Guest Post: On Writing Strong Female Characters and Other Musings by Jennifer Siddoway

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As Rory Gilmore once said, “I live in two worlds, one is a world of books.” I have never felt more connected to a character than in that moment, because I too, have lived a hundred different lives through the beautifully crafted pages of a novel. An author’s ability to paint a world with words is something that amazes me to this day, and will continue to do so for years to come.

I never thought that I would become an author, not even in my wildest dreams. Sometimes it still feels like I’m an imposter who has infiltrated this community and has not yet been discovered for the fraud she is. Yet, here I am about to release book two in the Earthwalker Trillogy and it finally feels like I’m treading water.

The heroine in this series, Wynn Hendricks, is a headstrong, fiery redhead who desperately wants to finish high school when a Demon Lord shows up in her bedroom and declares her soul his property. To regain her freedom, she must conquer the seven deadly sins. In doing so, she finds herself caught between the realms of Heaven, Hell, and Earth, with the angel Caleb as her only ally.

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I’m a big fan of strong female characters, and in Wynn’s story I really wanted to show her rising above this terrible situation and coming out on top. She doesn’t need a knight in shining armor to protect her, but would rather have someone love and support her while she rescues herself. Her journey covers a three-book arc that I’m hoping will show growth and depth of character over time. Each of the Demon Lords are unique and come at her in different ways, which I found fascinating to write about. I didn’t want the straightforward, hand over fist, showdown that you’d expect. They’re clever and come at her sideways, hoping that Wynn will become overconfident or make some fatal mistake. One of the things I like about them is that they do not make idle threats. Aidan and the other Demon Lords follow through on what they promise and that is terrifying, especially when they don’t play by the rules – nothing is off the table.

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After tragedy strikes the Hendricks family, Wynn leaves for college, hoping the Demon Lords follow her. She is reunited with Caleb after his fall from grace. Now, they no longer have to hide their feelings for one another. Together, they prepare for Wynn’s three remaining trials and encounter another demon who has infiltrated the Mortal Realm. Charlene is strong and beautiful, with complete control of her demonic powers – everything Wynn hopes to achieve one day.

The Demon Lords aren’t holding back, but they’re not the only ones who are conspiring against her. Maya is on the warpath and blames Wynn for Caleb’s decision to leave. Wynn learns that to defeat Aidan once and for all will come at a terrible price, taking her away from the ones she loves most.

With the help of some unlikely allies, can Wynn defeat the Demon Lords and finally make Aidan pay?

ExcerptHis lips broke from mine and left a trail of kisses down my neck, sending a jolt of hot confusion coursing through my body. Electric tingles ran up and down along my spine in a delicious need to hold him and have his body pressed against me. I tilted my head to give him better access and let out an involuntary sigh. “Caleb …” l breathed out dreamily.

“I love you.”

He cradled my face in his hands and pulled away briefly so that he could whisper, “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to hear you say that.”

I breathed out a ragged laugh before kissing him again and losing myself completely in his touch. My body ignited beneath his hands and I all I could think about was this magnificent creature had pledged himself to me. His lips were on me once again, and I wrapped myself around him like a snake in another one of his passionate kisses. A moment later, I felt myself being lifted off the ground as he carried me back into the apartment.

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authorJennifer SiddowayWebsite/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter

Jennifer is an author from Tallahassee, Florida who writes paranormal romance and fantasy novels for young adults. She is a member of both Gulf Coast Authors and the Florida Writers Association.

After receiving a degree in theatre and working as a scenic artist for twelve years, she changed careers to do what she really loves—writing. Jennifer believes that part of her job as an artist and story teller is to create a narrative that explores a fresh perspective and leaves the audience thinking.

Even as a child, she has always been intrigued by Grimm’s Fairy Tales and particularly enjoys a twist on an established plot. When she’s not busy writing or burying her nose in a book, Jennifer enjoys doing medieval reenactment with her husband and two children.

 

 

Guest Post: Querying for Dummies by V.E. Hust

They say (although who they are exactly is a mystery) that everyone has a novel in them. Recently I’ve been informed by a fairly trusted source that some of those books should not in fact come out. However, for the brave few who do put fingers to keyboard and finish a novel there will come a time that you must query.

Now, there are a few hard and fast rules of the query:

  • It should be three paragraphs in length and not over 300 words.
  • It should be written in the third person.
  • It should cover the first half of your story arc and end with your mid-plot inciting incident and STAKES.
  • It should be professional, proof read, and contain more information about the plot than your credentials.
  • Please, dear god, spell the agent’s name right.

magikarp-169-envia Pokemon.com

Querying is kind of like being the best magikarp jumper in Magikarp Jump. You have to write(catch) a query(magikarp) and send it on its rounds to your beta readers (train it) all the while stressing over it’s perfect name something punchy and eye-catching (like dinosaur erotica).

Magikarp-Jump-is-the-addictive-new-Pokemon-mobile-game-thats-sweeping-the-globevia Daily Mirror

Once you’ve edited (leveled up) your query (magikarp) by taking criticism and applying it (feeding it berries) you have to send it out to your first round of agents (aka to battle.)

magikarp-jump-4via Time Magazine

Now, on the way your query (magikarp) might get destroyed by a critique (pidgeotto) this just means it wasn’t ready for agents to see (to battle) and you need to start fresh with a new query (magikarp) and maybe a new name (like plz no die).

trainingvia Google Play

Once you have a successful query you should make a list of agents who represent your genre and with whom you would like to be signed. Querytracker.com and Absolutewrite.com are super useful when building your list. Then you send your query, make sure to personalize it to the specific agent’s specifications. READ the entire submission page twice before sending so as not to miss anything important.

It’s generally considered prudent to send your queries out in batches of no more than ten but no less than five. If you have a particularly well received query you could perhaps stretch that to fifteen. A well-received query is one that garners a request rate of more than twenty percent. A good query will garner fifteen, a serviceable one will bring in ten and anything under ten should be sent back to training.

I’m going to go in depth here for a moment about query structure. Technically there are no hard and fast rules about where most information should be, but in general your query should look something like this:

1st paragraph – Includes pertinent background and setting information, includes the main character’s name and their first problem – in YA it includes the character’s age.

2nd paragraph – Includes love interest and inciting incident, keep this fast paced and don’t bog it down with adjectives.

3rd paragraph – make us feel for the main character what is going to happen to her if she isn’t accepted to college/ doesn’t escape from her magical prison/can’t be with her true love. Make it personal and relatable.

After that there should be a small paragraph about the manuscript stats; word count (not page count), genre, comp titles, and sub-genre. Followed by a sentence or two about who you are and any credits you might have.

Close it out with a thank you for your time and attention, your name, e-mail address and any social media that’s applicable.

That’s it, don’t try to wow them with presents, don’t rave out how your book is the next Harry Potter, DON’T threaten/harass/be mean to the agent. I know most people would never but apparently there are enough crazies out there that this is becoming a trend.

So now there’s another how to query article out there, filled with tried and true approaches and some awesome Pokémon references. Hopefully it was helpful and at least a little amusing. Go, query, you are amazing!

magikarp-jump3via Forbes

Happy query writing and if you have questions, feel free to ask!

Guest Post: On Writing & Doing What You Love by Megan Cutler

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When a mysterious island appears off the coast of San Francisco, two intrepid academics risk everything to discover its secrets. Literature professor Catilen Taylor has struggled all her life with the ability to sense others’ emotions. The only person comfortable with her eccentricities is Damian Cooke, who studies an ancient art he calls ‘magic.’

Beyond the military barricade they discover a paradise unspoiled by modern advances, ruled by the enigmatic Sentomoru, who invites them to share the wonders of his bathhouse. But as the travelers strive to unravel the island’s secrets, Catilen senses danger stalking their every step.

Neither Catilen nor Damian can guess how long the island will remain on Earth. If they can’t solve its riddles, and untangle themselves from a growing web of strife quickly, they may be trapped wherever the island goes when it vanishes. Is the island the paradise it promises? Or does a nightmare lurk beneath the surface?

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People always want to know when you discovered you were a writer. Maybe some people have a giant ah-ha moment where it all clicks for them, but for me it was a slow process of discovery. In a way, writing was always a part of my life. People used to talk constantly about how much I wrote for assignments in elementary school. Like it was an expectation that any story I wrote would be twice as long as the rest – and, of course, I was eager to deliver.

Sometime in middle school, I was invited to partake in a special class centered around writing. It got me out of other classes I liked less, which was the main reason I liked it at the time. That and the teacher was incredibly laid back. He encouraged us to do whatever made us comfortable during writing time, which meant lying on the floor, sitting under tables, and sometimes being able to sit in the hall if we were quiet. All the things usually forbidden to school kids that age. Sometimes he would sit at the front of the room, play his guitar and sing us his songs while we wrote. Some of my fondest school memories came from that class.

I learned many of the basic principles of writing in that class. Always write in pen, our teacher told us, so that the words are permanent, concrete. Never cross them out so darkly you can’t see what you originally wrote (a single line through will do). Never delete, always save. Always date your work. Our teacher encouraged us to let words flow without judgment, to write whatever we felt like that day, whatever came into our minds or felt right. We didn’t talk much about editing in that class – those were lessons I learned later – but I did learn to let go, to write words without worrying about who would be looking over my shoulder in the days to come (a lesson I would have to re-learn in my adult years).

We shared our stories with the class. Mine was about a girl named V (or perhaps her name only started with a V and I can no longer remember it). She built a time machine. I can’t remember why she wanted to travel through time, but I do remember her parents were totally cool with it. As each person read their story aloud, we wrote comments on little slips of paper to share what we thought. I kept all the ones people wrote for me. I still have them tucked away in a folder.

By high school I was hiding writing notebooks underneath the notebooks I took my class notes in (not that it stopped me from getting into trouble). I had characters I turned to when I was angry and characters who comforted me when I was sad. Snow days were a great boon; a chance to write all day without interruption. I had grand plans by then, dreams of being a bestselling author by the time I was twenty-five.

Of course, life never works out the way you plan. I was closer to thirty when I published my first novel in 2015. But no matter what else I did with my life (college, working in IT), writing was always lurking in the background. Always the ultimate goal.

My first book, Island of Lost Forevers, is a tale about two college professors exploring a mysterious island that appears off the coast of San Francisco. They want to know where it came from and where it will go when it leaves. But though the island appears to be paradise, a nightmare may be lurking just beneath the surface. It has nothing to do with my high school scribbles but, without them, I never would have made it this far.

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You can find my work at megancutler.net. I post random musings every Monday and free short fiction every Friday. You can also hang out with me on Twitter and on Facebook. Island of Lost Forevers, and its two sequels, are available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited; plus Island of Lost Forevers is getting a paperback in July!

Exciting reading, 

Jordan

 

 

Open Forum/Guest Post Free For All

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Are you a writer? Reader? Author? Blogger? Maybe you’re in the process of or want to become an author?

For the month of June, I am hosting an open forum/ free for all. If you have something YA that you want to talk about, anything having to do with writing, the publishing world, this industry, something you’d love to see in YA, something you’d like to see less of, you name it, I am giving you the opportunity to voice your thoughts. HERE. On the blog. For free. 

I’m giving you an open mic in blog form. 

You want to be heard, you have something to say, feel free to schedule a date. Just keep it PG-13 because some young kids read this blog. 

I want to hear from you. I would love for you to share your thoughts and put your opinions out there. 

If you’re interested in a spot, feel free to shoot an email to yabookmadness@gmail.com and we’ll schedule you a date!!!

Tell everyone. Let’s make this happen.

As always, keep reading,

Jordan

Guest Post: Three Tricks to Make Your Word Count by Zachary Paul Chopchinski #bowtieauthor

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Zachary is a bow tie wearing, formal vest rocking, pocket watch using, sarcastic monster of a writer. Currently residing in Orlando, Florida, he spends his days working, writing, and procrastinating.

Zach has multiple college degrees, in the fields of criminal justice and criminology…because he wanted to catch ALL the bad guys. Now, coupled with being an author of young adult fiction he spends his days yelling at people for breaking regulatory laws.

Zach is the author of the Gabrielle series, a young adult fantasy with a paranormal-historical-time traveling twist (try saying that five times fast).  

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By a show of hands, who else here thought that they would grab this whole “Be an author” thing by the keyboard and become its master? I can tell you that I have my hand up. I can also tell you that, I’m sure those of you who are human (robots, immortals, monsters, and other fictional beings need not apply) this thing is way harder than I thought it was.

Now, we all have our stories. We all have our very own inspirations, adventurous tales, and dreams when it comes to being a writer. Yet, I think in many respects, we all face some of the same hurdles that our cohorts face daily. I, for example, was not fortunate enough to be discovered by my first novel. Nope, this one’s going to make me work for it.

So, like many of you, I must also maintain a job to pay the bills. I mean who else in here needs electricity, internet, and copious amount of coffee to get the job done? I can tell you I sure as hell do! This is what brings me to here today to talk about one of my main obstacles, and I think that many of you also share this one: getting those damn words on the paper.

Word counts are a funny thing. They can scare us and drive us all at the same time. They are a great reflection of what we have accomplished, but at the same time they’re like looking at the bully that wants to fight you after school and you are in last period. I’m here to tell you, however, that you don’t have to be afraid. I also am here to tell you that there are some small tricks that I use to help get me through the numbers.

On a side note, ironically, writing all comes down to numbers. I think the reason many of us became authors was so that we didn’t have to “math” anymore…

Trick #1: Set that goal, girlfriend!

Yeah yeah yeah. I know, easier said than done, right? WRONG! Setting a decent, and obtainable goal is often the best and only way to be sure that you’re writing regularly. Writing regularly is a must, by the way, or you would be surprised how much something like this can be a perishable skill.

So, set a daily goal. It could be 500 words, it could be 5000 words, but the key is to set a goal and nail it. This is also why it is important to be honest with yourself and don’t try and pop a wheelie before you know how to ride the bike. If you’re busy, set a 1000-word goal. A general typist will take roughly an hour or so to accomplish this and with a goal, you can break this up throughout the day. This doesn’t have to be all at once.

Remember, the day is not complete until this goal is met. So be fair to yourself and your writing and give it the time its needs and keep into account what you can afford to give.

Trick #2: 500 is the warmup.

Dependent upon the size of the font and spacing, 500 words is roughly a page. This is about the break point for many writers. Often the will to create is lost on you, but just try to reach that 500-word marker. By this time, creativity will start to bloom and the words will flow more easily, trust me. Often, with writing, you must first find the flow and then the inspiration will follow as you engage your brain and challenge it to create. Reaching one page and pressing forward tends to allow your mind to wander in a determined direction and you will find yourself able to focus while letting loose.

Trick #3: If you want to get those gains on, get you a spotter.

Weightlifting jokes aside, often finding someone that you trust to check on your progress daily will help drive you to get those words down. You find yourself not wanting to let this person down, or if you have let them down, trying to make it up to them by hitting your goal. (NOTE: This also works if you are trying to prove them wrong and show them that you CAN do it! Just saying)

This trick can get…well…tricky. Remember to not get mad at your spotter. They are only trying to help you and they want you to be the best author that you can be. So… DON’T SHOOT THE DAMN MESSENGER!

Well, these are some of my tricks. I hope they can help you as much as they have helped me. I must be off now, as I have my own words to get down for today. By the way, this article is 817 words and I am totally counting that for today. Just saying.

CHECK OUT ZACH’S BOOKS

curious taleAmazon/Goodreads/Signed Paperback

What If You Woke Up in Someone Else’s Life?

Thirteen-year-old Gabrielle was given a mysterious bracelet for her birthday. She went to bed as a normal teen but woke up in another time, as another person.

When demons appear, Gabrielle’s dream adventure turns into a nightmare. But is a nightmare adventure better than just existing in your mundane life?

curiosityAmazon/Goodreads/Signed Paperback

Is An Extraordinary Experience Worth The Loss of Innocence?

In this gripping sequel, Gabrielle stumbles into revolutionary France with more questions than answers. Why did Alexandra chose her for this adventure? What did the mysterious old woman mean by “it’s all up to you”? And why was she seeing monsters no one else could see?

In search of these answers, Gabrielle finds herself in the middle of a much bigger battle than she could have ever imagined. Can a nineteen year old old take on the past and un-seen evil all on her own?

curiosityAmazon/Goodreads/Signed Paperback

Will Gabrielle’s power be enough to save her?

In this third installment, Gabrielle finds herself living in one of the darkest times in American history, running a safe house for the Underground Railroad.

Arawn’s done playing games. When he discovers Gabrielle’s weakness he will stop at nothing to take her down. Gabrielle is going to have to use every ounce of her new power if she’s going to survive.

Keep reading, 

Jordan

 

Calling All #Tampa Area #YA #Writers

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Are you a writer? An aspiring writer? Do you write YA or New Adult? Do you live in the Tampa region? 

Would you like to be part of a writing group designed specifically for those genres? 

Are you curious about the ins and outs of the publishing process? From drafting to querying to publication and everything that comes between?

If you answered yes to these questions, we would love to meet you! 

For those of you who follow this blog, you know that I’m a reader, and a writer. I’ve been working hard on my WIP and intend to query next month. 

My friend, Ginger, and I are looking for fellow writers who are focused and aim to go through the whole hellish process with the ultimate goal of publication. 

We’d love to sprint, critique, hang out, and embrace all things writing. If you’re in the region and looking to get serious about your writing goals, we would love to motivate and cheer you on. 

If you’re interested, please comment or shoot me an email at yabookmadness@gmail.com

Looking forward to talking to you,

Jordan

Guest Post: The Indie Author Journey by Sherry Soule

THE INDIE AUTHOR JOURNEY ~ #StarlightSaga

Guest post by Amazon Bestselling Author Sherry Soule

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Sherry Soule has some exciting news to share with us! She has recently published the next book in her popular Starlight Saga series, a humorous paranormal romance. Today, Sherry is doing this fun guest post to share the book love with fellow readers.

Be warned, these books have scorching-hot romance!

LOST IN STARLIGHT- book 1 - paranormal romance - dark humor - book cover

When I was growing up, the only thing I ever dreamed about was being a professional writer. Today Amazon sent me an email inviting me to create an author page. This probably sounds lame to some people, but it’s an exciting step to me. My own official author page! I realize for self-published and indie authors that it’s an on-going struggle to get your books out into the world, and hopefully make some money in the process.

Like every writer, I am incredibly passionate about my work. The main reason I write is because I love to do it. Not for the money. No, because I love creating characters. I love crafting suspense. And I love telling stories—my kind of stories.

Writing has always been my true passion. This was what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to publish novels. I dreamed of being a professional author since I was seven years old, and I enjoy writing both adult and young adult tales.

Best-selling author, Tracy Hickman was quoted as saying, “Don’t seek to be published, seek to be read.”

Simple words. Great advice. It made so much sense. Write for your readers. Write what you love. Write every day and don’t give up.

Our dreams should give us wings. Let us fly. Soar above the clouds. And we should never, ever have to look down. Right?

Being a voracious reader all of my life, I believe my writing style differs from the other young adult paranormals being published; because my stories tend to have elements of chilling suspense weaved into the plot. Nor are my stories always focused primarily on “love.” But there is a lot of kissing!

Yet I do write about people who fall in love under unusual circumstances. Not because I like a conventional happy ending—no, I write about love because I believe it’s the strongest human emotion we possess. And sometimes my character’s choices don’t get them a happy ending. Sometimes the endings are surprising. Sometimes bittersweet. Sometimes they end with a cliffhanger. But I hope they are never boring or too predictable.

How did I start?

Well, like I said, I’ve been writing since I was seven. I’ve written a lot of books over the years. Yeah, a lot of bad books, too. I went to college, but mostly took creative writing and English classes. I couldn’t go full-time because I had a family to look after, but I did take various writing courses for the past ten years.

To be honest, I’ve tried three times in my life to find a literary agent, aka the gatekeepers to the publishing world, without success. I’ve even had a few prominent agencies request my work. Looking back, I know what I did wrong. I didn’t have any critique partners. The manuscript wasn’t tightened up and polished. I didn’t hire a freelance editor. I thought it was good. Well, it sucked. Hence, the multiple rejections. Which also sucked.

I’d like to think I’ve learned a lot since then. I hope I have.

The turning point in my life came when, like so many people across the United States, I lost my job. I feel into a deep, dark depression. To escape my utter hopelessness and to be productive, I decided to try writing again. I rewrote an old story that I still believed in, but knew it still needed some major revision. Maybe this was a sign from God to try to get published after all these years. I wrote every day for months, then started query agents and editors again. No luck. More rejections.

I worked part-time and kept writing. I started editing a manuscript that I wrote about nine years ago called, “IMMORTAL ECLIPSE.” I did some freelance developmental editing to pay the rent. Then I was laid off again and after a few months, my unemployment ended. I was scared. No job. No money in my checking account and my savings account had been closed by my bank. Zero funds.

Time to freak out. I was a single mother with two young children to support. But no way to support them. Then I discovered that my seven-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a severe and very rare disease. The medical bills began to mount up. I needed money.

In my heart, I still didn’t want to give up on my dream. It was all I had left to encourage me…

Once I gave up the idea of a book deal with a New York publishing house and finding an über agent that loved my work, I decided to look into indie publishers. Then I read about Amanda Hocking’s success story on her blog. I was impressed and awed. She had taken a chance, so I decided to self-publish one of my early novels. Why not? I talked it over with my family—who agreed. I had nothing to lose. And since I was out of a job, I had time to promote my work.

Then some of my family members announced that they wanted to start an online publishing company. And guess what? I was the first to sign with them. Sure, they’re small but everyone has to start somewhere. So, they didn’t mind when I wanted to hire my own cover artist. (Do not be naïve—book covers sell books. Well, that and good writing.)

Going Indie is a scary endeavor. On occasion things don’t work out. Books don’t sell. The genre dead ends. Bad timing. Worse luck.

But indie authors can find a small amount of success due to the book blogging community, which is so incredibly supportive. And I sincerely thank the book reviewers who have embraced and heartily praised my novels.

Although, I may never reach the success of other self-published or indie authors, I won’t look back at my life someday with regret. At least I’ll know I tried, and that’s something, right? You only fail if you never try…

“If you’re waiting for the universe to provide for you, I’ve got a feeling you’re going to wait a long time. If you know what you want, then my advice is to confidently take the necessary steps and go get it.” – Bryan Hutchinson

So, now I need to get back to editing and writing new stories. No reason to let these manuscripts sit on my hard-drive. Maybe someone will enjoy reading them. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll keep dreaming and hoping, and someday those hopes and dreams will come true. Maybe not.

But what good are dreams if you don’t try to make them come true? What good is trying to follow your heart if those aspirations can’t be turned into reality?

Never let someone else put limits on your goals or hinder your own personal dreams. I know, I won’t…

UNDER SUNLESS SKIES - book 2 - science fiction paranormal romance - book cover

Amazon Author Page/Lost in Starlight/Under Sunless Skies/Series Blog/Goodreads

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Sherry Soule is an Amazon bestselling author, who lives in the SF Bay Area with her family and one very spoiled black cat.

Many of her books have spent time on the Kindle bestseller lists and have been nominated as top picks in the “Paranormal Romance” categories by sites such as The Romance Reviews, Night Owl Reviews, and the Paranormal Romance Guild.

Sherry mainly writes urban fantasy, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance in young adult, new adult, and adult genres set in fictional places within Northern California that feature independent females and sexy alpha males.

While Sherry doesn’t consider herself a fashionista, she does like to express herself through her stylish apparel, and her heroines do, too.

Amazon/Blog/Twitter/Goodreads/Facebook

Pleasant reading, 

Jordan