A Visit With YA Author Tamar Sloan

This is a longer than normal post for me. But it’s well-worth the time to read. Today is the release date for Australian author Tamar Sloan’s YA novel Make it Count. YA readers are going to want to add this novel to their must-read list.

Welcome to Jubilee Writer, Tamar. Congratulations on your new release.  Let me introduce you to my readers before we get started on my questions.

A school psychologist by day, Tamar channels her passion for books into creating young adult stories about discovering life and love beyond our comfort zones. She is the award-winning author of the Prime Prophecy and Touched by Love Series. Tamar is also the author of PsychWriter: where psychology meets writing, a blog that supports and extends writers.

When not reading, writing or working with teens, Tamar can be found with her ever-patient husband and two beautiful sons enjoying country life on their small acreage in the Australian bush.

Tamar finds it deeply rewarding to share her stories and she loves to hear from her readers and fellow lovers of all things book related.

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Tamar, you’re the first Australian author to appear on my blog. And you share my heart for helping other writers. I don’t write YA but I enjoy reading it. Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

Interestingly, I never considered I’d be a writer. As a child I loved to read (I devoured romance novels from the moment I discovered them), but it NEVER occurred to me that I could write one myself. My first book came to me in a dream (so cliché, right?). But it was an idea that wouldn’t go away, which meant I had to go learn how to write… Several months later, with a healthy dose of muttered curse words, my first book of the Prime Prophecy series, was born.

I get the dream revelation. I think a lot of writers can relate. Now, tell us about your latest published project Make it Count.

Make it Count is a young adult contemporary romance, admittedly fueled by a touch of the impossible. It tells the story of impulsive, fun-loving Casey and the ability she was born with – if she touches another person she sees the number of days they have left to live. Casey fakes a phobia to avoid touch, and she convinces herself she’s happy in her isolated, safe little bubble. Until irresistible, motorcycle riding PJ comes along. The chemistry is hot, the sparks fly. And Casey is about to learn how to live a life that counts.

I love the premise. What kind of research was involved in making this story come to life?

Google and I became besties. I had to learn some motocross lingo, explore the theme of ‘you only live once’ and nail the most appropriate group therapy strategies for Make it Count. Google allowed me to do most of that. Apart from that, being a psychologist really helps. I work with young adults every day and get to walk alongside their struggles and triumphs. Those moments weave their way into my books all the time.

A writing what you know experience as a psychologist but so much more. Wonderful. What other inspiration came to you as you formulated this story in your mind.

Make it Count is one of those books that comes to you at 4am and you just know it’s going to be a special story. It started with the seed – what if with one touch, a girl could see how many days a person has to live? Apart from all the heart-wrenching considerations like touching your loved ones, I knew she’s avoid touch at whatever cost. But then PJ arrived, and he was hot, and irresistible. I had to capture their chemistry, and their story.

Now, let’s talk a little about you.

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

This question has made me pause the most. I’m not sure I ever considered my decision to write as a calling. But I suppose the moment you commit the amount of time writers do to their passion it would have to be considered a calling. I think my realization evolved slowly. It was only once I’d published my first book and readers wrote to me of how the story had touched them that I realized I had a talent that was worth sharing with the world.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

I have a framed timbre board in my writing room with Gandhi’s famous quote – ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.’ My dad made it for me, and I aspire to that sentiment every day.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Be prepared for a fabulous roller coaster ride. There will be lows, there will be twists you thought you knew were coming but you really didn’t, and there will be exhilarating highs. How do you prepare for something like that? In some ways you can’t, in other ways you pack your fortitude and resilience, and open yourself up to the joy of the ride.

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Here’s the back-cover copy. Oh so compelling

He’s irresistible…but she’s the one person who knows his days are numbered.

Casey’s touch can reveal the one thing a person would never want to know — the number of days they have left to live.

By the time Casey turns seventeen she’s learnt to withdraw. But the phobia she fakes in order to avoid human contact is sorely tested by hot, persistent, motorcycle riding PJ. For a girl who craves contact, maple eyed PJ is impossible to resist. When the inevitable happens, when hands, bodies and lips collide, Casey sees PJ’s number, one that can only be seen as a cruel twist of fate.

Now she must decide. Will she continue counting the days of her life, or start living a life that counts?

With the memorable writing and humor of writers such as Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun blended with the attitude, chemistry and unexpected plot twists of Katie McGarry’s best sellers, Make it Count is a romance that will leave you swooning and smiling.

Make it Count (ISBN: 978-1-62135-708-7, Clean Reads Publishing) is now available at www.tamarsloan.com and on Amazon,  Barnes & Noble and iBooks.

Because this is the release date for Make it Count let’s share an excerpt for my readers to enjoy.

A few steps down the path I slip the brownie from my sleeve. There’s no way I can wait to get out of the front yard before I taste this square of temptation. I should be sainted right alongside Ari’s grandson for not wolfing down the whole platter.

There’s a mega-sized tree in the front yard, so I head around it, lean back against its bark watching the brownie’s slow approach to my mouth, savouring the moment. I smell the chocolate, the sugar, the awesomeness. I bite down and my eyes flutter closed. Oh. My. Heaven-loving-tastebuds. Galaxies of spun sugar dissolve in my mouth, symphonies drowned out by the roaring in my ears. My body mirrors what’s happening in my mouth; I’m slowly, deliciously melting into a gooey, thick puddle.

The roaring stops.

“If you like my cooking, you’d love how I make breakfast.”

Everything stops. Every cell goes from puddly and quivery to upright and alert. I know that chocolately voice. I’ll never forget that warm, rich timbre.

I open one eye, then two.

PJ is sitting on his motorbike, helmet on his lap, that grin glinting in the sun. He hangs the helmet on a handlebar, swings a long denim leg over and swaggers towards me. And I mean a hip swaying, shoulder swinging swagger that evokes images of yellow-striped, denim-clad butts.

The moment he’s close enough for me to focus on his eyes the brownie turns to bread in my mouth. It could never compete with the symphonies and stars in those molten maple pools.

“They’re a family recipe.”

My brain clicks out of brownie-PJ heaven and into gear. Hang on a sec. I look over my shoulder at the door, the door that was just closed by a woman the colour of brown sugar. I look back to the very white, hot guy in front of me.

“Family?”

The moment PJ stops I take a step back, out of arm’s length, and out of smell’s reach. His eyes narrow ever so slightly as he notes my movement. He crosses his arm. “Yeah, family.”

I wait, but it seems someone else in this town took the course on stubborn silence. Instead he grins again. Man, I wish he’d stop doing that. Here, in the sun, it’s blinding. “I’m flattered.”

I raise a brow.

PJ shrugs, and somehow the movement seems to bring him a millimetre closer. Moving again would be rude and weirdo-whacky so I stay put, choosing to breathe through my mouth.

“It takes some effort to find out where a guy lives.”

My jaw slackens. Ego much?

“Hmmm.” I step to the side and head to his motorbike. “I’m glad you brought a second helmet.”

PJ turns and follows me, I step around the bike, using it as a barrier.

He places a hand on the leather seat. “You wanted to come for a ride?”

Eyes wide with mock shock connect with molten maple. “Don’t you need it for your ego?”

Instead of looking insulted, PJ grins. A wide, teeth-glinting, eye-wrinkling grin. “I think I might; it just got one heck of a hit.”

I cross my arms, glad I can do it safely this time thanks to my Personal Protective Equipment.

PJ brings one hand up to stroke his chin. “So you’re not here to see me.”

“Difficult to imagine, isn’t it?”

“What else would bring you here?”

Those delicious lips twitch. He knows exactly why I’m here. I’m not much of a blusher, but being here, for a therapy group for a phobia I don’t have, wearing the freaky lengths I have to go to avoid touch seems like a pretty good time to blush.

But I didn’t wear a balaclava, so instead, I own it. “I have ablutophobia.”

PJ’s eyes stray to my lips. “Well, it’s not a fear of brownies.”

I resist the urge to lick their suddenly dry surface. “Or the repeated use of pick-up lines.”

PJ chuckles, and it’s a sound that reminds me of crème brûlée, smooth and moreish. “Maybe it’s a phobia of stepping up to a challenge.”

That has me straightening. Everything in my impulsive but necessarily inhibited personality loves a challenge. PJ quirks a brow, and leans forward, placing both hands on the seat. The position pushes his shoulders forward, focuses my attention on those biceps. Mr. Sexy-Comes-Naturally is waiting for me to pick up the gauntlet.

Sensations and sights sharpen. Those molten maple pools watching me. The heat pressing against my body. Those Adonis lips parting on an inhale. The bead of sweat raking down my spine.

I lean forward, and my eyes widen the moment my next sense registers something. A scent, the kind of scent that has your head tilting reflexively, your mouth opening just a touch to see if it will land on your tongue.

I don’t know what amber smells like, but I think this could be it. Woodsy, spicy…tempting…moreish. It’s the kind of smell that makes you wish you could spend more time breathing in than out. One hand reaches out to the red plastic fender rising from the back of the bike. The moment woven cotton presses into my fingertips, rather than smooth plastic warmed by the sun, I stop. It’s all I need to return me to reality.

I take a step back, having to mentally force my nose to follow. PJ was never meant get close enough to smell, because exactly what I thought would happen just happened.

He smells as good as he looks, and I don’t need any more temptation to fight.

I take another step back. “You’ve got the wrong girl, PJ.”

PJ exhales, possibly because of the pent-up tension, but probably out of frustration. “It seems we have one thing in common, Casey.”

With another step back I decide it’s safe to ask. “What’s that?”

PJ straightens, his eyes twinkling. “We both love a challenge.”

I start to walk backwards, shaking my head. “The difference is I can pick a lost cause.”

I turn and start creating even more distance between us. I walk away from hot, sexy, available maple, knowing this is what I need to do. Telling PJ, with everything I can, he’s wasting his time.

“See you at mini motos.”

I keep walking. The tenacity is admirable and flattering, but wasted. “I’m not going.” I call over my shoulder.

“Don’t forget to bring your little brother.”

I shake my head, glad PJ can see that and not my smile. Sure, I love to look, I like the flirting, and I’d love to be someone that could go there.

But PJ is the last person I plan on touching.

 

Alright readers now that you’re hooked here are some links.

Purchase links: https://books2read.com/MakeitCount

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Make-Count-Touched-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B07647LY9W/

Want to visit Tamar and get to know her better?

You can find her at www.tamarsloan.com or on Facebook www.facebook.com.au/tamarsloanwriter or Twitter www.twitter.com/sloantamar. Good reads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36284190-make-it-count

 Thanks so much for stopping by today, Tamar. Hope your release date is everything you hoped it would be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Interview with Dystopian Co-Authors Glenn Turner & Angel Torres

Today is a first for me. I welcome Glenn Turner and Angel Torres to Jubilee Writer. They co-authored The Coming Future, a YA Fantasy. I’ve never had co-authors on my blog so I’m curious about your journey.

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Glenn: I grew up being a reader of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.  I come from a fairly artsy family, and did a wide range of artistic activities, playing Keyboard, Guitar, Saxophone, French Horn, and Clarinet (maybe a few others that I forget now), as well as a bit of drawing and painting. When I was sixteen, I became a Christian, and I noticed in my Christian community that many folks did not approve of my love of fantasy.  So, with plenty of other things to focus on, my affection for that genre grew cold over the years.

Fast forward to my thirties where I had some free time at one of my jobs, and I just felt inspired to write a bit.  So I did.  And as I did, some of the old stories I read as a kid came to mind.  I began looking into fantasy again, and I made a discovery:  the entire Fantasy genre was started by two Christians: J.R.R. Tolkein, and C.S. Lewis, the latter of which was a prominent theologian.  I realized that some Christians that I had been around had wholesale rejected a literary genre that was created by two solid believers.

As I began writing some stories, I encountered Angel Torres at work.  Angel shared some of his work with me, and then asked if I would like to collaborate on a project with him.  So, began The Coming Future. Honestly, I didn’t take it serious at first.  But as we worked on the project together, I got to be like, “Man, this isn’t too bad. It might go somewhere.”

We finished our first draft in 2015, and got about the business of finding an Agent or a Publisher, culminating in Clean Reads accepting our work in January, 2017, and we were published on 6.20.17.

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Angel: I wasn’t much of a reader in my younger days; I was more into sports, friends, and video games. But everything changed in summer of 1998, when I put my hands on a video game that forever changed my life, Final Fantasy VII. My world was opened wide. I’ve always imagined himself being a professional basketball player, but now, my imagination was inspired by role-playing stories from movies and games. I filled up notebook after notebook with stories, but after moving from Puerto Rico to the United States, my creative vision shifted to writing song lyrics and pursuing the American dream. Then, around 2010, I met Glenn.

Tell my readers, about your project.

Glenn: I’d be happy too.

The Coming Future is a coming-of-age story about a young man, Aalok, who doesn’t quite fit into the place he was born in. He lives in a crystal city on a flat planet where the sun rises out of the sea and sets on the other side of the planet. Aalok belongs to the ‘owr clan, which is the clan of light.  But when he reaches the age where members of his clan begin developing abilities congruent with their clan, Aalok’s abilities are largely silent.  Instead, he begins having apocalyptic dreams of a coming disaster. Suspecting that this is a form of his developing ‘owr abilities, Aalok goes to his instructor at the school, and then the Prime Minister of his city, but his dreams are largely ignored; until the disaster actually happens. Aalok then discovers there may be more to events than natural coincidence.

Intermixed within the book are various struggles with school, sports, and girls, much of which are formed out of the authors’ personal experiences and observations of kids today. Angel, at the time of writing, was a youth group director.

This book was a fun write, and is a fun read.  It has elements of steampunk, fantasy, and a hint of dystopian future that should appeal to today’s young adult audience, but one of our reviews from Amazon reads:  While the story is obviously geared to young readers, it was a very enjoyable read for me, a great-grandma.

What kind of research did you do for The Coming Future?

Angel & I read a fair amount of young adult novels and I made a special effort to watch a few Steampunk movies and shows to better understand the genre. There’s something about Steampunk that just seems fun to me. (Editor’s note: Steampunk is history with a twist of modern science. For example: machine guns during the Renaissance period.)

You may not realize it on a first read, but the work is heavily influenced by the Bible. From the names, many of which are from Biblical Hebrew or Greek, to the clans, whose origins can be found in the first chapter of Genesis, there is a strong Biblical influence to the work.

Several other character names were derived from other languages as well.  For instance, the main character, Aalok, means ‘Light of God’ in Hindi, and he is from the clan of light, the ‘owr, which is the Hebrew word for light.

How does co-authoring work?  How do you guys do this together? 

Initially, the process was a little disjointed. Angel and I got together and discussed what we wanted out of a story. Who is our audience? What style?  What kind of ‘magic’ is in the story? What is our main character going to be like? What about supporting characters? The world? We answered and debated those questions a little, and initially, we agreed on most of that.
After that, I sat down and started writing. The first few chapters came out pretty quickly, and what we see now is pretty similar to what came out initially. Then, after 4 chapters or so, Angel began outlining each chapter with ideas that we wanted to put in the chapter, and I would flesh it out.  Most of the time, I included (almost) all of what he wanted, and then added a bit more as I was inspired.  I kind of walked through the story with Aalok, and thought, “What would he encounter next? What logically flows here?”  I also would ask, “How can I create some more conflict?” and I would sometimes think, “We need a new, interesting character here.”

All of the kids in school, with the exception of Tenebris Pruir, a raging nerd, were mostly Angel’s doing. Aalok’s Dad, the instructor from the exile nation/school, and the coach of the domeball team (domeball is similar to soccer, except, well, in a dome) we worked on together.

So our process was (1) work together on the concepts, characters, and setting, (2) Angel outlines, (3) I write out what Angel outlined, (4) Angel reads what I wrote, adds in a few details or things I forgot, or just stuff that would make it cooler, (5) I edit based on Angel’s feedback, (6) I go back to #3 and write out the next chapter.  Repeat infinitum, or at least until we are done!

What Inspired you to write The Coming Future?

Angel & I set out to write a fun book with relatable characters facing issues that teens face.  We wanted to write characters facing problems where they made good and sometimes bad decisions, and then saw the consequences of those decisions.  At the time we wrote the book, Angel served as a Youth Director at his church, and we modeled some of the struggles the characters face off of what he saw in the lives of kids he knew.

I love layered stories that you have to peel back, so within the book, there are multiple mysteries and things that are happening that you may not realize. Then, when you arrive at something that will come out in book 3, you will go back and look at 1, and realize, “oh, that was that the whole time, and I never saw it!”

We were also inspired by our youths and things that we just didn’t get growing up.  One silly example: as a kid, I never understood stretching before playing baseball. Neither does Aalok. He struggles through stretching exercises when playing sports, wondering why he is doing it.   He also finds himself without appropriate equipment for practice, making him a little unsteady and unsure of himself.  These are all things I’ve faced in my youth.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Glenn: I very much love Matthew 6:33 – but seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Growing up, I struggled with anxiety a lot.  Working as a Registered Nurse, I always found myself worrying about what I may have missed or forgotten.  This verse calms me and centers me, allowing me to direct my nervous attention to my God rather than my worries. Now, twenty years later, I find that God has given me grace to embrace this verse, and freed me from the worries of my youth.

Angel: My favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” God knows the plan that he has for me and by walking beside him, reading his word, gaining his wisdom and learning perseverance, I always find the love and joy that only he can provide}

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing? 

Glenn: I think much of my focus is self-motivated.  I feel like I have stories living inside me that want to come out!  In my work environment, I will sometimes have an hour or two of dead time without any responsibilities, so I use it to write.  But if I had to select some sort of muse, I would say it comes from conversations I have with my friend, Marc, whom I will be releasing a book and game with in 2019.  I am often excited about writing after chatting with him.

Angel: My best support system to keep me focused on writing is music. My passion and love for music has always been a core value towards the imagination to create stories just like The Coming Future.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Glenn: I love the fantasy genre.  Good ole swords and sorcery and saving the world.  I have enjoyed some urban fantasy as well.

Angel: I love everything in the young-adult fantasy genre.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Glenn: I dunno. I have a romantic image of myself writing in Medard Park in Dover, FL, but I haven’t gotten around to actually doing it yet.  Plus, I’m in the middle of July right now, and it feels like 100 degrees. I think my current favorite is on the back patio, overlooking some trees and, presently, a pond (though it dries up in winter).  It’s very peaceful.

Angel I love to write and get ideas in small close places, like my closet or even in the bathroom. Headphones, music and an open imagination.

Do you listen to anything while writing? 

Glenn: Hmmm… I don’t mind silence.  I like the sounds of nature.  But I also like a Pandora station I made that plays instrumental movie soundtracks.

Angel  I like to listen to instrumental music, like movie soundtracks and instrumental bands like “Hammock”.

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Back-cover blurb for The Coming Future

Living in a crystal city on a flat world, Aalok Collins is an ordinary boy living in an extraordinary place. But Aalok fears that he is a little too ordinary.

All Aalok cares about, besides playing domeball, and, much to his surprise, girls, is his final exam which will determine whether or not he can move on to the Academy next year, or whether he is forced into slavery or exile.  But as he waits on nature to develop within him the powers, or anima that all in his clan possess, he is haunted by dreams of an imminent tragedy.

As he begins exploring the meaning of his dreams, Aalok encounters a plot to take control of an ancient artifact which could change the base of power in the city of Sherendot, and possibly throughout the ‘owr clan.

About the Authors:

Turner & Torres is comprised of Glenn D. Turner & Angel Torres, who met at work at a doctor’s office around 2010. Sharing a love of writing, they began getting together at lunch to comprise a story that young adults could enjoy with characters that readers would be able relate to.

Glenn has some additional writing projects that he is noodling with that may be put into print someday. He deeply adores his wife and four children, and is trying to learn how to play nice with others.

Angel, too, is a dedicated family man who lives in the Tampa Bay area, working in the medical field.  He is excited about the Coming World, Turner & Torres’ second installment of the Aalok Collins series.

Thanks for stopping by, guys. Sounds like a fun adventure in store for your readers.

Click the title to purchase The Coming Future.

 

 

Interview with Douglas Cornelius Author of The Baker’s Daughter

Today I’ve invited another Jubilee Writer to share his story with us. Retirement can be a great time to write the novel of your heart. Douglas Cornelius has some helpful insights for novice writers. Thanks for joining me, let’s get right to it, shall we.

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Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

I must admit I am not someone who “always wanted to be a writer.” Yes, I enjoyed writing throughout a long business career. Then as retirement approached, writing for fun became an interesting challenge. I hooked up with a writers’ group at my church (Church of the Open Door, Maple Gove, MN) and felt called to a writers’ conference (’14 Colorado CWC). That’s when I found myself determined to become a writer. I was attracted to a certain niche genre: YA Christian historical fiction (that would hopefully also appeal to a wider spectrum of readers).

 

What is your latest published project?

The Baker’s Daughter under the LPC imprint was finally birthed on Feb. 1st of this year. It’s about teens using their faith in WW II Berlin to triumph over Nazi evil. It appears to be off to a good start. It’s exciting to get instant feedback from Amazon. (I’m also following up with a self-published teen piece from the Renaissance period: Da Vinci’s Disciples.)

How do you research for your books?

I’ll start by reading some other acclaimed books from the era I’m writing about. In the case of The Baker’s Daughter, I tried to digest Metaxas’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Moorhouse’s Berlin at War, and Frossard’s Forget Not Love, among others. Then I supplemented with internet research as needed.

 

What inspired you to write your book?

I believe God wanted to do a good work in me, so the Ken Burns documentary on WW II and a Great Courses piece on Christian martyrs combined to point me to my story. I wanted to focus on how a person might get to the ultimate form of love, sacrificial Christ-like love, as exhibited by the martyrs, Bonhoeffer and Kolbe—the latter giving his life for another in a concentration camp. I was intent on weaving them into the story while showcasing their love as an extension of God’s unconditional love. I also felt the stresses of wartime provided ample opportunity to create conflict, both external and internal.

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Click on cover to order

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

With the book theme about God’s love, I chose to make my blog about “Love Lived Large.” So, the scripture I cherish goes back to how it all started: “We love because God first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

 

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Remembering that God’s timeline is different from mine. I would advise young writers to set some personal goals, stay focused, and pray that God will lead you past the bumps in the road, in His time. I also highly recommend going to a conference to begin making connections.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My writers’ group at church has been invaluable as a means of consistent feedback, as well as keeping me on track.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Every once in a while, I like to pick up a delightful mid-grade book such as one I’m currently reading, The Land of Beyond Belief.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I have a comfortable wicker chair in a sunroom with big windows. The peace seems to override any distractions.

More about Douglas:

Douglas P. Cornelius is a life-long resident of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. He started writing historical fiction after retiring from careers at Target, American Express, and 3M. When not writing, he enjoys spending time with his wife, two children, three amazing grandchildren, complacent old dog, and frolicsome new cat Selah. The Baker’s Daughter is his debut Christian novel, one in which he hopes to inspire readers to reflect on God’s unconditional love while experiencing the challenges of confronting evil at a critical time in history.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/douglas.cornelius.96

Website: http://www.dpcornelius.com/

Twitter: @DPCBooks

Amazon Ordering: https://www.amazon.com/Bakers-Daughter-Braving-Evil-Berlin-ebook/dp/B01N1V2YB0/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496258309&sr=1-2&keywords=the+bakers+daughter

Douglas, thanks for visiting Jubilee Writer. The Baker’s Daughter sounds intriguing.

Readers if you have any questions for Douglas ask them in the comments. And if you purchase his book and enjoy it. Please post a review. Reviews are the life blood of authors. 🙂

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