Books

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Interview with children´s author Abiola Bello

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-What inspired you to become a children´s book author?

I wanted to be an author since I was about 11 years old. I would write stories but never thought of it as a ‘job’ until my English teacher in Year 7 told me to become an author. It had never crossed my mind! I just loved to write and create stories.

-Do you consider it more difficult than other genres? (If so why?)

My first two books are fantasy. I have an active imagination and so do children so I find it really easy. I mean it’s my own rules lol. With YA it’s more about the voice of the characters. I’m probably biased but I think children’s/YA it’s the best age group and I love writing fantasy. I just wrote a fiction YA book and I found that really hard to write. It was freeing  in a way because the characters were older but with fantasy I can just let my imagination run wild.

-Have you created a special character? Can you introduce this character to us?

My special charter is Emily Knight. She’s a feisty, 13 year old warrior who can battle, fly and breathe underwater. She’s the daughter of a heroic warrior and the press’s favourite problem child.  She attends the prestigious Osaki Training School for young warriors and struggles to step into the shoes of her famous family. Emily Knight is an inspirational, strong, black female, young protagonist. She goes against the grain, breaks boundaries, questions who she is ‘destined to be’ in the eyes of others and fulfils her own dreams and goals. 

Emily Knight I am

 -Which of your books did you enjoy writing most and why?

Definitely the second Emily Knight book (Emily Knight I am…Awakened) I think the first books in a series is more about introducing your world. The second book, you can really take it up a notch and because the characters are older, I can create more relationships.

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-For what age group would you recommend your books?

The first book Emily Knight I am… is for 9-12 year olds and Emily Knight I am…Awakened is for 10-14 year olds.

-Is there a particular author that has inspired you in your journey as a writer?

Growing up I was obsessed with Judy Blume. Her books just taught me so much about being a girl and growing up. I remember thinking I wanted other kids to feel this way when reading my books.

-What can we expect from you in 2018?

I have a YA book about four friends who join a street dance group and how it affects their relationships. That will be out soon and of course the last Emily Knight book. I may release a pop up blog in August (http://emilyknightwarriors.blogspot.co.uk) I started an Emily Knight Warriors pop-up book, in 2015 which went viral when it was gradually released online throughout the month of August. It’s just a way for the fans to learn more about the back story of a character.

Website: www.a-bello.com

Links for books:

Emily Knight I am… https://www.amazon.co.uk/Emily-Knight-I-am-Bello/dp/0995780609/ref=pd_sbs_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=W6W5FT7DNSCFZ09J90FB

Emily Knight I am…Awakened https://www.amazon.co.uk/Emily-Knight-I-am-Awakened/dp/0995780641/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516148759&sr=1-1&keywords=emily+knight+i+am+awakened

Instagram: @abiolabello @emilyknightiam

Twitter: @EmilyKnightIAM

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Children´s Author of the week :Jane Wilson-Howarth

All the way from Nepal…

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-What inspired you to become a children´s book author?

I have written children books but I’m not sure if I see myself as a children’s author. I am an author who has written children’s books. So far I have eight books published – all with exotic themes; two are principally for children.

My father – an Irishman with the gene for story-telling – used to make up bedtimes stories spontaneously when my sister and I were small and I thought it would be great to do the same for my children. I wasn’t so good at the on-the-spot creativity though and took to writing adventure stories featuring my sons as the central characters. My then ten-year-old enjoyed them and was always very impatient for the next episode and he gave me the impetus to keep writing. Some years later it occurred to me that other children might like the stories too so I fleshed them out and added in some girls – to give my heroes a hard time – and was lucky enough to find a publisher for them.

-Do you consider it more difficult than other genres? (If so why?)

I think it is general accepted that writing for children is like writing for adults only much harder. Most children quick tire of writing that is overtly educational, and long explanations that slow the action will lose young readers quickly. The story has to be pacey and there’s hardly time to paint in the background of the characters or the scenery. It has to be slipped in here and there so that no-one really notices. Depending upon the age-group of the readers, general knowledge may not be assumed but children will not be patronised either. In giving talks and readings in primary schools in England last year I was astonished at how much many of them knew but also I was surprised by where the gaps were too.

A children’s author always has to consider whether the vocabulary is appropriate. That is not to say difficult words have to be avoided but they can’t come in too thick and fast, and they have to sound right to the reader.

I’ve always loved reading Kipling for his mischievous use of language. My favourite is ‘Scuse me,’ said the Elephant’s Child most politely, ‘but have you seen such a thing as a Crocodile in these promiscuous parts?’ I’ve never been asked what promiscuous means but perhaps that’s because Kipling’s prose flows so naturally that the story isn’t held up by an unfamiliar word. When writing for children the poetry of the language must come through.

-Have you created a special character? Can you introduce this character to us?

The boy heroes for my books are based on my sons who have given me endless material and inspired dialogue. They are experts in insults but I had to take more time in creating the feisty Bimbini, a Nepali girl of about 16. She’s a similar age to the older brother. Bim speaks almost perfect English, is beautiful, clever and at first aloof. But the children develop a bond through the dangers they face; warmth and a fierce loyalty grows between them. Bim ‘isn’t a girly girl. You can have fun with her’, yet she remains looking considerably tidier and cleaner than her young male travelling companions.

There are also plenty of animal characters in the adventures and it has been a delight to see the wonderful line illustrations that artist Betty Leven created for the book. My favourite is the one where two golden eagles are swooping down on a hare.

-Which of your books did you enjoy writing most and why?

It is hard to choose but I wrote the first adventure story, Himalayan Kidnap, while my work life was pretty horrible. I would come home from an utterly awful day to plunge into the adventure and vicariously escape petty bureaucrats and sexist colleagues. And my son and I laughed a lot was we shared the story. It was he who encouraged me to put in rhino dug and deer-dropping fights between the brothers. But the younger always had to have the last laugh.

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-For what age group would you recommend your books?

About 8 – 12 but younger if someone is reading to the child, and I have quite a few grown up fans of my adventure stories too.

-Is there a particular author that has inspired you in your journey as a writer?

As a child I was completely hooked on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and read all the Sherlock Holmes stories and lots more. I especially loved The Lost World and dreamed of becoming an explorer myself. Indeed, my first book – a travel narrative set in Madagascar – was called Lemurs of the Lost World.

-What can we expect from you in 2018?

Eifrig Publishing launched the first two books in my Alex and James adventure series. I have drafted a third tale set in Madagascar which I should try to go back to so that we can launch it soon although living – as I do now – with a Himalayan view from my study it is hard to concentrate on another country – however wonderful. I have started work on another novel for adults set in Nepal. That might take priority but writing for children is a joy and so it’ll be interesting to see which project wins.

Links

Jane’s authorial website is www.wilson-howarth.com

I made a little video clip about the books here https://youtu.be/1HdNu5Z1MHw

The adventure books are available in electronic form only from the publisher:

https://www.eifrigpublishing.com/products/himalayan-kidnap

Chasing the Tiger: The Second Alex and James Eco-Adventure in Nepal (Book 2)

Physical books are also available direct from Eifrig Publishing in the US but are widely available in bookshops in the UK and US as well as via amazon too.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Himalayan-Kidnap-First-Eco-Adventure-Eco-Adventures/dp/1632331276/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chasing-Tiger-Second-James-Eco-Adventure/dp/1632331039/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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Children’s Books & Authors- Steve Jenkins

Introducing Steve Jenkins and his work:
I have three books out at the moment. Payback and Set Up, I would consider children’s books, aimed roughly at the 9 – 13 age range. Blind Spot, I would consider suitable for a slightly older reader and, as such, may be considered YA, perhaps 11 -15. Having said that, adults are reading and enjoying all of them too.
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I have always made up stories in my head, for as long as I can remember, so writing them down just follows naturally from that. As I was a child when I started, the stories naturally featured children and dealt with children’s concerns. As an adult, I still retain that connection, so writing books for children feels normal.
I don’t consider writing for children more difficult than for adults, but it is different. Getting the balance between keeping things age-appropriate while not talking down to the audience can sometimes be tricky.
All my books are stand alone crime thrillers, so I don’t have a series character, although they all have potential to become series, so who knows?
Payback was my first book, so that has a special place in my heart. It was also the most difficult, as I was still trying to find my voice and style. I read many published books to figure out how to structure a book for children, and Cathy MacPhail was a strong influence in that respect.
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At the moment I have moved into writing for adults. If my current book does get published, it will most likely be under a pseudonym so as not to have parents buying it for their child and finding it is nothing like the others!

The links to my books are PAYBACK http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005GVE9FA

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Children’s Books & Authors- Julie Hatton

I´d like to start my cycle on Children´s books and their authors with Julie Hatton today.  There is so much available in children´s literature and I thought it would be a good idea to have authors present their work to us so we can get to know them a little bit better.

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I was inspired to become a children’s author by Enid Blyton. I remain an avid fan to this day. A love of writing stories also inspired me to write many short stories for my nephews and nieces when they were little and later for their own children. When I became an English teacher, I also wrote short stories to facilitate various modules I created for my pupils.

Recently I have written a few tales for a collection of short stories written by my wonderfully dedicated group of writers collectively known as Bugs2writes. The group was set up in order to write and publish books of short stories to raise funds for ACTION MEDICAL RESEARCH FOR CHILDREN. 100% of profits go to the charity. A few decades ago, I did write a children’s novel and hope to publish that very soon to raise further funds for the charity.

I don’t find older children’s stories any more difficult than other genres, in fact, I find them a little easier. This could be because I think I have read every book Enid Blyton wrote many times over. I have a huge library of her books still. With only a few rare exceptions, I read nothing BUT Blyton until I was fifteen when my older sister introduced me to Dennis Wheatley. Since then, of course, I have read most of the children’s classics many times and modern children’s authors. I still love to read books written for older children

In my, as yet unpublished novel, I created a character very close to my heart:  Cindy, the pig. She was based on a piglet I raised from birth and who became my friend until she left the small-holding at eighteen-months old. In the book, Cindy has a series of exciting adventures with four children.

For the Bugs2writes’ published book, Children’s Short Stories, I created a special character called Mammy Rat who lives on an island with hundreds of other rats. Mammy Rat symbolizes all loving, hardworking mothers and with so many children she is kept very busy at all times. She features in my four stories based on children who have a magic raft which sails them across the sea to Rat Island. There they encounter the rats and help them to solve mysteries on their island. One story for instance, is entitled: ‘The Case of the Missing Jewels.’

The other writers in the group have written an eclectic mix of exciting stories for children, too, in a variety of genres. All the stories in the book are written to amuse, entertain and inform the young minds reading it.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing my novel with Cindy, the pig, as the main character. I was in my mid-twenties at the time and I finished the novel in record time. Unashamedly, it is clear my Blyton heritage runs like a river through it!

I also enjoyed writing The Magic Raft series of stories very much indeed. Reliving my childhood through the stories I write provides a tranquil escape from the rigors of daily life.

The age group for the above stories is for ages 8 – 12, though younger children would enjoy listening to them, too.

In 2018, Bugs2writes hopes to write and publish another two children’s books of short stories for charity, the first of which will be published very soon.

I also hope to publish my novel with Cindy the pig as the main character this year.

Bug2writes has also penned and published a further four books for charity in other genres suitable for teens to adult: Horror, Assorted, Autobiography and Science Fiction and Supernatural. More will be coming soon.

Please visit:

Website: Bugs2writes.co.uk

Facebook Page: Bugs2writes for Charity

Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/bugs2writes

Paperbacks can be purchased from:

lulu.com

amazon.co.uk

amazon.com

Ebooks from:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

The photo of our mascot bear with our books symbolizes the group’s collective author name / profile.

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Author interview with Luke Christodoulou

Good morning everyone, I leave you with another mystery author Luke Christodoulou:

Me in Santorini (book 2 setting)

– What did you want to be when you grew up?

The earliest dream I can recall is wanting to be a presenter on Animal Planet or the National Geographic. I wanted to be like David Attenborough. Teaching came later as a grown up teen and I am now a proud English teacher. I always wrote. Since I learnt how to write, I was always making up stories. Being an author the last three years is all I could ever ask for.

-What is your favorite genre and what drew you to it?

Murder/mysteries wrapped around in thrills and suspense. The procedure of solving a case draws me to it. To leave clues all around the book and glue the reader to the page –or screen. The fact that you can develop complex characters and deal with a plethora of human emotions. What makes us tick? Kill? Lie? How do we cope with tragedy?

– When did you start writing in a professional way?

Three years ago. The day I saw my my first book, the Olympus Killer, hit number one in its category on Amazon. That’s when I saw myself as an author.

– Do you have a specific writing method or ritual? How many hours do you devote to writing every day?

The amount of hours varies. As a full-time teacher, a husband and father of two, I make the most of my free time when it comes to writing. Some days it could be for just an hour, others I could sit for hours creating. As for methods and rituals, well, not really. It all starts with creating a plot in my mind and never stop thinking about it. Characters get created and a rough outline is written. Then, it’s full speed ahead and never looking back.

-What part of writing do you enjoy most?

There’s enjoyment in the process?

I would say creating unique and believable characters. And, also, leaving well-hidden clues as to the solution of the crime all around the book.

-How do you develop your characters?

I view them as real people. In my mind they are as real as you and me. I think of them as well-rounded humans and add traits until I am happy with the result. Then, I let them free to grow throughout the book(s).

-Which of the characters in any of your books mean the most to you and why?

Though, my two main leads are like family to me and mean the most to me as I carry them with me from book to book, I have a tendency to fall in love with my villains. I feel the need to do them justice and explain their story, their motives, their pain and get drawn towards them. This happened in each of my books. For obvious reasons, I cannot mention names. Also, I have a thing with creating strong Greek grandmothers. They are the most ‘Greek’ people you will ever meet.

-What are your aspirations as a writer and where do you see yourself in five years time?

To keep growing as an author, to keep developing my skill and just to keep on writing. Five years is well too far down the line for me. I am a kind of live-in-the-moment kind of guy. I would like to see myself more relaxed in terms of house mortgages and my children grown up to an age where I don’t need to wake up in the night!

-Which author has influenced your writing most?

By far, Agatha Christie. She was so ahead of her time and created many things that today are considered clichés in murder/mystery books. I nearly cried when a review board compared by book, Death of a Bride, to her work. ‘An Agatha Christie tale set in the 21st century,’ it read. I love how she left clues all over the book and how at the end it all made sense, unlike many books today that end with an unbelievable twist that is too hard to swallow. I guess, some authors aim for shock value or strive too hard to stand out

-What would you like to say to your readers?

Thank you for being there. I have an amazing fan base of readers that help promote the books and feel comfortable providing feedback and asking questions about the book series. I am always available through social media and love a good talk!

Fun facts:

A colour- Greek sky blue

A day of the year- Any Sunday

A favourite recipe- Octopus marinated with red wine

A movie- Terminator 2

A song- Take your time

A quote- A prayer for the wild at heart kept in cages – Tennessee Williams

Links:  Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_pdt_bl_sr?ie=UTF8&field-keywords=Luke+Christodoulou

Amazon UK:http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00JMYGN38/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Luke+Christodoulou&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Luke+Christodoulou&sort=relevancerank

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On the sequel of “…to the moon and back”.

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Is there always a light at the end of every tunnel? 26 year old Anne is seriously beginning to question if she is ever going to find it. After a series of devastating blows, the young nurse finally catches a break; Ben, the love of her life asks her to marry him and it suddenly feels like she can start to smile again. But Anne has a secret that is threatening to destroy it all and this time, there is no easy way out. Will she be able to beat the odds and have the happy ending she has always longed for?

In this novel the characters of Anne, Adrian, Alero, Amaka, Richard, Ben, Adele…were created. It was meant to be an introduction to how it all started but by no means; their end. I think this series can produce a number of sequels as each character has barely begun his/her particular journey and can still give a lot of surprises. Somehow a group of very different individuals was formed in “…to the moon and back” and now that I´ve started writing the next novel I ask myself where I want each of them to end up as alternate scenarios keep popping up. I hope I surprise myself with each book, but most especially…my readers.

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Author interview with F J Curlew

It´s been a while since I last posted an  interview and would like to continue with F.J. Curlew; author of Political Thriller ‘To Retribution’:

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– What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a vet. I can still remember being laughed at by my new headmaster, aged eleven, and told that, ‘Girls don’t do science.’ Crushed… devastated… totally turned off school!

-What is your favorite genre and what drew you to it?

To write, thrilleresque. I don’t know why but whenever I write it just seems to happen. There’s always a darkness…something, which is peculiar because I’m a soft and fluffy peace and lovey kind of person! I’ll read most genres just as long as what I’m reading is well written. I prefer something that makes me think, changes my perceptions.

– When did you start writing in a professional way?

Three years ago when I began the Open University’s creative writing course. It all suddenly became very serious and immensely enjoyable.

– Do you have a specific writing method or ritual? How many hours do you devote to writing every day?

I do find myself keeping to a routine(ish). Mornings are for huge dog walks. I am extremely fortunate to live in a very beautiful place with mile upon mile of beach and coastal trails. My best ‘writing’ thinking is done at these times. Just me and nature. Unfortunately I don’t always remember this thinking! Of course I say I will, but…heavy sigh!

After lunch I slink off to my writing corner. Piles of cushions, snoring dogs, annoying cat who thinks that the laptop is competition to her rightful place and should be a precariously-balanced-on-knee-top. I usually spend two or three hours actually writing but pretty much the whole day has me thinking about my writing, playing out scenarios, coming up with ideas.

-What part of writing do you enjoy most?

Being totally lost in something of my own making is quite magical. There’s also a great sense of achievement which has been instrumental in keeping me sane through very trying times.

-How do you develop your characters?

I take them for a walk in different scenarios, writing a monologue for them, seeing where they take me, if they have potential. It’s then up to the story. I don’t plan what’s going to happen to them. They take me there.

-Which of the characters in any of your books mean the most to you and why?

Suze from ‘To Retribution’, because she was put through hell but stood tall, fought against it and…well, that would be telling wouldn’t it?

-What are your aspirations as a writer and where do you see yourself in five years time?

Writing is what I do. I want to be successful, to be able to live off what I make through my books. In five years time is a very evocative phrase for me as I’ve just been given my five years free of cancer confirmation. To be alive is pretty damned good 🙂

-Which author has influenced your writing most?

There’s not a ‘one’. Several have helped me on my journey including, but not exclusive to, Ian Rankin, Andre Makine, Leif Davidsen, Steig Larsson.

-Hero or villain? Which character type do you find more interesting?

I couldn’t say that I prefer one over the other. It depends entirely on the story, the character.

Which popular fiction character would you like to be and why?

Skink from Carl Hiassen’s ‘Sick Puppy’. I was so pleased to see him continued into other books. I love his irreverence; how he stands up for justice, for the little man; how he has turned his back on everything we would call normal, necessary.

-What would you like to say to your readers?

Firstly, Thank you!

Secondly, grab life by the scruff and give it everything you’ve got.

Fun facts:

A colour-Turquoise

A day of the year- Christmas

A favourite recipe-Spinach and cheese curry

A movie-Thelma and Louise

A song-Ouch…only one? ‘Hope’ by Quicksilver Messenger Service

A quote-‘I see God in birds and Satan in long words’, from the band, Brand New

http://www.fjcurlew.com

https://www.facebook.com/FJCurlew

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/619821

http://amzn.to/1YlMDqy

@fjcurlew

 

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The journey so far and a book for charity

It all started with a cat…

 

Funny how the things that mean the most to us can start from very fortuitous or unexpected circumstances. I have always had a very vivid imagination, a tool which I think is very important for anyone in the creative business; however, considering that patience is not one of my chief virtues, I never really went beyond a few chapters and would start something new once I´d get tired.

But then a huge teddy like British Shorthair cat came into my life and things changed. I´ve always liked cats, we had them when we were much younger living in Nigeria but then; cat care was really different and pets were kept more for their services than as companions. So when I adopted him, I was determined to give Merlin Mojito proper care and I delved with enthusiasm into the world of cat care with the hope that he would live for many, many years.

This of course led me to a very important factor for Merlin; food. This is something he does not play with; he knows when he needs to be fed and makes sure he guides you in the right direction towards his food bowl. He also knows exactly what he wants to eat which normally is not the healthiest food brand, so I found myself with 90 something tins of wet cat food that my cat had made clear I could do what I wanted with as he had no intention of going in the vicinity of the kitchen area… should I have dared served them to him.

So as Google is my friend, I started looking for shelters to donate the food to and I came across an all cat one that we decided to visit. I had never been to animal shelter and I was incredibly saddened by the stories of abuse and neglect that most of the inhabitants at the shelter had endured in the hands of their humans.

It is difficult to raise money for animals as there are already so many causes that need help so with the encouragement of a very special person, I produced a book of cat stories to raise funds for the shelter and that is how I found myself following my true passion. So it really all began with a cat…

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Merlin Mojito…the catalyst.

My mum is a member of Nigerwives (Warri branch); an association of foreign women married to Nigerian men. I have very fond memories as a child participating in all the activities they organized and they have been incredibly helpful to women that come to Nigeria to settle down. This particular branch decided to embark on the construction of a school for kids with special needs as there was none in that area. We had no idea how ambitious a project it was but family and friends decided to pitch in to try and make this dream a reality and help out the community the Nigerwives live in. We hold fundraising events every year, first to build the school and now that it has been done; to maintain it. I am a firm believer in trying to change a little piece of the world and helping to make someone´s life easier, if we come together and dream; we can do so much more.

We keep looking for new ideas to help out, particularly because now that it is a functional institution with over twenty kids whose parents are overjoyed at their progress, it would be a shame to have to close down. So last year, putting my talent to good use, I decided to donate the royalties from the first year of the fiction novel “…to the moon and back” to this project. I encourage you all to visit the website and see just how far a group of twenty something women have come(http://www.specialneedskidswarri.com/), it is wonderful to see how much time and effort has gone into it and it is worth it. Just seeing a little progress in a child and knowing that the school is making a difference encourages us to help out every year.

My genre is mystery and this book is different because the plot develops in Benin City; where I grew up. It brought back many memories and I really enjoyed writing it, creating the characters and bringing them to life. I hope you all enjoy reading it too. As this is the last month in which the sales of the book will be going to the project, I thought it would be a good idea to do a write-up and encourage those still looking for an entertaining summer read.

...to the moon and back book cover print Createspace

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With all my books 🙂
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Rosario in “I stand corrected”

I love creating characters and watching them grow; preferably in a series. Sometimes when I read a particular novel, I´m left with the feeling of wanting more so I´ve opted for providing that for my readers in this case. Rosario I wanted to give a past, one I wouldn´t wish on anyone, a past that nobody would guess just by looking at her: but one that as the series continues I hope will not break her.

 

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