Tennessee

Talking With Robert Brady

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This time on Talking In The Barn, I chat with fellow east Tennessee author and horseman, Robert Brady. Robert writes Fantasy books and rescues horses.

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What is a typical day for you like? 
I get up around 7a, feed the horses, the dogs and the cat. Make breakfast, then start programming. I’m a work from home software developer. I’ll go until around 4pm, then take a break for an hour, feed the horses, the dogs and the cat, then write for a few hours.

Do you write full time? 
I don’t write full time, but that’s my goal. Right now, a lot of my creative juices are absorbed by programming. Creating a program is a lot like creating a story.

How did you get involved with horses? 
I was raised around them. When my daughter turned 12, she started noticing boys, so I got her involved in riding, and then boys were on their own for about three more years. She’s a saddle fitter now, and she’s married to a guy who was raised around horses.

cutting brandy

How did you get started as a writer? 
In college, I missed my friends, so I would write stories where I used them as the main characters. Even before that, I used to love to write and won a few awards, including the New England Gold Key.

How do horses impact your writing? 
In The Fovean Chronicles, it’s really the story of a man and his horse, and even when he’s not with his horse, his horse is on his mind. Horses add balance to my life and I tried to put that into my stories as well.

What are your biggest struggles as a writer and as a horse person? Any words of wisdom there? 
Finding time, just like everyone else.
sempercoversmall

What one piece of advice that you would give to a new horse person? 
Unless you compete, don’t try to replace a great horse with another of the same breed. You’re setting the new horse up to fail. If you’re lucky enough to have a great horse in your life, when his or her time comes, try something completely different for your next one.

What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring writer? 
Schedule time to write. Put it on your calendar – this day, I will write for 1 hour. Otherwise you’re always going to find something else to do.

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What is one thing that most people don’t know about you? 
I’m actually a really romantic person. Just never found the right person to share it with.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your newest book. 
The Fovean Chronicles is eight books long. It took me more than a decade to get right. My latest book, Semper Indomitus, ends the series. It was time to go on to the next project.

Any parting words to readers out there?
Don’t listen to your teachers when they tell you how to write – most of them have a really hard time getting published. Get into a good group, either locally or online, and then take their criticism constructively. The best advice you’ll ever get will sound mean and horrible at the time. I was told at one point that I was terrible and would never be published. It inspired me to really look at what I was creating and then change it. Also, read, read, read!

You can find Robert on Amazon.

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Film Festival Win & New Book Release

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This fall has been busy with another new children’s book and a film festival win….

Beauford The Patriotic Donkey was released in November. Beauford is the brainchild of my other half, retired race trainer and former pro bull rider T. A. Bouk. “Tab” likes to say he waited until he was almost 60 to write his first book! We collaborated on the project along with local artist, Atlantis Corn that graduated from Sweetwater, Tennessee high school this year. A big thanks to art teacher Matthew Mikos for holding the contest among his students for the opportunity to illustrate the book.

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Beauford chases the thickens and thinks he’s too good for goats, but he soon learns everybody has to work together when you live on a farm. The book endears itself to the American Public by teaching the timeless lessons of farm work ethic, the importance of the flag, and honoring military service.

The book quickly climbed to the top, making Amazon Best Seller lists for Children’s New Release Animal, and Farm Life categories, and hit the all time top seller list for Children’s Farm Life books. Beauford The Patriotic Donkey enjoyed a local book tour with book signings at Rural King, Blount County Heritage Museum, Sweetwater Antiques, B&B Wholesale and Auction, and Pallet Jack Snack Shack.

FIRST FILM FESTIVAL WIN….

Earlier this year, I finished the film script for my book Lost Betrayal. Shortly after finishing, I entered the script in the Equus Film Festival

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LOGLINE FOR THE GRULLA –

A determined cowgirl enlists the help of a former bull fighter and drug addict in the search for her horse that is still mysteriously missing after a tornado destroys her ranch.

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The script, since entitled “The Grulla” won the Winnie Award for Best Equine Screenplay for the Equus Film Festival. I would like to extend a hearty “Congratulations” to my fellow Winnie recipients in the other categories.

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The script is actively being submitted to agents, managers, producers and directors. You can also check out my profile on IMDb Pro.

READ THE FULL SYNOPSIS –

https://fjthomasblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/the-grulla-film-script/

Talking With Brady Ballard

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My children’s picture book, Pedro’s Problemo will be coming out soon (release target date is black Friday, November 24th!) with Dingbat Publishing. In Pedro’s Problemo, the Itty Bitty Wise Kitty Committee decides a rescued Chihuahua named Don Pedro Sanchez Elll Puppy Dog must ride a horse named Bubba to prove he’s royalty from Mexico since no one believes him. 

The artist for Pedro’s Problemo is ten year old Brady Ballard. I thoroughly love what her energy and art has brought to the story, and I enjoyed getting to share the book and process with her. I think you’ll enjoy getting to find out more about this multi-talented young artist. I see big things ahead for her!

Tell us a little bit about where you’re from. 

I was born in Cookeville, TN but moved to Lebanon, TN when I was one. Lebanon is a nice and quiet town that has lots of fun things to like bowling, a new art studio, parks, and movie theatres. 

What is a day in your life like? 

Other than school and some homework, I have after school hobbies  – tap, piano, and theatre. In my down time, I like drawing, crafting, and making videos. At the end of the day we watch a show as a family. I also spend a lot of time playing with my dogs, Barker, age 12, and Bonnie, age 1.

What are some of your favorite things to do? 

I have quite a few hobbies. I really enjoy making American Girl stop motion videos on you tube. I like tennis, camping, swimming, bowling, and have just started playing golf. I like all sorts of dance like tap and hip-hop.  I also play piano, act, and sing. I am in a sewing club and I like making jewelry with my Granna. Crafting is what I like to do during down time. I like to paint, draw, and work with clay.

How long have you been acting, and how did you start?

At age 3, I told my mom that I wanted to be in a play. When I turned 4 she let me do a drama camp. When she asked how I liked it, I said that was great but I wanted to BE in a play not pretend to be in a play. The next summer, when I was 5, I was in Cats, Jr. with Actors Point Theatre in Hendersonville. I even got to sing a duet in “Memory” with Grizabella.

Who are some of your favorite actors that you look up to, and why? 
I like Sutton Foster. She portrays Fiona in the Broadway production of Shrek the Musical. I like how she brings realistic behaviors into her acting instead of acting fake. I like how the Fiona character portrays a princess who is not perfect. 

I also like Lin Manuel Miranda. I am a huge Hamilton fan! 

What are some of your goals with acting? 

I enjoy making people laugh. I like to get into the character that I am playing and make them believable.

How long have you been an artist? What made you want to start drawing? 

I have been drawing since I was three. I did online projects before I could use a pencil and crayon. I saw someone drawing art projects on you tube with their kid and I wanted to model them. I wanted to try what they were doing.

What is your favorite thing to draw? 

My favorite thing to draw is people and their pets. Girls are fun to draw because you can be creative making their hairstyles and outfits. 

What was your favorite thing about working on Pedro’s Problemo and why? 

I like hearing the background stories on which the characters were based. I love seeing their pictures and videos, too. I really like drawing Bubba, Lucky, Pedro, and Yin the Yang. 

What was your biggest challenge working on the art for Pedro’s Problemo? Tell us about that. 

The hardest part was trying to make quality pictures without taking too long to do it. The horses were the most difficult character to draw because I had never drawn horses before.

What would you like to be when you grow up? 

Maybe an actress or illustrator. I really don’t know yet.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? 

I wish that candy didn’t have bad stuff in it so that I could eat more of it. 

What is one thing that a lot of people don’t know about you? 

When I was in third grade I was given the opportunity to write, direct, cast, and choreograph a play that was performed in front of my entire third grade class.

Any parting words of wisdom? 

I just can’t wait for the Pedro’s Problemo to be published so we enjoy all the hard work we’ve put into it!

 

Are There Ghosts In Indian Mound?

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This week, my publisher released my short story, Winds On Indian Mound, as a single on Amazon.

 

Winds On Indian Mound
Winds On Indian Mound

 

Because everything I write has a little real life in it, I thought I’d share the real event that inspired this paranormal short story…

Are there ghosts in Indian Mound?

What really happened in Indian Mound, Tennessee? No one knows for certain, but a paranormal experience I had there years ago most definitely inspired my latest short story, Winds On Indian Mound.

It happened long ago while I was out riding my mare late one night. Of course, that was back when I was young and fearless. However, on that particular night, my bravery quickly evaporated; I was so scared to death, I still remember every detail twenty-five years later.

Just like the story, I had the offer of free board for my two horses in Indian Mound, Tennessee. The pasture my horses stayed in was relatively small, but it sat on about two hundred acres of rough and sometimes steep, rolling sage-filled fields. The property backed up to over seven hundred acres of woods. There were logging roads and any manner of dirt trails that ran through the woods.

Always being a cowgirl that wants to see what’s just around the bend, I looked for a way on to the seven hundred acres. Sure enough, just like in the story, at the top of the hill a large oak tree had fallen and taken the fence down with it. There was a gap just big enough for my horse to walk through.

The curious thing about the gap in the fence was that every time I crossed it, the wind was blowing and the temperature would drop. Even on the hottest of days, I would get a chill as I rode my mare across that fence line.

I rode those wooded trails as much as I could, each trip getting later as I went a little further in and discovered new places to ride. The last few rides, I managed to make it back to the barn shortly after dusk.

However, the last ride I took there ended when the full moon was high up in the sky. Looking back, I estimate it was probably around ten or maybe eleven o’clock at night. I was used to riding that late.

That particular afternoon, I crossed over the fence line, and although there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the wind was blowing the worst it ever had. I remember goosebumps appearing on my arms even though it was late summer and plenty hot.

The little chestnut grade mare that I had, Coco, was solid as they come. She was supposed to have been a Quarter Horse and Fox Trotter cross. I rode her everywhere and she never spooked at anything – probably the only reason I was so brave!

As I rode that evening, I didn’t pay much attention to the time, or the fact that it was getting dark. Then all of a sudden, my mare stopped dead in her tracks and would not move. Her head was raised and she was focused on something deep in the woods. Keep in mind, I had owned that horse about five years at that point and she had never done such a thing so I knew she saw something.

Over in the middle of some brush about twenty feet away, I saw a flash reflection of light. The only way I can explain it, is that it looked like moonlight reflecting off something metal.

I wear glasses now, but at the time I didn’t because quite frankly I didn’t have the money. When you’re young, you have different priorities I guess. At any rate, with it being dark and my eyesight not what it should be, I could see basic objects but I couldn’t see a lot of details.

Right after the flash of light, a medium size bird flew up out of the brush where the light had been. My mare suddenly decided then that she could move on down the trail.

I’ve always had what I call a “knowing”. It’s when you just know things for a fact that you shouldn’t know but you do. That night, I had a “knowing” that something was there in those woods. I felt it as surely as I had felt the wind earlier.

A few yards down the trail, I sensed someone or something was following us. So, I turned around and looked back. Sure enough, I saw something light colored about the same height as I was on my horse. I couldn’t see any details, as mentioned earlier, but I could see that it was a definite object that wasn’t staying still!

I told myself I was just being silly, and bumped my mare up to a trot. When I got around the bend in the trail, I looked back and the object was the same distance behind us. I decided to test what I was seeing, and began to canter my mare thinking surely it would disappear. Yet, every time I looked back, I saw that same object several yards behind us, just far enough back I couldn’t see exactly what it was.

By that point, I panicked and asked my mare for a full out gallop! We galloped all the way to the break in the fence. When we got there, the wind was blowing even more violently than it had before but the temperature didn’t change.

Once through the fence, we headed to the barn as fast as we could. The trail back was hard packed dirt with loose rock on top. It went downhill and to the left. We flew down the hill and took the left hand turn.

About half way to the barn, I stopped, thinking surely I was safe. I cocked my head to listen and heard the faint sound of gravel rolling down that hill. Needless to say, I high-tailed it to the barn!

I’ve always been drawn to otherworldly things. Probably because of my “knowing” as I call it, along with a sensitivity that I can’t quite explain, I have a good balance of curiosity and skepticism. I’ve spent a lifetime studying the supernatural, and have even analyzed several unexplained occurrences that have happened after that. Things like shadows and voices, usually at night, but not always.

Was it a ghost? Who knows, but whatever it was, that supernatural encounter had a huge impact on my life and found its way into a mix of fiction and American Indian culture in Winds On Indian Mound.

 

Blogs Galore!

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I have to confess, I haven’t kept up the interviews on here as much as I would like – I’ve got a few new ones coming up soon!

In the meantime, I figured I’d give an update on writing & farm news. There’s been quite a bit going on!

Back in the fall, I got asked to be a regular guest blogger on Everybody Needs A Little Romance. The site hosts a good number of well-known romance writers. While they do talk romance and there are book reviews, the neat thing is they talk about every day events as well. It’s neat to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a real romance writer! What’s even better, a few of the guest bloggers are horse gals as well – How cool is that?!

The other news is that I recently launched a website and blog called Cowgirls With Curves. It’s a place where real sized riders can be encouraged and share their struggles and triumphs, and just be recognized and highlighted. Each week I post a new interview so the world can see how many wonderful plus size riders there are out there. The response has been overwhelming, and it’s been fulfilling to see the difference the site has already made. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for CWC!

On the writing front, I’ve been working on a new novella, The Searching Place. Here’s a little hint of what it’s about…

Carter Perkins knows a lot of the local women. What horseshoer doesn’t know a lot of females? But then, Carter knows a bit more about them than what size shoe their horse wears. A bit of a small town player, Carter doesn’t quite know what to think of the fiery red-headed gal from out west. It’s not until he gets himself into a bit of bind that he realizes he needs to change his playboy ways. 

I’m also working on a couple of short stories, another novel, and I’m ironing out the plot for the sequel to Lost Betrayal. I frequently share snippets of my latest WIP on my Facebook Page so be sure to visit it often!

The last bit of news is that I’m fostering a donkey. Yes, you read that correctly! Oscar, as I call him, is a local rescue case that was running loose unattended in the neighborhood. I’m fostering him until we can find him a home with lots of attention. He’s not been gelded and he’s not been handled. Needless to say, he’s been quite the project. He’s made progress though and I’m hoping the work that I’ve been doing with him will help his chances at finding a good home with lots of attention.

Meet Oscar the foster jack donkey!
Meet Oscar the foster jack donkey!
He's teaching me where to scratch!
He’s teaching me where to scratch!
When he first came to us, you couldn't get within 10 feet!
When he first came to us, you couldn’t get within 10 feet!

Stay tuned for the next interview! We’ll be chatting with Cowboy Poet, Stuart Hooker. Visit  his web page at http://www.cowboypoetry.com/stuarthooker.htm .

Life & The New Author…

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In a couple of weeks we’ll be chatting with Pendleton Petticoats series Shanna Hatfield. From Nov. 7-Dec. 24, she’ll be donating 10% of the net proceeds from all my book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund which is a fund to help injured cowboys. It’s a great cause and you’ll definitely enjoy learning about Shanna.

In the meantime, I thought I would update what’s been going on in my life as a horse show judge, competitor, and writer after the 40 hour work week in the office. As always, there never seems to be enough hours in the day and always a horse I want to ride or a story I want to write. I have to say though, my first year as a published author has been fun and a terrific learning experience for what works, what doesn’t and a lesson on how to fit it all in. Let’s just say most mornings I’m up at 3am, 4am if I’m sleeping late!

One new update that is really cool is that Everybody Needs A Little Romance invited me to be part of their blog. If you love romance, you really need to check it out because the site has several terrific romance writers that post blogs and write book reviews. It’s a mecca for anything romance!

Valley Farmers Co-op has been very gracious in inviting me to do a book signing at their stores in east Tennessee at Athens and Harriman. This year I attended three of their events and had a blast! Not only did I get to see old horse friends, I also got to chat with fans and meet new readers as well. One thing for sure, I’m more at home at a feed store than I am anywhere else besides the barn or the arena!

Book signing at Valley Farmers Co-op in Athens

ATHENS BOOK SIGNING

Book signing at the Valley Farmers Co-op in Harriman

HARRIMAN BOOK SIGNING

Pam Brown also invited me out this summer to sign books at the NBHA Tennessee State finals in Harriman, Tennessee. Fireman has had feet issues this year and I haven’t gotten to run a set of cans since the spring but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to go to a barrel race! So I got the best of both worlds and got to sign books, see the barrel race and get some time in talking about horses. Needless to say, I was a little tired at the end of the day!

NBHA BOOK SIGNING

My next book signing event is at Foxleaf Bookstore in Cookeville, Tennessee on Halloween night! If you’re down that way, stop by because we’ll have plenty of hot cider and candy!

I’m also an OHSA Carded horse show judge and have the wonderful opportunity to judge some of the shows in the region. Smoky Mountain Horse Show Series is one my favorite places to show and to judge. Last weekend they held their first show series at Tri-State in Cleveland, Tennessee. I managed to capture a quick shot of their beautiful jump course before we got started.

SHOW RING

I love to do everything from show hunter to run barrels and sort cows on a horse. I think different disciplines have a lot to offer and just make for a well-rounded horse. Read my horse blog, Musings From The Leadrope, and you’ll pick up on that pretty quick! A couple of weeks ago I managed to get one of our green horses out to her first show at the Smoky Mountain Horse Show. She went in the In Hand Trail Class and the walk/jog classes as well as a walk/jog Horsemanship class. Granted she wasn’t as finished as the others, but she did a fabulous job and I couldn’t be prouder.

Keith Mooney managed to get several shots of us at the show. Here’s the link to our Horsemanship class  – http://www.keithmooneyphoto.com/HorseShows/SMHSS-October-5-2014/68-W-J-Horsemanship/i-tRn8smF

Then here’s a pic of her In Hand Trail Class.

MO STEVE

So what’s new for the rest of the year? With winter coming, I’ll have a little more down time and I’m hoping to get back to work on The Searching Place, an untitled horse focused paranormal, and a thriller short story. My goal is to have a new book out after the first of the year. Sometimes life gets in the way so we’ll see but that’s the plan at the moment for this new author!  Oh yeah, one more thing…

Lucky kitty sez don’t forget to buy a copy of Lost Betrayal!   #catspeddlebooks

luckypic

Talking With Maureen Gregory…

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This week we talk with fellow Solstice Publishing author and horsewoman Maureen Gregory. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her, especially since she’s a fellow horse lover, loves animals and has a great sense of humor!

Tell us about where you live & what your day to day life is like.

I live in rural England in an area known as the Peak District, with my husband Chris and a collection of creatures great and small. Our home is a very old stone farmhouse, we can only date it back 400 years, but it is older than that. The lounge has old oak beams, the main one was off a ship apparently! There is a stone fireplace, in the winter the fire is blazing, but today, it is hot and sunny.

When I am writing I sit at an oak table with the window behind me. As I have two small dogs and one cat there is always one of them curled up on the chair and one in my lap. The only problem is when Minty (the cat) decides to walk over the keyboard.

My routine is dictated by the weather! If it is lashing down with rain/snow/hail or blowing a gale I get my outside chores done as quickly as possible, come in, light the fire, have breakfast and begin writing. However, if the weather is ok, I like to ride my horses, and potter about outside. At the risk of sounding a bit bonkers I confess to spending hours sitting with my two pet sheep – Rambo & Sweep, just chilling out and pondering on this and that. I then look at my watch, shriek “OMG where has the time gone!” and rush back into the house.

Tell us about your horses and what you do with them.

I have two horses Apollo and Jassmin. Apollo is a Welsh Cob, chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail. He is twenty now and still very lively. We do dressage competitions together, but our favourite is dressage to music. He loves it. We recently won a dressage to music championship, despite the speakers to the main arena breaking down just as we started our test. I couldn’t hear a thing, but Apollo could, and I just followed his lead.

Jassmin is a ten year old coloured Gypsy Cob, she has blue flecks in her eyes, long white eyelashes and a long flowing mane. On a recent hack a little girl shouted out “Oh look that horse has angel hair!” She also has silky white feathers.

My friend made a short promotional video to promote my novel, and it features Jassmin, looking very windswept. Although she is not typical of a dressage horse she has lovely light paces and does very well in competitions. Our favourite pastime is just hacking out along the many bridleways and lanes.

I also have the pleasure of owning Dylan the donkey. He is fifteen, very loveable and cheeky. Dylan doesn’t really do anything, he just is!!

Do you write full time?

I gave up a career in psychiatric nursing and mental health counselling to renovate an old farmhouse. It took several years and after the work was completed I decided not to go back to that line of work. I felt as if I had moved on and things would not be the same if I went back.

I began to write short stories for magazines, with some success before I decided to concentrate on writing my debut novel. Also by that time I had added to my collection of fluffies and furries, paws and claws, so alongside assisting Chris with his paperwork I find my day is busy enough.

Here’s some info and a review on her book The Seventh Wave….

In the novel deceit, obsessive love, betrayal and murder are threaded alongside the fabric of normal life. Emma is convinced she has found the man of her dreams, until she suspects her lover may have a darker side. Was he a cold, calculated killer or a victim in someone else’s deadly game? Emma believes she will uncover the truth, but are some lies better left undiscovered?

Review: 

“Beware the Seventh Wave,” begins with Emma rushing to make it to a funeral. Things just haven’t been going her way for a long time. An early morning argument with her husband, Phil, left her feeling exhausted. She over slept and was running late. A quick breakfast from the local eatery drips on her clothing.  The weather is gloomy. To just top her day off, she scraps the side of her car trying to enter the cemetery lot.  Nothing is going right.
At the funeral, she knew she was going to be running into her ex-boyfriend and his wife, Mark and Alicia. She just wasn’t prepared for the reactions she was going to be experiencing. Seeing Mark brought back feelings that she tried so hard to suppress over the years. But what can you do when you are both married to someone else?
As we all do when we are trying to sort out our lives, Emma is conflicted with her feelings. Instead of checking into a hotel as she originally planned, she returns home to find what can be the most devastating thing ever. Walking in she finds what she’s hoping is a romantic event planned for her only to find her husband in the throes of passions with her friend Katie.
Totally in shock, Emma had the difficult task of trying to sort out her life. Does she fight for her husband and marriage? Does she give up and let the other woman win, again? Is she ready to restart her life all over again? Is there anyone in her life that she can actually trust?
It’s a phone call from Mark, a week after the funeral that sets Emma up for the most drastic and important event in her life. With her marriage failing, she willingly runs to Mark in hopes to help him in a time of need. But will the help that she offers Mark, help her find what she is missing in her?

How can people find your work? (List all your buy links & contact info — this is about promoting you!)

Buy Beware the Seventh Wave by Maureen Gregory on Amazon UK

Maureen Gregory’s Amazon UK Author Page

Book Trailer: Beware the Seventh Wave by Maureen Gregory

Maureen Gregory’s Website – www.maureengregorybooks.com 

Maureen Gregory’s Facebook Author Page

Link to Maureen Gregory on Goodreads

Twitter @MaureenMgregory

Profile name on LinkedIn: Maureen Gregory

 

Any parting words of wisdom for those writers looking to be published? 

If you think you can do it, or you think you can’t – you are absolutely right! It’s all in the mind-literally.

 Feel free to include comments, etc. 

Just a bit thank you for hosting me on your blog. Happy riding, writing & all the other things that make life worth while FJ!

Thanks again!

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