In Which Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids

GRTTWaK logo*points to the title* Were you aware there’s a podcast wherein the premise is just that? I was not, because when it comes to podcasts, I am generally unaware.

But Canada-based GRTTWaK came to my attention via that occasionally-useful-albeit-mostly-irritating pillar of social media, Facebook. More specifically, via this post on the Chicago Writers Association page.

GRTTWaK FB Invite

An open mic night for diary entries, angsty teenage poetry, short stories, etc.? I have a whole fireproof box FULL of that stuff, and absolutely NOBODY who wants to hear a word of it!

Nobody, that is… until now.

I e-mailed Dan Misener for further info on how to participate, then dug into my archive of journals to pick out the perfect 5-minute excerpt.

…Wow, was it hard to find. I, uh, may have spent most of my youth complaining about family, swooning over the Backstreet Boys, and fetishizing characters in an unrelenting slurry of fanfic. It was retrospectively terrible, and I began to despair.

But then! My saving grace: ~ Song lyrics ~

GRTTWaK, Stage and Me

Before Gant-o’-the-Lute and Allyn-a-Dale, there was… a long list of other characters you may or may not ever meet, and for whatever reasons, they all felt compelled to try their hand at song composition. From the pile, I selected two love songs penned by teenaged boys who liked girls (because what else would a then-teenaged girl who liked boys write?). And with these time-capsule treasures in pocket, I sallied forth to the appointed Top-Secret Underground Location.

(You think I’m joking, but legit – the location was and is secret, and that’s all you’re getting out of me.)

Dan, his wife Jenna, and the sound guy (also named Dan; as a Dan[ielle], I felt right at home) were all delighted and copiously relieved that I’d shown up – because, they explained, it’s kind of hard to do the show when none of the readers show up. Happily, a nice full roster of readers did in fact show up for that night’s event – plus a pretty full house of a crowd – and in due time, the reading commenced.

GRTTWaK, Dan Reads

Dan himself opening the show with a lil something penned in an old school notebook.

I ended up being number three in the lineup, all a-jitter, because not only was I going to read a song… I was going to sing one.

Song #1’s melody eluded me, and thus was only recited; but to this day, I’ve found myself from time to time singing Song #2. So hang the fact that my voice is always the first part of me at risk when I’m nervous (or angry, or otherwise flooded with fight-or-flight chemicals). I love singing, and I love attention, and darned if I wasn’t going to combine the twain when given the chance.

Happy news: My performance was well-received! Produced more audience laughter than the ballad’s fictional writer intended (sorry, Michael old boy; sometimes our pain is funny), but also got plenty of applause and compliments during intermission. (My voice did me proud after all. ^_^)

GRTTWaK, Miseners and Me

Post-show pics with Jenna and Dan.

And meanwhile, there were a good dozen other performances – including journal entries, letters to friends at summer camp’s end, 3rd-grader short stories, love songs written by actual teen boys (turns out my efforts weren’t far off the mark!), obituaries for dearly departed grandparents, transcriptions of dreams, and more. Fun times for all – and, as I informed the creators afterward, a good and important opportunity for those of us with a lifetime of words in want of willing ears.

So if podcasts are your thing, totally check out “Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids”. No guarantees, but you might just get an earful me crooning to imaginary girls. And if you catch word of the show coming to a stop near you, consider signing up to share your scribbles of yore! Turns out there’s an audience for it after all.

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Moving and Stuff

First of all, let’s applaud the fact that today I am just saying no to my usual tendency to overthink blog post titles, since clearly this one was the product of 2.5 second’s thought at most. #FirstIdeaBestIdea

Now, onto the good news: By the end of the month, I will be in California, to live with my BFF!

Aaand the bad news: Most of my stuff will not be there with me.

I can check two bags on my flight. One of those bags must necessarily be my lute (because a wannabe minstrel never changes address without it). And I’m flying restricted economy, meaning there’s no room for a carryon bigger than a laptop case.

That leaves one suitcase of space for my worldly goods.

I am nonplussed.

“Now, now,” says the reasonable part of me. “Stuff is just stuff. Most of us can live with far less of it than we hoard. It’s people that matter.”

Quoth my less strictly reasonable side: “MY BOOKS ARE MY PEOPLE.”

Case Full of Books

Lol, these aren’t even my books. They’re just everything I borrowed from libraries in the last couple weeks, as if I’ve got time to read ‘em all. XD

Sure, I can get by on a fraction of my wardrobe. (Boots excluded! You better believe all my most awesome boots are coming with me.) The art on my walls can be grudgingly done without. Much of the miscellaneous junk accumulated over 29 years of life, I won’t miss.

But what about my personal library?? How can a place feel like home without my shelves upon shelves of novels! Short story collections! Tales behind the scenes of stage and screen! Not to mention the ridiculous number of books I’ve bought but haven’t gotten around to reading yet!

There’s no way I can take it all with me, just now. But how can I leave it behind?

“Speaking as someone who canonically escaped a world’s end with nothing but their lute,” says Allyn-a-Dale, with a sideways look for #BALLADofAaD, “you’ll live.”

“The lute, and the hat,” Will Scarlet adds. “And obviously Danielle will be taking her Allyn hat. And your Scarlet hat, too, right?”

Of course. Awesome hats are in the same category as awesome boots.

''Here I Am, New World'' mug

Maaaybe I’ll have space to take some of my “Outlaws”-inspired mugs with me?

“There you are, then! With lute, hats, and the ever-present voice of your loved ones in your head, you’re off through the air to meet your best friend in a world unknown. Congratulations on your dream come true: You are basically turning into Allyn-a-Dale.”

“Except with a mother who picked up a couple boxes to ship some of your books after you,” Allyn points out.

All true, I suppose. If you can be brave and minimalist, I can strive to do the same. And if my story’s anything like yours where most it matters, then it will be well worth it.

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THIS JUST EDITED IN: I might not actually be going to live in the house I thought, but instead in… a gloriously gorgeous, naturally magical, so-near-and-yet-so-far-from-the-BFF national park??? Which is arguably even more comparable to the Isle of Avalon, so the metaphor stands; I just can’t even with how unpredictable my life is, anymore.

Beautiful Books (Out of My Head and Into Yours)

Somewhere, out in the blogosphere… specifically, on the blogs Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In… a meme is under way…

Just like every year, we’re giving our monthly link up “Beautiful People” a small rest so we can focus on “Beautiful Books” [and] our NaNoWriMo projects. The format is the same as Beautiful People. We’ll post 10 questions to answer about your WiP — aka your beautiful book.  Answer the questions in a blog post of your own and then come back here to link up!

Consider this the sequel to last month’s Beautiful Books post, in which I gushed about the pair of novels scheduled to release (and re-release) in March of next year – “Inspired” and “Out of My Head”!

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Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

*laughs and laughs and weeps and laughs at my current mental state* But hey, let’s not blame the novel! After all, I had the good sense to make myself NOT do NaNo this year, leaving me free to have internal breakdowns over other things – like my baby sister’s recent wedding, and my imminent move across the country, and the fact that I had a clear plan to read 3 specific books this month, but then borrowed 4 million different library books instead…

I don’t know what to say about that one.

As concerns “Inspired”, though, I’ve reached out to quite a number of bloggers, asking if they have any interest in an early read ‘n’ review of the book. Some have even said yes! The reviewer hunt’s stalled out, for a bit, while I focus more on trying to land a job in the state to which I’m relocating. (And, y’know, reading 4 million library books.) But if YOU – yes, you reading this blog post – want a review copy of “Inspired”, let me know! We’ll make it happen!

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Of “Inspired”:

There are people, Luc found, who are very good at having ideas.

Bonus! Of the sequel, “Out of My Head”:

There are muses, Luc knew, who are very good at developing ideas.

(As readers of my Wilderhark Tales and Outlaws of Avalon novels may have observed, I’m big on first lines following a pattern within a series.)

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

While drafting Book 1, it was Wilbur, since he’s based on my favorite character of the time. Then for a while, in the neighborhood of Book 2, I think it was Yves, since I’d grown closer to the character he was based on. XD Now it’s probably Uri – not because of who she’s based on, but just because I enjoy her as a person. A hardass with a heart willing to learn to soften, when necessary. Sayer of things I wish I gave few enough lip tricks to utter in public. Also, one of my small batch of characters who inherited their author’s asexuality. (Or, in Uri’s case, her author’s author’s asexuality. Though, I mean, Annabelle’s ace, too, and sexuality isn’t hereditary, so what am I even babbling about anymore.)

What do you love about your novel so far?

– How the characters’ relational dynamics grow from Book 1 to Book 2

– The narrative’s uniquely changeable style; keeps things interesting for me, even during my umpteenth read-through of the manuscripts

– All the little things from my own life I get to include, since Annabelle’s life is so closely based on mine

– When the language EVOKES THE VERY SOUL of what I’m trying to convey

– Mach x Annabelle (I sibling soul mates ‘ship it)

– Wilbur x Uri (I bromance ‘ship it)

– Yves x speaking (compared to the rest of the cast, he doesn’t do it much, but I like what he says when he does)

– The “Phantom of the Opera”-esque short story in Book 1

– The surprise solution chapter toward the end of Book 2

– I’m not even the illustrator, but can we give it up again for the books’ covers, tho???

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

None that I haven’t already caught and vanquished, I hope!

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

Probably middles. Beginnings are often shaky, because every new book is its own beast that you have to learn how to handle. And my sense of urgency tends to kick in toward the end, since I can feel how close that finish line is. Whereas in the middle, I’ve had time to get to know the project, and can just enjoy sinking into the story as it unfolds.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music?

Back when I was in the habit of writing, you mean? <_< I basically just had to shut out the distractions of social media until my brain got lost in building the story’s scenes, word by word. I almost never draft to music – with the notable exception of #CamelotWIP (as I’ve dubbed it on Twitter). For some reason, I really needed noise reminiscent of a Faerie isle for that one. As for snacks, lol, I generally forgot to eat breakfast ‘til 2pm…

What time of day do you write best?

I liked to get cracking first thing in the morning.

My muse liked to show up just after I’d turned off the light for bed.

#rude

1 Light Bulb, Inspired Countdown, long

How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I don’t prefer to let anyone see my work until the first draft feels finished. Then I run it all by my writing bestie. Beyond that, I’m okay with sharing short snippets here and there – so long as they don’t give away any important surprises!

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

If my characters need me to. I’ll push myself to my limits and farther, for them.

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

1) Find out what you love about the writing process

2) Chase that

3) Tell yourself that you can do the hard thing (whether that hard thing is pushing forward, or giving yourself a break)

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And that is that. To any o’ y’all doing NaNo this year: How’s the first half of November been treating you, and how ready are you and your characters to tackle the last two weeks? ^^

About the Author Bio

Sooo, I’m trying to come up with my next author bio, and it is… unreasonably hard.

Danielle E. Shipley would rather be writing a novel than an author bio.

Because a good bio’s supposed to make me sound interesting, right?

Danielle E. Shipley feels that her books are far more interesting than she’ll ever be. You should read those.

Behind the Books

And relatable. Because, I dunno – the higher the odds of someone reading the bio and going, “Oh, hey! Me, too!” the likelier they are to care about my work?

Like the average adult human, Danielle E. Shipley too has a body comprised of 50 – 65% water.

I Too Am Water

People want to know about where you live, what you do when you’re not writing, whether you’ve got any kids or pets or a high-school-sweetheart-turned husband, some “fun fact” that marks you as just quirky enough… Or maybe they don’t? But a lot of author bios I’ve read include them, so I guess that’s the formula.

Danielle E. Shipley’s only public high school experience was a semester of driver’s ed. When she accidentally wrote the wrong phone number on the form for her learner’s permit, the teacher snarkily assumed it was her boyfriend’s digits, little knowing that Danielle would make it to age 29-and-counting without acquiring a single boyfriend, and will most likely die entirely un-romanced. …Unless you count that one imaginary woodland creature who wished so hard to woo her. And I mean, she had to turn him down, so there you go.

Except I don’t want to be formula. Surely the best author bios stand out from the crowd!

DANIELLE E. SHIPLEY. ‘NOUGH SAID.

Is there any way I can accomplish this without straight-up lying?

Danielle E. Shipley is the bestselling, prestigious-award-winning author of the most popular books on shelves today. Big-name reviewers are calling her, not the next, but the OG J.K. Rowling. She’s pledging her latest billion dollars toward the construction of a colony of castles on officially-recognized planet Pluto. She’ll be the first to live there, with her husband Captain America and a domesticated fox.

Pluto by Bourelle Photography

That time I WAS Pluto.

…Or worse, telling the unedited truth?

Danielle E. Shipley is too sad and tired for any of this.

Too Done

Okay. Deep breaths, wordsmith. You can do this. What’s a winning combo of author facts, fiction, and form?…

Author Photo, Danielle E. Shipley

Danielle E. Shipley – author of fairy tales retold, legends reimagined, and other expressions of wishful thinking. In the past, she’s worked as a librarian in a kindergarten, a Towne Crier in a Renaissance Faire, and a butler in Germany. In another universe, she’s a tenor on Broadway, a wandering minstrel, or at the very least a Dark Lord singing about world domination. Born, raised, and homeschooled in the Chicago area, she now resides primarily in realms of her own making, along with her crazy crew of character children. She hopes to ultimately retire to a private immortal forest. But first, there are stories to make.

Hmm. A little lacking in science stats and Pluto love, but it may do.

So much for my musings on bio-writing. Anyone else got any tips, quips, or anecdotes on the subject? Drop ‘em in the comments!

Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logo

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “One of his authors describes him thus:

Stolen away as a toddler by a corrupt necromancer and raised as her near-nameless drudge, Kid had nobody to rely on but his own self, until even he and his body began to grow apart. Now this unaging soul roams the earth at will, seeking out the delights of the world of the living before his grown alter ego remakes it all in a more deathly image.

“Welcome, Kid!” Will greets the child bouncing in the air above the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – has anyone ever told you that you look like a young Allyn-a-Dale? ‘Cause it’s uncanny!”

Soul of Kid

As seen on the “Dark Siren”-related Pinterest board, “Bones, Souls, and Hellgates

The adorable boy giggles. Everything about me is uncanny. I’m the bodiless soul of a necromancer! But of course I look like a little Allyn. And of course my body looks like him grown-up. That’s the inspiration behind our characters – from some silly hypothetical scenario Danielle and Tirzah spun out over the phone. Allyn was the Dark Siren, and his younger self was his soul, and I think the knights of Camelot were a team of superheroes, and you were a lovesick maniac.”

“Sounds about right. Getting back to your story proper, what was it like growing up as a forced-labor assistant to a practitioner of death magic?”

“No fun at all,” Kid pouts. “All Mistress Barbara ever did was boss me around. I never got to play outside. I never got to make any friends. I never got to experiment with her books of spells… although I did that anyway, whenever I could do it without her noticing. She wasn’t overly careful about keeping her things warded; or herself, for that matter. Killing her was easy.”

“Um.” Will glances at the camera. “Is this a confession to a murder? Because let me remind you that this is live blog-TV, and I don’t know if I—”

“Oh, it wasn’t me,” says Kid, wide-eyed. “It was my body. That was the night we split, you see – so he could become a more powerful necromancer.” He slumps into his chair – (literally, his ghostly form has sunk partway through the cushions) – muttering sadly, “Souls get in the way.”

“Aww.” Will frowns sympathetically. “So your body hasn’t been much of a friend to you either, huh?”

Voice dropped to an eerie, melodic pitch that sets Scarlet shivering, the soul intones, “The Dark Siren is a friend to no one but death. But,” he goes on more brightly, “I meet other nice people, from time to time. Like the living skeleton I found in Millennium Park! I like her.”

“That’s good. What about ice cream?” Will asks, in pursuit of cheery, death-free topics. “Do you like that?”

Kid pulls a face. “I’m a soul. I can’t eat.”

Will draws back, aghast. “Not even soul food?!”

“Not even corpses,” Kid sighs. “Though those are fun for other things.”

“Haaa, well,” says Will, disconcerted, “there’s time for one more fun thing before we say goodbye. Tell me, what is the biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret involving your co-authors, Tirzah Duncan and Danielle E. Shipley?” A spirited smile. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“I’ve already tattled on them once,” says Kid, jumping out of his chair. “Kiss me! I’m starved for physical affection!”

“I’ll bet,” says Will, placing a kiss on (and almost through) Kid’s cherubic cheek. In return, Kid’s lips pass through Will’s nose, while his little arms fling around Will’s neck.

“You’re nice, too,” Kid approves. “I hope the Dark Siren doesn’t kill you.”

“Same,” says Will, fondly ruffling the space Kid’s hair does and doesn’t occupy. “Hey, Allyn, how ‘bout a word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “is brought to you by The Dark Siren’ by Danielle E. Shipley and Tirzah Duncan – available now as part of the Arcane Arts Anthology!

arcane-arts-cover

Necromancy killed her body, and necromancy saved her soul. Now all this living skeleton wants is for necromancy to leave her the hell alone. But with a disembodied child-spirit hanging around like a too-catchy tune, and a dread dark-artist preparing to sing the world into its final unrest, our heroine’s left with only one real option: Face the music.

“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says. “Thanks to you, too, Kid! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

Beautiful Books (and the Big Ideas Behind Them)

Somewhere, out in the blogosphere… specifically, on the blogs Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In… a meme is under way…

Beautiful Books Meme

Just like every year, we’re giving our monthly link up “Beautiful People” a small rest so we can focus on “Beautiful Books” [and] our NaNoWriMo projects. The format is the same as Beautiful People. We’ll post 10 questions to answer about your WiP — aka your beautiful book.  Answer the questions in a blog post of your own and then come back here to link up!

I enjoyed taking part in the Beautiful People meme, that one time in August, and I’ve enjoyed participating in National Novel Writing Month several times, though not this year. Fortunately, you don’t need a NaNo project to take part in Beautiful Books. Any story in progress will do. So I’m jumping in with my debut novel, scheduled to re-release in a brand new edition, March of next year – “Inspired”!

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Cover w Text 06.3, front

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I’ve got brainstorming notes on the earliest iterations of “Inspired” going back to May 2011, and the first draft came out over the following December. The spark behind it all started around the NaNo before, when my (brand new, at the time!) best friend and I created the Stranger Than Truth club. Originally, the novel was going to feature not just one author navigating the fictional realm, but two, imagining in tandem. And there’s still room for that to happen, if I ever get around to a sequel centering on that. I just felt there was a lot of groundwork to lay down first.

Describe what your novel is about!

Happy days – I’ve got a blurb ready. ^o^

For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

Their own.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Oh, the “Inspired” gallery on my website may have a few applicable images…

PhotoFunia-Luc and Jean

Inspired, Only the Beginning, 02

Inspired Avengers

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Whoof, there’s a lot, so let’s restrict it to three words each:

Lucianíel = That lightbulb moment

Abishan = Just… total cat

Wilbur = Chivalrous sweetie pie

Uri = Entirely judging you

Yves= Smol, with secrets

Annabelle = Danielle E. Shipley

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Step 1 = Talk to myself in a Word document until I’ve got a fairly solid idea of the book’s shape.

Step 2 = Outline chapter by chapter, to ensure every puzzle piece gets slotted in somewhere.

Sometimes, Step 3 (or 1-and-a-half, or at whatever point on the list I feel thus compelled) = Ask the characters questions so that I can begin to hear their voices in the answers.

Cover 2 w Text, front

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Since it’s already been written and published once, at this point I’m just eager to have it back on the market again – and with such a beautiful new face! Plus this time, it comes out with a sequel. I’m always excited to give the world something brand new to read. ^o^

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

Oh, perfect, ‘cause there are three different settings.

1 = The Material Plane – aka, the real world. Like Annabelle’s home, inspired by the house where Childhood Me used to visit my dad’s family over Thanksgiving.

2 = The Immaterial Plane – aka, the world of imagination. Where muses live, and where some characters may choose to hang out, if they’re self-aware enough to know they’ve got an author’s mind to roam.

3 = Book Worlds. The intersection of material and immaterial. Fictional, yes, but no less real to the people who inhabit the story. One of “Inspired”s special charms is that it offers a glimpse into several.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Boiled down to one word, Luc’s main goal = security. In this, Annabelle is both a tool and an obstacle, because while she’s willing to be the author for Luc and his loved ones, she’s basically just in it for the fun. Clash of motivations. Expect fireworks.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Nothing like putting in the time on the craft to mature an artist! Not that Annabelle doesn’t still have plenty of growing up to do by novel’s end, but you can see she’s getting there.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

Themes… How ideas are planted… How stories grow… How people can blossom, with a little help from their friends – real, imaginary, and in between… As for how I want readers to feel at novel’s end, how else? Of course I want them to walk away inspired.

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And that is that! Related note: I am currently seeking folks interested in providing an early read ‘n’ review of “Inspired”. Is that you? Talk to me!

Over, out, and good luck to any o’ y’all doing NaNo this year. ^o^

Fortnight of Fright: Flash Fiction From Danielle E. Shipley & Tirzah Duncan

Books Take You Places

FoF2014Hi, friends! Today we have Danielle E. Shipley, author of the Wilderhark Tales novellas and the novel Inspired (see her other features on my blog here and here). Also contributing is Tirzah Duncan, writer of novels, short stories and poetry. They are here to share some truly awesome flash fiction to help us celebrate Fortnight of Fright this year. I have always been a fan of Danielle’s work and after reading this post I am sure that you will want to read more from her and Ms. Duncan for sure. Take a gander below and don’t forget to head over to Amy Brittany’s blogs to see who they have featured today! Don’t forget, we are hosting wonderful bloggers & authors for two whole weeks with recipes, book recommendations and a lot more awesome!

Once upon an October years ago, there transpired what might only be described as a supernatural occurrence:…

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