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Lurking In The Shadows

Honest reviews for whatever I want to review.

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The Dragon’s Rocketship

Author Interview: JM (Jill) Turner, author of Sunshine Girl

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Today on the blog, I am going to interview a great author.  I met JM Turner through the Dragon’s Rocketship a couple years ago, and we’ve stayed in touch.  Well, she has a new book out, so it’s time for an interview!

Welcome Jill!

Hi Mike!

So, can you please tell the audience about yourself?

Okay, I live in the UK and I’m a mum of two girls; one of them is married and has her own children now, and the other is almost 16 – don’t ask about the age gap, it wasn’t meant to be quite so huge! Apart from writing, during the day I work in education – with SEN and lower ability children. I also work as a proofreader for my local university, and I copy edit and proofread for local businesses as well as authors and aspiring authors.

When did you start writing? What motivates you to do so? What inspires your writing?

I started actually putting my ideas down in writing a few years ago now but have spent the last 30 years or so making stories up and telling them verbally to my children. It was my youngest daughter who insisted I write them down that set the idea in my head that she may be on to something. When she had a bad experience in school – she had a teacher who really didn’t like her and made it exceedingly obvious in class – she had no idea how to deal with what was going on. She was so upset by it all that, after I’d dealt with the matter, I began to write what became my first book where a little girl is ill-treated by a teacher but gains the upper-hand and overcomes it all in a way she could never have imagined.

Originally, the story was meant to be just for my daughter, but she loved it so much I decided to try and go further with it. The book turned into a trilogy and since then stories have clamoured to climb out of my brain and onto the page, so much so that if I don’t write I can’t sleep!

Inspiration comes from various things – The Seelie Princess trilogy came from what I’ve just mentioned; Nan Nose Best came about because I wondered what a teenager would do if she had a Nan who decided to get involved in social media and insisted on posting family things publically on the teenager’s page; and Sunshine Girl came about because of something that happened many, many, years ago that has played on my mind ever since.

Your latest book, Sunshine Girl, is a bit of a break from your works I am familiar with.  Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Yes, it’s a more adult story than the others and is quite a bit darker. It deals with the paranormal – a ghost girl called Kat, who at the outset is upset because nobody will talk to her. She finds out why when she sees her own body lying in the morgue and realizes that she’s dead, but not quite dead enough! She can see everyone she loves falling apart around her, but can’t communicate with them. She’s in limbo really, and to move on she has to find out who killed her, and why. To do that she has to find a way to let the living know what she discovers so that her murder can be solved.

Having worked my way through half of Sunshine Girl as of the time I am writing this interview, I am impressed.  I’ve read your Seelie Princess series and I have to say, you’re a damn fine writer.  So I have to ask, which genre do you like to write the most? What draws you to it? And why stray from your favorite genre?

Well, thank you very much for the compliment! I still love fantasy, but currently I’m into somewhat darker issues – the paranormal, murder, mystery type of things. I think this has come about now because my youngest child is older – she insists on reading everything I write so that part of my brain had to stay hidden until now! The fantasy side of things is still very much present though, and there’s a spin off from The Seelie Princess coming at some stage this year. It deals with an issue that was left slightly open-ended in the trilogy which readers have asked me about. (A favour was asked of someone and they were granted it with the proviso that the favour would be returned if needed – in the spin off, that favour is called in!)

At the moment, I am drawn to writing more for adults – Sunshine Girl has been waiting in the wings as I was unsure whether to publish it or not, purely because it is so different to the other books I have written. However, I saw and entered a competition to be traditionally published with a short story (10K words) based around the theme of a haunting. My story for the anthology is called ‘Joe’. I was the first writer accepted into it and the anthology is being released later this year. When I received the news that the owner of the publishing company had cried over my story, it gave me the push to release Sunshine Girl. I’m currently writing a book about a child abduction!

Now that I’ve mentioned it, can you tell the reader a bit about your Seelie Princess series?  What other bodies of work do you have out there?

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As I mentioned before, The Seelie Princess came about because of a bad teacher. The child in the story, Clary, is being pursued by her teacher who has a problem with the way Clary wears her hair (this was one of the things that happened between my own daughter and her teacher). Clary wears it over her face in an attempt to hide away and stay safe.  In the book, the teacher is a banished Unseelie who needs Clary’s hair to get her powers back. Clary doesn’t know it, but she’s a Seelie Princess who was sent to Earth as a baby to escape the Seelie Wars. By the end of the first book, she discovers her latent powers and her father comes to take her and her mother back to Seelie.

The next two books follow on from that with what happens to her when she gets to Seelie, and what happens to the best friend she left back on Earth when the Unseelie try to kidnap him. He goes on the run and finds an unusual egg in his old teacher’s house, where he thinks Clary may have ended up.  Clary rescues him and takes him (and the egg) into Seelie with her. When the egg hatches, they discover they’ve brought a dragon into the Kingdom… and then the Unseelie trick their way back into the land of Seelie.

The third book deals with the aftermath of the fresh Unseelie takeover, and how Clary and Sam deal with the loss of her family and her land. She has to try to find a way to take the Kingdom back.

Necessary fun question – If you could have one magical power, what would it be and why?

Oh wow! Magical power? To be able to go back and forth in time and stop it where necessary. I’d go back and tell my younger self not to be so damn stupid on more than one occasion! To be honest, I’d probably say the same to a few others, too! Ooh, and it would be great to be able to warn people not to be in certain places at certain times – or to physically remove people from situations that don’t have a good ending – a few good lives could be saved that way, especially one that is particularly close to home for me! And I’d stop Princess Diana from getting in that car!

Necessary fun question number two – Which of your many characters would you like to meet in person and have lunch with?  Why and where would you go?

I’d quite like to meet Niamh, the feisty Shee. We’d go to the palace in Seelie (before the Unseelie take it over) and she’d show me how to kick ass and still come out on top!

I’d like to meet Sam and his dragon – she would take me on a flight all over Seelie so I could see all the creatures I presently see only in my head.

And I’d love to meet the Unseelie teacher after she’s come unstuck…!

The internet is an amazing thing.  It can bring people that live on opposite sides of the world, or just a few states over, together.  We became friends through a great FB group.  Tell me, how have you used social media in your writing?

One of my books (Nan Nose Best) is about how social media can change lives! Personally, I have an FB author page and I’m on Twitter. I also have a website. I try to engage with people on each of them – some more successfully than others. At the moment, Twitter seems to be engaging the most people, which surprises me slightly as I personally know more people on FB. People re-tweet far more often than they share posts on FB. I share all the things I do, from editing and proofing to featuring other authors and posting my own musings on things.

And a follow up to the above questions, promotion is very important to any Indie Author / Artist.  What techniques have you used that were successful?  Unsuccessful?  Wanting to try but haven’t yet?

I’ve tried using FB for promotion but, as we all know, unless you pay, very few people actually get to see your posts. It’s frustrating when you have xxx amount of followers and only a tiny amount of them get shown your posts. I’ve found (personally) that advertising on FB doesn’t justify the cost and it doesn’t make any money – unless you’ve got tons of money to invest in yourself and can plaster your books all over the site! (If you’re rich enough to do that, go for it!) I also think that there are so many authors advertising on FB nowadays that nobody takes any notice any more. They just scroll on past. Having said that, a lot of my sales have come from being a member of author groups. If you interact with the other members, they are more likely to buy what you write. It’s good, but very time consuming. Twitter is now starting to pick up without my having paid for advertising. It’s a numbers thing. The more followers you have, the more likely it is that people will take a chance on your work. The downside is that all I see on there are memes or book adverts. I’m currently advertising Sunshine Girl on AMS. I got all excited when I saw that I’d sold 7 books within the first few hours – turned out only one sale had come from the ads – the rest had come from people from the groups I mentioned on FB!

What are your plans for the future?  Anything you can tell us about?

I’d like to be able to stop doing the day job and concentrate on writing, proofing and editing, but I’ll need to win the lottery to be able to do that!

And finally, the big question I ask to end every interview.  It’s very cliché, but I have to ask it.  What advice would you give a young (or old) author/artist out there just starting out?

If you’re writing to get rich quick you’re best off knowing someone with influence! If you don’t know anyone like that (and most of us don’t!) then write for the love of it. Don’t wait! Writing anything that you’d like other people to read is a steep learning curve and there will be highs as well as lows. Read a lot, too – discover what good writing is – find the kind of things you like to read and figure out why you like them.

Join author groups and read all the advice they throw your way – take what you know to be good advice and take the rest with a pinch of salt. Join critique groups (and develop a thick skin) – *caveat* – join good critique groups, not those where the people writing them are vicious! Learn the rules of writing; you have to know the rules to be able to break them convincingly! Talk to people. Authors are probably the most generous people I have ever come across and, in the main, will help you as much as they can. Join writing groups; lurk for a while and pay attention to what people say.  Make friends with those who give good advice as opposed to those who like the sound of their own voices but don’t really know what they’re talking about by interacting with them. If you have any advice for people, give it kindly. Some groups are better than others for all of this and, if you’re serious about wanting to be a writer, (this is a long term thing) then be on good terms with other authors! Word gets around very quickly if someone acts like an ass!

When you have written your story, put it away for a few weeks and come back to it with fresh eyes. You’ll find mistakes that way. Spell check. Grammar check. Plot check. Tie up loose ends. Send it out to trusted beta readers (you’ll find them through the groups you’ve joined) and, if several of them point out something that’s not working, take it on board (after you’ve sulked/thrown a tantrum/sworn a bit – all on your own!) and work those kinks out. And, most importantly, if you want to do this seriously, get yourself a good editor. If you put your work out and it hasn’t been edited, it will show, and you’ll get a name for yourself in the wrong way! It’s worth the investment. Lastly, invest in a great cover to entice people into opening your book. You know that saying – you can’t judge a book by its cover? It may be true, but if you can’t even get them to open the book, no-one will ever know that your book is the next Harry Potter…

Good luck, and if you want to chat to me, feel free to drop by and say hello!

Jill, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.  We wish you great success on your new book, and in the future.

Thanks for having me, Mike! It’s always a pleasure to talk to you!

If you want to follow Jill, please click on the links below.

https://www.facebook.com/authorjillturner

https://www.twitter.com/JillMTurner

https://authorjmturner.wordpress.com

https://littleredlines.wordpress.com

https://www.amazon.com/Jill-Turner/e/B0142S490M/

 

Author Interview: Jessica Williams

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Today on the blog, I am going to interview a great author, very talented artist and a good friend of mine…though we’ve never met in person!  Jessica Williams and I met through the Dragon’s Rocketship a couple years ago, and we’ve stayed in touch through my leaving social media and my blog hack and destruction.  Well, she has a new book out, so it’s time for an interview!

Welcome Jessica!

So, can you please tell the audience about yourself?

Sure! I’m a stay-at-home mom with three crazy kids and seven completely insane cats…all indoors. Before that (once upon a time), I was a graphic designer and illustrator that actually got paid for my work. I gave that up to be a full-time mom and haven’t looked back. Luckily, that led me into spending more time doing something that I never thought I’d love so much – writing!

When did you start writing? What motivates you to do so? What inspires your writing?

Technically, I suppose I started writing back in high school, which I won’t tell you how long ago that was. But it was pretty terrible stuff, all hand written and beyond cliche. I got more serious about it in college. I’m not sure what motivates me other than really enjoying giving a character a life and purpose. But inspiration would definitely come from all the fantasy movies and books I’ve experienced. I also get a lot of inspiration from my artwork and include many of them in my writing.

Imagia…this is the world you have created.  Please tell us a little bit about this magical place?

Well, let’s see. It’s a world that was born of the imagination from children in the real world (Earth). As the world grew, so did the lore and wild ways of the land. It is a place meant to give a child a true adventure while their parents are none the wiser. As they grow, their adventure becomes nothing more than a memory of a dream. At least, this is what it was meant to be…until darkness tainted its purpose.

The Gathering is the second book in the Gateway to Imagia series.  Without giving too much away, can you give the reader a idea what they have in store with this great book?

Hmm…well that’s tough. In the first book, the main character, Sam, was only ten years old. This book takes place several years after the first with Sam as a teenager with powers that he struggles dealing with. It’s a bit darker than the first one, in my opinion, with the first one being lighter fantasy. I’d say it’s more mature than book one, but that’s what growing up is like. Only, most teenagers can’t destroy large buildings with their minds.

Sam Little is the main character, I’d like to ask Sam a few questions.  Sam, what is your favorite aspect of Imagia and why?

That’s easy. My friends. I don’t have to pretend to be something that I’m not when I’m there. They all know me really well…more than anyone back home. And my Guardian, Yetews? Yeah…he’s pretty awesome. You should meet him sometime.

Another question for Sam; when you imagine something, where does that come from?  Is it simply something you create, or do you take bits and pieces from other things you’ve seen, experienced? Quite simply, how do you imagine?

Um…well…I don’t think I can really explain it very well. But I guess…well…as things are happening, I just have to picture what I want to create in my mind and really believe that it’s there and then suddenly…it is. But I have limits. I can’t imagine food for some reason. It’s annoying.  Because I really miss pizza.

Okay, Jessica…fun question.  If you could imagine one thing and add it to the world we live in, what would it be? A new animal? A new invention? A new location?

Oh goodness! Definitely a new animal. Now the question is, how would I choose? I’d love to imagine a creature that can translate everything that animals say so that I could speak to them. That would either be really fun, or end terribly. And I’d probably never eat meat again!

You are also an illustrator.  Can you tell us about your illustrations? Were you an illustrator before you were a writer?

I actually started drawing very early and loved it. I never ever thought “Hey, I’m totally going to be a writer one day.” But I did think I’d go somewhere with my art…which is probably why I went to school and got my B.F.A in graphic design and illustration. My illustration is mostly fantasy and photo-realism. I love drawing animals (horses are one of my favorites). But leave me alone with my imagination and I can come up with tons of crazy creatures!

The internet is an amazing thing.  It can bring people that live on opposite sides of the world, or just a few states over, together.  We became friends through a great FB group.  Tell me, how have you used social media in your writing?

Unsuccessfully. Ha! Is that an appropriate answer? Truthfully, I’m terrible with the social media gig. Partly it’s because I’m still stuck in the 1980’s when social media didn’t exist. I can barely operate my phone on a good day. I try, but don’t have much success with it. Maybe when I’m a famous millionaire writer that will change.

A second part to the above question involves promotion.  Are they any things you have tried that worked for promoting your books?  Anything that didn’t work?

The only promoting I’ve really done that worked wasn’t online. I did a program with elementary aged students at a school. I gave a presentation and sent postcards to anyone who read my books. As word spread in the school, I actually sold more books than I ever did through an online promotion or anything like that. Being friendly with librarians helps them promote for you. Postcards were fun to do, but unfortunately I have giant stacks of them left over and nothing to do with them. Something that didn’t work? My facebook page. I don’t think I’ve gotten one new sale from that at all. But I keep trying!

What are your plans for the future?  Anything you can tell us about?

I’m working on the third book to the Imagia series and also a series of short stories that would be a companion piece to the trilogy. I also write and illustrate childrens books. I have two published and am working on a new one about fire safety with a dragon called Oliver. I’m hopeful to get in contact with our local firestation and use the book as a way to raise money for firefighters.

And finally, the big question I ask to end every interview.  It’s very cliché, but I have to ask it.  What advice would you give a young (or old) author/artist out there just starting out?

Don’t get stuck on the big picture or a big paycheck. If you’ve touched one mind with whatever you’ve created – art or writing – then you’re successful. If you consistently ask yourself, “What if people don’t like it?”, then you’re going to start hating what you do and give up. Create because you enjoy it, not to please everyone. Because you can never ever please everyone. Also, have another writer or illustrator friend that you can count on to read your stuff and visa versa. I’ve noticed that it helps keep you from hating your stuff and giving up altogether. Maybe like a creative accountability partner, for lack of a better term. (Thanks for all your help by the way, Mike!)

Jessica, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.  We wish you great success on your new book, and in the future.

Thanks for having me! It’s always a pleasure!

If you want to follow Jessica, please click on the links below.

Blog

Author Page

Facebook

 

 

 

Guest Blog: Jen Ponce

Jen Ponce, one of my favorite Indie Authors, has stopped by to talk about her new book, Burning the Devil.

Welcome to the blog Jen!

Hello! My name is Jen Ponce and I write about the things that go bump in the night and the women who kick the asses of those things. My female characters aren’t always physically tough, but they’re emotionally or mentally tough enough to kill bad guys with their minds. Check out my Kickass Woman’s Manifesto for more on what I think about strong women!

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Is that weird?

I’m here to talk a little about my newest story, a psychological horror story called Burning the Devil.

This book started as a dream, as my books often do. This was a bit unusual as I dreamt what I thought was the whole story from beginning to end. It was compelling and I couldn’t stop thinking about it … but when I tried to write it, I realized I didn’t have an ending.

Fast forward six years later when I worked on it for almost all of 2016. The toil was worth it–I found my ending. It wasn’t anything I’d imagined, but it fit and I hope it takes you to dark and chilling places as it does my main character.

What’s the story about?

To get the good, you’ve got to pay.

Mechanic Gwen Colburn knows this better than most, so when charismatic megastar Neo Tucker walks into her life, she doesn’t trust the glitter of admiration in his eyes or the sweet words on his lips. It’s only when a demonic killer from her past begins to stalk her and the bodies pile up that she realizes he’s the only sane thing left for her to hold onto.

Rumors of supernatural murders have dogged Neo ever since he became famous but it wasn’t until he met Gwen that it mattered. She’s the one he’s been waiting for all his life and all he has to do is help her learn to trust him. Too bad someone close to him wants to make sure he never gets the chance to find out just how perfect she is.
Gwen and Neo must fight to get what they desire most. The only question is whether either of them will live long enough to enjoy it.

Don’t forget–I’m a tricksy devil.

Things in the story aren’t always what they seem.

About the Author

Jen lives in the Panhandle of Nebraska, with her boys, her cats, her goldfish Reggie and a large supply of books that help insulate the house in the winter and expand her mind.

She loves connecting on Twitter and Facebook. Visit www.JenniferPonce.com to figure out how to do all of the above.

Jen. Writer of kick ass women and oogy monsters.

 

My Indie Book Collection…Part 7

This is a new series for my blog.  I hope it is obvious I support Indie Authors and Artists. In this series, I will simply highlight the physical books from Indie Authors I have in my library at home.  I’ve either purchased them, was gifted them by the authors, traded for them with my own books or won them in contests.  

Many of these authors I met through my old Twitter account (it’s dead now) or on the amazing Facebook group The Dragon’s Rocketship.  I miss them all, since I’ve quit FB too.

So, here it is.  The seventh installment.

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This is a great Sci-Fi/Super Hero/Fantasy novel that I traded with the author to get a copy of.  I really enjoyed reading it. Definitely geared towards a Young Adult audience.  I just hope George releases the second in the series soon.

 

My Indie Book Collection…Part 6

This is a new series for my blog.  I hope it is obvious I support Indie Authors and Artists. In this series, I will simply highlight the physical books from Indie Authors I have in my library at home.  I’ve either purchased them, was gifted them by the authors, traded for them with my own books or won them in contests.  

Many of these authors I met through my old Twitter account (it’s dead now) or on the amazing Facebook group The Dragon’s Rocketship.  I miss them all, since I’ve quit FB too.

So, here it is.  The sixth installment.

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Author Jennifer Anne Seidler

Although I am not a huge Sci-Fi fan when it comes to books, this one is an exception.  When I read this book, I immediately though ‘blockbuster movie’.  The story has a great feel to it.  I just wish the author would write another novel.  Jennifer…where are you?

My Indie Book Collection…Part 5

This is a new series for my blog.  I hope it is obvious I support Indie Authors and Artists. In this series, I will simply highlight the physical books from Indie Authors I have in my library at home.  I’ve either purchased them, was gifted them by the authors, traded for them with my own books or won them in contests.  

Many of these authors I met through my old Twitter account (it’s dead now) or on the amazing Facebook group The Dragon’s Rocketship.  I miss them all, since I’ve quit FB too.

So, here it is.  The fifth installment.

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Author Hans Cummings

Hans is a true Indy author…or should I say an Indy Indie Author.  I’ve met Hans in person, as he lives in the same town (Indianapolis-ish, it’s a big area) as I do.  Really nice guy.  I originally met he and his wife via the Dragon’s Rocketship FB page.  He and I have swapped books, and I’ve been fortunate enough to beta-read the last two books in the series above.  He also writes Sci-Fi.  You should really check his stuff out.  I’ve reviewed all the books above, but most were in my old blog site.  I did salvage one.  It can be read here.

My Indie Book Collection…Part 4

This is a new series for my blog.  I hope it is obvious I support Indie Authors and Artists. In this series, I will simply highlight the physical books from Indie Authors I have in my library at home.  I’ve either purchased them, was gifted them by the authors, traded for them with my own books or won them in contests.  

Many of these authors I met through my old Twitter account (it’s dead now) or on the amazing Facebook group The Dragon’s Rocketship.  I miss them all, since I’ve quit FB too.

So, here it is.  The forth installment.

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Author Misha Burnett

I say this without a moment of hesitation, Misha is one of my favorite authors.  I’ve read a lot of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror over the years, but his Book of Lost Doors series is something all-together different. Once started, you can’t put them down.  And not only is he a great author, he’s a pretty nice guy too!

Check out his blog here.

 

Book Review: Gateway to Imagia – The Gathering by Jessica Williams

This book goes on sale this Valentine’s Day. Give yourself a gift and pick it up.  The first book in the series if being offered for FREE!

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Description:

Imagia changed Sam Little. No longer a small, helpless, ten-year old boy, he finds that returning from a world he was never meant to stay in has caused more problems than he ever imagined it could. He is struggling in the real world. With his faithful dog, Titus, he finds himself doing everything possible to hide his power from the world he no longer feels he belongs in. But going back to Imagia, no matter how hard he tries, seems impossible. And more than anything, he misses his best friend and Guardian, Yetews. Then one day, someone quite unexpected meets him and changes his theories forever.

When the two worlds he loves begin to collide, he’s once again faced with decisions that seem all too difficult to make. His power has grown and his peaceful life on Treetop Lane is about to be shaken. Old friends and new must join together to find a way to make things right again.

Imagia is beckoning. Now Sam must choose once more whether or not to answer the call.

Review:

Confession – I had the distinct pleasure of being a beta-reader for this book. It’s great.

Author Jessica Williams has a gift.  She can write. Her books are filled with great adventure, wonderful characters and vivid, yet not over the top description.  The Gathering is one such book.  Having read the first in the series, I was very much looking forward to the second book.  And I was not disappointed.

This story follows Sam as he returns to Imagia. That’s all the spoiler you’ll get from this reviewer.  It’s a fast paced story that visits all the friends you were introduced to in the first book, and adds a few more.

The first book was amazing.  It was geared towards a younger reader.  This second book has grown up, just as the main character has.  It is geared towards a slightly older audience, but is still approachable to all ages. Very Well Done!

I strongly recommend this book to any Fantasy lover out there.  You won’t regret the time spend reading this great book.

5 of 5 stars

 

My Indie Book Collection…Part 3

This is a new series for my blog.  I hope it is obvious I support Indie Authors and Artists. In this series, I will simply highlight the physical books from Indie Authors I have in my library at home.  I’ve either purchased them, was gifted them by the authors, traded for them with my own books or won them in contests.  

Many of these authors I met through my old Twitter account (it’s dead now) or on the amazing Facebook group The Dragon’s Rocketship.  I miss them all, since I’ve quit FB too.

So, here it is.  The third installment.

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Author Jen Ponce

I met Jen through the Dragon’s Rocketship and have kept in touch with her ever since.  She is a great author, has VERY strong female lead characters, and a weird fascination with spiders.  You’ll see that if you read her books…which you should.

Come on Jen, hurry up with the 5th Devany Miller book!!!

 

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