Open Book Blog Hop – Sunrise to Sunset   Leave a comment

https://authorstevensmith.co.uk/2021/07/19/open-book-blog-hop-sunrise-to-sunset/comment-page-1/#comment-207

Posted July 19, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

NVDT #95 – No Prompt Day – Instead – A Lesson from History   Leave a comment

Not Very Deep Thoughts

NOT Part of Open Link Blog Hop (EDIT – surprise surpise – the link reappeared)

The Prompt: I think it was something about when is your best time to write or when do you manage TCB, but the invite vanished. So…

I like to read authors before they were classics, icons, Nobel winners. Because I learn a lot and it gives me hope. Not of writing anything Nobel worthy, but telling a decent story with some skill.

In another blog I mentioned Faulkner’s Mosquitos. Written in 1927 it highlights the same issues of publication writers face today. Popularity of sports stars and celebutantes, high profile society murders, nepotism. Along with, as today, not everyone was literate, or had the price of a magazine, much less a book. But there were a gazillion more outlets for the written word because there was very little competition for entertainment. Movies were…

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Posted July 19, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Creativity By The Sundial #OpenBook Blog Hop   Leave a comment

July 19, 2021 Is there a certain time of day when you are most creative? When you handle the ‘business’ side of writing? What’s your favorite time of day? My bedroom faces south. …

Source: Creativity By The Sundial #OpenBook Blog Hop

Posted July 19, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

The best time of the day.   Leave a comment

https://richarddeescifi.co.uk/best-time-of-the-day/

Posted July 19, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Sublime Sunlight   14 comments

1,614 Sunlight Breaking Through Stock Photos and Images - 123RF

Is there a certain time of day when you are most creative? When you handle the ‘business’ side of writing? What’s your favorite time of day?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”9ca8ac45fdd94dc78bc4eb2cddcaa504″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/9ca8ac45fdd94dc78bc4eb2cddcaa504” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”><script async=”true” src=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js…“></script></span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”9ca8ac45fdd94dc78bc4eb2cddcaa504”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/9ca8ac45fdd94dc78bc4eb2cddcaa504

When I Am Most Creative?

I’m definitely a night owl, and I have a fulltime job that occurs during the day. In some ways that’s great for me because I can work to make money when I would normally be sleeping and then when I get home from my money job, I can be most creative during the time when I’m most awake. It works for me. I do sometimes find the need to sleep confining, but I also only need about 6-1/2 hours of sleep, so that leaves a fair number of hours in which to be creative. When I retire or the book business starts supporting itself, I look forward to sleeping to noon and then working to 2:00 am writing books.

Business Time?

Of course, being an indie author means I’m also a small-business entrepreneur. While it would be lovely to just write and publish books, I know nobody would read them if they didn’t know they exist, so there’s marketing of all sorts that needs to be done. There’s posting on Facebook, Twitter, MeWe, and Parler, as well as Goodreads and there’s ads on Amazon. That all takes time and money, and I’ve discovered I can’t just let Amazon ads ride automatically because the cost will run away with me while other times the ads are priced so low they get no clicks. There’s a balance to be achieved where I spend no more than half of what my books earn, but I aim to spend less than 10% of what my books earn. Some months I manage that and sometimes I don’t.

Finding time to do book business is a challenge that I constantly fight with because it takes away from writing time. I’ve tried various times of day, but I most often use part of my lunch hour for marketing. I log in, get the job done and get out because I’m already in business mode and I also have a one-hour deadline, trimmed to 45 minutes because of the need to eat and use the facilities. That leaves my evenings free — mostly — for creative endeavors.

Favorite Time of Day?

My favorite time of day has nothing to do with creative writing and it is also seasonally influenced because I live in Alaska, which has such extremes of sunlight, so my favorite time of day varies with the seasons. In the summer, when we have about 19 hours of sunlight every day, my favorite time of my day is about 9:00 pm on any sunny evening when the sun comes around to the north side of our house. It’s still pretty high in the sky, so It turns the birch trees a green gold and scatters golden beams across our vegetable garden. It also lights up the headboard of our bed and, if I have my way, I’m sitting right there sucking up the rays. Seriously, the photo at the top of this article tries to capture the sublime moment of our summer evenings, but it doesn’t. I’m not sure a camera really can.

But in the winter, we get as little as 2 1/2 hours of sunlight a day (with about two hours on either side of civil twilight and I love to sit in my living room, which is on the south side of my house, and watch the low sunlight of a January midday filter through the steam from my coffee or tea as it wavers up into the dry indoor air of my winter home. Sorry I don’t have a photo, but this snap of what I can see outside a friend’s window at the same time of day will have to suffice.

Exploring Fairbanks, the Golden Heart City - Anchorage Daily News
Alaska Range

That’s the Alaska Range — Mts. Deborah and Hayes (Mt. Denali is just off the right side of the shot because you can’t see it from Dan’s house because there’s an upland in the way. That mist in the winter air is called ice fog and it occurs naturally at about -20 below zero near rivers and lakes. It’s actually ice crystals that collect near ground level. Those trees in the foreground are black spruce and the flat area beyond is the frozen but still moisture-producing Tanana River.

Posted July 19, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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New Book on Kindle Vella   3 comments

Serialized Fiction — another way to enjoy good novels.

Words I Wish I’d Said by Lela Markham

Posted July 15, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Looking for Voices   15 comments

Are audiobooks the future of book sales? Do you have your stories on audio?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”de01953722184f988c5ec1ea08917ee4″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/de01953722184f988c5ec1ea08917ee4” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”><script async=”true” src=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js…“></script></span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”de01953722184f988c5ec1ea08917ee4”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/de01953722184f988c5ec1ea08917ee4

Predictions

Someone hailed me a prophetess in a book review recently because I had riots and a deadly flu years before they showed up in reality, but I think I just got lucky and have no special ability to see the future. So, I hesitate to say something WILL happen. I can look at trends and make surmises, but predictions need a bit more accuracy than that.

Audiobooks are certainly a growing proportion of the book sales market and I feel safe in saying they aren’t going the way of the dodo anytime soon. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re “the future of book sales”. There are a lot of visually-oriented people who will still prefer to read books rather than listen to them. Personally, my mind wanders when listening to an audiobook while print books can hold my attention for hours. Remember when the forecasters insisted physical books were an endangered species? Well, they’re still more popular than ebooks, so….. Audiobooks are certainly growing in popularity and I think they’ll be part of the future market mix, but I don’t think they’ll replace or even overwhelm print sales. Variety is the spice of life and literary enjoyment.

My Books?

My books are not on audio for a couple of reasons.

The first is that I don’t like my voice. I don’t like to see myself on camera and I don’t like to hear myself on recording. I hear all my flaws and I don’t like it.

So I’m looking for audio talent, but I can’t afford to pay anyone (it makes no sense to spend money you will never recoup) and nobody ever responds to the royalty-share offers. My husband says he’ll do it (and he has a lovely voice), but it’s not as simple as he is willing. Audiobook production requires a quiet space, no background noise, no hard drive whir, etc., and he’s come to the conclusion that he might need to build a sound room to get the production values Audible requires in a house that requires a heating unit to come on about every half hour in the winter and the windows to be open in the summer.

But once I overcome those challenges, I definitely plan to produce audiobooks. I’ve had requests, but…yeah, it’s not as simple as “Good idea, let’s do it.”

Hiding in Plain Sight   4 comments

If your character wanted to wear a disguise, how would they dress?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”e09f2785f6e1449286ac4cf178b0bd0b” style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/e09f2785f6e1449286ac4cf178b0bd0b” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20rel=</span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”e09f2785f6e1449286ac4cf178b0bd0b”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/e09f2785f6e1449286ac4cf178b0bd0b

How the CIA Trains Spies to Hide in Plain Sight | WIRED

Which Character?

It would be very different depending on my characters, right? Shane (in Transformation Project) would choose differently than his brother Cai or his friend Jazz. Padraig (in Daermad Cycle) would choose differently than Tamys and Gregyn lives his entire life as a ruse. Peter (in What If Wasn’t) would probably love to be someone else right about now, but who would he choose to be?

So Many Choices

Shane Delaney aka Eric Faraday

Shane and Javier from Transformation Project each spent about a half-decade pretending to be someone they’re not. They were government contractors. Shane infiltrated a militia and then later was a double agent in B&W’s Knight Industries. He didn’t really need to alter his appearance, though he did alter his identity. Now that he’s done with that, he occasionally eludes to going “off the map” during his mercenary career.

“I drove a truck into Shalimar Province wearing a kaffiyeh and dark contacts.”

The Delaney’s Indian ancestry runs strongly in Shane. His hair is dark and curly (like the Metis of my tribe’s history). He tans a deep brown. His eyes are dark green, but colored contacts takes care of that. He’s not as dark as some Middle Easterners, but he fit in well enough so long as he kept his mouth shut because though he learned to speak some of the local language, he was by no means fluent.

Having done it before, I would think that would be his disguise of choice now.

When he and Mike Sanchez were in Santa Fe, Shane hid behind dark glasses, his tan and speaking Chicano Spanish. In the Transformation Project universe, Santa Fe has become a separate country where speaking Spanish is the best way to stay alive.

Javier Chavez aka Bobby Noreen aka Martin Pulgarin

Javier Chavez infiltrated the Naharis Network, an affiliation of Islamist terrorists that seem to have been involved in the massive nuclear attacks that started the series. Javier was born in Columbia, but raised in foster care in the United States. As Bobby Noreen, he claimed to be a part-black, part-Hispanic felon who converted to Islam while in prison. He grew his dark hair long and curly and learned Ebonics and Arabic.

When he fled his government agency duties, he shaved his head to make it harder to identify him. The character of Martin was a sheet rocker from White Plains, New York. Javier has let his chrome dome grow out a little since coming to Emmaus, but he still isn’t sure which is the real him.

Grant Rigby

The King of Disguises among my characters is Grant Rigby, long-time employee of the Central Security Agency. Shane never expected to see him in the same guise twice. As Shane’s handler, Grant didn’t want anyone to trace the guy talking to Shane in the coffee shop back to his family and so he excelled at hiding behind disguises. He visits Shane in his house once and looks like a redneck mechanic — plaid flannel shirt, gimme hat, grease on his hands. When he meets Shane in a coffee shop, he’s dressed like a businessman. Shane remembers meeting him once in Miristan and Grant looked so much like a local (in thawb and ghutra), Shane almost shot him. In his real life, Grant is ordinary – light-brown hair, blue eyes, medium-height, medium-weight — exactly the kind of guy nobody notices because he looks like everyone else, a perfect canvas to be someone else, anyone else.

Hiding in Plain Sight

With the exception of Grant, none of my characters is a thespian. They don’t know how to create fake noses or the other makeup techniques to change their appearance, but they have successfully pretended to be other people in the pursuit of information.

I don’t know how Grant would dress. I think he doesn’t know until he is faced with the need to infiltrate somewhere. Shane prefers not to change his appearance too much because he isn’t uncomfortable in his own skin as a rule. He struggles with his past actions, not with how he looks. He can fake being Middle Eastern or Hispanic and since he is white, he can choose a Caucasian role. That covers a lot of the world. Javi, however, grew up in a situation where being himself wasn’t always a good thing and so I think he’d enjoy being someone else entirely. His choices are limited because he’s so dark, but then again – Jessica Alba managed to believably play a blonde in the Fantastic Four. But what would Javi choose? He hasn’t told me. If he ever needs to disguise himself again, I’m sure he’ll let me know how to dress him.

Plain Vanilla   14 comments

Do you use said or asked after a ? or tag your interruptions? Any punctuation that bugs you? What’s the hardest for you to get right?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”cf69e5a9da434bb382680e2f68fb50c0″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/cf69e5a9da434bb382680e2f68fb50c0” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20rel=</span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”cf69e5a9da434bb382680e2f68fb50c0″]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/cf69e5a9da434bb382680e2f68fb50c0

Keeping It Brief

I trained and worked as a newspaper reporter, where “Keeping It Brief” is an overarching motto. Hence, I trained in newspaper writing, which is very different from English writing. So, the world is filled with punctuation and grammatical “necessities” that fly in the face of my training.

Examples?

The Oxford comma is a waste of ink — except in the very rare instance where it defines an important shade of difference. People overused it in the past and now it’s mandatory ink wastage. I notice my local newspaper still doesn’t use it. Good for them! I got tired of my editor yelling at me about it, so I use it now, but I still think it’s a waste of ink.

“That” following a reporting verb is also unnecessary except in rare instances. It’s always wrong when you write “said that”, but it’s also almost always wrong when “that” follows a verb. Essentially, if the “that” can be eliminated and the sentence still make sense, it needs to be deleted. It’s an unnecessary word that became so overused we think it’s necessary. I blame English teachers who were Education majors rather than English majors, but it’s also because we hear and read non-teachers use it all the time, so we assume it’s correct. The only time when “that” is absolutely necessary is when a reporting verb precedes a prepositional phrase. Example – “We complained to the committee that they had not kept us informed.” But even in that example — you don’t need it in dialogue and it creates an interesting way for some (not all) characters to speak. I use it for Trevor in “What If Wasn’t” series because his father’s a journalist and Trevor is a breezy talker. It makes his dialogue more distinctive.

Essentially, the use (or non-use) of “that” is probably the writing item I mull the most. Most people don’t care. I skip over it blithely when I’m reading other people’s books, but when I am editing my books, my training lurks in the back of my head reminding me this is almost entirely an unnecessary word.

I don’t necessarily struggle with my decision to eliminate the word when it isn’t necessary, but I do consider whether it is necessary on rare occasion. My husband gets to decide sometimes. “Does this sentence make sense?” and I read it aloud to him. If he says “yes”, I don’t add the “that”. If he hesitates, I reread it with the “that” and he gets to contribute to my writing. But over the years, he’s learned to listen critically and now occasionally says “It’ll work either way.” The “that” doesn’t survive uncertainty.

Dialogue Tags

Dialogue tags are those phrases following quotes telling us who is speaking. Dialogue tags frequently slow down the narrative. Sometimes they’re absolutely necessary. You’ve got three or more characters talking and readers would struggle to track the conversation without the dialogue tags. Most of the time, they’re unnecessary or can be substituted with an action sentence.

“Look at that beautiful sunrise,” Justine said.

Justine is one of four characters in a scene in the serialized novel I’m writing for Kindle Vella. Readers definitely want to know who is speaking, but is the tag necessary? No, not in this example. The line actually reads —

“Look at that beautiful sunrise!” Justine pointed toward the watercolor painting lightening the periwinkle sky.

Way more immersive description than “Justine said.” It’s more words, but I’m writing novels not newspaper articles, so word count is not as important as drawing the reader into the narrative. The description puts the reader right in the scene. The dialogue tag is eliminated as well, which is a bonus.

Related?

Beta readers and editors alike sometimes insist “said” is the only acceptable reporting verb in a dialogue tag. I disagree. Yes, it’s unobtrusive, but it’s also boring and overused. It adds nothing to the description. You wouldn’t use it, except you need a dialogue tag and “said” is an easy choice. Drawing from my journalism background (where we were writing under strict word limitations and deadlines), I don’t use “said” often. My Newswriting professors used to use my reporting verbs as examples for the class. My 101 professor was a former New York Post reporter who previously taught at Columbia University’s School of Journalism and my 401 professor was a former reporter and editor for the New Orleans Picayune. They HATED when students used “said” because they believed it was the Apache White of reporting verbs. “You only have 350 words to engage the reader. Don’t throw one away on a plain vanilla word.”

I have the same view of the word “asked”. If it is necessary to tag a question in dialogue, my tag is congruent with the use of a question. It probably won’t be “asked” because it falls into Apache White territory. “Inquired”, “queried”, “requested”. Despite all the sage advice of writing gurus today, I consider “said” and “asked” to be lazy writing if I am the one using it.

Better?

“Look at that beautiful sunrise,” Justine gasped.

The alternative reporting verb “gasped” tells readers who is speak, but it also tells them something about how Justine spoke without putting an adverb in the mix.

“Look at that beautiful sunrise,” Justine said excitedly.

Abverbs are frowned on as unnecessary these days — although I think they’re a condiment that makes all the difference in compelling writing. While I’m glad we moved away from the “purple prose” era of writing, I think we might overcorrect in chasing down bugaboos. Still, I think “gasped” is a better substitute than “said excitedly”. The first is “show”, the second is “tell.” Enough said.

It’s okay to experiment with language as we write, to search for what will work best for our writing, to find techniques to hold ours apart from the writing of other authors. Variety is the spice of life. It’s also the condiment of novel-writing.

Announcing Serialized Novel

Watch for Words I Wish I’d Said sometime this summer. It’s a romance set in Hawaii, and the couple has enough problems to keep readers guessing between weekly episodes for at least half-a-year. I previously struggled to write romance, but somehow the serialized method broke my writer’s block in that genre. I might tackle mystery in that method next.

I’ve already posted some of the series episodes and written a good bit of future episodes and am now waiting on Kindle’s unannounced launch date for their new program, supposedly around the end of July.

Posted June 28, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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A Chance to Read Early Editions!   11 comments

June 21, 2021If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”da7ba37310894115909817e921c843f1″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/da7ba37310894115909817e921c843f1” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”><script async=”true” src=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js…“></script></span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”da7ba37310894115909817e921c843f1”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/da7ba37310894115909817e921c843f1

So Many to Choose From

Just one? I can think of a couple. I’m not sure I can choose from among them. And then there are the ones I definitely would NOT choose. Great writers with a history of getting stalled would not be on my list. JD Salinger was a great writer, but he hardly published after Catcher in the Rye because, the biographers say, he kept chasing the next Great American novel so he couldn’t get out of the blocks. The last thing any author needs, especially with multiple series in the wings, is a beta partner who can’t finish a project. I feel the same way about Harper Lee. GREAT writer who only published a couple of books in her career. You want beta partners to be thorough, but not excessively indecisive and in today’s publishing world, one-hit-wonders tend to get lost in the deluge of writers who are constantly cranking out new content.

But Who Would I Choose?

I can tell you who would be on my short list. They’re the writers I loved in my younger days. Madelaine L’Engle would be on that list just because of my love of her books, especially the descriptions. Everyone is familiar with A Wrinkle in Time, but my favorite is The Young Unicorns. I’d put Ray Bradbury on that list because I liked his view of plot as just a setting the character design to their own benefit. That’s really how I write, discovering the plot as my characters live their lives. I’d also put Zenna Henderson down among my considerations because I think that as a teacher, she could impart her valuable insights to me. Hardly anyone remembers her now, but she was my introduction into sci fi and fantasy. CS Lewis might fill a similar beta partner need for me — the ability to explain his guidance in a clear way.

Who Is Number One On My List?

Currently, my favorite fiction writer is Brandon Sanderson and as I consider the field of available talent to beta for me (and assuming that means a swap on their books as well), I’d have to choose Sanderson. I don’t like every book he writes, but his Stormlight Archives has me hooked. I’d love the opportunity to give him early suggestions and would appreciate his suggestions about my books as well.

Okay, enough said. Wonder who my fellow blog-hoppers would choose. I’m headed off to enjoy the midnight sun. Ta-ta for now.

Posted June 21, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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