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Author Spotlight: Featuring, JGJ Fairhurst

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What inspired my novel –

Inspiration came from many sources. Reading other novels & authors is an obvious answer but far too important to leave out for the sake of avoiding cliché. Personal experience is a huge part too. For example, I have a friend who wears glasses. Whenever it’s just me and him he would shout “hey, four eyes!” when he seen someone else wearing glasses. The offended party would turn round, see my friend with glasses on and then see me without. I’m sure I don’t need to point out who was always chastised for the yelled insult. Thankfully, It never lead to me being punched or beat-up but if looks could kill I would be dead fifty times over by now. I put this ‘trick’ in one of my short stories. There are lots of real life incidents that can make for interesting reading. If you remember it, then by definition it’s memorable. Chances are someone else will see the humour, the joy, the sadness, the awkwardness or whatever the case may be too. There are countless novels in your memory bank, the hard part is working out how to best utilise the material you have stored there. I used my “hey, four eyes!” memory in a short story called ones boy’s war. I think it made for a brilliant read but hey, we would all love to write our own reviews, right?

What’s it about –

The children of duty & justice interweaves fantasy, romance, politics and religion with mental illness, gender relations, and broken families.

The book follows Osyron Rymore as he leaves the family home to find his way in life. He joins the marshals (the law) in the hope of seeing justice done and being someone of worth in the world. However, it’s not long before world events outmatch one ideological boy and his honourable intent. All kingdoms have united into two empires that now sit tentatively side by side. Guided by scripture, Emperor Horim of Olbaid foresees an inevitable war and plots to strike before being struck. Horim hatches a plan to frame neighbouring empire, Miria as instigators to win support for his holy conflict. Despite a predicted death toll in the millions and a war expected to span decades, Horim see’s no price too great to shape his legacy and see off the preordained demonic invasion.

Due to this brewing war, most seasoned marshals are conscripted into the army leaving Osyron and fellow recruits with tasks that outweigh their experience. Opportunity is on the rise for criminals and a child trafficking ring is suspected to be operating in a coastal village in the far reaches of the empire. Osyron is sent alone. Here he meets Daniela Callahan, a fisherman’s wife who leads him on a journey further that any charted map and beyond all belief.

Additional info –

I have a deep love of the fantasy genre and wanted to create a medieval, fantasy world that incorporates and explores modern topics and issues. I wanted to write a novel that did not lean too heavily on fantasy elements just for razzmatazz sake. The idea was to keep real people with real issues as the meat and potatoes of the story and use fantasy as flavoursome gravy. I find there are too many novels that do it the other way around. At the very least I wanted to offer a fresh take on the traditional cornerstones of the fantasy novel, something a little different without sacrificing what makes fantasy such a well loved genre to begin with.

If anyone reading this is contemplating writing a novel or even a short story, then I urge you, do it. Don’t tell yourself you’re not a writer. You were not a walker once and if you applied that same logic back then you’d still be crawling today. It’s challenging but you can do it. Writing yourself off leads nowhere, writing a novel leads to be continued.

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Author bio – I was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland and still enjoy living there today. I worked as a stock auditor for seven years which involved travelling around the towns of Great Britain and Ireland. What may sound glamorous on paper were countless hours daydreaming out of a mini-van window. My first novel, ‘The Children of Duty & Justice’ is a direct product of those daydreams. Like a lot of folk, I wanted to write a novel but always dismissed the thought, telling myself. “But you’re not a writer.” This horse before the cart logic only pacified me for so long. I decided to test the waters with a short story, something light to gauge my aptitude with the pen, or as these are modern times, I guess the keyboard would be more apt. That short story became my 116,000 word debut novel. Maybe I was a writer after all, or perhaps I just really suck at short stories.
links to my novel and social media…

UK link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Children-Duty-Justice-GJ-Fairhurst/dp/153488940X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1468582514&sr=8-1 US link – https://www.amazon.com/Children-Duty-Justice-J-Fairhurst-ebook/dp/B01HPJRLE6/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1468582733&sr=8-1#navbar

The afore mentioned short story ‘one boy’s war’ (free download) – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/648756 twitter – https://twitter.com/JGJ20200

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/The-Children-of-Duty-Justice-1495894160654583/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel Official website – http://sebastian11145.wix.com/thechildren#!blank/cnec

Blood Oars and Jang E Part II

Part I

Ning strode out of the manor. As he left the gorgeous double doors, Lee handed him his oar, which had an oar branded into the paddle. Out the double doors there was a walled garden. The wall still had gaping holes in it from the explosives he and his men used to breach the manor in the first place. The guards of the magistrate were certainly vicious, but ten immensely talented guards meant nothing against a hundred hungry and thirsty pirates.

Fortunately the gardeners did not resist. They expected an exquisite batch of peaches by the end of the oppressive summer. Unfortunately the daughters did. Such lovely creatures, but they had to be thrown off the cliff with their family. Examples had to be set.

From the magistrate’s manor, Ning could see the village and the sea, both at the foot of the cliff. Both were hundreds of feet down. The magistrate always remained so far away from the people and the sea, something Ning found out while he investigated the city. This distance meant the magistrate had no idea the people were turning on him. It meant he had no idea the sea was filled with vile creatures. It meant Ning and his men put in minimal effort when they created a place for the Blood Oars to call home.

The bay was filled with Blood Oar ships, large flat barges with a dozen oars on each side and a sail. they were all painted red. Off in the distance a blockade was forming. Black ships, similar to his own, but they painted their hauls with pitch. The Black Hauls were insane, claiming they did not fear fire for the Eternal Flame protected them. Ning never understood how anyone could cling to the religions of the desert, but there were zealots of fire even in the water.

Lee stood behind Ning and said, “Should I summon Batu?”

Ning shrugged off his shirt, showing a body covered in tattoos and scars. He stretched and the muscles glided over the bones, showing his ribs. “What’s he doing?”

“If I had to guess, gambling, drinking, or sleeping. I haven’t seen him for two days.”

“No.” Ning stepped up to the cliff, his toes clinging to the edge as they went over. He looked down at the water and it called to him. “He shouldn’t be needed. Go back to the village and see that Jang E is protected properly. He can help there if you find him.”

“As you wish.” Lee bowed and left.

Despite the sea calling, the cliff was still terrifying. Ning had jumped off dozens of masts, but they were a hundred feet high on flag ships. He cried out over the ships, “Blood Oars, the Black Hauls come at us. They would claim victory, but they are few and weak. I would say they sent men, but who can tell the difference?” There was laughter and Ning smiled at himself.

In the distance, the Black Hauls closed the blockade, locking into the cliffs, then fasting two lines of boats to make it impossible to breech. They had far more boats than they should have, and many were skeleton crews. Several of the boats were fashioned more like rafts, likely built in haste to complete some odd plan.

Ning pulled out a chipped dagger from his belt. He cut his index finger and willed the blood to form into a ribbon. The ribbon became so thin even Ning could not see it, but he could feel it as he commanded it to reach for the sea. When it touched, the water exploded and a pillar shot up to him. He stepped out just as the geyser reached the cliff, and the entire pillar dispersed into a light mist. The men clapped, as they had seen the trick.

The Black Hauls were confused. Some celebrated the sea swallowing the captain. Others were uncertain it was the sea. All of them whispered uneasily of some form of witchcraft that the gods would frown upon.

Waves rocked the boats of the Blood Oars, and they cheered louder. Then the Black Hauls saw a man swimming through the bay with the ferocity of a shark, and they cried out in terror and panic, but the boats did not separate.

The water felt amazing against Ning’s skin as he flowed through it. He wasn’t exactly swimming, though the spirits enjoyed a dolphin motion as tribute to them. The water instead pulled him forward, and it felt like it would pull his skin off from the speed. But it felt so exhilarating that he never worried about the pain.

When he swam under the blockade, he dove deep into the bay and let the waters settle. He could hear the men shouting to watch out, then going to the edge and looking over to see nothing. Then Ning willed their destruction.

Water shot up with great force, making blades which ripped and tore at the boats above him. Blood filled the water at the unfortunate men who got caught in it, and soon actual sharks would be there to feast upon the battlefield. As long as Ning could remain engaged, it would mean a feast of Black Hauls and not Blood Oars.

Five boats were destroyed. The Blood Oars started their advanced. Ning took a deep breath, oxygen rich water filling his lungs. Then he swam up to the surface, using the water as he neared the surface to push him several feet in the air. He landed on one of the rafts.

 

Pokemon Table Top

I have good news and awesome news!

First, I’m working on a Pokemon table top game. I love the video games, but there’s only so many paths you can take, and Ash and his friends rarely stick to those paths. By paths, really I mean you’re forced to be the savior of the world and a Pokemon master. Yet we know there are scientists, coordinators, breeders, and others who live immensely fulfilling lives with incredible reputations in the Pokemon world. Honestly, anyone who competes at a competitive level (such as the World Championships which just happened) is as much a breeder as a battler.

There are already some Pokemon table top games out there. The issue is they require a degree in mathematics, primarily statistics, to play, as they attempt to mimic the video game’s stats. When a table top game for kids makes dice rolling more complicated than Exalted, I have issues with it.

So the awesome news is I think I figured out how to make a Pokemon table top game that is also kid friendly! I’m not willing to reveal a bunch of things quite yet because I need to try it out, but ultimately Pokemon and trainers will both have a stat sheet. Pokemon will be based on the video game layout, but the stats won’t end up being really high. Leveling will be more conservative. It’s about the journey not the destination. There will be more advanced options to allow more variance in Pokemon stats, or if you’re just looking to pal around with them, you can nix that.

Stats for trainers will consist of things like athletics to show physical ability, coordinator, breeder, and so on. This will allow players to pursue other avenues than Pokemon master.

I’ve created the base of the game, now I just need to start applying the point structure to Pokemon, then play around with it. At that point, I’m going to see if my local gaming store will let me advertise for a group of 4 players. I’ll start with the regions already created, but eventually I’d like to make my own region. It will only use the Pokemon from the game, as I’m no artist and don’t want to make Pokemon without drawing them, but the threats would be different.

Yes…I’m a proud Pokemon nerd.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll have weekly updates on this, though I know a lot of it will be, “I’ve put stats to Pokemon 1-15, along with their moves. I cannot see the sweet oasis of completion. My life is the black hole of Oblivion, but I shall trudge on.”

Stay tuned for more announcements!

When Nature Calls

I -Dana- spent the afternoon at the Dallas Arboretum.

Here, Mark Twain and I are having an elaborate discussion.  I am not sitting on the bench, as it is very wet.  It rained the greater part of our visit.

I love trees.  This gathering reminded me of an Elven court.   Perhaps I shall use a circle of trees like these in my High Fantasy series.

These fish, while not Koi, set me in mind of Paul’s realms in the Lands of Volden.

I love fish.  And fish ponds.

I loved this tree house.  At least that is what my imagination decided it was.  Fae, most definitely.  A gnome resides here.  His name is Griddly.

Where does this archway lead?  Perhaps it’s a portal to another realm.  Perhaps the Rock Trolls live here, constantly bothering Griddly for his mushrooms.

The mushrooms are quite large, you see

You can understand why they’d be coveted.
Griddly prefers to not have the locals tresspassing in his gardens.  Rock Trolls are quite troublesome.

They use this stair in the middle of the night to creep into his garden.  Griddly is certain it’s them, the mushrooms have strange effects on Rock Trolls specifically.

Imagine what these do to their minds!

But enough about them.

In the Lands of Volden, I have a collection of islands called Kw’ai’owa.  This falls and rock formation will likely have an altered version appeare in a seculded nook.  One where lovers run to.  One where the burdened soul might seek seclusion and tranquility.

This pond was relatively scary.  It had a section where algea collected all in one stagnant area.

Yuck, am I right?  At least it didn’t smell.

This has grass growing on the roof.  So cool.

This little flower started it all.  It’s whimsical beauty drew me in to the Romance of nature and I never stopped reveling in it.

Even when the rain poured, and poured, and poured, forcing us into pavilions until it stopped.

It was a glorious day to be alive.  And in North Texas, exquisitely refreshing.
What did you do today?

Get outside and explore.  Even if it’s just to catch Pokémon.  Look at more than your phone screen today.  Tell me how nature inspired you.

The Blood Oars and Jang E Part I

“Captain Ning, the Black Hauls approach the harbor.” Second Ing Lee burst into the villa’s study, though there were few books. Most of the villa, not simply the study were filled with maps, gold, silver, trinkets, women, sake, and weapons, as long ago it had been given over to the deprivations of pirates.

Yi Ning sat in a large ox leather chair. There were several cuts in it, and the city of Jang E no longer housed craftsmen with the ability to fix the chair. Ning had also been unable to find a capable captive.

He swung his feet down from the stained bamboo desk in front of him, nicked and scuffed by his own ventures. Three women were laying on the ground around him in piles of pillows and blankets, and he barked at them to leave. The women, high on opiates and intoxicated on swill, obeyed with mumbles and staggering. The sight made Ning smile, as each woman was quite lovely.

Ning was sipping tea, bringing a small bowl to his lips. His face was not a pretty thing to view, but if one could see past countless scars from cuts and burns, at one time it was a face which had been lovely.

Ning put the cup down as the whores closed the rice paper door behind them. He asked, “Captain Ning?”

“Yes, this is your name.” Ing Lee contorted his face and spat on the floor. Ing Lee was never a pretty man, heavily poxed as a child, and no doubt coming from quite ugly parents.

Ning swished the thought around in his mouth along with the hot drink. “Shouldn’t I be commodore, Lee? A captain has a single ship. An admiral has a small fleet. I have a large fleet.”

“Commodore? Where’d you get that name? Empire folk would call it a Da Xiao. Even in G’desh I believe they would say Tugamiral.” Lee walked around the desk and poured a drink for himself and Ning. “Commodore? What a pompous name for any man on the sea.”

“I heard it somewhere. Maybe in the far west? Or when those people visited from the mountains.” He took the drink and poured it into his tea, filling the half empty bowl.

“Captain, what are you doing? You can’t mix sake with tea. That just drowns out the bouquet.”

“And who says bouquet when talking about sake?”

“You’ve your big words, I’ve mine.” He corked the bottle and took a swig from his bowl. “Next time I give you the cheap stuff, with you and your fancy ways.”

“Why were you here again?”

“By the sea, I forgot. The Black Hauls, they’re in the harbor coming at our ships. Are we going to do something about it?”

“We have ships. What do we have to do about it?”

“Ning, you’ve been in your villa the past month. The men are wondering if you drank and whored yourself to death. Please get out there and fight. Anyway, they come at us with thirty thousand.”

“We’ve a hundred thousand. Let them come.”

“Boats enough for twenty, since you sent five down south to,” he paused, looking for the words, then slowly said, “negotiate trade deals.”

This last part made Ning smile. “They do have the loveliest girls in that desert. Far stronger than the reeds bred in the Empire.”

“Ning, eyes forward.”

“Right.” he stood up and stretched, his body cracking from the night of debauchery. “Get me my weapon. The Blood Oars will defend what is theirs.”

Part II

The Mute of Abr

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The Mute of Abr is a short story in the G’desh Tale series. The series will be based around the first novel, fleshing out the area. This one specifically actually touches on some of the up and coming characters for the third novel int he series. On accident. The Mute was simply too awesome not to have show up again.

Anyway, if you’re interested in seeing what I’m made of, check out the Mute for free! Just go to Smashword, who was kind enough to publish it, and insert code GY89P when purchasing.

The Mute of Abr is an ex-slave who recently won her freedom. Now she kills giant desert monsters to make money so her daughter can have the life she couldn’t. When she makes more money than she realized possible, she starts to look to freeing all the slaves of Abr, which comes with a hefty political price.

A Writers Struggle

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When someone hears “I’m a Writer”, the image that comes to mind is someone sitting at a desk all day furiously typing away at a keyboard.  The next question usually is, “What do you write?”  Many a writer will respond with their genre or writing profession.

Perhaps you meet an author and have their book signed.  They will tell you they were glad you liked their work.  A Writer will always present themselves in a friendly, grateful manner, hoping to earn your interest in their work.

A book they spent ages working on.  Sleepless nights of writers block – waiting for an idea to finally hit so they can move on to the next chapter.  Endless hours staring at the computer screen making sure their final edits are correct, knowing they will likely have poor vision before they hit 50.  The hours they had to put their book on hold to engage in their regular lives.

 

 

“What?  Writers don’t just write?”

No.  No we don’t.

As a parent, I can tell you sitting down to write is a difficult thing.  Either I spend my nights sleeping or writing.  Whichever wins out determines what kind of a day I’ll have tomorrow.  Perhaps I’m lucky and can write during the day.  But my unusual life does not just have Children taking my time away from the keys, paper, or Fantasy worlds I’ve created.

There are also hobbies, jobs, and other personal interests or obligations to attend.

I am a modern cartographer and create maps for author friends.
Paul likes video games.
Our writer friends in our Online Community have jobs, kids, writing jobs, editing jobs, artsy jobs, office jobs, teaching jobs, driving jobs, hobbies, direct stage plays…..

The literary world is a difficult one to pursue.

 

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First they have to leave the Shire, get stuck for six chapters aimlessly while meeting Tom Bombadil, and then finally arrive at Bree.

 

Ask any author you know, they can relate first hand how much fun it is to write, and then how much work goes into your favorite book, so you can buy one printed copy for $7.95-15.95.

Ah, yes, royalties.  YOU put in all of the work to write a book. And now we must divide the income from the book several ways:
To the editor.
To the cover artist.
To the Agent.
To the publisher.
And finally to you.

Even though the whole thing is YOURS.  But in order for it to be among the Public, you must give part of that away.
You watch for sales on Amazon, you wait for your earning statement to come in the mail at it’s quarter, and you go spend your earned $15.95 on a bottle of scotch and wonder why you chose this path.

Whisky+XXX+high+res+alcohol+drinking

 

Don’t be discouraged, young Grasshopper, the literary world is incredible.  You have the power to control minds – JUST by putting pen to paper.  Who wouldn’t want this kind of power?

Just know that among the Glory and the Limelight comes the down and outs.

It is a rewarding journey.  Through it all, you learn what you are capable of as a person.  What kind of an impact you can have on yourself and those around you, by how you deal through these struggles.

Sometimes it takes two years to produce a book, and sometimes it takes 14.
Yep.  14.  Every story, just like every person, is different.  It’s the differences that make us unique.  If you feel like a fraud, don’t worry!   You’re in good company.

 

Personal Application: Because all Morals come with a Story

 

Even though I sometimes feel as though I’m just trudging through, every last word counts toward the end of the book.  Right now as I type this, I’ve spent more than an hour trying to think of what to say – play with my daughter, and talk on the phone briefly.
Life happens.  But when Life happens, don’t let that get you down.  Keep pushing forward with your personal goals.  One day, you’ll be on the otherside and have that book you’ve always wanted to publish, sitting neatly in a fresh stack of books, with a pen in your hand, and people lining up at your table at Barnes and Noble.

Editor Spotlight – Cover to Cover Editing

We’re starting a new thing on Monday! We will be doing a spotlight. Most people think, “That’s great! An author spotlight!” Fooled you. Just a spotlight. We know there are a lot of writers following us, so wouldn’t it be great if you could find some affordable and awesome editors as well as new decoration for your bookshelf? We will also be looking into artists in the future for those who like pretty things and need cover art. If you are an editor, author, or artist, drop us a line and we’d love to consider you for a future spotlight. We will also have an interview and blog post with the editor.

Without further adieu, pomp, or circumstance, on to the main show.

I was published in November. Drowning the Sands of G’desh was a pretty lengthy piece, but I still wanted a professional editor to really tighten up the story. Most editors were charging between $1,500 to $3,000 and I couldn’t justify dishing out that much. As much as I loved my beta readers, I know they’re free and I should only justly expect so much.

I asked The Phoenix Quill, my writing group, if there were any editors out there and if we could talk pricing.

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After talking to authors and checking out websites, I picked Cover to Cover Editing, run by Angel Blackwood, a fellow writer in the group.

Suddenly the price was a very reasonable $1 per page.

Angel was very professional, returned my 80,000 word manuscript within a couple weeks, and gave incredible insight. Not only was I happy with the edits on a basic level, but she also put in comments of what she liked, what she was thinking, and what she didn’t like, allowing me to tighten up the story for the best reader experience.

Other friends have used Angel for larger projects. Angel went through several rounds, giving feedback on concepts, as well as getting into line edits.

If you need a few more recommendations, you can find her testimonies here. I’ve utilized her skills twice already, once for a novel and again for a short story, and definitely plan on continuing to reach out to her when editing is required.

Give Cover to Cover Editing a look, and consider Angel Blackwood the next time you plan on getting a piece of work looked at.

You can contact Angel for more information at ac.angel6@gmail.com.

Binding Principles

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I bought a beautiful little book pendant from a friend of mine this past week.

The tiny leather bound book is just over an inch tall, and remarkably well made.

Our friend Travis Martin makes them by hand.  His work is simply beautiful, each and every book is different and unique.

I love the idea of wearing it on it’s 18′ long chain as a necklace, or using it to decorate my bookcase with.

 

 

 

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The chain is connected to the book through a tiny little hole in the binding

I am confident it will last for years to come, without fear of the ring tearing out of the leather binding.

The leather chord is tightly pulled to hold it closed.  I haven’t decided yet whether or not I’ll write in it, but I know for sure I look forward to buying a full-sized journal when I have the opportunity!

 

 

Similar items, earrings, and full-sized journals can be found at https://www.etsy.com/shop/BindingPrinciples

Travis is also looking to expand his available collection.  If you would like to request a special piece do not hesitate to contact him!

Fah Tashekesh

I forgot my city’s name. It’s a weird thing. Every once and a while I’ll talk about something and blank. It’s usually when I haven’t thought about it for a while. A lot of the locations in G’desh have been put on the back burner as I focus on the Norse-inspired Hurskfjell.

Anyway, Fah Tashekesh. In G’desh, it’s a city-state of insane wealth, one of the few free of the influence of a larger empire. It has the story that it’s remained that way for centuries, so on and so forth.

One day my colleague and friend said, “We should make a board game.” I was in the middle of writing G’desh, and most my creative pursuits will be based on these worlds, so I went home that night, wrote a lot, and came back the next day with parameters.

He looked at me funny. “What’s the next step?” Obviously making cards and such. It’s a board game and a card game. The board is more for a physical representation of what the cards are telling you. To be fair, the entire game could be played without a board. But…why else would I draw a map of the city of Fah Tashekesh, the gem of G’desh?

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If you squint you can see it

Cities scare me, though. They’re hard to draw. Finally I just went with, “I can erase.” Started drawing lines, creating patterns based on the entrances to the city and the easiest flows of traffic. Of course, as in any good city, you end up building at opposite ends and having points of bad congestion anyway. It’s what I’ve learned from city builders.

Premise of the game plays with the Merchant-Princes who are prominent, as well as the Sultan is picked from wealth and peer review. Or a large army. There are six princes, though still figuring out exactly how many players should be allowed in a game. They build properties (like Monopoly), while maintaining a treasury, a military, and political clout. There are event cards, and eventually you’ll draw the “Sultan dies” card (or someone assassinates him).

Whoever has the most points (influence, finances, and military) wins. Destabilize the city-state too much and an empire comes in and takes it (which is actually against cannon, since the city is only taken in a military fashion once and then it’s pretty much wiped off the face of the earth in the next five years).

Anyway, I made the cards, created systems, tried to organize different sets of cards. Worked out well. We played the first time, was a lot of fun though time consuming. My friend after goes, “It worked out. Like how does that happen? The cards did what they were supposed to.” It felt good.

So I’m getting back into my board game while editing Mute (ugh…I know…it should have been done a month and a half ago), Hurskfjell (which I should have started editing a month ago), and marketing (which I’m like two weeks behind on my posts here). I’m a hot mess. And exhausted.

This is a little rambly. Anyway, hope your own writing is going well! Look forward to the fourth installment of the History of Abr this Friday (I’m off to write it as soon as I post this, I swear), and enjoy your week!

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