this career?

I think, as it happens with many career minded people, the career picked me. Almost a calling, if you will. I was eleven or twelve and began to read seriously for the first time. It was as if an entire new world opened up to me. Jules Vern took me to faraway exotic places and Zane Grey transported me back in time to the old west and all this happened without having to leave my bedroom. It fueled my imagination and the desire to create my own stories that, hopefully, would touch people the same way. I’ve since interviewed doctors, police officers and even priests while conducting research and many if not all share similar experiences, that at a young age they simply felt a calling.

Question 2. What was the path you took to your current career?

It’s called the long and rocky road. Writing is an art form and like any other art form it takes years in time and experience to perfect. It’s not much different than say acting, painting, dancing or singing in that regard. After twenty years of grueling dedication to perfecting your craft, you’re suddenly an ‘overnight sensation.’ At an early age, I knew what I wanted to be, but I lacked the life experience to do it. I worked many different jobs as a young man and gained knowledge and experience from all of them. I was in the Marine Corps and that experience is something I still draw upon today. My path took a turn for the better when, after many years of gaining knowledge and experience in life, I was able to put feelings into words. If Hemingway had not driven an ambulance during World War One, would he have written A Farewell To Arms? If I had not failed and succeeded at many things, met many different types of people and lived in many places, I doubt I would be successful at what I do today.

Question 3. How do your values and ethics impact your current career?

Pretty much one hundred percent. My values and ethics are directly reflected in the stories that I write. I believe that good will always triumph over evil. It may take a while and some good guys may die along the way, but in the end evil will be vanquished. I place a high value on family and friends and this is also a big part in my stories. I lived the ‘No Man Is An Island’ rule and can tell you firsthand that without a strong support network of family, friends and coworkers, your career path will be much more difficult. My mystery and western novels directly reflect the values I believe in and I generally try to show the strength of the characters as they face adversity and hardship in their journeys. My characters usually have to come face-to-face with their own ethics and must decide what is right and what is wrong in their lives and this is something I have had to do many times in my own life. It’s all part of that ‘rocky road’ I mentioned earlier.

Question 4. How do you balance the demands of your current career with the other areas of your life?

This is a question I’m asked quite a bit, mostly by young writers just starting out and some veterans who find it difficult to juggle many different hats. The answer is actually hidden in the question in the words ‘balance the demands.’ Easy to say, difficult to accomplish. As with most careers, especially when just starting out, you want to make your mark in the world and show you’re worthy of the trust placed in you. Longer hours at work become midnight burners and family, friends, social life and outside interests become neglected. This is a very unhealthy trap to fall into, both mentally and physically. For a while I fell into this trap myself and it’s not so easy to climb out of. Work and career can become all consuming if left unchecked. I had to learn to prioritize, create a balance of work, family and friends, a social life and outside interests. There is some discipline involved in this juggling act for it to be successful. When I’m working, I’m totally dedicated to the task at hand. I set a time limit of say six o’clock to quit for the day and then it’s fun time, time for family, friends and social activities and I’m as equally dedicated to that as well. By prioritizing my work with all the other areas in my life, I have become what I consider a well-rounded person.

Question 5. What habits as a student did you carry over to the working world?

Many. For me, college was a shock compared to high school. No parent to make sure homework was complete is one big change that can take some getting used to. You either study on your own and do the required work, or you don’t. If you don’t, you fail. It’s all on you. I had to learn discipline, something I sorely lacked. I learned quickly, though, that it does require discipline to study alone in your room when it’s much more fun to hang out with your buddies. Multitasking is another habit I learned as a student. The ability to study more than one topic at a time and do well with all of them. This is one habit you best acquire early and draw upon for the rest of your life as there will be very few days in which you will do only one thing in an entire day. Another habit I acquired as a student was to do research. This habit has not only stayed with me, but is vital in my work as a writer. Equally as important is perseverance. To stick with a course when it’s easier to give it up is a habit and a trait that stays with you forever.

Question 6. What are your typical daily activities?

As a writer I am my own boss so to speak. Here is where many of the habits I acquired as a student come into play. I’m usually out of bed and after a gallon of coffee, am in my home office by nine and ready to work. If I am working on a book, which I always seem to be, I read and edit what I wrote the day before. This sometimes takes two hours or more and requires patience and discipline because the urge to turn the page and write something new is always tugging at me. When the editing is done, I’ll generally write for about two hours before I break for lunch. Then I write at a steady pace until five in the afternoon. At five, I force myself to stop and stopping requires just as much discipline as starting. From five until six I do whatever research is necessary for tomorrow’s writing. At six o’clock, I’m on my own time. I take weekends off and I usually make time to go to the gym at least three times a week. Keeping your body fit helps to keep your mind sharp. Generally speaking, most of the habits I acquired as a student are used everyday as a professional writer.

Question 7. What do you like most about the job? What do you like least? Why?

Hands down the best part of my job is the creativity. Creating characters, plots and story and tying them all together into a book is a joy for me. What I like least is dealing with the ‘Boss’, the editors. An editor is there to make your book a better book and in doing so they look at every word, comma, period and paragraph. They cut some of your favorite paragraphs and request you add more someplace else. Here is where discipline and patience come into play. The editor, like any good boss is there to help make your work better. Unfortunately, some never fully grasp that and that lack of understanding usually leads to failure.

Question 8. What important changes are taking place in your profession?

Without a doubt the most important change happening in the publishing world as well as all communication is technology in the form of the Ebook. Now that being able to read a book on line is here to stay, and believe me it is, it has changed the habits of the reading world. In my opinion this is good and bad at the same time. Good because it has gotten more people to read. Bad because the product has become watered down.

Question 9 How will these changes affect your writing.

Writing is simply communicating and the way we communicate today is vastly different than even fifteen years ago. Look at a movie from say the late nineties. If someone had a cell phone it was the size of a football and a computer took up an entire desk. Pay phones were still widely in use and the word text had an entirely different meaning. Technology has advanced so much in the last decade it’s difficult to keep up with. For me as a writer, I needed to learn to adapt to these changes and use them as tools to better my profession. I believe anybody in communication in today’s world has to do the same thing.

Question 10. What advice can you offer someone seeking to break into the field.

Remember the basics of what you learned as a student. Dedication, perseverance and discipline are key ingredients to a successful career. Be willing to change and learn new things. We don’t live in a stagnant world. The way we communicate today will probably be as different in the next decade as the way it was twenty years ago. Remember patience. It can take a long time to become an ‘overnight success.’ Think of it as a journey through life because that’s what it really is. Be honest. Be kind. And don’t forget to enjoy yourself along the way.

Author Bio

Al Lamanda was born in The Bronx, New York and lived most of his life in Manhattan. His debut novel Dunston Falls received high praise from Kirkus and Publisher's weekly and from there he was hooked, writing more than twenty novels and several screenplays. Nominated for the 2016 Nero Award for best mystery for This Side of Midnight. Nominated for the 2015 Nero Award for best mystery novel for First Light. Nominated for The Edgar Award for best novel for Sunset, 2012. Look for the sequel Sunrise in summer 2013. Voted the best crime novel of 2013 for Sunrise by the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.  In his spare time Al Lamanda is an avid weight lifter and boxer and housemaid to his Maine Coon Cat. Coming in 2016 With Six You Get Wally, a new John Bekker mystery.

Purchase link: Amazon

Friday, July 8, 2016

Signs You Might Be Dating A Shifter by Eva Gordon

Runt, Cricket, is an honorary beta of Team Greywolf, an elite special ops branch of the Lycan Intelligence Agency. As a member, she poses as a human and collects forensic evidence. Because of her low rank, she is assigned in the rehabilitation of Prince Slade suffering from morphogenesis after his entire pack is murdered, and then his indoctrination as a member of their team. Babysit a psycho, domineering alpha? Not on her watch. To complicate matters, she lusts for Slade. Foolish. A runt can never take an alpha as a mate.
Slade has two choices. Honor his murdered kin and serve Team Greywolf, or once healed, obey King Conan and return to his territory with an alpha mate. Complicating his decision is his relentless desire for the hot sexy little she-wolf, Cricket.

Early into his recovery, Slade and Cricket are sent to investigate missing werewolves. An unstable werewolf seems hardly a match for a former Nazi werewolf bent on bringing on Ragnarok, the destruction of mankind.

Can they stop this evil regime, while conforming to pack law that forbids any chance of them fulfilling their desire for each other? 

*   Available in ebook and paperback. Slade, is a complete stand-alone novel. Book 1 in the spinoff Team Greywolf Series. The novel is based on characters and werewolf universe first introduced in the Alpha Wolf’s Pet’s Trilogy

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Signs you might be dating a Shifter

If you are an avid reader of paranormal romance, you might already know the signs that your boy/girl friend is a shifter, but in case you are not sure, here is a list of 20. If you answer yes to five or more you are most likely dating or even married to a shifter.
Using he pronoun because I'm lazy.

1. When you go out to eat he always orders a steak (medium rare). Avoids the salad, but seem to enjoy
2. He is anxious to leave before the full moon rises.
3. He growls when other men check you out.
4. Shaves often.
5. You often see a hint of fangs and feral like eyes.
6. He can see in total darkness.
7. Likes to stick his head out of the car window while you drive.
8. When you come home from work you find thick dog fur on your furniture, but you don't own a dog.
9. Loves going on long walks.
10. Postpones introducing you to his family.
11. When approaching his home, you hear howling.
12. Prefers wooden chopsticks over using silverware.
13. Never goes out on a full moon.
14. Has an uncanny ability to smell and hear things you don't.
15. He stalks you, or at least knows where you've been.
16. Your cat runs and hides when he comes over.
17. Tells you what full lips you have, the better to kiss you, what a nice round ass you have, the better to spank you...and on and on.
18. Hottest guy/girl you have ever dated. Muscular toned body as if he works out in the gym 24/7
19. During the heat of making love, he always says, MINE.
20. After having sex with him, he's pretty much ruined you for normal men.

Author Bio Eva Gordon

Eva Gordon writes genre bending paranormal/fantasy/steampunk and historical novels with a strong romantic element. Alpha heroes and brilliant feisty heroines. HEA with a kick. She loves to create stories that combine her passion for mythology, steamy romance, and action/suspense. Her imagination takes her from one universe to the next. Thus far, she has several series up as well as single titles waiting in line for production.

Eva has a BS in Zoology and graduate studies in Biology. When not in her den writing, she can be found teaching animal lore at writing conventions, at work at the raptor rehabilitation center, wolf sanctuaries, or to satisfy her inner Hemingway on some global eco adventure. 

Coming Fall 2016 Chernobyl Werewolf, Team Greywolf, Book 2 

Giveaway: (Ends July 12)
one ebook copy of Alpha Wolf’s Pet Trilogy Box Set Must Sign up for my Newsletter, Follow me on Amazon, and Like my FB Page.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Why Vampires? by Sallie Lundy Frommer

There was no conscious decision to select vampires as the characters in Yesterday’s Daughter, as there was no real choice to write a book.  The decision was made for me in that the characters formed in my dreams, in my imagination as vampires.  Why my subconscious selected these mythical creatures as inspiration, that’s open to speculation.  Since I don’t have access to a psychiatrist or someone who analyses dreams, so I’ll take a stab at it answering the question of why I chose to write about vampires.

The easy answer would be to say that I’m a huge fan of vampire books and moves.  I’ve seen every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and watched Christopher Lee drain more than a few damsels in distress.  I read Stephen King’s, Salem’s Lot and the first time I saw the movie, I had nightmares for a couple of weeks.  And let’s not forget Octavia Butler’s, Fledgling.  Who can forget Shori who appears to be a child, maybe eleven years, but is actually 53 year old. 

         I could say all those books and movies going in my head like quarters in a slot machine were bound to produce like output.  I’m sure that part of it.  But, when I search deep, what draws me to vampires is time.  They have time to experience life, experiment, make mistakes, and witness the great and small.  When you compare the lives of the legendary vampire you can’t help but be struck by fleeting span of the human life.  The idea of creating characters that may have lived at the time of Mark Anthony, discussed brush strokes with Michael Angelo or watched the sky as the Russian Sputnik passed causes my imagination to churn with possibilities of what characters can do when they are not constrained by time.  There is so much opportunity to create enormous literary canvas when my characters are not married to specific era. 

So what have some of my favorite vampires done with all that time on their hands?  Take the vampire Godric from the Sookie Stackhouse books, he’s like a thousand years old and choses to meet the sun, to die because he can’t bear the terrible things he done.  He is totally one of my all-time favorite vampires.  Of course, I hate the evil he’s done.  But I like Godric because he wants to do the right thing.  It’s so easy for vampires characters to be jaded as Lestat is in Interview with a Vampire.  But for all the death and mayhem Godric leaves in his wake, I had compassion for him which wasn’t easy, given his bloody history.

         There are numerous vampires, that are all my favorites for different reasons; Spike because of his ability to make me laugh and Blade because of his constant struggle to fight the thirst.  I could go on and on, but in a closing word, no one deny that all these characters have at least one thing in common, time.  

Book Blub

Yesterday’s Daughter is full of suspense and surprises as the plot develops. It holds a mirror to contemporary society so we can consider our feelings about people who seem different from us, the assumptions we may make about other groups, and the consequences of those assumptions. Yesterday’s Daughter is an emotionally laden paranormal vampire romance novel woven with layers of betrayal, love and loss. Grace Stone, who later learns her true identity is Sapphira, is a loner who survives abuse in the foster care system after being abandoned as a child. A brilliant student, she escapes from her brutal foster parents as a teenager and creates a life for herself. But, her life is little more than existence; plagued with questions about what she really is, a family that she has never known and the never-ending need to keep her differences hidden. She is alone and lonely, believing it will always remain so until Malachi appears in her life. Malachi, a Guardian of the vampire communities, has searched for his life mate, Sapphira, for decades. He refuses to cease searching for Sapphira even though she is believed dead by all. Conflict arises over the decades between Malachi and his family because of his refusals to accept another mate. But his very soul drives him on to continue his search, knowing that he could not exist if Sapphira were not in the world, somewhere.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

10% off Purchase of Blakefields Mansion

Blakefields Mansion

What has possessed the normally level-headed Isabelle to abandon her childhood friend among strangers and make a madcap dash across windswept moors in a frantic search for help?

Two months earlier - the summer of 1856 - and the two girls are eagerly anticipating a stay at the imposing Blakefields Mansion in the West Riding of Yorkshire. They dream of grand balls, dashing young men, and mysterious, elegant ladies. But the reality will prove very different.

Intrigue upon intrigue builds to an unexpected and dramatic climax.

As they come to know the various gentlemen – the Lord of Blakefields; his cheerful friend and confidant; the ambitious but seemingly honest guest; the enigmatic neighbour with a dark past - it becomes less and less clear who will turn out to be the champion of decency and integrity.

Blakefields Mansion and its soon-to-be-released sequel, Stonecrest, are both realistic historical romances set in a tempestuous period of England's history. Queen Victoria is on the throne; social values are beginning to change - something that Isabelle will discover as she learns that true friends and true love are to be valued above either fame or fortune.

If you enjoy the likes of Austen, Thackeray or Dickens, then Blakefields Mansion is for you.

Interview with Clive A S West

What part of the world are you from? South West England although I now live in Central Italy

What was the first important thing that you've ever written? I've literally drawn up thousands of contracts and legal letters and I've long since forgotten which was the first important one. In terms of creative writing, I'd have to say that it was a series of training articles that I did for upwardly mobile employees.

Did you keep a diary as a child and do you still write one today? No. I've tried many times but I just don't have the discipline. I really admire those who do (like my wife, fortunately) but 'it ain't me babe'.

Which book are you currently reading (or are just about to read)? Because of the Westerns I'm ghost-writing, I'm reading some books written at the end of the 19th century to help give me a better feeling of the era and the way of life 'on the trail'.

What made you take up writing as a career? As I said, I've always been a commercial writer so it was a natural thing to become a freelancer when I got disabled. I enjoy writing and I get a real feeling of the wind in my hair when I've got a subject and I know where it's going.

What have you written so far that's been published? I've written a series of twist-in-the-tail stories while I was in a lymphedema clinic (I've got 'worse case scenario' as far as that disease goes). I read them out to my wife every day and put them together into a book when I got home. That's called Hobson's Choice. Since then, I've written a full length blockbuster called The Road. That's about the corruption that surrounds the construction of a new road and how this affects the people whom it touches. Despite its seemingly 'cold' subject matter, it's actually a very human story - just read the (genuine) reviews on Amazon to see that I'm not alone in thinking this. I've also written a patient's guide to lymphedema and a self-helper for interview candidates telling them how to take charge of their job interviews. My latest book is a Victorian romance called Blakefields Mansion which I'm co-writing with Jen Smith - it's very much in the style of Austen, Thackeray and Dickens and is a mixture of romance and dawning social awareness.

What books do you have in the pipeline? I'm able to write in my head - often in my sleep - and I've got 3 stored up there at the moment. The one which I'd most like to finish is a tortured view of life seen through the eyes of a serial killer. A follow-up to Blakefields Mansion will soon be published (it's provisionally called 'Stonecrest') and another volume of twist-in-the-tails (called 'A Snake In The Grass') is at the final polishing stages. On a different tack, I recently spent nine months in hospital (having gone into a coma and then having a 2kg tumour removed). It was followed up with a further 6 months living 24/7 on our sofa while I waited for medical assistance to organise itself. My wife wants me to put that into a story but it's still a bit painful to recall - maybe later.

What or who inspires you? I'm inspired by the events that I've seen - many bad, sadly. I'm a keen observer of patterns and I love the use of probability trees to help me consider all possible outcomes of any given event.

How do you begin a story, chapter or scene? I take what I hope is an interesting event and then ask myself - what if ...? I then run with it. My stories must always be possible and plausible: as a reader I don't appreciate slipshod tactics such as skipping over contradictions and plot hitches therefore I try to make sure my own writing is watertight in that respect.

Which famous authors do you admire? That's easy but it does depend upon the context.  Asimov for his sheer perceptiveness regarding the way people behave. Technology may change but people don't.  RD Wingfield for his witty dialogue. Just read his Frost books and be prepared to be blown away by the man's talent.  Tom Clarke for the gritty realism of the brilliant Muck and Brass series (for my book, The Road) Alan Bleasdale for Boys from the Black Stuff (again, for The Road) Robin Hobb (Margaret Ogden) for her wonderful and detailed fantasy worlds. I appreciate the attention to detail that goes into her writing - the 3D worlds she creates are amazing. Maybe I should say the 3C's (Culture, Customs and Characters) - something we should all bear in mind when we're writing any kind of fiction.

How do you come up with your characters? Most of my characters are composites of people I've known although I'm at great pains not to make any individual a 'real person'. I love colorful people and I've been told I do my 'bad guys' particularly well. They're the ones who give me the most pleasure describing, I do confess!

How would you describe your style of writing? I like to think my writing has a light touch. I'm a plot fiend and I try very hard to make sure that I never resort to deus ex machina devices. I hate books like that and I assume my readers feel likewise.

Would you say your books are realistic? I know they're realistic! In The Road, the sheer number of dirty dealings that I've seen during my years in the construction industry form its basis. It's chillingly realistic, believe me. In Blakefields Mansion and Stonecrest, I've been at great pains to get everything right - from the tracks that they would have rode down to the actual times of the trains. I've checked the birth and death certificates of any real characters, downloaded the house floor plans, read the legal statutes - you name it.

Could you describe your plots in just one sentence? In The Road, the story is one of how the corruption centered around the construction of a new ring road impinges on the lives of the ordinary people who come into contact with it. In Blakefields Mansion, the story is of how a romance gradually develops between two people who, in turn, have come to appreciate that true friendship is the most valuable gift of all and that it is not based on class, gender, attitudes etc.

Which part of your books gave you the most trouble and why? In The Road, significant chunks of the book follow young people. I wanted to get the interchanges - dialogue, actions, dress, tastes - as accurate as I could. It took considerable research but I think I got there in the end. In Blakefields, I remember getting bogged down with dance cards would you believe? What dances occur when, who holds the cards, where they came from, how did men remember who they'd arranged to dance with, how did a lady reject an invitation, what happened if no-one asked her to dance and so on!

Did you learn anything from writing the books? Yes, in The Road, I learnt about ecstasy and I also discovered a lot about offshore banking and moving money around. Blakefields Mansion really boosted my knowledge of history and law. So much happened. My specialist subject at university was public health engineering so I was able to use my knowledge to write about cholera but I'd little idea about how much attitudes changed towards it in the space of just a very few years. It went from it being 'A curse of God' to 'this is how we treat water' in the blink of an eye. Not only that, John Snow (who finally convinced people what cholera really was) introduced the idea of an incident map - the same kind of thing that is used to plot the activities of serial killers today.

If you were to rewrite your bools, what would you change? In The Road, I'd definitely try and find a way of splitting it into 2 volumes. I'd then be able to put the books out at a lower price per book and this would probably attract more buyers. They might also feel less daunted by two thinner books. In Blakefields, I'm torn about whether I should have created more balls but I decided at the time that it would end up appearing as just padding and thus detract from the story. There was so much more to include but it was always going to be a balance between detail and story. My feedback so far is that I 'got it right' but it was definitely something that I was and am aware of.

Is there anyone whose help you'd particularly like to acknowledge? My wife, Damaris West, who is also an author, helped me very considerably with editing, characterization and also with snagging. Corny as it might sound, I couldn't have done it without her. Blakefields Mansion was co-written in conjunction with Jen Smith, a lady who lives in Illinois. It was her original idea and storyboard that we worked together.

Does the e-book format give rise to any specific challenges or benefits? I wouldn't say that there was much in the way of challenges about it although it is always awkward to include images or tables because of the nature of the reading software. As far as benefits go, e-books are the way forward - we sell twenty to thirty times as many copies of an book in electronic format as we do in its physical counterpart.

If you had to pick a genre you'd not previously written in or considered, what would it be and why? I'd love to write a fantasy saga. I know there's a lot of that about at the moment (with the HBO serialization of the George RR Martin books) but I'm sure I could come up with something original. I'm also quite sold on doing a series of ultra-realistic (used advisedly, of course!) dystopian novels.

How much time do you set aside for your writing? Like most authors (I'm sure), 'not as much as I'd like'. My work involves getting our publishing business up and also ghost-writing. I'm currently involved in a non-fiction book about cyber-crime (definitely the most technically challenging book that I've ever written) and also a series of Westerns (again, with the idea of being realistic).

Is writing going to be your career for the foreseeable future? I'd like it to be. Obviously the publishing business is in there, too. I don't want to split them.

Do you have any news you can tell us? I've written the first three chapters of that serial killer book I mentioned earlier in the interview. I won't say too much but it's in the First Person (that makes it a little unusual) plus it's from his birth (which is definitely rare). I really want to finish that!

What advice would you give new or would-be writers? Everybody has their own way of writing but what I do is to figure out a plot from beginning to end and write it up without bothering much about side plots, setting or details not directly relevant to the story line. I even skip over dialogue. Once I've done that, I return and fill in the missing pieces. I then return a third and fourth time to polish and edit it. Doing it this way avoids continuity breaks and also ensures that I do actually have a viable and plausible story. Far too many people get bogged down with minutiae. Of course they matter but they shouldn't come between you and the story. My books tend to get about eight edits before they get released - yes, that's a lot of work but it produces a more 'fluid' book than if you grind away word by word.

What would you like to say to your readers? I get a genuine pleasure out of writing although I'd hate to think what I write is 'comfortable'. I want people to enjoy my books but also to stop and think - even with the romances where I endeavor to cover all the emotions and not just love. For example, in my short stories, several are dedicated to creating situations which are 'obvious' (only so because we are all inherently prejudiced and blinkered) but turn out to be anything but. I like to challenge people - I hope I succeed - as well as entertaining them, of course!
Clive West writes for Any Subject Books Ltd

Jen Smith's Bio

Jen Smith was born in Rockford, Illinois and has always had aspirations as an author. She comes from a family of nine and is the second born to Dewey and Deanna Smith. She’s also spent some time living in Mississippi (where her family lives today) before moving back to Rockford in 2012 where she now cares for her Grandmother and Great Grandmother.

Apart from being a passionate writer, she currently works in the veterinary profession as a veterinarian assistant and is aspiring towards finding her notch in the world.


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