Tag Archives: interview

Writer’s Ramble: Alexander S. Brown

Today we welcome Alexander S. Brown, a Mississippi author who was published in 2008 with his first book Traumatized.  Reviews for this short story collection were so favorable that it has been released as a special edition by Pro Se Press.  Brown is currently one of the co-editors/coordinators with the Southern Haunts Anthologies published by Seventh Star Press.  His horror novel Syrenthia Falls is represented by Dark Oak Press.  His most current work is his short story collection The Night the Jack O’ Lantern Went Out, published by Pro Se Press.

He is also the author of multiple young adult steampunk stories found in the Dreams of Steam Anthologies, Capes and Clockwork Anthologies, and the anthology Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells. His more extreme works can be found in the anthology Luna’s Children published by Dark Oak Press, Reel Dark published by Seventh Star Press and State of Horror: Louisiana Vol 1 published by Charon Coin Press.

Brown is also the producer of, and actor, in the short film The Acquired Taste inspired by a story in his book Traumatized and directed by Chuck Jett.T

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1.    What was your first introduction to horror?
When I was five, my grandfather introduced me to the original “Night of the Living Dead”.  I remember being frightened, but I couldn’t look away.  I couldn’t believe the creativity I was seeing and how unsettling it was with its imagery, characters, and soundtrack.

2.    Has it stood the test of time, and yes or no, why?
It’s safe to say that “Night of the Living Dead” has stood the test of time.   I think the reason why, is because it’s groundbreaking with its presentation.  As an adult, the movie is much more than just a story about zombies surrounding an old farm house.  It focuses on many natural fears that one might have, such as the fear of society.  One could watch this movie and consider that the characters trapped inside are people who want to progress in life, the zombies represent the masses who do not want to see them progress.  One could also see this movie as a statement on racism, and truthfully, the statement is very blatant, however, George Romero said that the comment on racism was accidental.

3.    Who/what is your favorite monster and why?
The werewolf has always been my favorite creature, which is probably why I made “Syrenthia Falls” my first novel.  I think the werewolf is a symbol that most people can identify with, as it represents our inner rage and sexual repression.  It is animalistic in nature, forever changing, and is untamed.  I believe, at some point, these are all elements that everyone has struggled with from childhood to adulthood.

4.    Do you ever write something and freak yourself out?
There were a few stories in “Traumatized” that freaked me out.  The tales “From Midnight to One” and “It’s All True” gave me the willies when I wrote them.  Since then, I have tried to grow a thicker skin.

5.    How do you handle what some might consider the darker aspects of your psyche when writing dark, disturbing, or emotionally wrenching scenes/stories?
When I write, I’m writing from a character’s perspective, meaning they will do things that I wouldn’t consider healthy.  When creating an antagonist, I have no problem separating myself from what they would do and what I would do.

In our world, there is a great deal of evil.  To find inspiration to write about evil persons, I don’t have to look within myself to write about horror, all I have to do is turn on the television or access social media news feeds.  When writing of a subject that I feel is vital, I have to desensitize myself from that subject so I can hit the audience hard.

Also, there has to be balance.  When writing of something depraved or brutal, I have to step away and find something positive to equal out myself.   I’ve been asked before, “What would you not write about?” My answer is, I will write about anything, as long as it is necessary and isn’t utilized for simply shock value.

6.    Is there a genre outside of horror that you haven’t written in, but really want to?
I would like to write a drama. I have toyed around with a concept, but I haven’t completed anything. The subject that I want to write about is a personal one and each time I try to fictionalize it and hit hard, the story catches me in its emotions.

7.    What’s the most helpful piece of writing advice you were ever given?
I one time wrote Clive Barker, and he was gracious enough to write me back.  I still have the letter and I will probably frame it and hang it in my new library. He explained to me that I should learn my limits and break them. With each short story or novel that I write, I try to honor his advice.

If you enjoyed this interview and would like to find out more about Alexander S. Brown, you can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, or check out his blog.

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Writer’s Ramble: Interview with J.H. Fleming

Today we welcome J.H. Fleming to Writer’s Ramble. J.H. Fleming started her first novel in the 9th grade. That novel will never see the light of day, but it sparked something that has resulted in numerous short stories and 5 novels so far. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Central Arkansas, and it’s very possible she’ll try for a Master’s at some point.

She owns roughly 1,100 books and spends her free time befriending dragons, fighting goblins, and learning the craft of the bards. J.H. lives in Northwest Arkansas with a dog, a cat, and a turtle.


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1) The tag line on your website says that not every character gets a happy ending. What inspired that?

So when I first began to take my writing seriously I noticed that pretty much every story I wrote ended with someone dying, or the bad guy winning. I didn’t intentionally set out to do this. My stories just naturally tended to go that direction. This has changed a bit over the last few years (there are some happy endings now and then), but I’m definitely not the sort who believes everything will always work out. Bad things happen sometimes, so why shouldn’t this be reflected in my fiction? The tag line serves as a reminder, and a warning for readers.

2) Do you know at the front end whether your main characters will get that happy ending or not?

It depends on the story, but most of the time no. I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, so I really discover the story as I write. Often I’m just as surprised as a reader will be when a character dies.

3) You have works out of many varying lengths, including poetry. Which do you find the most challenging to write?

Definitely poetry. I actually used to write a lot of poems and songs when I was in high school, which I forgot about. I only remembered when I discovered old notebooks. But most of the time I stick with short stories and novels. I recently tried poetry again because I was inspired, but it’s not a form I’m comfortable with. Perhaps I just need more practice, lol.

4) What are some challenges you deal with for each (novel, short story, poetry) that are unique to those formats?

I have the same problem for both novels and short stories, actually. The way I write tends to be too long for short stories (too much detail, too much going on, too many characters), but a little short for novels (not enough of everything). So maybe I should actually be writing novellas. I have to be aware of exactly what I’m doing, whether I’m adding too much or glossing over things that should be expanded on. I actually have a unique situation with one tale because of the way I decided to publish it: I write only a thousand words at a time and post it on my blog. I intended this to be a different story every week, or at most only a few weeks for each story, but I’m on week twenty-something now and am still on the first one. So what started as a short story is currently novella size, and fast morphing into a novel. I have a general idea for an ending, but I really don’t know week to week what exactly will happen. This makes finding that balance I mentioned a little more difficult, because I’m still not entirely sure what the finished product will look like.

For poetry, I find the whole process challenging. You would think it’d be easier, considering the form as a whole is shorter than a novel or short story. But that just means each word has to be exactly the right one, and that’s no easy task.

5) Do you have a favorite fantastical species or mythos? If so, what about it do you find compelling?

I could list several, but I’ll go with faeries. A lot of people have some sort of image in their head when they think of them (Tinkerbell, for example), but they’re much more complicated than that. There are Seelie (good) and Unseelie (bad), and within these there are all sorts of different species with varying appearances and dispositions. Gnomes, for example, or goblins. Both are technically fae, yet many people don’t realize this. They think only of tiny people with wings. And even when you know a faery is Seelie or Unseelie, their thoughts and motivations are so different from humans that you can never be completely sure what to expect.

6) What is it about fantasy and magic that you find personally appealing?

For me it’s about endless possibility. Absolutely anything can happen, and you don’t have to get technical about how everything works. When there’s mystery, or something that can’t be explained, it feeds my sense of wonder and inspires me to expand my imagination. If ‘x’ can happen, why not ‘y’? What else is possible?

If you liked what you read, check J.H Fleming out on your favorite social media platform and don’t forget her books are available on Amazon!

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Writer’s Ramble: Phillip Duncan on writing horror

Today we welcome Phillip Drayer Duncan to discuss writing horror (Note: NOT the horror of the writing process, publishing, or marketing. Those are different beasts.). Phillip is the author of 4 novels and 14 short stories. He has work published with Yard Dog Press, Pro Se Productions, and Seventh Star Press. His work includes The Moonshine Wizard, Assassins Incorporated, The Warden, and others.

He was born in Eureka Springs, AR and has spent most of his life in the Ozarks. Along with reading and writing like a madman, his passions include kayakin’, canoein’, fishin’, and pretty much anything nerd related. More than anything, he enjoys spending time with his ridiculously awesome friends and his wonderful family. During the warm months he can be spotted on the river or around a campfire. During the cold months he can be found hermitting amongst piles of books and video games. You might also see him at a concert or attending a con. His earliest books were acted out with action figures and scribbled into notebooks. Today he uses a computer like a real grown up. His greatest dream in life is to become a Jedi, but since that hasn’t happened yet he focuses on writing.


We begin our interview by strapping our victim to a chair and turning on our interrogation spotlight…..

1) What was your first moment in childhood where you experienced what some might see as horror?

Well, my very first memory is taking a nose dive off the bathroom counter. Not sure what I was doing up there to begin with, but my life might have been cut short if not for the fact my underwear caught on a drawer handle, leaving me dangling upside down. My mother quickly came to the rescue.

In addition to that, we lived way out in the middle of nowhere in southern Arkansas. I remember we had an old barn beside the house. There was a creepy mannequin in the barn made out of chicken wire and who knows what else. It was terrifying. In an attempt to keep my brother and I from wandering into the copperhead infested barn on our own, our parents told us that the mannequin was the bogeyman and if we went in the barn it would kidnap us. We didn’t go into the barn.

And there were copperheads everywhere.

My mom still has pictures of ones they killed. Seemed like they were an everyday occurrence, everywhere except the backyard. It was the only safe place for us to play. But the reason the backyard was safe was because there was a giant king snake that lived under the house and roamed the backyard. It was quite friendly and would let me play with it as a toddler. But because it was there, the copperheads stayed away from the area directly behind the house. My mom would joke that it was my first babysitter.

Also, from the same toddler time period, I got to hold my first gun, which was a rather large revolver. Somehow I managed to pull the hammer back and then pulled the trigger. Of course it wasn’t loaded or anything, but I was holding it up against my chest so when the hammer came down it grabbed a hold of my tender child flesh. I can still remember the look of my chest skin twisted into the hammer, and I can remember clearly the black and yellow oil mixed with the blood. I still have the scar today.

2) Have you used it in your writing?

I don’t know that I’ve ever used those specifically in my writing, but certainly each of those things played some role in shaping my imagination. Now, that’s it’s been brought up, I probably will find a way to fit them in somewhere. I like to draw from real life experiences because much of the time they’re more horrifying or hilarious than what I can think up.

3) Do you prefer gore, psychological or a merging of the two? 

Probably more of a combination of the two. When I’m writing ‘scary’ things I don’t know if it usually would fall under the common concepts of horror, but is more creep factor. Everyone once in a while I come up with an idea that creeps me out, and if it creeps me out, then there’s a good chance it will creep out the reader. For example, my clowns in the Moonshine Wizard, people love them. I still I can’t believe I wrote them. But in order to create something super creepy, I find that the psychological and gore factors kind of have to walk hand in hand. The clowns are scary because they mutilate and eat people. They are terrifying because our beloved character is helpless to their will, and they’re funny, and oddly friendly, and their insanely evil leader is in the form of a small child.

 4) What pacing do you find works better, a slow build of tension or a bam/keep hitting them with more approach?

 I tend to lean toward a fast pace, and that’s one of the things that my fans seem to appreciate. But, I still try to build tension as the scenes fly by. Having tension gives the fast pace a solid ground to build on.

5) Do you have any colors or symbols that you like to drop into your stories as foreshadowing?

Actually, in the last novel I wrote, there is the mention of a colored object which is a big clue for what’s going to happen later, but I don’t want to go into too much detail. One of the things I’ve been toying with lately is carrying some things between universes. Again, without going into detail and giving it away, there’s a symbol which plays a key role in one of my novels, which inevitably will show up in other unrelated novels, maybe as a quick cameo, or it may play an integral role in the story. There’s at least one character I’ve also been doing this with. Over time, people who read my work will run across this character in different universes and will have the leg up to recognize them. This is all assuming that my publishers don’t catch on and make me stop torturing my readers.

If you’d like to find out more about, please visit PhillipDrayerDuncan.com or check out his Facebook page. If you like what you’ve read, and want a creepy read, check out his books on Amazon!


Writer’s Ramble: Jason Fedora

It’s that time again where I bring you another edition of Writer’s Ramble. Today I am interviewing Jason Fedora. Please feel free to check out his bio and his book, available on Amazon AND at MidSouth Con 34 THIS WEEKEND. Regional folks, I’ll be there too with a special promotion, so stop on by and get your geek on!

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  • How did you discover your passion for writing?

It was two things actually. The first happened one day while in grade school. It was Monday after Easter Sunday. The teacher asked the class to write a story of how we spent Easter. At the time I was getting inspired to write. I was also huge into Transformers. While the other kids wrote about hunting Easter eggs and such, my story revolved around Spike, the human in the Transformer’s TV show, showing the Autobots the customs of hiding and finding Easter eggs. While the Autobots were hunting for the eggs, the Deceptacons attacked. Lasers, rockets, and fists were either shot or thrown between the two warring parties. In the end, the Deceptacons were defeated and the Easter egg hunt resumed. My teacher gave me a C and my mother fussed at me, but to me at the time it was one of my proudest moments. It showed me I could tell stories.

The second was while I was a teenager and my best friend showed me how to play Dungeons and Dragons. My mother had the game but would never play it with me. My friend came along with the books and taught me to play. Eventually several others joined us and we had all night marathon sessions of D&D. It’s funny or maybe sad, depending on your point of view. While the other teenagers were riding around and going to parties, we were sitting around a table killing Orcust and Githiyanki. Once I got the rules down I tried my hand at Dungeon Mastering, which turned out to be my downfall as a player. After a few sessions my friends thought I was good, which meant i hardly ever got to play a character after that.

  • Do you approach story telling from a character building perspective and then world building or vice versa?

My ideas always start with a character and a problem that must be solved. I don’t think I have ever created a world and then built the character–seems kind of backwards to me. When I get an idea for a story, the character is doing something cool while solving the problems. I then start expanding on the character, which in turn creates the world. Before long the character is a living breathing entity and the world is a physical place.

  • Which part of the story tends to bog you down? The blank white page, the murky middle or wrapping everything up at the end?

Oh my God the middle. Writing the middle is like driving on a deserted road needing to use the bathroom but there is no store. You just know if you stop to go in the woods someone will suddenly appear, looking to see what’s going on. The middle seems like it goes on and on. The blank page has never intimidated me. As I have not had the problem of filling it up. The wrap up is to me the best part. It’s the climatic part of the story where everything you have been working towards come together, not to mention the end is now in sight. It’s a great feeling to type out the last word and then lean back in your chair knowing you have accomplished something special.

  • Tell us about your book and what inspired the story?

My book is about a man who betrayed everything he lived for, loved and fought for. His friend, who is more like a brother, must hunt him down to find out why. It’s about the true meaning behind people’s actions and the events that caused them. The story itself was one I wrote while in high school, using elements and events I came up with while I Dungeon Mastered. The story evolved over the years as I tinkered with it. When the dam broke so to speak, I said to myself “I’m going to be a writer.” I pulled the story out and worked it until it became fleshed out. It was Tommy Hancock, my editor, who drew out the full potential in me. With his help the story became rock solid, the characters became living people with feelings, wants and desires, and the world became a place you could touch, experience and walk in.


Jason Fedora’s writing career started when an elementary teacher had her students write an Easter story. While everyone else wrote of fluffy bunnies and family, Jason wrote about an Easter egg hunt that became the battle ground between the Autobots and the Decepticons. Jason has come a long way from that five page short story. He has recently had the Truth of Betrayal, a high fantasy, published by Dark Oak Press. Jason has one up and coming short story to be released by ProSe Press and is currently doing edits for Unknown: War Drums, a paranormal fantasy with his father, as well as Pillars of the World, the sequel to Truth of Betrayal.


Writer’s Ramble: Interview with Kimberly Richardson

Now that everyone has recovered from Christmas, just in time to ring in the new year, we have with us today, author Kimberly Richardson.
10167994_10152341095666122_1417136420_n 10369729_10152451153416122_2380884058884875460_n1) Can you tell us what sparked your writing passion?

As people may or may not know, I am a big fan of Indiana Jones. When I was younger, I wanted to be like him: search for forbidden artifacts, travel to distant lands, and write down my experiences in a journal. So, I did just that. I would place my stuffed animals in my grandparents’ living room, put on my granddad’s hat, use my jump rope as a whip, and pretend that I was Indiana Kim! I wrote down my adventures  and then later typed them out. I loved the feel of using my mother’s typewriter and I think that was when the Writing God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Greetings, little one! I see you enjoy the sound of a typewriter. I also see that you have quite an imagination. Care to continue doing this?” I said yes, and the rest is history.

On a side note, Indiana Kim grew up and became Agnes Viridian, the heroine in my new series with Pro Se Press. Her first story is in the Black Pulp anthology and she continues with a new story in the upcoming Black Pulp Two. I’m currently working on her first full novel tentatively titled The Floating World of Agnes Viridian.

2) Do you read the same genres you write?
For a while, I did not. I branched out to reading literary works (of which I still do!) because I felt that my work would have been skewed if I read more dark fantasy. Of course, I quickly learned that made no sense and just read books that I wanted to read, no matter the genre.
3) If you could go back and give your newbie writer self advice, what would it be?
 Advice? Typewriters are most cool. That sound is intoxicating. Be prepared to fall in love with not only the art, but also your characters. Never let anyone or anything tell you that being a writer is “dumb”.
4) You started a tea company. Can you tell us about the inspiration for that and how it ties into your writing?


I have many boxes of tea at home, I am (sort of) a member of a Japanese Tea Ceremony group, and I study Chado, or The Art of Tea. In short, tea is a big part of my life. However, I wanted to make the ultimate proclamation of my devotion – I decided to make my own blends. Goth Librarian was the first; since that is the label that most people know me for, I wanted to create a tea blend that would represent it well. I had so much fun making it that I decided to try my hand at another blend – Elmwood. Elmwood is based on the historical cemetery in Memphis and my photography residency in 2015. Soon, I had more and more tea blend ideas and at that point, I wanted to create a tea company – Viridian Tea Company was born. The blends stem from my life and my experiences and it is also a great way to express my creativity. My mind runs on a million miles a minute, so having added lanes for the ideas that come running out of it are always a good thing!

To connect with the always intriguing Kimberly Richardson check any or all of the following:
To check out her books and short stories: 
The Decembrists
Tales from a Goth Librarian
Tales From a Goth Librarian II
Dreams of Steam (the first one)
Realms of Imagination

Pro Se Press (both Black Pulp and Asian Pulp)

A Tall Ship, A Star, and Plunder: Interview

If you meander over to Robert Krog’s blog, you’ll discover an interview with me and some other lovely goodies by the talented Mr. Krog.

“Fated Bonds”- Character Interview

Today we’re doing something a bit different– a character interview.

As some of you may have seen, my novel “Fated Bonds” will be out this Wednesday. Tala Neil is the heroine of the story. Her brother, Kevin Neil, is here with us today to share some details about Tala and their life.


So, hi there, and welcome to my blog!

Hey. Happy to be here.

Tala’s story, and in part, your story, is coming out soon and I hear that you wanted to tell us some things about your sister?

Yep. Now don’t get me wrong, Tala is totally badass, but I thought I’d share some stories you won’t hear from her; stuff only a sibling knows.  [Kevin winks.] As her brother, it’s my sacred duty to make sure she doesn’t get too big an ego, ya know?

Yes, and my sister does exactly that to me on a regular basis. Before we get into spilling Tala’s secrets, why don’t you tell us what it’s like to be a mage?

Sure.  For one, there aren’t any mage schools anymore. There aren’t enough of us. Traditions are passed down a family line and if you’re lucky, you know where to look for more information. Most human magic users are no more than kitchen witches now.
The secret’s out, supposedly, but people don’t believe there are mages and vampires and stuff unless they run into it first hand. We’re considered urban legends or bad pseudoscience. I once lit a teacher’s desk on fire, totally accidental, of course. The guy convinced himself that it was an electrical fire, even though it was an old-school wooden desk and nowhere near cords or an outlet.

Wow.  That must have been difficult for y’all growing up.

I suppose. You get used to it, eventually. I was a bookworm and socially awkward, so I didn’t really care. Tala, however, aspired to have a social life in high school. There was this one time she attempted to cast a spell, kind of like a no-see spell, but not as complex. The goal was to keep Mom from noticing she’d snuck out of the house. As spells like that have a way of doing, it backfired. She didn’t do it right, ended up blue as a smurf for a week and had to pretend she had the flu. She never made the rendezvous with snobby Sarah’s crowd and she got  grounded.

Blue? That can happen?


 A reader submitted a question. They asked, “Is Tala a nose wiggle or head-bob spell caster?”

[laughs] Neither. When she was a kid she’d bite her bottom lip and scrunch up her face, but she learned to be subtle. With small spells, sometimes it’s just a small finger snap, or even a blink. Personally, I like to wave my wand dramatically, but I’ve broken a few lamps and vases that way.
Magic is all about will and power. Now big spells require casting a circle and all that jazz, but that’s because you summon the elements, god, and goddess. Whenever you summon, it’s best to make sure uninvited parties can’t join in the fun.

Another reader question regards familiars. Do y’all have them?

Nope, at least not unless you count dust bunnies.

Tala is several years older than you, right?

Yeah. Eight, to be precise.

What was it like when y’all were growing up? Did she play with you? Were you friends or did you fight a lot?

She was bossy. We played some, but once she got to be a teen she was pretty busy. To be honest, she was more like a second mom. We love our mom, but she’s battled severe depression since Tala’s dad was killed. 

What age did you each start using magic?

I think we were both pretty precocious. A lot of mage-born kids are casting simple spells by ten or twelve. We could both cast by six. We weren’t technically allowed to cast spells outside of practice time, but I remember Tala making my action figures battle to entertain me.

So do you have to be a mage or can you opt out?

People opted out so much that entire family lines have gone mundane. Hundreds of years of witch hunts took their toll. The families that remain, like mine, take the responsibility very seriously. So, while we could technically decide to never practice magic, neither Tala or I got the option as a kid to skip the training. Our mother was a bit ruthless. Of course, she had reason to be. Without our training, we might fall prey to Mordecai. She lost her husband to him. She didn’t want to lose us.

I see. So, magic is serious business.

Usually, yes.

Were you ever jealous of your sister?

Of course. If any sibling out there claims that they were never, ever jealous, I say they are lying. It’s human nature. She was older and so it seemed like I was always playing catch-up.  It didn’t help that I crushed on some of the guys she brought home. She made everything look so effortless and I felt awkward. As I got older and found my own niche, I quit trying to be her and the jealousy faded away.

What made Tala decide to go into law enforcement? Does she ever bring her work home with her?

Short answer, her dad. He was a journalist before he married Mom. He switched to online freelance stuff after they married– lower profile. Tala tells me that he’d tell her stories back from his investigative journalist days. That, combined with the injustice of losing him at such a young age, I think it gave her a bit of a ‘save the world’ complex. Back before Alexander, she’d lug case files home. She lived and breathed work. She’s developed hobbies and stuff, but she’s still pretty dedicated to justice.

Has she ever had a really horrible case, and what did she have to do afterwards to detox?

Yeah, she has. She’s probably had more than I know about. I didn’t really pay much attention early in her career. The ones where kids are the victims– it gets to her. She bottles it all up until she closes the case or the trail goes cold. If she closes the case, she gets shitfaced drunk at home afterward. The ones that grow cold put her in a pissy mood for months. She’ll spend a lot of time beating the crap out of the punching dummy at the gym until she accepts the inevitable. Every once in awhile she pulls the case out, goes over it again, and ends up back at the gym.

Okay while we all know that the police deal with more than their share of ugliness on a day to day basis, we’ve also heard of some really amusing, heart warming encounters.  Does Tala have a favorite?

 Her mentor, Greg, was a really nice guy. He and his wife came to dinner every once in awhile. They had her over to their place it seems like every other weekend. On cold mornings, at the start of every shift Greg would pick up coffee for himself, Tala, and get four extras. When they went out in the cruiser, he’d stop at Greenly Park and hand out the coffees to some of the homeless. Of course the mayor passed that asinine law not long after Greg died, and they have to lock any indigents up now if they find them in the park. Tala never seems to find any. [Smiles]  So, that’s my favorite.
Tala acts like a hardass, but I’ve seen her get all teary when she reads about cops doing stuff, like buying people shoes, or whatnot.

Do you have any other stories you’d like to share?

Well, one of my favorites is the time she cornered Angela in the woods and made her faint, but you’ll have to read the book to find out how that happened.

I’m sure our readers will take you up on that. Thank you, Kevin!