Spiritual. Not Religious. A look into the Acceptance of Others.

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I am supposed to be editing, but I was asked a specific question today that was now on the front on my mind and I need to write it out before I complete the final story arc of book 3.

I have a few posts saved and sitting in my wordpress after the election last year when people got very political and religious with their views.Yeah, you were there too, weren’t you? That’s why I may or may not post them. This entry, however, was a specific questions asked of me today, and I wanted to share it.

The posts details my journey through religion during the past few years. I hear the term “spiritual” but not religious used more and more, and I am speculating as to why that is.

My family is Catholic, and I am not, so If I go to Mass, I can’t take communion with them, which makes me feel awkward. It’s just how I feel, because I am going for them and with them, but I can’t partake in communion with them, which is the most important part.

I should also say that I particularly enjoy Pope Francis and don’t have disdain for anyone who is Catholic or otherwise based on their religious views. I think religion is here to help people through hard times and unify them.  I completed Service Learning at a homeless and womens’ shelter that was faith based, and I think it made such a wonderful difference in helping people move forward with their lives.

The main point in going to church is to take communion, and I will admit that I have not found a speaker that is relateable, symbolic, and can keep my attention. Maybe I plan to leave a service with more information than I had going in, or perhaps It could be that I’m looking for a college professor to be at the podium and I’m expecting that kind of delivery. At the last mass I went to (that is not at the church I will take anecdotes from) the priest made a joke about how people who ride motorcycles are going to hell, and my husband has one, so that was really strange… the main point is : If I can’t take communion even though I believe in the same God, why am I going?

So then you say:  Be a good sport and go support the family, regardless, and do good!

I did try, but here is the thing… If you don’t connect with the people in a place of worship, than it’s probably not the place for you. You have to find and worship with people who believe what you do. And this is what I have found over the past few years…

Volunteer kicked out over a dream

Many years ago at this specific church (as we will call it “Church”) a volunteer who is a Judge in her county, was kicked out of volunteering to help the teens in the congregation, because the youth group leader had a dream in which God told her that this Judge was a bad influence. I heard this news outside of the Church, by people who didn’t treat it as gossip or say anything bad about the group leader. They were stating a fact, that is all. I’m sure God talks to some, but my impression is that this is done in a silent voice, more shown than told through miracles, reminders, and joy in life. I don’t know what a dream is, and science doesn’t all the time either, but I do suspect that a dream takes place in one’s head. If that is the case, then kicking a volunteer out of a group on account of a dream is a misuse of power. I’m not sure what I have done as a parent with a child in that youth group.I guess it’s a life lesson than people will abuse power, however, I probably would have pulled mine until the leader resigned.

The Macabre Memorial

There is also a monument in this Church that doesn’t exactly alight with my values as a human being. It is a gravestone enclosed in a glass window, dedicated “to the innocent victims of abortion.” I think the inscription is accurate, but I find the use of the gravestone macabre and inappropriate for the situation. I studied monuments during a course in British and Irish literature from the 1900’s, and we talked about how every detail of a memorial is important. I went to Kent State University, and we had our own (and extremely detailed) memorial to study and learn about. I think a statue of a small child with a religious figure, or an angel, or patron Saint of children, would be more appropriate for the memorial than the horror of a grave stone. I think the statement is insensitive, and a regular grave stone is so generic that it appears only to be there for the shock factor. I made the choice to unfollow a member of the Church on facebook during our 2016 election, because she thought it was appropriate to describe stabbing a baby in the head with a pair of scissors over social media. I just don’t think that is helping anyone… and while this is a whole other issue, I think social institutions should aim to help listen and not speak over people who are going through difficult times. Or perhaps do something positive and hold and adoption drive if they are so concerned? Just a thought.

So by now, you might see how our views don’t line up. Many people tell me that they don’t agree with every little thing their church says. More recently, two more things happened to add to my reasons of why this place isn’t for me. People have their own experiences and loyalty, and if they have different views than mine, that is okay. The main thing is that we are not hurting each other, even if we aren’t exactly helping each other.

Women are banned from volunteering

I wanted to volunteer around Christmastime at the Church, because if I couldn’t be an active member, perhaps I could help out with community causes. Unfortunately, some of the tasks were already full by the time I thought to ask, but I settled on the task of moving donations for people. When I read the bulletin for volunteering, that task was reserved for high school boys and men only. It was as if women were not strong or capable enough to do physical work as volunteers, per the program director. Weight training and martial arts and wanting to be a strong woman didn’t matter to this Church. A more tactful way would have been to add “must be able to lift fifty pounds,” on to the requirement, as to not ostracize anyone based on their sex. If you are running a community organization, attention to word use  and the diversity of your community is required.

Priest Makes Political Statement as Part of Wedding Ceremony

The last thing that drove the point home, was a wedding that I attended at this Church. The priest gave the couple a beautiful prism that reflected a rainbow, and in explaining the symbolism of the gift, he brought up an extraneous subject that had nothing to do with the couple being married. The priest explained that “some people misuse the rainbow today,” and if you are living in the 21st century, you will catch that the priest is contesting gay marriage during the wedding of two people of opposite sexes. I found that to be extremely distasteful and unneeded. A wedding isn’t the time to press your own religious or political ideas. People have different experiences, but honestly, this is supposed to be the happiest day of someone’s life, and you’re going on about something completely unrelated?

I don’t suppose I have found the place I belong to yet, but in time, I know that it’s the people that make a place what is it, and if different people come along, I will consider sitting for mass and not taking communion. Until my ideas align with a large group, which probably won’t happen, I have resolved to be content with my own spirituality. I am also trying to be open to attending church holidays with my family.

Many people my age are coming to terms with “religion” and describe that they don’t feel that they belong to religious institutions because they can’t compromise on the things they believe.”Typical” people with typical gender identities and sexual orientations might still be typical, but they are meeting others who are not, and they are met with science and research and are open to learning things because there is a constant flood of information in the world. Accepting diversity opens our world up, and perhaps selfishly, we decide that we don’t want to go to a place that doesn’t align with every single one of our views.

Do you think we’re selfish in being “spiritual” instead of religious? Or do you think this is a movement of acceptance, tolerance, and peace that is here to stay?

Celebrating the Umbrae Cover Reveal with Author Debbie Manber Kupfer

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It’s here and it’s beautiful! The long awaited cover of Umbrae (The P.A.W.S. Saga, Part 3) created by the ever awesome Rachel Bostwick.

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So what’s it about?

Step into the Shadows of Umbrae …

Miri’s world at P.A.W.S. in St. Louis is falling apart. First, Danny is accused of stealing her opapa’s charm. But before he can defend himself, he mysteriously disappears. Miri seeks Josh for help and advice, but he too has gone missing.

Then Lilith has a vision – Miri dragged away by wolves. Miri needs answers, answers that she feels sure are hidden in the blank pages of the book of Argentum.

With the help of Lilith, she travels to the ancient city of Safed. There, with the aid of a mystical rabbi and an outspoken werecat, her omama’s story is slowly revealed. And Miri uncovers something else, a world hidden deep beneath our own – the labyrinth of shadows also known as Umbrae.

preorder-umbrae

Help spread the word – support my Headtalker campaign!

Add Umbrae to your Goodreads TBR list!

Coming soon in paperback!

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Congratulations, Debbie, on you new release!

Uncaged Book Reviews Feature

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Uncaged Book Reviews is a magazine that covers many different genres, and its design is gorgeous! I’m not saying this just because I am a Feature this month. You can see the time and dedication Cyrene puts into the magazine. She is also backed by leading review blogs. I’m not sure how she does it all, but we really need something like this! You next favorite read could be highlighted in the magazine, so be sure that you take a look!

There is also an except from my second book “The Frost Bloom Garden” in the magazine that shows how the main character’s powers work, and also highlights the new case she’s working on. In urban fantasy, one must simply hunt a killer, right? The name of the chapter is “Meeting a Guy in a Hotel Room,” and it’s worth the read! I start on page 43, but you should read the magazine cover to cover!

The Indie book world continues to be thankful, inviting, and supportive in so many ways. Authors have full creative freedom to relate to readers. Uncaged is one of those amazing places and I want to see this magazine last forever. Please can we get some facebook likes and twitter followers? 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/UncagedBooks/

https://twitter.com/UncagedBookRev

Book Trailer for The Frost Bloom Garden!

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My timeline for this book release was a little squished, but now I can present to you the book trailer for The Frost Bloom Garden, as well as some exciting news!

Frost Bloom received a 5 star review from Readers’ Favorite, and it has been one of my goals to get the silver seal from the book review service  (a free and non-biased one!) that treats Indie books the same as traditionally published! As some of us know, Indie-pub books are not going anywhere anytime soon, and continue to give readers options that you can’t find on every physical book shelf. I am so excited to enter Readers’ Favorite’s contest this year and see what happens!

Here is the trailer for The Frost Bloom Garden:

If you missed the book trailer for A Mirror Among Shattered Glass, the main character scribbles all over it here:

 

I hope you enjoy these fun trailers! As always, thank you for your enthusiasm!

Making your brand into t-shirts with print on demand

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I’m going to go over how to  build your own t-shirt shop, and how the only start up cost for you will be samples of your work. That is right. No stock, no shipping the products yourself, just the ability to get merchandise into the hands of fans, readers, or subscribers.

Order minimums are difficult to fulfill for someone who is just starting out, especially if you are unaware of popular sizes, and aren’t sure if a design will be particularly pleasing.

As a new author, I wanted to have merchandise available for readers, contests, and fundraising, but I knew that I couldn’t afford to have massive amounts of backstock with the usual order minimums of 100 shirts, especially only with one book out at the time. I also knew that my schedule didn’t allow for the filling and shipping of shirts and merchandise, when the most important part of my job is to write.

Print Aura

Cue Print Aura!  (click here to go through my affiliate link) https://printaura.com/#_a_b4 It is an on demand printing service, which means you keep no stock, and are not responsible for shipping and returns. It might sound like a dream, and that is because it is wonderful! They even have microwave and dishwasher safe mugs, toes, and pillows!

So why did I choose them over competitors? t-shirt printing is around $10-13 per shirt, which beats the 20-30 you’d spend for a one time print from anywhere else. The catch is that you have to design your own graphics! I learned through the free program inkscape and am still learning today. A summary of what I learned can be found in my blog post DIY Graphic Design.

You can print a shirt by uploading your graphics file and also a mock up file for placement. I always think that I’m not very computer savvy, so if I can do it, you probably can too! Watch all of the print aura videos before you get started, so that you have some help, and you’ll be on your way in no time.

After you create your order you can either place manual orders, in which you select your items from a drop down and print aura tells you the total, or you can integrate it with a store front. Some store fronts carry fees which I am not fond of, but it’s about the presentation a store front can give you.

My store is below:

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The best thing about print aura is that they have real and prompt customer service, which is a huge thing for me.

To me, Print On Demand is something that I need to be an author, so applying the same principle to merchandise is an effective way to raise funds or reward people during contests.

If I refer you (please sign up using my link), I can get a kick back on your printed items, and if you refer someone you can do!  This is such a creative way to build a brand and make our mark. Good luck! If you have any questions, comment.

Indie Author Release Event Tonight!

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Come win some free things from my series at 6pm EST to celebrate Bri Amari’s first book! How exciting! Congratulations on your new book and the start of The Four Kingdoms Saga!

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This is also happening:

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Travis sets the record straight on why The Frost Bloom Garden is actually about him!

You probably don’t want to miss this. I hear that he is also giving away pink things. That could potentially mean one of these?

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Join us to find out! This is my last book event of the year, so come by to win an ebook. It’s also my first character takeover and should be interesting to say the least.

Oh, and if I reach 300 likes on my facebook page, then I will give away 3 additional ebook copies of “Mirror.” oooooo!

See you tonight at 6pm EST!

New book out! Enter The Frost Bloom Garden!

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On Amazon NOW: http://amzn.to/2fTgwi3 $2.99 RELEASE DAY SALE!

 

Romarin has survived to make it to book 2! Relocating to London from California hasn’t been easy–and especially with friends like these. Now that she’s gained some trust, and more importantly realized that the only approval she needs is her own, Romarin is out to do good, and discover what the Supernatural London Underground has in store for her. Must we hunt a murderer on a killing spree? Why yes, this is an Urban Fantasy novel after all. Add in a humorous (though some parties might not agree) kidnapping plot, a journey to the alternate Changeling world, and Demetri the author’s usual twists, and you’ve got most of the ingredients for The Frost Bloom Garden! What it really needs now is for you to read it. Frost Bloom wouldn’t be the same without the amazing readers of The Supernatural London Underground!

 

The Frost Bloom Garden Blurb:  As if the supernatural London Underground couldn’t open up any further, Romarin is immersed in different cultures, struggles, factions—and the revelation of her first dangerous foe—that make the hidden world what it is: treacherous. As a detective in pursuit of a Jack The Ripper type killer, Romarin’s sole purpose is to destroy evidence of their secret world, reminding her of how blurred all of their roles are, and that the price for that could very well be one’s life. With rumors of a safe haven, an island where people like her can be free and understood, perhaps she won’t need the cure she vehemently seeks. A cure for a broken heart however, that’s another story. And a cure for a burning heart? That’s just impossible.

Go check it out! This could be your next favorite series!

Also, Book One is only .99 for a limited time!

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HURRY while it’s only .99! http://amzn.to/2fTkgAl

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00014](Book 1)Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mirror-Shattered-Supernatural-London-Underground-ebook/dp/B01CIZM6KQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1457060930&sr=8-1&keywords=romarin+demetri
(Book 1)Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29416363-a-mirror-among-shattered-glass?ref=ru_lihp_up_rv_0_mclk-up2960656363
(Book 1) Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/reviews/a-mirror-among-shattered-glass-romarin-demetri/1123881264?ean=2940158532665#reviews-header

 

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(Book 2) Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Frost-Garden-Supernatural-London-Underground-ebook/dp/B01LYRRCXK
(Book 2) Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32177767-the-frost-bloom-garden

 

 

 

My book Launch party is December 1st from 5-7 pm! I will be giving away Merchandise that has not yet been released! Don’t worry if you missed it! You can enter a few hours after too!dramafreereleaseevent

What I learned visiting my main character’s city of origin.

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In October I took a trip to Anaheim California. It is the city that Disney is in, and you can reach a beach in 30-60 minutes. I looked forward to taking the trip because my main character is from California, and moves to London for The Supernatural London Underground Series.

Below are side by side pictures of Laguna Beach (Romarin is from somewhere near Long Beach) and Dover Beach in England:

I love these side by sides. You see a difference in the waves, the trees, the clouds, and both of the pictures were taken in October!

Anaheim had chili mocha frappuccinos, and London had chili powder drinking chocolate (Paul A. Young)!

In the fiction series, Romarin moves to England at 19, the place she was adopted from. Her parents kept her safe for so long, and in book 1,  she comes to realize that they might be keeping some truths from her too! Romarin’s friends back in California were superficial and it was easy to hide her powers from them–Until the accident. Her new friends in London are dark (some superficial, yes) and a little damaged, and I think my love of London reflects back on the reader.

California was beautiful and sunny, but not so warm when I went this October. I live  closer to the east coast, and this was my first time “out west”.

While I love the sun and  especially the beach, there is just something about London that I love, and have much more of a connection to that city than I do any other. There is something about the history of it, and I love the noise in the city (I love NYC too!).it’s also more fun to go out at night in a big city, and much more to do!

I have a stronger connection with my main character now that I understand the place she came from. While Romarin’s character and I are different in many ways (she isn’t the character I based on myself), I think we can both agree that there is something about London that fuels creativity and complexity. The history of London makes anything possible in creative writing, and for me, the setting has allowed my books to essentially write themselves. Traveling is the single greatest source of inspiration, and if you want to write, you have to go to your setting.

Why your book review is so important! It matters! (and how to write one)

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If you want a voice in this world, the one you use in your book review carries MASSIVE sway and influence. It can can influence your peers to check out a book they might love,  and also help authors get free advertising and exposure, so they can keep writing yoru favorite series.

So authors write books, and they’re out there… BUT… people can only see these books if there is advertising leading the way to them, just like any other business. It’s hard to budget for ads when the upfront cost of a book (proofing, editing, cover design, formatting, distribution) is as high as it is. See an interview with different authors here (Cost to self-publish a book) , but the short version is that $150 (she barters for services)- $1650 is the average. Between you and me and the internet, my books have been around $800 to produce. I save my allowance for nearly two years to put out the first one.  What if I told you that there is something absolutely free that you can do to help authors get free advertising on amazon? Keep reading.

The life of an author. You know we like to write books, but you don’t know that we HAVE to write books, and it’s how we healthily cope with the world around us, just as you read to relax an enjoy a moment to yourself. If we didn’t write books or have time to, i’m not sure what would happen. I think most writers would agree with me that we write because we need to.

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Writers are living in a world where 6 publishing houses and a handful of literary agents can decide their destinies. They’re told that their work isn’t about how great it is, it’s about what will sell. When you walk into a book store, the books you see are the ones agents decided would sell, and that’s it. Maybe they are great books, but we can all name a few books that leave us shaking our heads thinking “How did this become a best-seller?” Think about certain..ahem…books, the next time you want to dismiss a book that was produced by an independent author who contracted services and produced theirs through amazon.

So often I see posts from authors who didn’t realize how hard this would be, and how they have to scale back on their writing to work their day job, or abandon it all together. Now is the time to give them your support. You’ve been through tough times too, and they’re trying to write books to help you through those. Please consider leaving a review to help a writer through their tough times.

If you want to see your favorite series go on, all you have to do is:

Post a review!

It’s just one review that you can post different places, but the two most important are amazon and Goodreads. writeareview.jpg

See! See! Your voice matters so much!!!!

The best part of Amazon is that when they start promoting books, they promote it to the audience that is most likely interested. You could help someone find their new favorite series! What’s not awesome about leaving a review?

Now that you know how incredible you can be in leaving a review, you might be asking what to put in one.

First Sentence:

  1. Summarize the book in the first sentence using mood, genre, and location.                     *Example: “”Mirror” was a dark tale about supernatural people living in London, but it did have its humorous moments.”

Body (pick 1 or all 4!):

  1. Describe what you liked or disliked about the characters.
    *Example: “Relating to Romarin and her quest to find out her heritage was easy, but I didn’t appreciate Travis’s use of bad language… then again he did grow on me by the end. Like a narcissistic tumor on my ereader screen.”
  2. Described what you liked  or disliked about the plot (twisty, steady, suspenseful, romantic?)
    *Example:”I liked the twists that kept me reading and how the supporting characters were revealed as an introduction to the series. I didn’t like that the main character was only in serious danger maybe 3 times during this book. I get she has problems to sort out, but I need more action.”
  3. Describe your reaction to the plot.
    *Example: “The book really picked up for me on chapter four. I had to stay up late to finish the entire thing!”
  4. Tell about your favorite part or scene.
    Example: “I don’t want to spoil it, but I loved when we found out that Row’s adoptive mom was keeping something about her birth parents a secret from her. I don’t think how she reacted was overkill at all.”

Pick your headline:

  1. Choose a headline for your review last. It can be a summary sentence (“Great start to a new series”), your reaction (“I read this in the stock room at work because I couldn’t put it down”), or a recommendation ( “A must read for people who are enamored with London and the paranormal”).

DON’T do these things in your review:

  1. Spoil the book. Avoid specific spoilers about the plot.
  2. Say “This isn’t the genre I usually read,” and then give it two stars. This really hurts authors’ careers. If you know you won’t like the book genre going into it, it’s not fair to slap a low review on it. You just wasted your own time too.
  3. Leave 1 or 2 star reviews. You can contest me on this one, but now that we know how NOT leaving a review hurts authors, just don’t leave a review if you don’t like it. I say this because I do not leave 1 or 2 star reviews, this happens most often because the book has not been proofed or edited, which happens sometimes. My philosophy is that I cannot be helpful in leaving a low review. Your opinion could differ.
  4. Not read the book. (I know “don’t not” is horrible language but stick with me.) Honestly, the hard truth is that if you get lost or confused, you’re probably reading in some distracted fashion or skipped through a book. Authors have their plots thought out, and if they have beta readers and editors, someone would have noticed if the plot wasn’t cohesive. I run into this with my book because my main character’s power is to gain memories of people by drinking their blood. Some people can’t follow as she absorbs a new personality, or find the mixed up memories “convenient”, when it is explained as her powers and not a random plot device. If you are looking for a book with twists and changes to keep you on your toes, don’t complain that it does in your review. Now that the band-aid is off, the saddest thing about this is that you might be missing an awesome book! I feel this way about reviewers who have a huge TBR list. Slow it down and stop skimming. Sit back and enjoy it, and feel free to tell us that the review will take longer than you thought. We’d rather you enjoy our work than skim, even though a review before or on release day helps us a ton!

One last note–you can post to amazon anonymously.

Get your code name ready, because you don’t have to reveal your true identity. After you hit “Write a customer review”, you will see this screen:

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Hit change, and you can pick Fredward as your name. 😉

I  hope this was helpful! Get out there are leave your review, because it’s your mark on the world, and your opinion matters!

Thank you readers, blogger, and friends!!!!

xoxo

The Triquetra Symbol Across Cultures

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When I started my book series, I needed something that tied the main character to her past. As a (minor) spoiler, the triquetra necklace Romarin dons in London in book 1 a Mirror Among Shattered Glass is a symbol her birth parents left her with, but no one knows why. Could one of the characters in book two be onto something?

I like The Frost Bloom Garden because it explores the different meanings of the Triquetra according to the characters she comes across. I like to think good things come in threes, but I can’t convince everyone!

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The Triquetra in the Supernatural London Underground: 

Rodger from the bar, who is a Libertine (a new age vampire), likes to think that the triquetra’s past present and future mean nothing to him because his is immortal. He also reflects that his friends for the next hundred years will be the same people, immortals, so he laments that he needs to have good communication with them.

In Celtic cultures, The symbol means to love, honor, and protect. The triquetra is often seen as a celtic knot. Coreo from the alternate Changeling dimension points this out in The Frost Bloom Garden.

Having first seen the triquetra on Charmed, I am familiar with its meaning of the maiden, mother, and crone, its role in wicca.

And of course, the triquetra can also be linked to the holy trinity, father, spirit, and ghost, as well as the inverse.

To one character, Audin, his symbolism of the triquetra extends to  John Paul Jones’s use of it on the Led Zeppelin album cover, Led Zeppelin IV (in book 1).

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We will know for sure what the triquetra means for Romarin  in Book 3, as the trilogy comes to a close. This symbol is a timeless one, that lends itself to many great things that come in threes.

Book two is available for pre-order here:

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On Amazon for pre-order: http://amzn.to/2cUi8Yk