Five Things I’m Thankful For by L.A. Racines

FIVE THINGS I’M THANKFUL FOR

By Cheryl Bristow, a.k.a L. A. Racines

Author of historical novel, A Shield in the Shadows

 

This was a challenging question. I am actually grateful for almost everything in my life! But having to choose five from among them is no small task.

To give you a bit of background about me, I am Canadian, a born again Christian believer since the age of 11, a wife, mother and grandmother of four, and a life-long lover of great books and good stories.

As a young girl I read Anne of Green Gables, and decided then and there that, like Anne Shirley the heroine, and L. M. Montgomery the author, I too, wanted to be a writer someday. I set out at age 13 to read the books considered “classics” of literature at the time, and pretty much achieved that before I got to university.

I assumed I would study English at McGill University, but one look at the curriculum made me quickly turn the page. Instead I studied Anthropology and Sociology, and after graduation I headed for Africa to teach, basically looking for real life adventures in the lands I had studied. So far there is nothing particularly unusual about any of that.

So, what are the five things I am thankful for and want to share with you this Thanksgiving season?

1. A normal childhood

I doubt I appreciated that at the time. Didn’t everyone have one? Of course not, but I did not know that then. My own home was peaceful and orderly, my mother was strict but fair, and my father created a skating rink in our backyard in winter, organized street dances and corn roasts in the summer, put on a magic show for the neighborhood children at Hallowe’en, and dressed up as Santa at Christmas to hand out presents to us all. He even made cloth dolls for my sister and myself. I cherished mine. Even though my winter coat was thin and I had to wear a lot of hand-me-down clothing, I was growing up in an environment where I could focus on school, friendships, and other childhood interests. Thank God!

2. Adventure

As I got older, I rebelled, of course. There was a song that came out in the 1960’s by Malvina Reynolds. It was called Little Boxes and mocks suburban housing and middle class ambitions as “little boxes”, “all made out of ticky-tacky“, and which “all look just the same”. I began to eye my life and neighborhood through that lens and decided that the most boring existence in the world had to be a suburban housewife like my wonderful mother. (I have since decided that it’s not at all bad, especially these days.) I applied to CUSO, the Canadian equivalent of the Peace Corps, and was accepted to go to Nigeria as a high school teacher at a prestigious co-ed school deep in the forests of Yorubaland. There I taught mostly French, Bible Knowledge and African History. It says a lot for the much higher qualifications required these days that I would never be accepted with just a general B.A., but then I had to scrounge for materials, especially in the history course because there was no textbook, and try to stay one step ahead of my advanced French students.

I arrived just before the Biafran War broke out, and remained for my full two-year term, even though every other sending country had pulled their volunteers out. It was lonely at times, tough-going because of the amount of work and responsibilities I had, and a little scary at times, but I knew my role was important for the students. I travelled home on a shoe-string budget via the Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Israel and several other countries, and appeased my need for adventure for many years. Thank God, because as a struggling clergy wife and young mother, those opportunities would not come again soon!

3. The plan of God for my life

My conversion at the age of 11 was a very powerful experience. I was breathing heavenly oxygen for several months thereafter, and every year my two-week stay at a Christian camp revitalized my faith. University was a challenge because of the concerted attempt to knock some sense into anyone who has the intellectual feebleness to believe in a personal God, or that Christ is the only True Way to God, but my spiritual life was sustained by fellowship and Bible Study with a wonderful group of Christians from many denominations. Thank God!

After university I innocently got into the occult through witnessing a couple of Ouija sessions, and then, to prove that the ‘ghosts’ were real, I conducted two Ouija sessions myself for skeptical friends. As a result, I immediately lost the sense of God’s presence with me and all appreciation for beauty in nature and music, and over time a heaviness weighed on my spirit and I began getting impulses to drive my motorcycle off the road. After several years of joylessness, I became convinced that even I, a born again Christian, could have an oppressive spirit operating in my life. I was engaged to be married and didn’t know if I even wanted to live. My fiancé prayed for me and commanded the spirit(s) to leave in the name of Jesus, and the next morning I was back to normalcy. I knew it because once again I was able to look at something beautiful and rejoice again. Thank God!

As the wife of a clergyman, I busied myself with leading several women’s Bible studies. One day I took a close look at the Beatitudes and got really angry. The picture Jesus was painting of the kind of person I was supposed to be did not add up with who I really was, even after nearly 20 years as a Christian and student of Scripture. I told God that if He didn’t find a way to “fix” me and fix the fissures in my faith, that I would just have to forget the whole thing. Almost immediately God led my husband and me to a Christian community that taught the life of the cross. That was hard, but it was also the start of some serious deepening in my walk with God. I began to walk in a spirit of repentance. This led to another crisis. I got so good at ‘being wrong’ and trying to fix everything in my life, that I became emotionally frail. I had to learn the difference between the ongoing condemnation that the Enemy of our soul uses to cripple us, and the sharp conviction of sin that the Holy Spirit gives us when we need to face our sinfulness. Once again I was pulled from the deep water by a loving God. Thank God!

I never gave up on the dream of being an author. As a clergy wife and mother, there was little time for pursuing my own goals. It was frustrating, and I wondered if I would have to give up on my dream. During the long decades of that desert period I took writing courses, helped to edit a magazine and published several articles, but there was no time to do a novel. I came to realize that I really did not want to write unless I had something to say that was worth reading. Life experience and maturity tend to grow that capacity.

The time came when I had a word from the Lord. It was a prophecy. It came at a moment of great need and rang true. It also contained some clues that I could follow. I went for it. The time was right. The location was conducive. I was now only a few years from retirement so would have the time to write, and I had enough money to pay for all the books I would need to prepare. The novel I wrote was worth the wait. It is far better than I ever thought I could do. Since publication, A Shield in the Shadows has won a couple of awards, been well reviewed and won praise from men and women alike. Thank God!

4. My computer

Sometimes I think about Charles Dixon and Jane Austin, and other writers who wrote their books prior to the modern computer age. I am old enough to remember having to type a letter to Mayor Jean Drapeau, the long-time mayor of Montreal TEN TIMES, because it had to be error-free, so writing A Tale of Two Cities, or Mansfield Park long-hand, or just using a type-writer seems like a nightmare to me. The book I have written required years of research, and then as I wrote it, a lot of fact-checking. Thanks to the miracle of computer technology and the invention of the World Wide Web, I am able to fix mistakes before anyone else sees them and carry on, explore the topography of particular locations in the Alps and Italy, learn about what kinds of horses the Gothic warriors rode, find out when white flags were used to indicate surrender and truce, and many other minute details. It makes my work seem very impressive and is actually very easy. Thank God!

5. A reason to get up every morning

When you retire you no longer have the chaos of a Monday to Friday work week, and usually you do not have many family responsibilities either. Life slows down A LOT!

When we left our last full-time church and moved to a new community, we no longer had responsibility for them, and lost contact with many of them. My call to write gives me a reason to get up every morning. I do not know what the future holds, but I know what I have to do now and for the forseeable future, and that is a real gift. Thank God!

 

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New Release: To Make A King

Nothing says Fall like curling up with an awesome new YA Fantasy novel. The good news? There is a new release from Kristi L. Cramer that seems like just the ticket! Be sure to follow the blog tour for more awesome features, reviews, and more for To Make a King(The Magic of Verridian Book 1).

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To Make a King is a Young Adult Fantasy in three parts.

Part One: A True Prince
Two friends discover the key to a mystery that, once unlocked, will change everything. Enemies they didn’t know they had unleash magical forces to make sure the secret never comes to light.

Part Two: To Make a King
Dark magic undermines the Crown Prince’s succession, and a young prince is encouraged to take action against his half-brother in a plot to usurp the crown. Before the sun sets on coronation day, brother will face brother and swords will be bared.

Part Three: Should Monarchs Stumble
When the new king stumbles, an old enemy is quick to take advantage, conspiring to take the kingdom by force. The king’s jester must decide whether to back the usurper, or help the king choose to be a better man.

 

About Kristi:

When Kristi isn’t riding her Harley or working at her “day job”, you can find her in front of her computer, hammering out exciting suspense stories for anyone willing to read them, or hanging around on social media.

While she has worked on her writing craft for +30 years, like many authors, she had to work other jobs to make ends meet. She has a strange and varied work history, having held jobs in a hotel, a car wash, an insurance company, an electronics assembly line, an auto parts warehouse, a blueberry nursery, and as a truck driver and owner of her own trucking company. She even delivered nuts and bolts around town for a fastener store/warehouse for a while as she pursued her writing career in earnest. Now she is a billing specialist for an agency that advocates for people with physical and mental disabilities.

She got married for the first time at 38, skipped being a mommy and went straight to Grandma. She says, “It worked out best for everyone that way.” It is fully her intention to go to her grave having never changed a diaper.

Visit Kristi:

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Bringing Maggie Home

BMH

Title: Bringing Maggie Home

Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Christian, Mystery

Publisher: Random House

Rating: 4 stars

Blurb:

Decades of Loss, an Unsolved Mystery,
and a Rift Spanning Three Generations

Hazel DeFord is a woman haunted by her past. While berry picking in a blackberry thicket in 1943, ten-year old Hazel momentarily turns her back on her three-year old sister Maggie and the young girl disappears.

Almost seventy years later, the mystery remains unsolved and the secret guilt Hazel carries has alienated her from her daughter Diane, who can’t understand her mother’s overprotectiveness and near paranoia. While Diane resents her mother’s inexplicable eccentricities, her daughter Meghan—a cold case agent—cherishes her grandmother’s lavish attention and affection.

When a traffic accident forces Meghan to take a six-week leave-of-absence to recover, all three generations of DeFord women find themselves unexpectedly under the same roof. Meghan knows she will have to act as a mediator between the two headstrong and contentious women. But when they uncover Hazel’s painful secret, will Meghan also be able to use her investigative prowess to solve the family mystery and help both women recover all that’s been lost?

Review:

 

A touching family story involving mystery and how events from the past shape the future.

Bringing Maggie Home tells the story of Hazel DeFord, who carries the pain of guilt for the disappearance of her younger sister Maggie. The incident has remained with Hazel for seventy years and played a role in the strained relationship she has with her daughter Diane. But a visit from granddaughter Meghan could not only help repair Hazel and Diane’s relationship, but also reopen the case into what happened to Maggie.

I love a good book that tugs at your heartstrings and Bringing Maggie Home is a story that definitely does that. Through flashbacks, you’ll see how Hazel and Diane’s history shaped the way they are now. The switching from the present to the past was well-written and added greatly to the story. You feel the characters’ sadness and anger; at times you’ll find yourself tearing up with them.

I loved all of the characters. From the trio of Hazel, Diane, and Meghan to the supporting character of Sean Eagle. Everyone played a huge role in the book and I was invested in their story. With Meghan, I loved how she was strong, yet she had a sensitive side as she dealt with some unresolved issues of her past. I would’ve liked for the story to delve more into the accident that caused Meghan to get injured. They mentioned she felt remorse, yet I would’ve preferred more explanation into how the accident happened.

The mystery of Maggie’s disappearance was a huge part of the book. From the beginning I had a hunch as to what happened to her and at the end my theory was proven right. I thought the author did a nice job of explaining the circumstances of what happened to Maggie.

I really enjoyed the story; I thought it was a nice mystery story with a touch of family saga. It’s a story that will have you in suspense while also tugging at your heart.

“I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.”

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KIM VOGEL SAWYER is a highly acclaimed, best-selling author with more than one million books in print, in seven different languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim lives in central Kansas with her retired military husband, Don, where she continues to write gentle stories of hope. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and grandchildren.

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Westmore: Second Chances Excerpt

Hello Everyone!

As you all know, Westmore: Second Chances has finally been released.

I promised to share an excerpt from the book so without further ado, here’s a sneak peek at what’s happening in the latest Westmore installment.

Enjoy!

BookCoverImage

 

Excerpt:

With her arms wrapped around a pillow, Alicia curled up on her side. The touch of a man’s hand on her hip interrupted her peaceful slumber. Startled she jumped; swinging her fists she managed to hit the man in the chest before he grabbed her arms. She tried to wiggle free, but he had a strong hold on her.

“Calm down, Alicia.” A male voice responded.

Alicia’s body fell limp at the voice, one she recognized. “Wayne, is that you?” He released her. “What the hell are you doing here? How did you get in?”

“I needed to see you.”

“So you broke into my house?” She threw her hands in the air. “You really are crazy. My stepdad’s a cop, he’ll arrest you.”

“I know it’s risky, but I couldn’t resist.”

“You need to leave; my mom or Jim could see you. Then you’ll be in trouble.” She cracked open the door to make sure nobody was awake.

“I don’t care.”

Exasperated, she shut the door. “Wayne, please go.”

“No,” he said in a firm tone.

“Please, I’m worried about you. If anybody finds out you’re here…”

“They won’t.”

The more he refused, the furious Alicia became. I can see stubbornness also runs in the Braxton family.

“Alicia, both you and I know you don’t want me to leave.” His fingers caressed her cheek, her smooth skin felt good to him.

Her body became weak at his touch. “Wayne, please.”

“Do you really want me to leave?” He put his finger on her lips as she opened her mouth. “Don’t answer yet.”

Pulling her closer, his left hand rested on her back as his other cupped her head. He took a moment to appreciate her beauty, everything about Alicia captivated him. Not wanting to wait another second longer, he pressed his lips against hers. She resisted at first, then she slowly came into the kiss. Parting her lips, she let his tongue explore her mouth. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders as he deepened the kiss.

He scooped her up in his arms and carried her to the bed. Gently he laid her on the covers. He pulled away; gazing down at her. Both of them were breathless from the kiss. “Do you still want me to leave?”

“No,” she whispered before pulling him down on her. His hands made their way under her tank top; Alicia closed her eyes and moaned. She didn’t want this to end.

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Blurb:

Second chances are hard to come by. But when they occur, you have to grab the opportunity and prove your worth.

In volume 7 of the soap opera inspired series, fate gives Westmore’s residents a chance to redeem themselves.

*Wayne’s new venture lands him in the good graces of his family again. But his budding romance with Alicia Green could cause his downfall.

*Recovering from his divorce, Andrew decides to enjoy life with the company of another woman. Will he find love with his new lady? Or will he resort to bad habits for another shot at love with Elizabeth?

*A fatal shooting almost cost Jim his life, but he pulls through to reunite with Charlotte and his family. But his near death experience has him contemplating a huge decision.

*Laura and Rick vowed to leave their relationship in the past, yet a sensual encounter could have the lover reigniting the flame.

Will this these characters succeed in gaining their second chances? Or does destiny have other plans for them?

Find out in Westmore: Second Chances.

Available Now

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Westmore vol 7 is Finally Here!

Dear Readers,

It’s been a while since I’ve last blogged, but I wanted to share with you some big news.

Last week, I released Westmore: Second Chances, the 7th volume in the series.

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The release of the book was a special moment for me. It took nearly two years for me to write, edit, and finally publish Westmore: Second Chances.

I had some stuff happen in life that affected my mood. I was in a funk and really didn’t feel like writing, so volume 7 just idled away on my computer.

I didn’t know when or if I’d ever publish it.

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Then finally about a year ago, I decided to start working on it again. This time I was determined to stay on track and get it published.

It took some time, but I finally finished writing the book. Then after some tweaks in the editing, Westmore: Seconds Chances was ready for publication.

I was so happy to finally hit the publish button. Plus, I’m sure anyone whose read Westmore was excited to have volume 7 available.

I won’t give away too much about what happens in this volume, I’ll be saving that for next week’s post.

In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of the cover to tide you over.

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Incognolio by Michael Sussman

EBOOK

A psychological thriller…

unlike any novel you’ve ever read!

The book itself is crazy; crazy cool. . . And there is humor. Lots of funny stuff delivered with the offhand manner of a master comic’s best throw-away lines. . . But it is the author’s genuine creative skills that make his through-the-looking-glass words so entangled and enticing, and makes of his wonderful experiment such a grand success. –Joel R. Dennstedt, Readers’ Favorite

INCOGNOLIO BANNER

BLURB

Unravel the mystery of Incognolio or go mad!

Adrift in the dreamlike narrative of his own novel, Muldoon traverses identities, planes of reality, and the dark recesses of his psyche in an effort to grasp the enigmatic Incognolio. Is he writing a story in which his stillborn twin sister has come to life, or is he the one who died at birth and it’s his sister who’s writing the novel? Guided only by the whims and dictates of his subconscious mind, Muldoon must finally face his demons and write his way to freedom or succumb to madness.

Incognolio Graphic 4

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5-Star

Reviewed By Sefina Hawke for Readers’ Favorite:

Incognolio by Michael Sussman is a literary fiction novel that would appeal most to a diverse audience of mature young adults and adults who enjoy psychological thrillers with elements of mystery, magic, and science fiction, and who do not mind explicit language, sexual situations, and graphic violence. Muldoon is the narrator of the novel and has an acute injury to his brain according to his neurosurgeon, Dr. Noggin, who cautions against writing Incognolio because the brain injury has made it difficult for him to organize and plan effectively, which would lead to a disorderly plot. Yet, Muldoon does not desire an orderly plot; instead he prefers to share his dealings with the cult, the epidemic, and the mind controlling headband in his own words without regard to conventional organization.

ENTER THE GOODREADS GIVEAWAY

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael 003

Abandoned by a cackle of laughing hyenas, Michael Sussman endured the drudgery and hardships of a Moldavian orphanage until fleeing with a traveling circus at the age of twelve. A promising career as a trapeze artist was cut short by a concussion that rendered him lame and mute. Sussman wandered the world, getting by on such odd jobs as pet-food tester, cheese sculptor, human scarecrow, and professional mourner while teaching himself the art of fiction. He now lives in Tahiti with Gauguin, an African Grey parrot.

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Must Love Fashion Blog Tour

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO
MUST LOVE FASHION!

Must Love Fashion
Contemporary Romance
By Deborah Garland
Release Date: August 7, 2017
 
Keywords: Contemporary, Romance, Novel, Fashion, Widower, Model, Second Chance
 
Gwendolyn Mallory has landed her dream job. After years at a small fashion retailer, she’s been given a chance to show off her public relations skills for a major brand. What woman wouldn’t be excited to work for Prada in New York City?
 
Former male model turned Prada Brand Manager, Andrew Morgan is ready to move on with his life—his wife passed away from cancer fifteen months ago. Even though he and Gwen share an initial fiery spark, getting involved with a co-worker has always been on Andrew’s to-don’t list.
 
The weeks leading up to an L.A. fashion show bring Andrew and Gwen closer to the flame. At night, she dreams of this tall handsome man taking her on his desk. And Andrew is having a hard time keeping his own fantasies under control. But when one of the designers vies for Gwen’s affections, Andrew is awash with jealousy. And out of excuses.
 
After the show, they share an intense, passionate kiss and some killer heavy petting in one of the dressing rooms. And in her bed, Gwen brings out the man Andrew used to be, wild and hungry. But in the afterglow of their bliss, Andrew learns Gwen has been hiding something about her health. Unable to deal with all that pain again, he leaves.
 
During a business trip to Milan, Gwen and Andrew give into the heat still smoldering between them. Then Gwen finds out she’s about to be transferred to Italy. Andrew doesn’t want to hold her back from such a great opportunity, but he can’t live without her. He proposes in hopes of keeping her in New York, with him.
What woman wouldn’t be excited to marry a devilishly handsome man in a Prada wedding gown?
 
 
~~~oOo~~~
 
EXCERPT:
It was a secret Gwen
would keep throughout the day. A secret for her and Andrew to share.

Gwen and Andrew… That did
have a nice ring to it.

“So, he takes up a lot of
oxygen in the room, doesn’t he?” Andrew pushed on one of his knees and stood.

“Salvatore’s all showy
though.” Gwen fingered the skirt and swooshed the fabric back and forth.

“Do you prefer a man who
is more subtle?”

It was the first time
he’d dared to ask her personal preferences for a mate, and before he could
retract his question or dilute it, she said firmly, “Yes, on the surface.” And smoldering underneath. Like you Andrew.

He stepped a few inches
away. “I’m still concerned all the attention will be on you in that dress.” He held his chin, smooth and fresh.

“I was planning on wearing
my hair up.” She gathered a handful of waves and swept them away from her face.
But when he only stared at her bracelets as they clanged together, she let the
bundle fall. “Or—”

“No. No.” The words
caught in his throat. His fingers brushed past her cheek, lifting the hair off
her shoulders again. “This is perfect.”

Yes,
it is perfect.
And he should be kissing her by now.
Those amazing lips, pink and full on hers…and on other parts of her body,
making her feel alive.

His eyes bore into hers,
but he said nothing. Gwen preferred to not
have to make the first move. How would she know if Andrew really wanted her in
the first place, and wasn’t just taking advantage of a willing partner? But how
long could she wait for him, before a crazy impulse took hold of her?

“I guess it’s settled.
I’m wearing my hair up tomorrow,” she whispered, locking eyes with him.

He cleared his throat and
stepped back, letting her hair fall. The weight of so many waves warmed her
skin, even though she preferred the heat coming off his body. She stepped back
as well and slipped into co-worker mode. “Andrew, be honest. Is this dress…too
much? I prefer clothes that are simple and classic. Conservative even.”

“I would call you
classic, Gwen. But not simple. You wear our clothes beautifully.” He ran his
hand over the suit jacket she had draped on a desk chair. “The way they sit on
you tells a story of…of the woman we know other women want to be.”

The compliment left her
breathless. “Thank you, Andrew.”

“No, Gwen. I want to
thank you.” His shoulders softened. “I need you to know, I couldn’t have done
this without you.”

“That’s not true.” She
swiped at eyes she suspected were shiny with tears, she wouldn’t let fall.
Better to be respected as an equal, and not thought of as a weepy lightweight.
“You’ve run plenty of these shows.”

“Yes, and I know what it
takes to pull this off. There was no way I could have done what you’ve done…for
this show.” He ran a hand through his
hair, his wedding band was—gone!

The sight took Gwen’s own
breath away. She twisted her hair to the side, to keep her hands busy. “Did you
want to do one final walk through for tomorrow?”

“No. We’re set.” He bent
down to the pick up the shoebox. His back straightened, emphasizing his
dramatic height.

She moved toward Andrew
to hug him. Immediately there was a different feel to his touch from the night
of their first drink. The night when everything had turned around. And upside
down. His fingers pressed into her skin. His body molded against hers. Oh, the
smell of him, musky and woodsy. Masculine. There it was, his heart, beating
wildly. There was so much of this man, his heart must work so hard to pump his
rich blood through so many veins.

The feel of his grip
softening, meant it was time for her to let go. “Have a good night Andrew.” She
touched his hands and leaned upward for a kiss on the cheek. The edge of his
mouth—warm and tender as she remembered—caught the corner of her lips. Tickle, Tickle went her stomach.

A strand of her long hair
caught in his collar, binding them together for a brief moment. Creating a
bridge that could bring them together…if someone was brave enough to cross.

 

~~~oOo~~~
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
 
Deborah Garland is a former computer and sports journalist, turned romance and women’s fiction author. She likes to write about love and the struggles of complicated relationships. Her heroines are strong, and the heroes fall hard for them. She lives on the North Shore of Long Island with her husband and when she’s not writing, she’s either in the gym, or reading, cuddled up with their two pugs, Zoe and Harley.
 
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~~~oOo~~~
 
GIVEAWAY!
A $10 Roane Publishing Gift Card

 

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use a RoanePublishing.com Gift Code.  No purchase necessary, but you must be 18 or older to enter. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter, and announced on the widget. Winner well be notified by emailed and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Roane Publishing’s marketing department.