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Holiday Chat with Author Meghan Gorecki!

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Loveys, I’m so excited that my friend Meghan Gorecki is visiting the blog today to talk shop on the holidays! Meghan is an amazing editor and writer and person and–she’s basically awesome. So let’s chat!

What’s one of your favorite aspects of the holiday season?

The music! From the holiday hymns honoring Jesus’ birth, to the pop classics old and new that you get stuck in your head instantly—it’s all so happy and bright. I just love the spirit it brings and the warmth it ushers in even through the stress and hustle and bustle.

 

Oh! I LOVE holiday music. Seriously. I listen to it in June sometimes. What’s your favorite holiday movie? Oh gosh. Not gonna lie I sat here for twenty minutes thinking of one. Favorite holiday movie is probably White Christmas, followed closely by Little Women if that can be considered a holiday movie (hey it opens at Christmas, right?). And we can’t forget all the Claymation classics like Rudolph or The Year without a Santa Claus.

White Christmas and Little Women are both classic Christmas movies to me. We watched Little Women as a family every year of my childhood. So…cider or cocoa? Cider, actually! Cocoa is delicious but so very rich. Warm cider with whipped cream and caramel? Sign me up, any day, any time.
 

I’m a fan of whipped cream and caramel on anything actually. Are you partial to Thanksgiving or Christmas and why? Thanksgiving, for sure. The stuffing(!), the parade—and the reminder to count our blessings. And it’s kind of like autumn’s last hurrah, my favorite season, but I do still love Christmas too. Just partial to Turkey Day.
 

I definitely love both holidays as well. My family usually makes the same traditional meal for both, so it’s turkey again (or maybe a glazed ham!) and dressing and all the fixings. Okay. I’m getting hungry! Tell us about your latest novel! So my latest novel is coming out this April, and it’s a historical romance. Amongst the Roses follows Margaret Bryant, and Connor and Adam Doyle—three people from opposite sides of the tracks, brought together when the Civil War overturns all their lives. It’s set in Chambersburg, a large Pennsylvania city very near the Mason-Dixon line that saw three Confederate invasions during the four years of war. Here’s the official blurb:

The War Between the States shakes Margaret Bryant out of her comfortable upper-class life when her father enlists in the Army of the Potomac. Despite being safely ensconced above the Mason-Dixon Line in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Margaret finds her strength tested by opposition from familiar faces and Confederate threats. Will she let a young man from a lesser station into her heart even as war rages ever nearer to the home front?

Restless Connor Doyle sees the war as a way to escape from his family’s farm and his identity as a poor Irishman’s son. His brother, Adam, torn between duty to country and his family, enlists alongside Connor. Adam dares to hope in a future with Margaret when he begins a courtship correspondence from the war front. The two brothers make a vow to protect one another at all costs, but when faced with death and destruction from all sides—will they be able to uphold it?

The three bloodiest days in America’s history bring these three together at Gettysburg and tragedy’s cruelty threatens to tear two hearts apart—and bring two unlikely allies together.

That sounds so intriguing! Meghan, thank you SO much for stopping by! Loveys, check out her Christmas novella. (I love the cover so much!)

Meghan M. Gorecki is an author of inspirational fiction about what God can make beautiful from the ashes of history, and hearts. A lover and avid studier of people, times gone by, and fiction, she has been writing since childhood and now houses her books under Northern Belle Publishing. Coffee and red lipstick color her days as a redhead from a box, alongside her treasured tribe of family and friends in her beloved hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Connect with her on social media and at her blog/website at: http://www.northernbellemeg.com (http://www.northernbellemeg.com)

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A Steel City holiday romance sure to melt your heart.

The holidays haven’t been the easiest for Merry Grainger. Five years ago, she lost her grandfather and got dumped by her boyfriend right before Christmas. Each season since sees her determined to avoid getting hurt again, and so she keeps a steel-like grip on her hopeless romantic heart.

Music used to soothe Sam Shepard’s soul until the death of his biggest cheerleader broke his heart, family, and dreams into pieces. Now he’s focused on thriving in the city, and with the people, he’s grown to love—all to keep the hole in his heart from opening anew with every passing holiday season. Thrown together by a church play and meddlesome family armed with mistletoe, will Merry and Sam unwrap their guarded hearts to let in the true hope of Christmas—and each other?

 

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Holiday Letter Writing by Susan Mathis (Guest Post!)

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714fDFjKCKL__UX250_Friends, I’m super excited to tell you that my wonderful author-friend Susan Mathis is stopping by today to talk about making Holiday Letter Writing fun. (I absolutely need this advice!) Susan, thank you SO much for visiting and sharing some ideas!

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Every year most of us read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” I knew friends and family expected to hear from us at Christmas, but I was so busy. I knew that a simple Christmas card wouldn’t be enough. Then I had an idea. I simply changed the words and created “’Twas a Year of Adventure.” I rhymed a story of the whole year’s family events, and it was a hit.

I didn’t mean for it to become a tradition, but it did. A few years ago I grew tired of writing one more version of the poem, so instead I wrote a regular letter. Wrong move! There was mutiny in my Christmas card list—I had a dozen family and friends complain that reading the poem had become a tradition in their family! Now I know it has meaning to others, I take much more pleasure in writing it each year. You can, too.

Though it comes at a busy time in family life, writing your annual family letter doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be a fun family event, and become a family tradition. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Throughout the year, keep a family calendar that records events of the year. Then simply review it and form your ideas. If funny sayings are important to you, record them and use them as a basis of your letter. If sports, events, activities, growth milestones or achievements are highlights in your family life, record them.
  • Review the year as a special “Family Memory Night.” Read through your record and enjoy the power of sharing memories.
  • If you’re not a writer, don’t worry. People aren’t looking for polished works of art; they want to connect with you and know more about your family life.
  • Be sure to include information about every family member.
  • Save money. Use snapshots instead of expensive studio photography. Email your letter instead of snail mailing it. Remember, it’s the connection that matters.
  • Include an opening and a conclusion. It could be as simple as, “This Christmas we wanted to share more about our family by telling you about our ‘Family Firsts” as an introduction and “May the Lord bless you as you celebrate His birth” as a conclusion.

Tweak the timing

Too busy to even think about writing a letter at Christmastime? Make Thanksgiving, New Year’s, or even Valentine’s Day your special time to connect with family and friends. Establish it as a tradition, and your loved ones will look forward to it with love and anticipation.

Mix it up

There are lots of ways to format your letter. If your children are young, photos or simple drawings with captions may be a hit. A theme letter can be fun with older children. Choose a theme, let everyone contribute to the ideas and make it a family project.

A few ideas include:

  • Name Acrostic: Use the letters of your name to tell about your year
  • Family News: let everyone be a journalist and write an article for your newspaper.
  • The Top 10 Family events or funny sayings or moments to remember
  • Family Firsts
  • Family Statistics

History in the making

Whether you choose a different holiday, a certain format or both, try to stick to it. Not only will you make it easier and easier for you, your loved ones will look forward to it each year. Your letters will become a record of your family history, and maybe you’ll create a family tradition for others, too.

Susan G Mathis is a versatile writer and author of The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy. Susan has two Tyndale nonfiction books, Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage and The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Life of Love and Happiness. She is also the author of two published picture books, Lexie’s Adventure in Kenya: Love is Patient and Princess Madison’s Rainbow Adventure. Please visit www.SusanGMathis.com. 

P.S. Susan’s novel The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy released this year and I recommend it! A duel storyline weaves together a family’s past and present. Hop over to Amazon and check out Susan’s books. https://www.amazon.com/Susan-G.-Mathis/e/B001JP31DI/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1)

 

Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations by V. Joy Palmer

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weddingphoto.jpgI’m super excited to chat with Joy Palmer today about her novel, Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations, her writing process, and how she drinks her coffee!  Just as a heads up, the girl is hilarious and I have loved getting to know her.

Here’s the rundown on Joy: V. Joy Palmer is an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. She is a youth leader at her church, and loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens. When Joy isn’t urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she’s hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their socially awkward pets.

So let’s chat!!

1. Tell me about your publishing history! How did Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations come to be?

I’ve always been obsessed with weddings, and I was single and frustrated with the man who is now my husband (that is a long story) when I first started writing and brainstorming. I started venting writing, and suddenly I just heard Izze chattering in my head. The idea of a single woman in the wedding business who wanted to get married and was fed up with the leading man fascinated me. I’ve really struggled with trusting God (especially with the events that inspired this story), so my heart is really for readers to see that they can trust God with their hearts. Because He has the very best in store for them. He loves to give us beauty for ashes.

  1. Give me a little rundown of your main character and what you love about her.

I largely based Isabel “Izze” Vez on myself. Very original, I know. 😉 However, I made her quite a bit feistier than I am. I’m an introverted bookworm. I tend to keep my adamant opinions to myself. It takes a ridiculous amount of internal arguing and anti-nausea medication for me to even broach the outside rink of social. Izze doesn’t really have those problems. In a lot of ways, she’s the bold person I wish I could be.

However, Izze also tends to be more of a loose cannon. She struggles with acting first, then thinking. While this makes for fun dialogue, it also is very eye-opening since this is something most of us struggle with in one way or another, at one time or another. I guess what I really love about Izze are her flaws! She’s imperfect. But those imperfections are a wonderful stage showcasing God’s awesomeness! All His forgiving, merciful, gracious, and loving awesomeness.

And we both like our coffee to resemble a liquid candy bar. ❤ I love that.

  1. Liquid candy bar! Lol! I love that. So what authors are you reading right now? Anything you recommend?

Oh, so many books! Haha! Since I also review books, that can be and dangerous question, and I’ll read almost anything if there’s a romance.

Right now, I’m finishing up Unraveling by Sara Ella, which is AMAZING! Then I’ll be reading The Memory of You by Cathy West, A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren, and Solo by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess.

I’m pretty proud of myself for not listing twenty books. *eats brownie as a reward*

  1. I should eat a brownie too. Just thinking out loud here… 🙂 What’s your writing process? Outline? Fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda girl? Scenes in order or out of order?

While I’m an everything-in-its-place perfectionist in most areas, I’d say I’m more of a pantser with my writing. When I started writing LLaMA, I wrote the scenes in order, and it was killing my creativity, not to mention I overexplained every mundane detail in the setting. Unsurprisingly, stuff came to a screeching halt. Then I went to my first American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference, and I heard seasoned authors talk about different techniques, including jumping from scene to scene. I wholeheartedly embraced that technique! So much so that I even came up with a major plot twist at that conference while chatting with an editor! “What’s the big conflict?” “Oh, this is going to happen!” Voila! 😉

I had to write some basic plot outlines recently, and it was SO hard! However, even with a basic plot written, I still allowed myself plenty of room to be creative with the scenes while I type my way to “The End.”

  1. I’m the same, but sometimes scenes come to me out of order. (Usually when I’m sitting in church! Ha! Then I’m scribbling down everything.) What book or series made you fall in love with stories?

I’d say there are four different books/series that have shaped me as a reader and a writer. I’ll just tell you about them in the order that I discovered and read them…

Wings of the Morning by Lori Wick. This story gave me a fresh love for reading. I can’t tell you how many times I have read this beautiful story. I stopped counting after thirty. LOL. Pirates. Adventure on the high seas. Romance. Mystery. This story has it all!

The Christy Miller Series (and all of the spin off stories!!!) by Robin Jones Gunn. I’ve always related to Christy. I started reading these stories when I was eleven, and since Robin Jones Gunn is amazing and keeps continuing the story, I get to go through life, marriage, and children with this dear friend. Christy and I even have baby girls!

The Dragon Keep Chronicles by Donita K. Paul. Speaking of characters I can relate to!! Kale!!! She is one of my favorite characters ever! I’ll think something, turn the page, and Kale is thinking the same thing. My husband relates to Kale’s husband, Bardon, and we would swap these books back and forth when we were teenagers. ❤ I see these books as another facet of our love story. ❤

Match Point by Erynn Mangum. ❤ I love, love, love Laurie. I get her, I relate to her, and I share her sense of humor. Yet I want to as bold as she is. Plus, we have the same married name! (That wasn’t planned. 😉 ) But I also owe my writing career to this story and author. I’ve heard so many writers talk about a book that changed things for them. Well, this is that book for me. Once I read Match Point, I knew what kind of stories I wanted to write. Funny. Real, flawed, lovable characters. Filled with God.

Oh girl! The Christy Miller series basically helped shape my worldview in middle school and made all the difference in my life going forward. Not to mention, made me want to be a writer! Robin’s writing made me realize that one good novel can actually make an impression for a lifetime. And I’m such a fan of Erynn as well! I especially love the Paige Alder series.

Thank you SO much for sharing with us today, Joy! I’m so glad to know you.

Here are all the ways to connect with Joy and to check out her novel:

joy

 

 

Stories of Our Lives: Origins of The Last Summer

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Confession, loveys: I watched Days of Our Lives back in high school, and college, and I loved it. (The school I went to had half days on Fridays, so I’d watch every Friday and get caught up on the week.) Stefano DiMera, Sami and Carrie and Austin, Marlena and John–all of it. And at the beginning, I remember the intro saying, Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives. Later in college, I swapped Days for General Hospital and watched that through the rest of college–coming home at lunch and turning it on–and I dragged Jeff into the story during our first few years of marriage. No regrets. Those were good times. Jeff may not admit it, but he was just as hooked on finding out if Carly and Sonny would make it as I was.

The days of our lives really do go fast. And they tell a story. Our stories.

The Last Summer Front Cover

We’re five days out from the release of The Last Summer. (Eek! I’m SO excited!) I told you that I wrote the first draft of this twenty years ago, my first year of college. In fact, I still have the original spiral notebook.

Here’s a cool story, lovey. It’s just incredible to me.

After I’d written this last draft and sent it off to editors and publishers and finally heard back that it was going to be published–I realized something. In that first spiral notebook, I’d written the story of seven friends who love each other like family. The story has reshaped since then, but the plot has remained the same. The friends have remained true to their characters, but names changed over the years as I rewrote the story. In that spiral notebook are the original names that I came up with when I was eighteen years old.

Three of those names are Ashton, Lillian, and Everett.

My three children are named Ashtyn, Lillian, and Lincoln Everett.

The crazy thing is that this story never even came into my mind during my pregnancies. I was twenty-eight when I was pregnant for the first time. Ten years and a long way from the eighteen year old girl who’d gone away to college.

When I was pregnant with Ashtyn, my first child, I sometimes scribbled names on a notepad (usually during staff meetings!). Someone suggested Ashton to me, but at that time, it looked a bit masculine to me. I scribbled the name over and over on a notepad, and suddenly wrote Ashtyn, and it clicked. I loved it. Lillian never changed, I’ve always loved it. And I’ve loved the name Everett since I saw the movie With Honors way back in the 90s.

When I first realized that the names I came up with as a teenager are the names of my children–I’m not kidding when I say it sent chills over me. The truth that those names have been in my heart–in me–since I was just a girl . . . And have stayed with me for all these years, and have been passed on to the most important people in my life . . . without me even realizing it–well, I guess it’s just the connecting of all the days of my life.

Ashtyn and Lily and Lincoln Everett were always meant to be. They were always part of me. From years ago when I was a girl myself, spilling out a story that would hold pieces of me forever. (Before I even met Jeff!)

It makes me cry.

Their names were there–at the shaping of a story, at the shaping of my life. Little hints of who I would be and the children who would make my life wonderful. And I didn’t realize it, but it all came together.

I’ve been asked before about how I write my stories, lovey. For me, it’s just like that. They come together. A bit mysterious. The story unfolds and you see the connections later–and then you get it.

And I cry.

Our stories are being pieced together like puzzles–at the end you see the picture and you smile and you realize, Oh, that went there. Oh, right, of course that fit there. I see it now.

Loveys . . . stories–fictional and real–are amazing. They’ve been shaping me since I was a young thing. They’ve captivated me.

And this story I’m about to share with you–it’s a piece of the story of my life.

I’ll treasure it forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal Time

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Loveys, we are seventeen days from the release of The Last Summer (picture me squealing with excitement!). How fabulous! Today, Carrie from Reading is My SuperPower is doing a cover reveal! Hop over right now and join the excitement!!

http://readingismysuperpower.org/2017/05/24/cover-reveal-last-summer-brandy-bruce/

Six Weeks from The Last Summer

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I cannot believe we’re six weeks out from the launch of The Last Summer! How is this even possible?! It’s actually already available for pre-order on Amazon. The publisher is working on the cover. Final corrections are being made to the proofs. And this is feeling really real, y’all.

I’m scared.

I was putting together a list of early readers this weekend, and the thought of people actually READING this story started to give me a little anxiety. Remember, these characters first came to me when I was 18 years old. A lifetime ago. They’ve been living in my head all this time. Now their story is finished and about to be available for people. I think nerves are just part of the process.

Nerves and excitement. I’m thinking of a book launch party and other fun, book-release things and excitement is part of all that. I’ve loved every book I’ve written–of course I have. You pour yourself into the writing and spend hours upon hours with your characters.  But this book, lovey. This book.

It’s just different.

I love it in a nostalgic, memory-filled, roots kind of way. Because I remember forming these characters on the bottom of a bunk bed while living in a dorm room with five other girls, one of whom has already gone to heaven, which breaks my heart. We were just young girls then.

And then I remember re-writing it, living with Leah in dorm 23. Then Courtney and Kat. Dave Matthews or Matchbox Twenty on the radio. And then in our apartment while living with Laurie. Staying up late in my room, typing away on this same story.

Then becoming an intern for a publishing company and letting Mick and Kathy read it, getting feedback and feeling terrified as real, grown-up editors read my writing. Working on it while sitting with Samantha Krieger in one of the houses I was staying in during our internship. I think back on that and smile, thinking that’s what it looks like when you’re writer-friends. Come over, and bring your laptop, and we’ll sit together and type!

Then taking a break from it and writing Looks Like Love. Time passed during those years and life changed and I became an editor and lived out my dream job. Babies came. Then I wrote Table for Two, then Second Chance Café, then Recipe for Love. All while editing the books of so many others.

And finally, while pregnant with my third baby, I decided to start with a blank page, and rewrite this novel (in first person this time, which I loved while working on Looks Like Love).

So as Lily grew inside me, I wrote, for the last time, Sara’s story, The Last Summer.

And now, we’re six weeks out from release date.

But in my heart, we’re twenty years in. And I could just about cry.

So I’m scared and excited and happy and relieved and ready. I could use your help, loveys, to get the word out about this story. I hope to do a cover reveal in the next few weeks. And you can see the hashtag in the photo above. Once the book is out, I’d be so thankful to see readers with it, and please include that hashtag. Please leave reviews–you don’t even know how invaluable that is for authors. Share the book announcement on your pages. Contact me with any questions about how you can help! brandybrucewrites@gmail.com.

It’s nearly time. The COUNTDOWN is beginning.

Oh gosh. I’m so happy!

 

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Talking books and such

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Here’s the deal. I write stories. Sometimes. When there’s a free moment between being a waitress for my kids and folding laundry and watching OC marathons on the Pop channel. I do it because I love it. And I’ve done it for a really long time. When I was a young thing, I’d read the latest Babysitter Club book and then sit down and immediately write my own sequel. (Sorry, Ann M. Martin. That’s what fan fiction looked like in the 80s.)  My best friend and I started writing our own series together in the sixth grade, called The Hawaii Twins. When we studied WWII in high school, I wrote a novel about swing kids who were trying to escape the Nazis. I love stories. Movies. Theater. Music. Anything that tells a good story.

During great times in my life, I’d write. During difficult times in my life, I’d write. I went off to college and in my Liberty University dorm room (which was in no way as cool as the dorm rooms are now), when Leah, then Courtney, then Laurie (year after year of roommates) would take off to class or to hang out with friends, I’d turn on Caedmon’s Call (or Matchbox Twenty or Dave Matthews or Rich Mullins or Christmas music or whatever) and I’d write.

But even before those fun college days . . . a story came to me. I spent a year at a school in Longview a very long time ago. It was a difficult year for me, to be honest. But it’s where I met Amber. And Joy. And Krisha. And Lois. And Micah. And Charisa. And Mary Jane. And Karissa. And Wes. And Paul. And Erika and Efrain. And Leticia. And Dairisha and Blanca and Melissa and Rachel and Sharon and Tim and Miss Michelle and SO many more awesome people. And in that tiny little dorm room that I shared with FIVE other girls, I started writing a story about seven friends. Seven twenty-somethings who are in and out of each other’s lives. Who love each other like family.

Over the years I’ve written and rewritten that story. Reinvented certain characters. I’d go back to it when I had the urge. The story, the characters had been there for me when I’d needed an outlet, when I’d needed to feel creative, when I’d needed solace. I didn’t want to give up on them. The bottom line-it was a story in my heart that still wanted to be told.

So, while I was pregnant with Lily, I pulled up a blank document and decided to start fresh. I’d write it all over again, the way I’d want to tell it right now. So I did. And I loved every minute and I cried at times. It’s hard to describe how I feel about this novel, because it’s been part of me for so long. It’s who I was then, and it’s who I am now.

And I’m ABSOLUTELY thrilled to tell you that it will be published, and as of now, will most likely be released at the beginning of next summer (I’ve just signed the contract so I still need to dive into the editing and rewriting process, and books, you know, take a super long time.) I’ll keep you posted on the process. I cannot wait to share this story with you, loveys. I just know that when I finally see it in print, I’ll bawl and howl and laugh and jump up and down like a crazy person.

Can’t. Wait.

Just a thought. Having the heart of a writer means that there are stories inside of you that you need to tell. Some, you will write and they’ll stay in a drawer or on your laptop for forever (and if you pull them out and take a look, you’ll think, Yeah, that needs to stay hidden in this drawer!) I’ve written stories that will never see the light of day. They were and are stepping stones, learning opportunities, practice and so on. And for some of us, it takes a very long time to get any traction with our writing. Doors close. Opportunities seem to dry up. We get discouraged. I think this happens to 90 percent of writers. (Some people are super lucky and everything always works out. I am not one of those people.) Sometimes, things happen when we’re not expecting it. We’re busy living life and loving our people and working hard. And sometimes we need to take initiative and make things happen, or at least try. Start that business. Indie-publish that novel. Save up for that trip.

By the time my novel will be published, it will have been nearly twenty years since those characters first showed up in my mind. (Crazy, I know. Now I feel super old.) But you know, there doesn’t have to be an expiration date on our dreams and goals. Life changes and we change and our hopes change. Good things can happen. Go after it, lovey.

My new editor sent me an email, telling me why she connects to the story and how excited she is for us to work on this project together. I couldn’t stop smiling after reading that email. It’s been a long road, but there’s an end in sight and a story to be told.

Coming soon, Loveys. Good things.

 

P.S. In the meantime, my sister is doing a giveaway of my novel Looks Like Love!  Go here to try to win a copy!  https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/ce50accb2abfd39b/?ref_=tsm_4_tw_p_ln-l

Also, follow my author page on Facebook to keep up with the publishing process as I go along! https://www.facebook.com/authorBrandyBruce/