Who’s That Indie Author? Allan Hudson

Author Name: Allan Hudson 

Genre: Fiction – Action/Adventure, Historical

Books: Drake Alexander Adventure series – Dark Side of a Promise, Wall of War & Vigilantes. Jo Naylor adventure series – Shattered Figurine & Shattered Lives. A collection of short stories – A Box of Memories and historical fiction- The Alexanders 1911 – 1920.

Brief bio: I live on the east coast of Canada in the province of NB with my wife Gloria. Retired from a mixed career of woodworking and jewellery sales. I have a loving family and consider myself a very lucky man.

What got you started as a writer? Being an avid reader, I always wanted to write my own stories. When I discovered Bryce Courtenay’s wonderful books and the fact he only started writing in his mid -fifties, it was all the encouragement I needed. I haven’t looked back since.

What difficult experience has helped you as a writer? Once my first manuscript was finished, I didn’t know where to turn and the amount of information available was overwhelming. Not sure of where to go next, I discovered self-publishing and I couldn’t be happier with the path I’ve taken, but it was a difficult decision to make in the beginning.

Have you ever participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? If so, how many times and what was your experience? No I have not.

What advice would you give a new indie author hoping to publish a book? I would advise them to tread carefully on what so many companies promise in publishing your book and the high prices they charge. Best to join a writer’s group or befriend other authors for their help. They’ve been through what new authors are experiencing and can offer valuable advice.

What has been the biggest challenge for you during Covid?  No major challenges other than being safe and protecting myself and family. The best part of the isolation was the time to write.

What are you reading right now? I am reading Agent Zigzag by Ben MacIntyre. A true account of a British spy during World War 2.

Would you rather laugh or cry over a book? Both actually. I love that the written word can make me emotional, one way or another.

Have you ever climbed a tree to read a book? I have in fact. Being a reader since I could hold a book, I once built a platform in a tree near my house in the country and used to crawl up there with a bottle of Pepsi and crackers and a Hardy Boys detective book.

Have you ever dropped a book in the tub, in a pool or in the ocean?  Fortunately not.

Could you live in a tiny house? Sure. As long as there is room for my favorite books and a place to cuddle with my wife.

What are the small things that make you happy? Chocolate cake. Love notes from my wife. Puppies and kittens. Post-it-notes. Completed to-do lists. Pencils. And my favorite coffee mug.

Website and social media links:
Blog: southbranchscribbler.com
Facebook: @southbranchscribbler
Goodreads: goodreads.com/allanhudson
Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ps2yfpzp


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Book Review: The Address by Fiona Davis

The Address
by
Fiona Davis

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve always enjoyed reading stories set in New York and have been meaning to read The Address for a long time. In this 2017 novel by Fiona Davis, Sara Smythe and Bailey Camden live in New York, one hundred years apart. They are connected in indeterminate ways to the 1885 murder of the fictional architect Theodore Camden. Set in 1884 and 1984, their narratives revolve around the famous Dakota, an apartment building in New York.

The Dakota is a real place. Located on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, its tenants include famous musicians, artists and actors. It’s also where John Lennon was murdered in 1980. When it first opened in 1884, the Dakota was actually in a remote part of NYC, if you can believe it. Designed to attract the newly wealthy, the building opened its doors to a full staff and plenty of luxuries.

Sara’s story begins in 1884 when Theodore Camden recruits her from the London Langham Hotel to become the first managerette (how do you like that job title?) of the Dakota. Unmarried and in her thirties, Sara works as the head housekeeper. She’s ready for a change, however and drawn to Theodore’s charms, despite the fact that he’s married with three young children. In a bold decision, Sara quits her job and crosses the Atlantic to start a new life during New York’s gilded age. She lives at the Dakota and confidently manages a large staff of housekeepers, porters, maintenance crew and the tenants’ maids. Unable to resist their mutual attractions, Theo and Sara begin an affair that leads to Theo’s ultimate death and the end of Sara’s career.

Jumping to 1984, interior designer Bailey Camden must rebuild her life after a struggle with drugs and alcohol. Out of rehab and jobless, she visits her wealthy cousin Melinda Camden, who lives at the Dakota, in the same apartment where Theo was murdered. Bailey’s family connection to the wealthy Camdens began when her grandfather became Theodore Camden’s ward. Melinda will soon inherit trust money, but Bailey, whose family has learned to live without, will not. In a gesture of seemingly good will, Melinda hires Bailey to redesign her apartment and agrees to let her live there until she gets on her feet. When Bailey discovers personal items belonging to Sara and Theo’s family, she will soon learn more about the affair and just how she fits into the Camden lineage.

I enjoyed this novel which is part mystery and part historical fiction. Davis explores the messy themes of money, class, inheritance and family and entertains the reader with images of New York’s upper and working classes and the city’s development and its varied architecture. In addition, a special appearance by investigative journalist Nellie Bly provides an up-close look at the horrors of Blackwell Island’s Insane Asylum. I recommend The Address to fans of New York stories as well as readers who like historical fiction, interesting characters and themes of money and class.

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Book Review: We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet

We Must Be Brave
by
Frances Liardet

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

This historical novel is set during World War II near Southampton, England and follows the story of Ellen Parr, a woman whose strong thoughts about motherhood are tested when she and her husband, Selwyn take in a young girl who has lost her mother.

The story begins in 1940 during the aftermath of a German bombing when Ellen discovers five-year-old Pamela asleep in the back of an evacuation bus. Ellen brings the girl back to their home in the fictional village of Upton where they have offered shelter to other evacuees.

Offering temporary shelter is one thing, but as time passes and no relatives come forward, Ellen becomes emotionally attached to Pamela. Married just one year, Ellen and Selwyn must confront conflicting feelings about family and parenthood. Selwyn, forty-one and a veteran of the Great War, believed they would not have a family, choosing instead to run the mill he inherited from his uncle. Ellen, still very young, was only eighteen when she first met Selwyn and had just landed on her feet. As a girl, she had endured tragedy, poverty and loss. Now at twenty-one, Ellen has agreed with Selwyn. No children. But Pamela pulls her heartstrings and Ellen sees endearing traits of fatherhood in her husband. So maybe things could be different…

Of course, the inevitable happens and Ellen must choose what’s best for Pamela over her own feelings. But these feelings haunt her and, over decades become a problem that seems impossible to fix.

Parenthood, especially motherhood and “what life is meant to be” are the central themes in this story that spans over eighty years. Told mostly through Ellen’s point of view, the author returns to 1932 and provides the reader with Ellen’s back story. Letters and jumps to the future fill the reader in on the full story, which comes to a neatly tied-up, though somewhat unsatisfying conclusion.

I enjoyed this book, though at 452 pages, seemed overly long with repetitive descriptions of Ellen and Pamela’s connection. The author introduces many characters, who over the years become Ellen’s lifelong friends. I liked reading about her friendship with various villagers, including her friend and former classmate, Lucy Horne, Lady Brock, who lives in the grand Upton Hall and William Kennett, Lady Brock’s benevolent gardener. The World War II backdrop is always interesting to me, but does not play into the story much except to frame it. Fans of historical fiction may want to give it a try. I’d call this a light historical fiction, good for casual reading.

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What’s That Book? In the Night of Time by Antonio Muňoz Molina

In memory of my brother Rick who passed away on August 9, I’d like to share this review he wrote for my blog, originally published in 2016.

Title: In the Night of Time

Author: Antonio Muňoz Molina

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What’s it about? The outset of the Spanish Civil War, as seen through the eyes and experiences of a married, middle-aged architect with 2 children, and his affair with a younger American woman. By the end of the story, Spain is mired in senseless violence and the main character has escaped to New York alone, with his estranged wife and children remaining somewhere in Spain, the affair ended and the future uncertain.

How did you hear about it? Several “best of” book lists. The book has received many favorable reviews.

Closing comments: Rich with detailed descriptions, the book is highly effective in conveying through small incidents, minor characters and specific observations a depressing impression of the Republic, the Nationalists, their respective supporters and an entire people and nation sinking into an abyss, while at the same time telling an ambiguous story of a man expanding his personal experience while betraying his wife and children. The book is beautifully translated from Spanish by Edith Grossman.

Contributor: Rick

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Who’s That Indie Author? Tammy Pasterick

Author Name: Tammy Pasterick

Genre: Historical Fiction

Book: Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash

Brief bio: I began my career as an investigator with the National Labor Relations Board after graduating from Penn State and later studied German language and literature at the University of Delaware. When I decided to stay at home full-time with my children, I began writing fiction.

What got you started as a writer? I wrote constantly when I was on my high school’s yearbook staff and also while I was a student of German. When my youngest went to kindergarten, I started a genealogy project that took on a life of its own and became a novel.

What difficult experience has helped you as a writer? Parenting two very different children has helped me become a more empathetic person and has taught me many valuable lessons about human nature. Understanding people is the key to creating complex, believable characters. 

Have you ever participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? If so, how many times and what was your experience? I haven’t yet. It’s on my bucket list.

What advice would you give a new indie author hoping to publish a book? Query agents for at least a year before you approach an indie press or self-publish. I received so much helpful feedback while querying and ended up making major revisions to my novel. All those rejections helped me grow as a writer.

What has been the biggest challenge for you during Covid? The biggest challenge was having my husband and kids at home. I’m used to writing in a very quiet house with my dog at my feet, so I got very little accomplished during quarantine.

What are you reading right now? I’m reading The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff and listening to The Dutch House by Ann Patchett.

Would you rather laugh or cry over a book?  I’m always up for a good cry.

Have you ever climbed a tree to read a book? Yes! When I was in elementary and middle school, I used to read in trees all the time, but only on the low branches. I have a fear of heights.

Have you ever dropped a book in the tub, in a pool or in the ocean? I have never dropped a book in the water, but the wind blew my favorite bookmark into the pool just a few weeks ago. It’s a drawing of Jabba the Hut and Salacious Crumb that my son made for me when he was ten and thoroughy obsessed with Star Wars. Luckily, I fished the bookmark out with a skimmer before it sustained any real damage.

Could you live in a tiny house? I could probably live in a tiny house if I only had to share it with my dog.

What are the small things that make you happy? Snow, cherry blossoms, pumpkins, and dogs always put a smile on my face, but nothing beats watching my kids play baseball and soccer.

Website and social media links:
Website: www.tammypasterick.com
Facebook: @authortammypasterick
Twitter: @TammyPasterick
Instagram: @authortammypasterick


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Book Review: Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

Florence Adler Swims Forever
by
Rachel Beanland

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I decided to read this right away after announcing it was on my radar. What I didn’t know then is that Beanland’s debut historical novel is based on a true family story about the author’s great-great-aunt, Florence Lowenthal.

Florence Lowenthal grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and dreamed of swimming the English Channel. Although a strong swimmer, she drowned in the summer of 1929 off the coast of Atlantic City. At the time, Florence’s sister was pregnant and in the hospital on bedrest, after losing a baby boy. Their mother insisted they keep Florence’s death a secret until after the baby was born. Beanland used these events to write her story. She created additional characters to add historical content.

In Beanland’s story, the Adlers are a Jewish family and Florence is the younger daughter. Her older sister, Fannie is in the hospital on bedrest. During this time, her daughter, seven-year-old Gussie Feldman, lives with the grandparents while Fannie’s husband, Isaac, who works for the Adler family business, stays at their apartment. A young woman named Anna Epstein also lives with the family. Joseph Adler has sponsored her to come to America from Germany, to escape Hitler’s alarming restrictions on Jews living in Germany. Anna’s parents hope to join their daughter, but they face a multitude of nonsensical requirements and time is running out.

Like the real Lowenthal mother, Esther Adler insists on keeping Florence’s death quiet so that Fannie will deliver a healthy baby. During these months, we learn about other family secrets, especially between Joseph and Esther, and the reason Anna has come to stay with them. Isaac Feldman also plays an important part of the story. Beanland throws in a nice romance as well as a few moral dilemmas.

One of the best parts of the book is its setting and the author’s description of Atlantic City’s sights and sounds. Although completely unrelated in plot and character, it reminded me of the HBO show Boardwalk Empire and I was easily able to picture Atlantic City during these times.

I enjoyed reading Florence Adler Swims Forever, although I thought the story was a little flat at times. The first half reads like a Young Adult novel, but transitions to more mature themes in the second half. I liked how several characters had to make important and bold decisions that affect the Adler family.

This is a fast read and great for fans of historical fiction. Although the end lacked a lot of details, it gave me space to imagine how the characters are doing. I look forward to seeing more books by this author.

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Book on my radar – Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

I have this book on my Kindle and I’ve been trying to get to it. My work friend recommended it and now I’m just going to have to make it happen! It’s the Winner of the 2020 National Jewish Book Award for Debut Fiction and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

“Over the course of one summer that begins with a shocking tragedy, three generations of the Adler family grapple with heartbreak, romance, and the weight of family secrets.

Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to vacationers escaping to “America’s Playground” and move into the small apartment above their bakery. This is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence. Now Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams.

When tragedy strikes, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal after tragedy.”

In case you don’t know, “America’s Playground” refers to Atlantic City. (I wouldn’t have known that unless my work friend had told me.)

I like historical fiction and stories about secrets. It seems to have an original twist to it too. What do you think? Would you read it?

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Who’s That Indie Author? Margaret Rodenberg

Margaret Rodenberg

Author Name: Margaret Rodenberg

Genre: Historical Fiction

Book: Finding Napoleon – it’s based partly on Napoleon Bonaparte’s own attempt to write a novel and costars his little-known last love, Albine de Montholon.

Are you a full-time author? If not, what’s your side gig? I’m an escapee from the business world who’s thrilled to be a full-time author.

Favorite author/books: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald are three perfect novels that I reread every few years. For more recent releases, I loved Stephanie Dray’s The Women of Chateau Lafayette, Louis Bayard’s Courting Mr. Lincoln, and Emily St John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel.

What experiences or people have influenced your writing the most? I lived in France as a young teen, which sparked my passion for travel, history, and language. Plus, I come from a bookish family and took it for granted that I’d write novels.

Do you keep a writing journal and if so, how do you use it? No, but during my travels, I jot down notes, collect mementos, and take a ton of photos.

Do you belong to a writers’ group? If so, describe your experience: When I was starting out, I lucked into a supportive circle of talented women writers. We met in person every three weeks for ten years. I still have a weekly check-in with one of them, and others read drafts for me. I also have a remote group of insightful writers whose monthly critiques are invaluable.

Are you up with the sun or do you burn the midnight oil? I prefer a leisurely awakening so midmorning coffee to midnight oil are best for me.

How do you get over a writing slump? I don’t have “slumps” so much as distractions. When I do get frustrated with a project, I switch to a different aspect of the work—marketing, researching, or organizing—or to a different section of the manuscript.

Do you prefer writing dialogue or descriptive passages? Oh, I love dialogue—that’s where the drama happens. Plus, I’m a theatre buff, so I like the talky stuff.

What are you working on now? A French Revolution-era dystopian novel about social justice that speaks to our time.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about writing and publishing a book? Do it! But make the writing itself—the immense intellectual gratification—your primary reward. Be realistic about the publishing industry and the financial rewards.

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which podcasts do you find the most interesting? I listen to reruns of the day’s cable news shows, book podcasts such as write-minded, The NYT Book Review or Book Riot, and French and Spanish language lessons. Mostly, I listen to audio books.

Favorite escape: Going anywhere with my husband. We’re as happy in a Paris art museum as we are kayaking in British Columbia or hiking in our local national park.

Have you ever tried Kombucha tea? Yes, but I’m not an enthusiast.

Do you prefer a couch with pillows or no pillows? If the couch is deep, I want a pillow for support, but, please, don’t surround me with  them.

Would you rather rake leaves, shovel snow or weed? Shoveling snow on a clear, crisp day. Love the invigorating workout!

Favorite mask – disposable paper, plain fabric, colorful print or something else? I recently bought an adjustable gaiter with a slot for disposable filters (double ‘em up!) that I really like.

Biggest writing challenge since Covid-19: Initially, I had difficulty focusing, because I was anxious about the future. Now, I burrow into my writing and try to forget the outside world.

Website and social media links:
Website: margaretrodenberg.com
Facebook Author Page: @MargaretRodenberg.author
Instagram: margaretrodenberg
Twitter: @MargaretRodenberg
Email: margaret@mrodenberg.com


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What’s That Book? A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Welcome to What’s That Book, sharing book recommendations from readers and bloggers. Today’s guest reviewer is Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Title: A Gentleman in Moscow        

Author: Amor Towles

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What’s it about?  This book tells the story of the journey of the Bolsheviks and the Russian people from the Russian Revolution in 1917 to 1954 through the eyes of Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, who becomes an ex-person, namely, a person who was previously a member of the Russian aristocracy.

Alexander was raised on an estate in Nizhny Novgorod province. His parents died when he was ten years old and he and his sister, Helena, were raised by his grandmother, the Countess. After the revolution in 1917 and the assassination of the Tsar, Alexander, who has been in exile in France due to rash and hot-headed behavior in his early 20s, returns to Russian to help his grandmother leave and go into exile in France. Alexander decides to remain in Russia and takes up permanent residence in the hotel Metropol in Moscow, across the road from the Kremlin.

Four years later, in 1922, Alexander is called before a tribunal of the Bolsheviks and sentenced to house arrest for life in the hotel because he had written a poem with a revolutionary subtext. Alexander believes the writing of this poem saved his life, although the Bolsheviks who questioned him are disappointed that he seems to have subsequently lost his purpose and ambition.

Alexander is forced to move out of his palatial suite of rooms and into rooms in the attic which were originally built to accommodate the servants of the gentry who were staying at the hotel.

Alexander’s journey of adjustment to his new circumstances as an ex-person begins and he finds the lack of freedom and the changes in the hotel under the new Bolshevik administration hard to bear. Alexander’s circumstances take a turn for the better when he meets Nina, the nine-year-old daughter of a Bolshevik leader and learns how to make the most of his life and situation.

Through his relationships with Nina, a movie star called, Anna Urbanova, who becomes his love interest, and interactions with his University friend, Mishka, Alexander stays abreast of life outside of the Metropol Hotel and the changes that are being implemented in Russian society under the new regime. Ultimately, his friendship with Nina has a far greater impact on his life than he could have ever imagined.

How did you hear about it?  I had not heard of this book which was recommended to me by a blogging friend who had recently read it. I must be honest, I am wondering how I have gone through such a large portion of my life without reading this amazing book, or even hearing about it.

Closing comments:  There are some powerful themes in A Gentleman in Moscow. I have identified them below with an appropriate quote to demonstrate how the them asserts itself in the book:

Change and adaptation: “For the times do, in fact, change. They change relentlessly. Inevitably. Inventively. And as they change, they set into bright relief not only outmoded honorifics and hunting horns, but silver summoners and mother-of-pearl opera glasses and all manner of carefully crafted things that have outlived their usefulness.”

Friendship, Family and Love: “This is where we part. Remember: down another flight and out the black metal door. Naturally, it would be best if you never mentioned to anyone that either of us were here.”

“Osip, I don’t know how to repay you.”

“Alexander,” he said with a smile, “you have been at my service for over fifteen years. It is a pleasure for once to be at yours.” Then he was gone.

Chance, Luck and Fate: “Suffice it to say that once the Count’s clothes had been gathered, the curtains were dutifully drawn. What’s more, before he had tiptoed to the door half dressed, he took a moment to ensure that the actress’s ivory blouse had been picked off the floor and hung on its hanger. After all, as the Count himself had observed just hours before: the best-bred dogs belong in the surest hands.”

Bolshevism and Class Struggle: “For pomp is a tenacious force. And a wily one too.

How humbly it bows its head as the emperor is dragged down the steps and tossed in the street. But then, having quietly bided its time, while helping the newly appointed leader on with his jacket, it compliments his appearance and suggests the wearing of a medal or two.”

Contributor:  Roberta Eaton Cheadle is an author of children’s books, historical fiction, horror and short fiction. She’s also an active WordPress blogger. You can find her at the following sites:

Website: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/
Blogs: Robbie’s Inspiration and Roberta Writes
Twitter:  @RobertaEaton17
Facebook: @robertawrites


Have you read something good?  Want to talk about it? Consider being a contributor to What’s That Book.

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Who’s That Indie Author? Lorelei Brush

Lorelei Brush

Author Name: Lorelei Brush

Genre: I write both Upmarket Women’s Fiction and Historical Fiction.

Books: Uncovering is my debut novel. Its story: When the head of her Pakistani family slips from fundamentalism to terrorism, young nurse Shahnaz struggles between her religion, which prizes obedience, and her passion to help pregnant women deliver healthy babies. Her saga uncovers the power of women in a society ordered by men.

My second novel, Chasing the American Dream, is set in 1955 Cleveland. David’s gaze catches the martial stride of a brutal ex-S.S. Major he’d sent to Nuremberg. David reverts to habits he mastered in the Office of Strategic Services in a quest for justice yet finds himself in a fight with the U.S. government which threatens his own American dream.

Are you a full-time author? If not, what’s your side gig? I’m retired from international development work and embrace the pleasures of writing fiction.

Favorite author/books: I love Kristin Hannah, Susan Meissner, and Kate Quinn and inhale their novels as they are released. I regularly return to Georgette Heyer and Dick Francis.

What experiences or people have influenced your writing the most? My professional editor Holly and a diverse writers’ group.

Do you keep a writing journal and if so, how do you use it? I write down ideas, critiques from my writers group meetings, and research findings.

Do you belong to a writers’ group? If so, describe your experience: I started with 8 others who had taken a year-long course to draft a novel. We pushed each another to decide if the book was worth finishing or not. Three of us are now published. Currently, I work with one other writer to perfect new work and create publicity for the published novels.

Are you up with the sun or do you burn the midnight oil? Up with the sun!

How do you get over a writing slump? I take myself to task: What’s stopping me? Often, it’s an issue I can’t resolve but research can.

Do you prefer writing dialogue or descriptive passages? Dialogue. I can see the scene in my head, shift from the persona on one character into another, and play out the action.

What are you working on now? Dancing in the Moonlight, a story of a young family struggling with their child’s disabilities.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about writing and publishing a book? (1) Spend time on learning your craft. Writing fiction is different from your day job. (2) Find a writers’ group.

Do you listen to podcasts? Only rarely.

Favorite escape: Hiking in Colorado!

Have you ever tried Kombucha tea? No.

Do you prefer a couch with pillows or no pillows? None.

Would you rather rake leaves, shovel snow or weed?  Shovel snow. Love the cold.

Favorite mask? Paper. It’s OK if I lose it.

Biggest writing challenge since Covid-19: Being stuck at home!

Website and social media links:
Website: www.LoreleiBrush.com
Facebook: Author – Lorelei Brush


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