Three Different Needs – One Blog Post

Everyone Needs a Helping Hand at Times…

There are three friends of mine – well, one is a close friend I’ve had for over twenty years, one is a professional colleague who has become a close friend, and the third is a lovely young woman who has become a new friend.  Anyway, as I was saying…

Three friends. Three different needs. The one missing ingredient for all three? Money. Now, the way I see it is, if everyone just donated the price of a cup of their fancy coffee, these folks will be on their way to getting done what needs to get done.

So, let me tell you a few stories…and read all the way to the end. Because I have a deal for you.

Christina and Justin

Meet Christina Munson and her husband, Justin.  I met Christina recently through FaceBook, and our common love of the written word. Here’s what Christina has to say.

“When I first met my husband Justin he weighed a healthy 200lbs. Now his teeth are in very bad condition and need to be removed and replaced with dentures. He fights to maintain a a healthy weight.  His health has also declined because he cant eat like he should. He is in constant pain, and I fear that if we don’t take care of this soon he won’t live long enough to watch our son grow up.”

They are close to their goal, but they’ve been doing this GoFundMe campaign for six months. Won’t you please consider donating? Even the price of a cup of coffee would help.

Justin and his son...Justin needs dental surgery and full dentures.
Justin and his son…Justin needs dental surgery and full dentures.

 

 

Click HERE for Justin and Christina’s GOFUNDME Campaign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sascha

A professional colleague (we are both in Lucky Stars Paranormal Box Set) who has become a close friend,  Sascha Illyvich is known as the Bad Boy of Romance. He’s had over 50 short stories, novellas and novels published in the last fifteen years.  Here’s what he has to say…

“I’m a published romance author in transition and currently crashing with friends in

Sascha just wants a place to call home.
Sascha just wants a place to call home.

Tennessee.  I have managed to save most of what I need to move back to Atlanta, but the next few months will be difficult.

“I’m legally blind, have a bad heart and because I’ve been floating around the country, access to my medicine and regular health care has been sketchy. Once I move back to Atlanta, I’ll remedy that.

“Work is steady but with money going out to sustain healthy eating and acquire my heart medicine, it’s going to be harder to save that last bit which would give me one full year’s rent in a safe, MARTA friendly neighborhood in the Atlanta area. Your help now will allow me to make that move, not only into a new space, but also a new stage in my career.”

Click HERE for Sascha’s GoFundMe campaign.

Jeffrey

Next up is my dear friend of close to 30 years (!!), and an amazing costumer, Jeffrey Schoenberg and AJS Costumes. Here is what he has to say.

AJS Costume Shop
AJS Costume Shop – Jeffrey’s company is at risk.

“After more than 20 years as a free-lance costume designer, I established AJS Costumes in 2002. In 2006, I purchased Renaissance Dancewear and moved both businesses into our present location in Burbank.  AJS Costumes has been proud to be a part of the Los Angeles theater community, offering creative resources, extensive stock, and diversity in design.

Today I find myself, my livelihood, and the future of my company impacted and at serious risk.  That is why I am reaching out to friends, supporters, and clients of AJS Costumes for help with this GoFundMe campaign.”

Click HERE for Jeffrey’s GoFundMe campaign.

So, Here’s the Deal…

There are people all over the world who need help. Financial help, physical help, emotional help. These are three people who are dear to me, and who I have given to. If you can give, that would be fantastic, I’m not going to lie. If you can’t give, however, and not everyone can, would you please pass this message on? You just never know…you might allow a father to see his son grow up. Allow a writer to finally have a place to call home. And allow a business to thrive.

If you do donate, come back and let me know which one you donated to, and you will be put into a drawing to win a $25 gift card to Amazon. And yeah, I’m going on the honor system here. I’ll do the drawing on September 30th, 2015 so be sure to check back. Oh, and leave your email address, too, so I can notify you if you win.

UPDATE: Okay – some of you haven’t been able to leave a comment, and I’m not sure why. If you leave a message on this post on my Facebook Page, you will also be counted in for the drawing. Or maybe I’ll do two separate drawings. Not sure yet. But thank you – and keep sharing.

)O(

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Exciting Times…And Fear Creeps In…

This was originally supposed to post on March 23, 2015…

As you may or may not know, I had the privilege of being a part of the Lucky Stars Box Set with some amazing authors – namely Louisa Bacio, Kim Carmichael, Solera Winters, Erzabet Bishop, Fred T. Kerns, and Sascha Illyvich. That box set came out in March.

Lucky Stars CoverIf you haven’t picked it up yet, it’s 500 pages of yummy, spicy and sweet stories – only $0.99.

Then, of course, we started rehearsals for CASSANDRA CRIES, a play I wrote, which will get 4 performances in Hollywood at the last weekend in April, and the first weekend in May. A play. As in, actors on a stage bringing to life a world I have created. My words in their mouths.

This is a different – thing – for me. I am the creator of the

Tom Ashworth & Jocelyn Hall, 1st Rehearsal, March 22, 2015
Tom Ashworth & Jocelyn Hall, 1st Rehearsal, March 22, 2015

play. Everyone else is there because of me. And while it is similar to being an author, in the theater world it has more of an impact on me. It’s intense. It can also be intensely boring (OMG I hate this scene -who wrote this shit? Um…*headdesk*).

It is a different medium, and having people take the characters I created and breathe life into them is somewhat astounding. And addicting. Sigh. But this isn’t the end of the craziness that is my life, my friends. Not a bit of it. Why?

GuardedStar4Because tomorrow, GUARDED STAR comes out – book 2 in the StarTide Agency series. And right on the heels of that release is the California Dreamin’ Writer’s Conference in Brea, where I’ll be rooming with 3 other people, hugging all my friends old and new, participating in a Lady Jane’s Salon reading of my book, coming right after the fabulous Susan Squires and a couple of people before Christie Craig…plus seeing friends such as Brenda Chin and Michelle Klayman (also my publisher), and the weekend all culminates in a booksigning  on Sunday, March 29, from 2 – 4pm. I’ll be signing that brand new book. Exciting doesn’t begin to describe…

eeyore

…and underlying it all is a sense of dread. Because too many good things tend to need a balance to them, don’t they?  So I worry about my dad, being so far away from me. I have to trust people my gut doesn’t want to trust, and I have to let my dad run his own life as he sees fit. He’s sharp as a tack and not one to bend easily (I get my stubbornness equally from him and my mother).

But it’s the fear of losing my hearing that has my heart in my throat and a glass of wine in my hand most nights. I know I need to call the doctor and get checked out…it might be nothing. It might be a lot. Just knowing that I might one day become totally deaf…not my worst nightmare, but hell. Makes me wish I’d actually followed through on learning AMESLAN which, according to that link, is an outdated term – and how interesting that American Sign Language and Chinese have a lot in common. Head. Desk. I mean, I know I want to keep learning and keep growing and…sigh. Damn it.  I dealt with losing the hearing in one ear. back in 2010. Really don’t want to have a matching pair of ears that don’t work…even though the hearing loss in ear #2 won’t be for the same reason as the loss in ear #1. I hope.

So, yeah. There’s excitement and dreams coming true and getting to see and hug friends and putting my work up on stage in Hollywood and relationships changing and growing and pedicures to get and … fear.

…and the beat goes on…

Scott and Christine, San Diego 1982 Photo by Chet Cunningham
Scott and Christine, San Diego 1982 Photo by Chet Cunningham

)O(

UPDATE: I don’t know why this didn’t get posted the first time around…anyway, hearing loss is minor to moderate in the good ear. Am waiting to get the referral to see the specialist that helped with my acoustic neuroma surgery…to see what can be done to preserve the hearing I do have.

Keep living, people. Keep living, and loving, and marching to the beat of your own drum.

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Life Happens…

I have had an amazing summer. Finished edits on book 3 of the StarTide series, Star Crossed – I don’t know when that’s coming out but hopefully will learn the schedule soon.

I also turned in Rising Star. Again, don’t know what’s happening, but hopefully soon!

Went to RWA National Conference in New York City, and then hopped to Long Island for the Book Obsessed Chicks Beach BBQ Bash, where I signed books and made new friends (Christopher Rice! Damon Suede!).

Then this month, there was Authors After Dark – a reader con that was a ton of fun, in Atlanta last week. Met a lot of great readers.

I’m currently working on a short story for Boroughs Publishing Group’s Lunchbox Romance line, in time for Halloween. Another for Christmas, hopefully, and then a sweet Valentine’s Day story.

Plus there’s more coming down the pike.

As soon as I get this glitch in the website fixed, I’ll be posting more often. I promise.

See you soon…

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So, it’s been awhile…

Things were happening. Like, unable to update here things. Insidious things. But hopefully those things are done with, and we can move on.

In case you weren’t sure, this is a test. This is only a test…

xo…

Edited to add: WOO! It looks like whatever bug prevented me from updating has been vanquished, and updates can be done once again!

Be prepared, my friends, for more wine reviews (under $10) and more book news. And more of me, in general.

Sending much love and hugs…

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Lucky Stars Box Set – Available March 17, 2015

Whoop! I’m in a box set with 6 other FANTASTIC authors, which has been gathered together and will be published by Irksome Rebel Press. I’m so excited to be among them. My thanks to Solera Winters for pushing me to submit; and to Scott Evans and Tamara Eaton for liking the story.  Here’s the “box”…

box set cover

 

And here’s the cover of the anthology…

Lucky Stars Cover

…and finally, the cover my hubby did for Thorne’s Rose, my story in this anthology…

Thorne's Rose Cover

It comes out on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day — so mark your calendar! Seven wonderful stories for only $0.99!

 

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Welcome Back, Emily Mims – Writer Wednesday

Please welcome Emily Mims back to the blog. She’s talking about her latest three releases from Boroughs Publishing Group. Take it away, Emily!

Writing About Wounded Warriors

Veterans in general and wounded warriors in particular have a very warm spot in my heart. I live in San Antonio, home of San Antonio Military Medical Center, site of the Army’s famous burn treatment center and one of the three stateside hospitals where wounded warriors come home to recuperate and rehabilitate from their devastating injuries. Many of the more severely injured young men and women, those whose injuries were such that they can no longer serve in the military, have settled here in San Antonio to continue their medical care, and it is absolutely no big deal these days to see a young father or mother on two prosthetic legs chasing a couple of children across the mall or a man with severe facial scarring paying for his groceries at the store or a young man in a wheelchair holding a baby in his lap. Nor is it unusual to work beside a colleague with a closed head injury that suffers from migraines and struggles to put names with faces. Here in San Antonio the wounded warriors aren’t just a face on a magazine cover or an abstract concept-they are our friends and neighbors and part of our community.

So why are they such compelling heroes and heroines? Why do I like to write about them? Perhaps the answer lies in the bravery I see these men and women exhibit on a routine basis in everyday life. No, we’re not heroes, they will tell you. As far as they are concerned, they are just going about their ordinary everyday lives the same as the rest of us. And that they do. They hold jobs, they go shopping, they go to church. They ride their bikes down the street. Most of them are remarkably unself-conscious about the hardware and the scars. In ‘After the Heartbreak’ I have a child remarking that Cathy and Beto’s prostheses are ‘no big deal’, because here in San Antonio they aren’t. But the fact that they are carrying on ‘business as usual’, even when the circumstances are anything but ‘usual’, is what makes them seem so brave to me.

So what about their private lives? Their love lives? Again, the wounded warriors are just like the rest of us in that respect. They date, they fall in love, they have fights and break up and make up. They get married and raise families. Sometimes they do it with each other. I will never forget the young couple I saw at one of the malls a few years back. He had burn scars from his knees up and she was walking on a prosthesis. They were holding hands and even from across the mall you could see the love in their eyes for one another, and they are not the only couple to meet and fall in love with another wounded warrior. Sometimes wounded warriors fall in love with someone who nursed them back to health-there have been many marriages between wounded warriors and their nurses or other caregivers. And many, many have come home to the husband or wife who loved them already, and it is heartwarming to watch these loving spouses reach out and fashion a new normal for their wounded loved one.

Yet at the same time, the scars remain. PTSD is a common problem and particularly insidious in that it doesn’t show on the outside. After asking a time or two if a wounded warrior would share their experiences with me and seeing the expressions on their faces, I decided to do my research on topics like firefights and prostheses and PTSD and IED’s online rather than ask them to relive the horror. They simply do not want to go back there and I can’t blame them. (If I did have a question, I went to my son, who saw a lot but thankfully came home without a scratch.)   But, outward and inward scars or no, I do see these brave men and women as heroes of the highest order, the kind of heroes and heroines I like to bring to life in my stories.

The Books…

After the Heartbreak (1)After The Heartbreak

Together Cathy and Beto have faced horror and heartbreak. Will they together find their way back to happiness?

What was to be the first night of the rest of their lives together instead became an evening of heartbreak and horror. Now dealing with the aftermath, Cathy Armbruster and Beto Flores struggle to put their lives and their relationship back together. Was their future destroyed on that fateful night, or will Cathy and Beto find a way to get past the heartbreak and claim the happily ever after with one another that they both want so desperately?

http://www.amazon.com/After-Heartbreak-Emily-Mims-ebook/dp/B00NP7N4SK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1411067740&sr=8-2&keywords=after+the+heartbreak

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/477608

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-aftertheheartbreak-1630094-149.html

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

Tommy Joe is home from war, but he’s now in a wheelchair-and always will be. Can he still be the man a woman like Christi deserves?

Crippled by a sniper’s bullet, paraplegic Tommy Joe Reece doesn’t see how he can run a ranch from a wheelchair-or be a husband to Christi, the girl he’s always loved. Will Tommy and Christi let their doubts and fears about the future destroy their love, or will they have the courage to reach out to one another and find a way to make it all work?

http://www.amazon.com/Welcome-Home-emily-mims-ebook/dp/B00S1AWDPQ

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/509051

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-welcomehome-1720959-149.html

Daughter of Valor

Daughter of Valor

When wounded war hero Holly Riley comes home to the Texas Hill Country to build a new life for herself, she has no idea that life will include sexy Congressional candidate Jimmy Adamcik!

Wounded war hero Holly Riley has come to the lakeshore community of Heaven’s Point to recover from her injuries and build a new life for herself with her band of fellow wounded warriors. Temporarily employed as a nanny for charismatic Congressional candidate and neighbor Jimmy Adamcik, Holly and Jimmy quickly began to care for one another in spite of Holly’s distrust of politics. But Jimmy finds himself sucked deeper and deeper into the seamy side of the political process, and an old enemy from Jimmy’s past targets Holly’s soldiers one by one. Will Jimmy and Holly’s love survive the double onslaught-or will they be the final target of their unknown enemy’s rage?

http://www.amazon.com/Daughter-Valor-Emily-Mims-ebooks/dp/B00S0H8LBA

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/508976

http://allromanceebooks.com/product-daughterofvalor-1720943-149.html

 )O(

Thank you, Emily, for sharing your stories!

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Looking Back, Looking Ahead

happy new year

I usually do this post on New Year’s Eve, but life sort of got away from me, as it does now and then. However, here’s a look back at 2014.

Um.

Well, I did finish the Guitar Book, and came up with a series idea based on the talent agency…had a great time pitching that at Desert Dreams, finaled in their contest with that book, and…let’s see…oh YEAH. Boroughs Publishing Group wanted the series, and I signed a contract with them in August for a short story and the three novels. Woo! (StarTide series!) Isn’t the StarTide logo cool???

StarTide card

I pitched the Ballet Book, finally finished it, and sent it off to Lovely Agent who wants to see it after I make some revisions because she really liked it but it didn’t quite have enough oomph in the non-ballet sections. So there’s that.

Went to San Antonio for RWA’s National Conference, where I was a lucky girl and got to spend time with the Boroughs peeps. Went to their open house, and was invited to their author dinner even though I wasn’t technically one of theirs yet. Spent some lovely time talking to Chris Keeslar, which is where I got the idea for the Christmas short story.  I also drunk-pitched said Ballet Book to a Lovely Editor at St. Martin’s, who said she loved the idea and (being friends with Lovely Agent), when the book is complete she’d like to see it.

TheChristmasStar_tempOnce home, I commenced writing like a fiend. Wrote, finished, and turned in the short story.  Christmas Star (only .99!) published in October, 2014! Yay…after almost two years of not publishing, it was nice getting back into the water. In December, I finished book 2 of the StarTide series, and turned that one in. Began Book 3.

Also in December, rewrote another short story I had, after being asked to submit one for a paranormal/sci fi box set for Irksome Rebel Press. As soon as my readers get that back to me, I’ll be turning it in.

So the count for 2014: finished 3 novels; wrote 2 short stories; had one short story published, went to two conferences. Oh, and I wrapped up my second year as President of Los Angeles Romance Authors, chapter of RWA. Whew!

2015 is my year

(2015 can be your year, too! There’s room for everyone!)

Here’s what my 2015 is going to look like, that I am aware of currently:

Writing wise: Finish Book 3, Rising Star. Write Caine Brothers Book 3, Demon’s Rage (Justin and Maggie). Rewrite the Ballet Book; send to Lovely Agent (and hopefully Lovely Editor). Brainstorm 2 – 3 novels/novellas for the StarTide series; discuss with Boroughs and write at least the first one.

Guarded Star, to publish in February.  Star-Crossed, to publish in April. And Rising Star, publishing in June.

Hopefully my short story will be accepted, and in the Lucky Stars Box Set that will come out on March 17th.

End of March, I will be speaking at the California Dreamin’ Writer’s Conference, where I’ll get to see lots of old friends and make new ones.

End of May, I’ll be at the Pay It Forward Writer’s Retreat, put on by the incomparable duo of Kendall Grey and Danielle Allen.

End of July, I’ll be in New York City for the RWA National Conference!!!

Demon Soul, Demon Hunt and Demon’s Rage will hopefully all be out in August or maybe September, with nifty new covers and finally an end to the story!

A StarTide holiday novella out in October/November, hopefully.

So, that’s my year.  Of course, life happens and things change. My fondest hope is that whatever changes happen are for the better, and that more gets out than less…

Whatever your dreams are, go for them. Be bold, in whatever manner fits you. And don’t let anyone tell you your dreams are too big. They are YOUR dreams, and so they are the perfect size.

Sending love and hugs out to you, and may 2015 be the continuation of All the Good Things!

All pictures (except Christmas Star) borrowed from Leonie Dawson)
All pictures (except Christmas Star and the StarTide logo) borrowed from Leonie Dawson.

 )O(

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Nutcrackers, Mooses, and Bears Deck the Halls

It’s A Crazy Time…that’s why we have nutcrackers, trees, mooses, and bears in wreaths on our mantel.

the holiday mantel

The holidays are upon us. The year is rushing to an end, and our thoughts are on the right present for the right person, yummy food (overeating at parties), dieting (next year), exercise (please God let there be time AND no injuries), and all those projects we didn’t get to this year, along with the guilt for not getting them done.

And then there’s the writing schedule, as well. I’ve been looking at my year, and trying to plan my writing/publishing schedule. I mean, down to the word count per day. I’m ambitious, I admit it; but for the first time, I’m convinced that I can do this writing gig. I just took a class by Delilah Devlin and Elle James titled Writing 50 Books A Year (yeah, it’s a tongue in cheek title) and they gave me SO MANY DETAILED spreadsheets, I’m in geek heaven.

Those spreadsheets have given me permission to plan. Permission to plunk down big chunks of time (conferences, vacations) and littler chunks of time (see Dad) and all the projects I want to complete next year, and figure out just how I’m going to do it all.

I’ve decided I’m not going to share my desires for next year’s publishing schedule; I know people who publish a heck of a lot more than I do, and some who don’t publish as much as I do, so there’s really no point in sharing those details until next New Year’s Eve Retrospective on the year.

For the first time, I’ll be planning – really planning – my writing year. With months up on the wall, and inputting my daily word count, and everything. Life is exciting, and my dreams are within my grasp. It’s just a matter of pushing aside fear, that little voice that says “you’re going for too much,” and forging on anyway.

In other news, I’m over at Linda Carroll-Bradd’s blog, where she interviewed me. Go on and take a look – I’m still popping in every now and then, though the blog was last week. (My friend Mary Beth Bass wrote the most awesomest comment ever!)

I’ll try to get some wine picks in for you for the holidays, and a garden post. I know I’m behind on those here, but I was on a deadline, you see.  Right now, I’m deadline free (but that doesn’t mean I’m not writing!), and I’ll be back on deadline at the first of the year, so I’ll try to stockpile some blog posts.

One last thought to leave you with…even though it’s the holidays, and even though there are a million and one things to do and things that can (and do) go wrong, and even though there’s never enough time or money or energy to go around, do yourself a big, huge favor. Let go of the guilt, whatever kind you’re carrying.  Live in the moment. Grab hold of and hug those you love. Express that love whenever possible, because you never know when it’s all just gonna go wrong.

Sending love and big, tight, shoulder-to-knee, rocking side-to-side hugs. And here’s our tree…

The Tree, 2014
The Tree, 2014 And yes, there’s a bear on that tree. Do you see the snowflake fairy? Tom and I got her in Seattle in 1980…so long ago!

)O(

Have you read Christmas Star yet? If not, grab it…”A modern day, sweet as hot chocolate fairy tale…” And if you have, would you please leave me a review? Thanks! And my thanks to those who already have reviewed…you know who you are! xo

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Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Dad with the plaque, and rocking his beard! June 21, 2014 Photo by Greg Cunningham
Dad at the San Diego Book Awards, June 21, 2014 Photo by Greg Cunningham

Today is an important day. It is my father, Chet Cunningham’s birthday. He’s 86 today.

A couple of weeks ago at Thanksgiving dinner, held at my niece & nephew’s house, his face lit up when he saw me and we hugged. He said he can never get enough hugs, and I believe him. As the kids – well, adults and young adults now – gathered in one room, their elders (oh my goodness, I’m an elder…) gathered in another. Dad and I cozied down on a comfy couch and talked about writing. I was having the devil of a time with the book I was currently writing, and he felt he wasn’t writing enough, either.

I need to get to 347 on the wall, he says. When I give him a confused smile, he nods. I’ve got 346 books published, need to get to number 347. Taking a long time. Glad I’m with Wolfpack Publishing, he says.

He says he only gets maybe an hour in the morning, but after lunch he’ll get in a good three hours of writing. After dinner, he will watch football, then head to his office for another hour before watching the ten o’clock news.

Five hours, he says, shaking his head. Not what I used to be able to do.* But I enjoy my naps.

That’s more than I get done, I tell him. His hands are in mine, and they feel so very

The hands that wrote the books.
The hands that wrote the books. Summer, 2013

precious. The skin is thin, his veins bulge across the back, and his fingers are oddly shaped by arthritis. He catches me looking at them.

This one hurts, he says, rubbing his ring finger on his right hand. These other two, they don’t hurt anymore, but this one does. Except when I’m writing, then I don’t feel them at all. And he shakes his head.

That’s because the story catches you, and you forget about your aches and pains, I say. Me, too, Daddy.

My own fingers have been aching, when I’ve had a long day at work and then go home to write. I kiss his gnarled fingers and wonder if mine will look that way when I’m 85. I can’t even fathom that much time passing from right now.

He puts his forehead against mine. I’m gonna be 86 in a couple of weeks, he says.

I know. I’m so sorry we can’t come down to see you on your birthday, I tell him.

He shakes his head a bit. Both my parents died at 86. Then he gets a twinkle in his eye. I’m gonna beat them, he says.

My heart clutches just a little bit. I know you are, Daddy, I say. You’ve got to make it to at least 350 novels published.

Yeah. That’s the ticket, he says, and we laugh.

Happy birthday, Daddy. Here’s to book number 347, and may they all continue to sell.

May, 2014
A selfie with Dad – May, 2014

)O(

*Chet’s schedule, when I was in school, went something like this: write from 9:30am to noon, have lunch. Write from 1:00pm to 4:30pm, then come out and be with the family until after dinner. Write from 6:30pm to 11:00pm, then watch the news and wrap up with Johnny Carson.

He’s my hero.

Find his books…Pony Soldiers

Other books with Wolfpack Publishing

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