My Story of Perseverance: 21 Years and 220 Submissions

Hi everyone! Today I have a special post as part of the Writers Persevere event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate their newest book, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward.

To help them celebrate this release, many of us are posting stories about some of the obstacles we’ve overcome as writers. As we all know, this isn’t an easy path. Writing is hard and as writers we tend to struggle with doubt. Sometimes too, we don’t always get the support we need to follow our passion, or we have added challenges that make writing more difficult. Because people are sharing their stories this week about how they worked through these challenges to keep writing, I wanted to post about it too.

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As of October 11, 2017, I was finally able to say I was a published author. And while newly published, “new author” isn’t a title that fits. I wrote my first novel when I was in junior high, around the age of fourteen. I had to look up how many words even qualified as a novel at the time, and mine was 55k. I subsequently rewrote that novel many times, and my very first recorded submission was in October of 1996. I *might* have been convinced that I’d be one of the youngest successful authors in history. 😉

I’ll do the math for both of us, since I confess I never have. That’s twenty-one years between my first submission and actual publication. It’s more than half of  my life. It’s also around thirteen completed manuscripts, and since 2004, it’s 220 submissions that include queries and requested submissions. In that time, I’ve also gotten married, built my dream house, and had two children.

When I began writing, it was because I loved the idea of story. I loved the scratch of my pen across paper, the feel of the words, the very act of creation. Sometimes in my years of writing and submitting I’ve misplaced that initial love. Sometimes I’ve doubted myself, doubted the possibility of my dream. And in the end, my dream of becoming a published author didn’t come about exactly how I’d imagined. I chose to independently publish when I realized I was letting other people determine my self-worth and the value of my writing, and when I decided that while I still want to be a hybrid author (both traditionally and independently published), perhaps I’d start with indy.

Not that this meant I just threw my work out there – I hired a developmental editor and went through three rounds of editing, rewriting almost three-quarters of the manuscript in the process, because I was determined to put the best work out there possible. I also hired a talented cover artist to make sure my book looked at least as good or better than some traditionally published books. This was neither cheap nor easy, but this was fulfilling my dream: it wasn’t supposed to be.

Over the years, I’ve also used different coping methods to continue to persevere. I’ve made a list of reasons why I can’t just quit which is personal to me, and contains the fact that I don’t want to disappoint either myself–or my children. I’ve made connections with other writers so I don’t feel so alone in this process, because the “process” is so much more than just the journey to publication. I’ve improved my craft, taken workshops, entered contests, found an amazing critique partner, and joined a group of incredible writers who kept me going even on the days I wanted to quit. And I’ve worked hard to remember we all rise together, so that when I feel professional jealousy over someone else’s success, I don’t let that jealousy cause rancor or resentment, but try to turn it into something more positive.

So why am I sharing this story with you today? To gloat? Far from it. I’m writing this today for you, the newbie author, still glorying in the power of words, but also for you, the not-so-new author, still writing, still struggling to fight on, to persevere. And I’m writing to say that I believe in you. I know YOU will find your success story, too. I’ve found one of mine, and I continue to persevere, continue to move toward new goals, and I know that you can, too. I’ve been there. I know it can hurt, I know it can seem so much easier to give up. But you know what? You’re not going to. Because you are a writer. You have a story to tell, and someone out there needs that story. So keep writing. Keep believing. Borrow some faith, ask for some support (I love comments and mail – email or snail-mail!) and I am more than happy to cheer you on. Because you’ve got this. I know you do.

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Do you have a story to share, or some advice for others? You can join Becca and Angela at Writers Helping Writers from October 25-27th, where we are celebrating writers and their stories of perseverance. Stop in, and tell them about a challenge or struggle your faced, or if you like, write a post on your own blog and share it using the hashtag #writerspersevere. Let’s fill social media with your strength and let other writers know that it’s okay to question and have doubts but we shouldn’t let that stop us.

GIVEAWAY ALERT!

There’s a prize vault filled with items that can give your writing career a boost at Writers Helping Writers.

I would love for one of you to win something that will help you get closer to your goal!

The giveaway is only from October 25-27th, so enter asap. And don’t forget to share this using the #writerspersevere hashtag so more prizes will be awarded!

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News, Events, and Forging Ahead!

Hey out there! 🙂 So today, rather than a formal post, I have news to share with you. 

First up: remember the Goodreads Giveaway? Make sure you hurry over and enter, because it will be ending in just a few days! It’s your chance to win a signed print copy of Must Love Plague, and I want YOU to win, okay? 

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/256579-must-love-plague

Next up: I’ve lowered the price on the paperback version. Fellow Canadians especially – this means it’s more affordable for us here in Canada! $12.47 sounds a heck of a lot more reasonable to me, and I hope you agree. 🙂 

Next: I have an author reading / launch party event tomorrow at my local library! I’m both extremely excited, and super nervous. If you happen to be in the Edmonton area and would like to attend, we’d love to have you. 🙂 No pre-registration required, and I’ll be doing a short reading, plus there’ll be snacks and prize draws for a paperback version plus ebook versions. 

Finally: I’ve started a reading group, The Brazen Librarians, over on Facebook. If you’d like to join, my intention is that group could be a fun place where we can talk books, get sneak peeks at my WIPs, maybe even help suggest things you’d like to see. Please hop and over and join (sorry, I tried to find a link for it…but can’t seem to figure that out. Just search “Brazen Librarians” on Facebook, and it comes up pretty quick. 🙂 

Thanks again for stopping by, and I’ll be back to normal / regular posts next week, I promise. Until then, happy reading, happy writing, and remember: there’s always magic in the world if you look hard enough.

Book Giveaway!

It’s pretty exciting, thinking of the book actually getting into the hands of readers, which really, is where books belong. As writers we get to create them, but after that, they belong out in the world. I hope you enjoy Must Love Plague.

And hey! I *might* have forgotten that I have a Goodreads giveaway going on. You could win a signed, print copy of Must Love Plague! Why not enter today?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Must Love Plague by Shelly Chalmers

Must Love Plague

by Shelly Chalmers

Giveaway ends October 20, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Release Day: Coping, Celebrating, & Cheering

Tomorrow my first book will officially have it’s book birthday, and go out into the big old world. It’s a tremendously exciting moment, one I’ve worked toward for years, really since I wrote my first novel back in junior high (yes, really, and no, I don’t think I’ll mention just how long ago that was.) 😉 And while I, like you, might be releasing that first book and there are so many wonderful things about that moment, let’s admit: it can also be pretty darned terrifying, and I don’t think it’s just me feeling that way. 

I *could* go over all the ways it’s terrifying, but that wouldn’t be very nice, would it? Especially if either of us suggest something the other hadn’t thought of yet. 😉 Instead, I wanted to share what I’m doing to celebrate and bring some of the love back to my own book release in hopes that maybe some of those things will work for you, too. 

1) Choice of release date. The first thing I did was plan my book release on my youngest daughter’s birthday, or for another large, personal event. I know, many people (including my husband) have said it was crazy to do so, but I actually did it very intentionally. I have a lot of wonderful and wise friends who have released their books before mine, and I’ve heard about the stress and less-than-wonderful feelings that can sometimes accompany a book release, so I wondered how I might try to avoid some of that. My solution was to try and be busy. It’s my daughter’s second birthday: I HAVE to help her celebrate. I don’t have to stress endlessly about what’s happening (or not happening) to my book. 🙂 I also chose to release my book on a Wednesday, rather than the Tuesday when most traditional houses release their books. And selected October, when I hoped most of my target audience might be have started to settle into routine and be ready for a fun read. 

2) Return the love. Most people look forward to signing their books. For me, I chose to have the proof copy of my first book signed by all the people who have loved and supported me along the journey to first publication. Granted, this page is missing some significant signatures, like my wonderful CP who is miles away, and the amazing Dreamweavers, my group of 2014 Golden Heart sisters. But when I look at those signatures, it reminds me of my family who have believed in me, who have helped me along the way, and it brings some of that love back to a physical copy of my book. It reminds me that my book is made of more than just words and the hard work that went into it – that love is there too. 

3) Remember to Celebrate. Yes, there are a thousand-and-one things I could (and perhaps should) do to promote my work, boos tit out in the world. But amidst that, I also want to take the time to celebrate what I have accomplished with this milestone. See the comment above about planning it on my daughter’s birthday? I’d hoped this would give me further reason to go out and celebrate that day. My daughter and I will both be celebrating a special birthday, and at the very least, I think that deserves a nice lunch out together, don’t you? I think sometimes we’re always looking so far ahead at what we need to do, what we want to accomplish, it’s easy to forget the moment we’re in, to cherish and celebrate that moment. And on release day, after all that it takes to get to that moment, isn’t it worth celebrating it too? I think so. 

4) Borrow some confidence. Feeling kind of shaky about the reception your book will find out in the big ol’ world? Me, too. The world is a big, wonderful place, and there are lots of terrific differences between all of us which contribute to making that world a more interesting place, which means not everyone will love my work, not everyone is my ideal reader, and that’s okay. So on the days when I’m feeling most nervous, my confidence shaken, those are the days to cling to the words of people who ARE excited about your work, who do want to see more. Because inside, I’m pretty sure you (like I) know you’ve got a lot to offer and that this is just the beginning. But when it’s hard to see past the fear, borrow some of that confidence others have in you until your own makes a roaring come-back. 🙂 

5) Write the next book. Yes, I want to celebrate this book heading out into the world. But you know what will help this book and me? Giving that book some siblings to keep it company out there! So, it’s time to work on not just pushing this one book, but also building my career – and that means more than one book! Alas, while I wish I could work on so many different projects at once (and of course, get them all done faster), I have to content myself right now with writing one book at human-speed for now. Which is what I’m doing. And you know what? I’m even more excited about this next book in the series than I was about the first, which makes me more excited to get book one out into the world. After all, readers should find that one first, right? 

So that’s what I’m going to be doing and reminding myself of tomorrow on release day. What about you? Any tips or advice? Need a bit of confidence / a cheer to keep you going? Comment below, and I’m happy to give you one. 🙂 

Otherwise, thanks for stopping by and reading. And remember: there’s always magic in the world if you look hard enough. 

On Tragedy

I’m supposed to be writing blog posts on…well, not entirely sure what, but something upbeat and positive, to hopefully get readers to come and notice my upcoming release. But today, after the horrific events of the weekend that just seem to keep acculmulating? It’s just not possible. 

I simply can’t understand how a person can either blithely ignore the suffering of others and blame all misfortune on those who are suffering, nor can I understand how someone could cause so much suffering, to think they have the right to snuff out the lives of others. My heart aches, for those who have lost so much, for those who continue to suffer, for the state of our civilization that this is somehow considered acceptable.

It would be easy to be angry, to blame someone or something else for what’s happened. Because anger and blame are easier to swallow, and it can feel like we’re accomplishing something by lashing out, finding a reason or person that can be squarely blamed for what’s happened. But really, that’s no better than the person who attacked others out of who-knows-what-reasons. Perhaps they blamed a country / city / culture / whatever for their suffering, and thought somehow by attacking them, it would ease the pain. 

But pain just spreads.

Maybe we need to look within ourselves to discover how our world has come to this. Why we choose the easy path of blaming someone else for our problems instead of taking the harder one, and realizing sometimes we are the cause of our problems. 

Today I want to hide somewhere safe, even while others have not been allowed that luxury. I wish I had an answer for why these things happened, because answers suggest solutions. All I know is that clearly, there isn’t enough love in the world. Self-love and selfishness? Oh, there seem to be plenty of those – but see? There I go blaming an outside force. Us vs them. There is only us. Human. We may look different on the outside, we may have different thoughts and beliefs. But just because we believe one thing over another doesn’t mean anyone else has to. Why can’t we remember better as adults some of the lessons we’re taught as children? Be kind to each other, respect each other, and no one has the right to be a bully. As humans, we’re flawed and broken, and perhaps we always will be–but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to improve, try to make ourselves better.

I don’t know how to ease your suffering today other than by saying remember to share your love. I ache too. Go hug your family and friends. Do kind things for others. Do your part to improve our species and our world, because if everyone was out there trying to bring about kindness, think how different our world could be? 

I truly believe there is magic in our world. Perhaps not always the werewolves and fairies and spells kind, but moments when life reminds us what a beautiful place we live in, how lucky we are to be alive, and the wonderful potential we as a species have. So please, look for those moments, create them. Be the magic in someone else’s world. Make this world a more loving and magical place.

On the Power of Hope and Dreams for Writers

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that in my first book, the acknowledgements section is pretty long. 😉 I also dedicate my book to all the dreamers out there. And the reason for both is very much the same: I was, and am, a dreamer. And without the support of all those people I list in the acknowledgements – plus probably many more I’ve neglected to mention – I wouldn’t have had the power of hope to keep fueling my dreams. 

I do believe that dreams and hope are a writer’s fuel. Yes, we need concrete goals too – we can’t just get away with pretending everything is a lollipop dream where someday things will be perfect (spoiler alert: that’s not reality.) We have hope that we will accomplish our dreams, and sometimes, that’s what carries us. It’s the space between hope and dreams where the hardwork comes in, where we have to set goals, solidify our intention, and get work done. Yet, without hopes and dreams, I wonder at our ability to create whatsoever.

If you think about it, that first story idea you get, heck, the very idea of writing whatsoever, is something of a dream. Perhaps it came to us literally while we slept – or at least the initial concepts of it. Perhaps it’s only the initial stages of the idea of writing a story or an entire novel. We have to be able to conceptualize it first, to have some faraway plateau we’re reaching and striving for – and those are our dreams. They are the seeds of all we will create, and perhaps indeed, all that we will become. 

But let’s face it: it’s a lot easier to just dream of writing a book than actually getting the work done. Even if we do write the book, or perhaps many books, we face rejection, critique, and doubt. Then say we actually get published. Sorry say, but those challenges that hurt before continue to dog us. Sometimes, we will want to give up. Some might even say it would be more sane to give up (because what we do? It’s perhaps not entirely sane in the first place.) 😉 

And that’s where hope comes in.

Hope fuels us, keeps us striving for those dreams, even if (or when) they might be completely ridiculous. Hope makes us certain that somehow, we will get there. Or if not certain, at least still willing to fight. 

And when the really dark times come, that’s when our support network comes in. They lend us their hope. They help shoulder our dreams, and trudge forward, perhaps dragging us along in their wake, even when we’re certain we can’t take another step. They keep pushing, tugging, hauling us forward until we get another glimpse at our dream, another refuel of our hope. That might take the form of a great review or an enthusiastic request. Whatever the case, onward we go again. Still hoping, still dreaming, still creating. 

So if you’re out there, and you’re writing or working toward your dream, whatever it is, remember to fuel your dreams with hope. Remember to borrow some when you’re running short, and whatever the case, to keep moving forward. I’ve dedicated my book to all the dreamers out there with the certainty that if you don’t give up, if you cling to your hope and your dreams, as shifting and changeable as they may, that you will achieve your goals and dreams too. Dream big. Hope furiously. Make your own happy ending. I know you can do it.

Now to you: what do you think? Are dreams and hope linked? If so, how are they linked for you? 

Thanks for reading! Have a great week, and remember: there’s always magic in the world if you look for it. 

Spreading disease isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 

Piper Bane wants nothing to do with her pesky Pestilence bloodline and would give anything to be a Normal. In fact, she put Beckwell–land of the paranormal and home of the weird–in her rear-view ten years ago, and hasn’t been back since. Until an invitation to her best friend’s wedding coaxes her back home and reminds her what it means to continue the legacy of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. She receives a typical Beckwell welcome the second she reaches the city limits where she’s stalked by a toad and wraps her car around a tree. And is rescued by the one person she most wants to avoid: Daniel Quilan. Town doctor, genuine nice guy, and her ex-fiancé.

 

 

Ten years hasn’t been long enough for Daniel Quilan to forget the only woman he’s ever loved. His responsibilities as Beckwell’s only doctor keeps his mind off the hole Piper Bane left in his chest when she broke his heart and skipped town all those years ago. His not-so-ordinary patients and his trouble-making twin brother keep Daniel occupied twenty-four-seven, not to mention magic going haywire throughout town. But his plan to stay busy as the town’s golden boy is shattered when his latest patient turns out to be Piper. How good she looks isn’t his concern. How she still makes fire shoot through his veins isn’t his focus. But the fact that someone wants to end the world and will use Piper to do so……that makes her impossible to ignore.


Buy links: 

Amazon http://hyperurl.co/gz32q5  

Apple http://hyperurl.co/t8ikfb 

Barnes & Noble http://hyperurl.co/9oletm 

Chapters http://hyperurl.co/221yzq 

Kobo http://hyperurl.co/q0dfix 

 

Google http://hyperurl.co/xdwkfg




Magical World

I write this post sitting in my living room using only the light of the windows since the power is out due to a snowstorm, and I can’t help but think: we live in a pretty magical world. And I don’t mean magic like witches and wizards and the paranormal (though those are definitely cool too!), but just this world. Nor do I mean to say we live in a perfect world. But even still, I think we can still take moments to remember that there is magic around us in so many amazing forms.

I’m inside my house, and though the heat is out and it’s just below freezing outside, I’m safe and warm. I mean, technically if the power’s out for any longer, I can light a fire like our ancestors used to have to, but it’s still an option here. Although I live in the country, I can still easily and quickly travel into nearby cities for whatever I need in relative speed and comfort. A tiny device like my phone or tablet can hold entire libraries worth of books and resources, at my fingertips. Although my phoneline is technically down, I can still contact the outside world using my cell.

Heck, thanks to this modern world, we’re being introduced to new ways to publish, share, and make our mark on the world. I no longer have to slave over handwriting versions of a very limited book, nor do I have to seek out a printer, nor a publisher. You don’t have to know me to buy my book, to find out about it. It exists in a nebulous realm of the electronic world where you can push a button, it will be printed, and someone will get it to you, not even at great expense. Think of all those options we have, how much easier our lives have been made with these conveniences and modern marvels, because while we might barely give them any thought, they really are marvels.

I’m using the last of the juice left on my tablet (already used up my laptop’s very sad battery), and I’m writing something that could be seen by someone miles away, in different countries, just minutes after I post it. Before the invention of the telegraph, the fact that you had to physically get something in front of someone for them to see / hear about it was just the way life was. Now, think how much the world has changed even since the prevalance of smart phone has changed our lives and society forever? News can be shared the moment it happens. People I’ve never actually met can hear about me, my little book, my little life so easily via things like social networking, and then there’s the entire world of possibilities that the internet opens up. 

Indeed, yes, there is a darkside to the speed and connectedness our modern society has and the world we live in. But just right now, I want you to imagine the magic. I want you to look for it. Yes, there are terrible things happening in our world all the time, and sadly, there probably always will be. And we need to try to alleviate suffering and do our best to make that world better. But I also believe that means we need to sometimes step back and look for the magic, look for the joy this world has to offer. Because it’s there too, if you remember to look for it. 

So I’m asking you now: what magic can you see in the world around you right now? I love comments. 🙂 

Thanks for reading. And hey, want more magic? I’m starting a newsletter where each month I’ll share 5 magical things I see in my world, and I invite you to share those too. Come visit me at shellychalmers.com to chat, sign up for the blog or my newsletter, or just share some of the magic of the world.

Thanks for stopping by, and remember: there’s always magic in the world if you look hard enough. 

A Dream of a Dream

I can’t really remember how long I’ve dreamed of becoming a published author. At least since junior high when I wrote my first novel which was…well, let’s just say “awhile” ago so I don’t look too old. 😉

But as I prepare to actually launch my first book into the world in…hmm, just under a month today, actually, I’ve thought a lot about what it means achieve that dream. Or if all I’d ever really had was a dream of a dream.

I’ve never been short on imagination, which is probably part of what led me to writing in the first place. So I think I must have had a vision or dream of what it meant to be published. Lots of it was probably deluded, which fortunately isn’t uncommon among new writers. 😉 But as I came to better understand the industry–and that those dreams of huge advance checks, accolades, early success, etc were all fairly unlikely, I started to develop a different vision.

I pictured working with an editor, how I’d always turn in my book on schedule, be easy to work with while still knowing when it was worth disagreeing. I probably wouldn’t be a top author, especially not early on, but I’d slowly keep building my readership and moving up at one publishing house, and then hopefully branch out to others, like self-publishing and becoming a hybrid-author, aided by the business-savvy guidance of my agent.

Confession: I think I felt I needed someone else’s approval before I was able to make my dream a reality. The same kind of approval you get in school, when you get good grades and your parent-teacher nights are mostly them saying nice things about you. And I think I kind of expected / wanted that. That approval would become a kind of validation that yes, my writing was good, someone wanted it–and someone other than friends or people who were otherwise personally associated with me. 😉

Yet, that’s not what happened. I’ve had different marks of validation: I was fortunate enough to final in RWA’s the Golden Heart® Contest. I’d had interest and enthusiasm from agents and editors. But in the end, no sales.  I found I’d reached a point of frustration where it didn’t seem to matter what I did, it was out of my hands. But worse, I was letting outside forces determine the worth of my writing…and my worth.

Fortunately, traditional publishing isn’t the only way to get published these days. And many other authors–excellent writers and braver than me–have turned to independent publishing years before I did, which allowed me to ask them for advice and guidance before diving in myself. All of which allowed me to create a different version of my dream.

Must Love Plague: Sisters of the Apocalypse, Book 1 Available today at all retailers. Amazon Apple  Barnes & Noble  Kobo   Google  Chapters

I still worked with an editor, but it was someone I selected and hired. I still turned in my book on time, but I was mostly turning it in to myself, since I now determined the entire schedule. I didn’t have to wait to see what the art department came up with for my cover, since I decided which artist to hire and we worked together to create a cover I adore.  I formatted my books and put them up for sale. And as of last week, I formatted the print version, and for the first time got excited about my book being in readers’ hands. And holding my printed and bound book in MY hands.

I still want to pursue a traditional publishing path as well, since I still want to be a hybrid author (and not just because it sounds like something cool–half-traditional, half-indy – almost a werewolf!) 😉 I’ve just realized that maybe what I had before was a dream of a dream, with all the naive and indefinite fuzziness that requires. But now I’m moving toward something much more tangible. I’m walking that path instead of just picturing it. And you know what? The sky is clear, the fog is clearing, and I’m feeling pretty good.

Have you ever had that? A dream of a dream that turned out so much differently in reality? I love to read comments. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by to read. And remember: if we look hard enough, there’s always magic in the world.

Paranormal Creature: Fomorian

Today I thought I’d introduce you to one of the creatures from my new series. Unfortunately (and possibly since they’re mythical beasts), I don’t have a great picture or etching for you, so you’ll have to use your imagination, okay?

The beast I want to introduce you to is the Fomorian. I tend to always like adding an extra “r” for some random reason (foRmorian), so you remember not to, okay?

These creatures were originally related to the myth of the Irish Tuatha, what some also associate with the fey / fairies. The Fomorians, though, were far from pretty. They were known as sea-based raiders / warriors, enemies of the Tuatha who had the head of a goat…and sometimes only one leg (nope, I have no idea how fierce they’d be with only one leg either…maybe they hopped really fast?) They could sometimes have wings, and they were not the kind of creature you messed with.

The other theory, and the one I’ve gone with, is the idea that they were some kind of latent / partial demon. Again, probably not the friendliest sort. 😉

Honestly, I’m not quite sure where I first heard about them, (though you can go find them on Wikipedia, and by doing a random Google search – you start to pop up some information, including their use in modern RPGs). But they became the inspiration for the hero and his twin in the first book of my Sisters of the Apocalypse series. Personally, I find the creatures who aren’t very popular, who could potentially be dangerous, but also misunderstood, these are the kinds of roots I want for my characters.

Plus, even better is how little information you find about them, which makes the Fomorians even more intriguing to me. The Tuatha are fairly well-known–and might I add perhaps a bit popular because of their renown beauty?–so what about these warriors they feared? Indeed, they did occasionally intermarry, suggesting too that other than their formidable fighting skill, the Fomorians themselves may have possessed some level of magic.

So, what do you think – are you as intrigued by the Fomorians as I was? Any theories on how they could get around with only one leg? Pop your answer in the comments below.

Otherwise, thanks for stopping by the read. And remember: if you look hard enough, there’s always magic in the world.

Paranormal Romance with a touch of magic, a sense of humor, and a dab of geek.