Thursday, August 31, 2017

Interview with award-winning author Miriam Newman

Award-winning author Miriam Newman is in the hot seat today to chat with me about her new historical fantasy series, available as an e-book bundle, The Chronicles of Alcinia.

During her virtual book tour, Miriam will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Beginning a prize-winning career in poetry, Miriam carried her love of the written word into seventeen novels to date. Her offerings range from contemporary and historical fantasy to science fiction and historical fiction, always with a romantic flavoring. Her original novel The King’s Daughter—now part of The Chronicles of Alcinia—was written in Ireland, her second home. When in the U.S., she resides on a small horse farm in Pennsylvania with a collection of rescue animals.

Welcome, Miriam. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Available for the first time as an e-book bundle, the award-winning historical fantasy series The Chronicles of Alcinia weaves a tale of war, history, passion and romance. In Book I, The King’s Daughter, Tarabenthia of Alcinia should grow to inherit her father’s throne by the rocky cliffs of the sea. When invaders seize her land, what will she sacrifice in the name of love? In Book II, Heart of the Earth, the Northern Prince who has always wanted Tia saves her life. But will the price of his protection be too high? And finally, in Book III, Ice Maiden, readers who wondered about the fate of Tia’s oldest son have their answer. Sometimes heart-wrenching, always powerful, this is a tale of heroes and the women who loved them.
What inspired you to write this book?
I had always meant to write a book after years of publishing poetry because I didn’t have time to produce a novel. But life always points us where it wants us to go, and after my husband’s untimely death when I was only 41, at last—sadly—I had the time. That first book, The King’s Daughter, is my tribute to him. The sequels, Heart of the Earth and Ice Maiden, conclude the series—at least so far. One never knows.

Excerpt from The King’s Daughter:
I was the King's daughter once, so many years ago that sometimes now it is hard to remember. Before the tide of time carried away so many things, so many people, it was worth something to be the daughter of a King.

Our little island nation of Alcinia was not rich, except for tin mines honeycombing the south. It wasn't even hospitable. Summer was a brief affair and fall was only a short time of muted colors on the northernmost coast where my father sat his throne at the ancient Keep of Landsfel. Winter was the killing time and spring was hardly better, with frosts that could last into Fifth-Month. But from the south, where men cut thatch in a pattern like the bones of fish, to the north where rock roses spilled down cliffs to the sea, it was my own.

One thinks such things will never change, yet all things do.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently releasing Dark Child, a novella retelling the classic Irish tale, Deirdre of the Sorrows. This is the version told in my family over the years. It’s a classic tale of love, magic, betrayal, and triumph. Very Irish, meaning there are dark moments—hence the title, Dark Child. But love conquers all.

Writing life related: I am a retired psychiatric social services worker currently working part-time in municipal government and rescuing dogs. Still trying to save the world.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Since I could write.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
No, I still have other commitments to the world, so books are created on my days off, weekends and when I should be sleeping. Right now, I do both paid and volunteer work in municipal government with a particular focus on land conservation. Living in the last of a rural area where I still wake up to the sounds of fox hunts and coon hunts, I also hear my own non-hunting hounds baying in the yard. Over the years I have fostered and adopted out numerous rescue dogs and cats. Right now, I have two hounds, a Border Collie mix, a shepherd mix and a pit bull, as well as a then-pregnant cat who dropped in during the middle of winter! My last horse recently passed on at the ripe old age of thirty-three; he was also a rescue.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
The threat of planting poison ivy in front of my door until the book is finished. I have already strangled my telephone with its own cord and the cell phone is OFF.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer!

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
Thanks for inviting me!

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Interview with fantasy author Martha J Allard

Fantasy author Martha J Allard has stopped by today to talk about her contemporary fantasy, Black Light.

Martha J Allard is a writer of contemporary and dark fantasy. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines like "Talebones" and "Not One of Us." Her story "Dust" won an honorable mention in "Year's Best Science Fiction," 19th edition, edited by Gardener Dozois and her story, "Phase" was nominate for a British Science Fiction Award. They are both collected in the echapbook "Dust and Other Stories." You may also find a selection of her previously published works on She was the editor of "Nice Tattoo, the Magazine of Shadow Fiction." Her nonfiction has appeared in the anthologies "Lend the Eye a Terrible Aspect" and "Deaths Garden." Her novel, "Black Light" is a tale of love, sacrifice and rock and roll in the 1980's is out now and available on amazon and You can find her on her blog,

Welcome, Martha. Please tell us about your current release.
Los Angeles, 1983. Trace Dellon knows exactly what he wants: the white heat of the spotlight. When his band Black Light is offered a record deal, Trace grabs for it. He will do anything to make it. Bass player Asia Heyes knows what he wants, too. It’s not fame or the adoration of groupies. It’s Trace. It’s always been Trace. Though it’s been unspoken between them, Trace’s other lovers—his audience—push Asia aside. With the record contract, Albrecht Christian comes into their lives. He has everything but what he needs to live: the energy that runs just under Trace’s skin. When everything crashes with a bullet, they all learn the truth. Rock and roll, like magic, requires both love and sacrifice.

What inspired you to write this book?
When I was a kid, before the internet, things were very different. I grew up in a small town in Michigan. I knew I was queer, and in love with my best friend, and thought I was probably the only one who ever felt that way. Then, one night I saw David Bowie’s video, “I Am A DJ.” In the video, he kisses a woman, and then a man (later this was cut out before aired on MTV). At first I was shocked, then I felt everything in my life click. I wasn’t alone. 

Black Light was very nearly the first thing I ever tried to write, and it does owe a lot to David Bowie’s music. I started it because it was the book I wanted to read back then. I put it away for decades, but the characters never left my head. Trace and Asia were always in the shadows, waiting for the rest of their story. Bowie’s death, coming less than six months after my father’s hit me with surprising force. I pulled Black Light out because I couldn’t concentrate on much else. I began to revise without even meaning to. It’s still a book about music, but it’s also about how important it is to become the person you really are, and learning to step out of the shadows. 

Excerpt from Black Light:
1983, Los Angeles 
Trace Dellon stands in the wings backstage at the Refugee Club, a narrow shadow. He lights a cigarette, shielding the flame with his hand to protect the dark. In the full house beyond the curtain, he counts dozens of reflections of himself. Boys or girls, hair cut spiky with spaghetti-o colored dye-jobs, all waiting for him. He exhales a lungful of smoke. Every night there’s more, but it’s not enough, not yet. 
“Trace.” Asia Heyes, Black Light's bass player calls him from the doorway to the basement dressing room the band shares. “Weird’s real sick.”
“No he’s not.” Trace turns.
“Yeah. He is. He’s not gonna be able to play tonight. He should be--”
“He should be shootin’ the hell up, Asia. He’s the guitar player, and this isn’t fuckin’ Charity’s Place back in Ann Arbor anymore. It’s the Refugee Club where somebody important could be listening.” Trace moves farther backstage, past Asia, down the rickety stairs. He smells it, bitter on the air before he hits the bottom step. Then he hears Weird choking.
Asia is right behind, protesting. “He’s almost clean. Don’t fuck it up for him.”
Trace doesn’t answer. Instead of going down the short hallway to the bathroom, he heads into the dressing room. Weird’s guitar case is propped against the broken down leather couch that sags in one corner. Trace flips it open. Tucked inside, along with the instrument are Weird’s works, just like Trace knew they would be. He grabs the pouch and steps around Asia to cross the hall. Without knocking, Trace opens the bathroom door.
It’s a re-modeled storage closet, too small for three people. Tommi, their drummer, hovers outside, worry lining his pretty face. 
Weird’s on the floor, back against the wall, arm draped around the toilet seat, like it’s his best friend. In the buzzing fluorescent light, he looks ancient, every one of his thirty-seven years are etched into his face. His skin is the color of spoiled milk. His long red-blond hair is stringy with sweat. He wipes a hand over his beard, looks up at Trace through slitted eyes and grins. “Hey Dellon, you gonna hold my hair while I puke some more?”
“Are you’re gonna? I mean, you are gonna be okay, aren’t you?” Tommi’s face turns even paler as he squeezes himself against the sink to let Trace all the way in.
“Oh sure.” Weird groans, sucks in some of the sour air. “Yeah, I’m great.” Then he looks up at Trace again. “Gimme my damn smack.”
“No.” Tommi gasps. “No, Weird.”
Weird stares hard at Trace. “Gimme m’ works, Dellon. Neither one of them will.”
Trace nods. He hands the pouch over and turns away. 
Asia is leaning against the hand railing of the stairs, shaking his head as Trace exits the bathroom. “So let him go back to killin’ himself?”
“You think he can play clean, Asia?” Trace says. “You gonna take that all away from him?”
 “That’s such bullshit.” Asia laughs. “You don’t even care as long as you get what you want and that’s all that matters.”
Trace looks into Asia’s rust-green eyes and takes a breath. All he ever gets from Asia anymore is anger and disappointment. Trace won't apologize for telling the truth. He reaches up to brush a stray lock of wavy ginger hair back from his face, but Asia flinches.
 “Whatever you need to think.” Trace says softly. “It’s done. Get ready for the show.”
He goes back upstairs without waiting for Asia’s answer.
Asia shakes it off. He moves to stand in the doorway. “Wait, Weird. I can play your shit tonight and Trace can play bass.”
Weird is up, unsteadily leaning against the sink, already cooking his shit, Tommi looking on, stricken. Weird snickers. “How you think he’s gonna do that? faggot can’t even walk and chew gum.”
“I don’t care.” Asia knows he’s pleading. He wants to knock the smack out of Weird's hand, shake him. Don't make Trace right, he wants to say. But he goes back to begging instead. “We can do it.”
“Asia, look, Dellon’s a bastard, but he’s right.” Weird says. His hands don’t shake at all when he pulls the plunger back on his syringe to suck the liquefied drug up. “You think that bein’ a junkie’s ruinin’ my life, right? That I'm tryin' to kill myself? See, no, because it’s all I am, Asia. No junk, no music. I'm not giving that up.”
Weird is tying a piece of tubing around his upper arm. He looks from Asia to Tommi. “You guys got shit to do before we go on, right?”
Not really, Asia thinks, but feels himself give in. He turns away and Tommi follows him.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am working on a novel called, at the moment, The Night Was Not. It’s a Neo-Victorian story about an airship Captain, grounded in the one place he never wanted to come back to, his home town. He lands to investigate the death of a friend, but is drawn into the dark world of alchemy and freak shows. 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Minutes after I walked out of Star Wars as a teenager. I walked across the mall hall to by a notebook and a pen.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I have a day job. I work at a bookstore. I love being around books, but I spend every minute of every day that I’m not writing trying to figure out when I can write. 

Right now it’s days off or, middle of the night. Waiting in line at the store. I’m not a very fast writer, so any time I can move a story forward is a good day for me. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I’m pretty odd about my notebooks. Spiral bound. They can’t be too thick because my hand falls off the bottom of the page. They can’t have margins….Oh, and they have to fit in my bag. And pens. Yeah, use a fountain pen, and I love certain color inks. I use purple ink as my every day color, and pink for sex…. Also gray for ghosts. Black Light was notebooks full of pink and grey. 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’m not making this up, but a writer. I mean, briefly in high school, what I really wanted to be was a personal assistant to a rock star. But eventually I realized that you needed to talk to people to do that, so I went back to writer. 

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If you’re a reader, thank you! It’s always scary to share something you’ve kept to yourself for so long. But, by and large, you’ve all made it so easy. And if you’re also a writer, don’t stop. That’s the lesson I’ve learned. As my friend Loren Rhoads told me recently, “You’re the only one who can write your story.” And we need all the stories we can get.


Thanks for being a guest today, Martha!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Interview with dark fantasy author Mandy Jackson-Beverly

Novelist Mandy Jackson-Beverly is here today and we’re chatting about her new dark fantasy, supernatural suspense thriller with a touch of the paranormal and occult, The Devil And The Muse.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly was born in the bustling town of Pyramid Hill, Victoria, Australia ... Population: 419. This remote childhood kick-started Mandy’s imagination, as did the rugged coastline and rolling hills of Tasmania, where her family relocated when she was four years old.

In 1982, Mandy moved to London, where she discovered the importance of the creative collective: The 1980’s fashion scene. A year later, in Los Angeles, she found her own creative freedom among the thriving, no-holds-barred visionaries of the music video world. As a costume designer and stylist Mandy worked for photographer Herb Ritts, and directors Joel and Ethan Coen, David Fincher, and Julien Temple, and music icons David Bowie, Madonna, and Tina Turner, to name a few.

Mandy has taught Advanced Placement Art, written and directed high school theater productions, is a contributor to The Huffington Post and a book reviewer for The New York Journal of Books. She resides in Ojai, California, with her husband, Brian Beverly, a crossed-eyed cat, Luna, a dog named Cash and, sometimes, her sons, Angus and Jack.

Welcome, Mandy. Please tell us about your current release.
Hi Lisa, thank you for inviting me here to chat with you!

The Devil And The Muse is the second installment of The Creatives Series. This is a fast-paced, cross-genre series, about an ancient organization called The Allegiance. This group protects art and Creatives (mystic artists), and gives sanctuary to those threatened by religious zealots. Book two ventures into dark themes, and as one reviewer pointed out: “Be advised that there is some disturbing dark material.”

The story opens with my lead protagonist - newest member of The Allegiance and Creative - Coco Rhodes, viewing a horrific vision beneath her most recent painting: the violent attack upon a fragile young girl. This leads to the discovery of a link between an education-finance fraud, girls disappearing from Washington D.C. schools, and a corrupt congressman. Concurrently, the dark and twisted past of Kenan, the Allegiance's sworn enemy, is revealed. With Kenan's whereabouts unknown, members of the Allegiance begin to unravel his sadistic plan.

From New York and D.C., to Tuscany and the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy, the supernatural guardians of the Allegiance are guided by both the lessons of history and the shocks of present-day life. Through magical twists and otherworldly subplots, this supernatural thriller weaves a web of intrigue, love, and conflict.

What inspired you to write this book?
There are definite themes covered in The Devil And The Muse that I felt compelled to write about, specifically women’s rights. My research of the Inquisition and witch-hunts during the Middle Ages, and the horrific treatment of thousands of innocent victims who were tortured and often burned at the stake, seemed at such odds with the way women were treated in similar geographical areas centuries earlier. A good example is perhaps, Trotula of Salerno, a recognized female physician at the Scuola Medica Salernitana around the eleventh century. Trotula taught at the school and cared for female patients. She also wrote works on the diseases of women, conception and childbirth. And yet here we are centuries later, fighting against men for our rights as women to make decisions about our own health care.

This concept of the decline of respect that so many women faced in Europe during the Middle Ages, is the subject I consider to be the backbone of The Creatives Series. I can’t help but wonder if the suppressing of women during that time was the catalyst for the decline of growth in so many areas. While many men wanted to dominate and repress women, often through the strict confines of the Catholic Church, there were also men who honored the feminine – strong men who understood the need for equality among the sexes, and put their love for others before the words of fear spewed out by religious extremists. Sadly, these men with balanced egos seemed to be less of the populace.         

What exciting story are you working on next?
Currently, my main body of work comprises of researching material and writing book three of The Creatives Series. I also continue to write essays and short blog posts for various platforms including the Huffington Post, and book reviews for the New York Journal of Books. There’s a play I’m putting the finishing touches to and another waiting to be written. I’m also dusting off my costume designer hat to work on my youngest son, Jack Beverly’s film, Far West And Fried.   

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When my third-grade teacher told me I was an awful writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
At the end of the 2014 school year I stopped teaching full-time high school art and theater to focus on writing The Creatives Series. When I’m in the early phase of research and jotting down notes on legal pads, I take the time to write everyday, if not on my current book then an essay, blog post, or a piece of poetry. Writing is no different from exercise; if I go a day without using my creative muscles then it hurts like hell when I get back to it! I think my creative essence goes into mourning when I don’t reach out to her and put her to good use. Sometimes I paint instead of writing, but in reality, for me, this is an essential part of my creative process. I paint my nightly dreams, and have found this action pushes ideas past the clutter in my brain and storylines become clearer.

When I’m in full-blown hurricane-force writing mode, I find it difficult to stop writing. I think eighteen hours straight, stopping only to feed my much-loved dog, Cash, and cat, Luna, is my record for a full day of writing. That same evening I fell into bed, slept for four hours, and then repeated the same pattern for five consecutive days. From other creative people I’ve spoken with, this kind of schedule is fairly normal. When I’m on a roll and the characters are talking to me, time flies by without me knowing and I’m like a mad woman possessed! Those days are magical. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My desk and office are kind of out-of-bounds to anyone; this isn’t much of a problem due to the utter chaos of the entire area! Luna sits in a basket on my desk, like a kind of writing guardian – she is my Thalia (read A Secret Muse and you’ll understand what I mean). I need absolute quiet to write, and with a husband who writes and records music at the other end of the house, I’ve found that earplugs are essential. Because writing means I sit on my backside for hours on end, I tend to walk Cash early in the morning and either swim, or attend dance classes five times a week. Obviously when I’m in the middle of a full-on writing binge my exercise schedule suffers – and so do I. When I hit a brick wall it’s normally an indicator that I need to step away from my desk and exercise. Some of the most important plots of my stories have come to me while either swimming or hiking.  

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Robin Hood. (See photo on my website)

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Read whatever you can get your hands on – fiction and non-fiction, and read out of your literary comfort zone. Reading makes you smarter, and a more interesting person. Being unable to attend a community college or a four-year university doesn’t mean you need be any less educated than someone who has had that opportunity. The secret is that you have to want and love to learn. Go to your local library, find a subject that interests you, and read all you can about it. Read a varied assortment of newspapers and magazines – also available at your local library. Go online (hopefully available at your library) and listen to free classes and lectures given by professors and specialists in areas that interest you. And for those of us lucky enough to have a home library, please share and give books to others less fortunate, especially to under-funded public schools; trust me, they need and want them. Buy books whenever you’re able to support authors, and spread the word when you find a book and author you love.  


Thanks for being here, Mandy!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Interview with romance author K.T. Castle

Today’s special guest is romance author K.T. Castle. She’s chatting with me about her contemporary new romance, The Bridesmaids Checklist: Laura’s Wedding (BCL series).

During her virtual book tour, K.T. will be awarding paperback copies of The Bridesmaid's Checklist Series and a $10 Amazon gift card (US/Mexico only) to one randomly selected commenter and digital copies of The Bridesmaid's Checklist Series and a $10 Amazon gift card (international) to a second randomly selected commenter. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

K.T. Castle is an author/artist on a quest to find the words, forms, and colors to materialize the worlds and people of her imagination. She never saw herself as an incurable romantic, but lately, that's what she finds herself musing about. Love is found everywhere, regardless if it comes from a nice person, an ass — mundane or even vampire. When she's not busy with work, in front of a computer placing many thoughts in order, she makes her best to be creative or relax with a good book and a snack. Some of her favorite characters are Sookie, Rule and Shaw, Bella, Edward, Clary, Jace, Wrath, Hollywood, Blaire, Woods, Ethan, the Sleeping Beauty, and Ariel.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
My book is a contemporary romance that deals with the wedding of Kassandra’s friends. It is a romance at heart, but it also deals a lot with friendship. Unexpectedly, Laura gives Kassie a call, letting her know that she’ll marry. Now Kassandra will be the only single friend and she starts questioning her life.

Things only get more interesting when she discovers Laura is marrying her ex-boyfriend. How can she tell her friend about their past relationship? Specially when she’s the only one of her girlfriends dealing with all wedding preparations and only finds support on the best man, a handsome, charming, womanizer she’s been avoiding for years.

Excerpt from The Bridesmaids Checklist: Laura’s Wedding:
From Chapter 4

This can’t be happening.
The person sitting at our table was definitely someone I knew. Someone I actually had been avoiding for quite some time.
“Well, well. Good morning, babe,” the beautiful blond said to me.
I knew this guy. I’d constantly met him at bars and pubs around the city. He was always well accompanied by attractive ladies, but that didn’t stop him from hitting on me. Persistently, he’d tried for the past couple years to get my number and into my panties.
This beautiful man and I had a history…well, not really. We had a history of not having a history. He was an artfully known womanizer in the circles we frequented. Knowing exactly what I’d be getting myself into if I ever decided to tap that drop-dead gorgeous body of his, I had no choice but to reject him over and over again.
One drunken night I almost caved in.
Laura couldn't be marrying this man.
“Oh, God. Not you. You’re a man whore!”
He stood as soon as the statement escaped my lips. He didn’t look offended. I guess he was used to my rejections by now. “Nice to see you, too,” the handsome man said. “I like knowing that you miss me.”
“Miss you? You wish! I can’t believe you’re marrying my best friend.” And I really didn’t.
“No offense, babe, but I’m not the one marrying Laura. I’m Ed’s friend. Name’s Josh, remember?”
Oh, right. Josh. For a moment there, I thought I had to talk Laura into canceling the wedding.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have several projects in mind. For starters, finishing the BCL series. Laura and Marisol had their wedding. Natalie’s Wedding will be published in early 2018. Then Denise and Kassie will get to tell their story.

I also have a paranormal romance that I will edit and publish as soon as I can. But it needs a lot of work! So, I might take a year for it to be ready for your eyes.
There’s a couple other romance stories that I’m writing, and I’ll make the time to finish them and have them publish.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve written since junior high, in a way. Comic books first, retelling the funny stories of my friends. Then some poetry. But I’ve never consider myself a writer until I decided it was time to publish… which was a year ago. So I’m a very very young writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Full time writing is a dream of mine, and I hope that one day I can do it.

Right now, I have an amazing job in education. I’m assistant principal of one of the best schools in the world. I love my work and enjoy it very much. It is also challenging and demanding, and so very worth it.

Most of my writing happens on the weekends. But, when I’m writing a book, I create a plan and follow it as much as I can. I’ve done Nanowrimo for two years in a row, and the aim is to write at least 10,000 words a week, so I know I have to write at least an hour a day on weekdays and six over the weekend. It doesn’t seem like much, but it can be hard and I’m proud to say I can handle it.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Something peculiar I do is that I write in my living room, sitting on the couch with the computer in my lap and Raven, my schnauzer baby, beside me. I have a desk, and I use it. I also write on the bed sometimes. But my favorite spot is the couch… very Sheldon-Cooper-like.

I also like writing with music, and have several playlist depending on my mood and the type of scene I’m writing. Sometimes I found it distracting, so I go to YouTube and use Japanese anime songs so I can concentrate on writing and not on singing the lyrics of my favorite songs.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When younger I wanted to be a singer and actress. Later on, an accountant like my step-father. By senior year, I wanted to be a Disney Imagineering. I’ve always had a passion for art, in many forms: drawing, painting, music, writing, …

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
A random fact about me is that I’m a bit obsessive. If I start a book I have to finish it, my pillows have to be aligned a certain way, all pens with caps, all margins aligned. I like everything in order and there’s usually a reason behind said particular order. My friends always mock me about having OCD, until my best friend decided that it wasn't that but more like aspergers. Now he calls me Annie Aspergers. I like it, I’m proud of my nickname in a way :) I like order and I am obsessive, so it doesn’t bother me.


Laura's Wedding

Marisol's Wedding

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
Thank you, Lisa!! It was a blast to come and visit. Hope I return soon!!