To Write or Paint?

Hello friends! Another week, another adventure. Well, an adventure into painting that is. After staring at my walls, trying to come up with the latest plot twist, I decided it was well past time to repaint them. After years of family abuse of pen marks, pencil drawings, paint explosions, and other various tried and tested tortures they have suffered, I grasped that five gallon paint vat, mixed it until my fingers ached, and poured the vaporous mixture into the bucket.

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How I relished the silky taupe that would soon make my walls bright and cheery again.

After about five minutes of staring down at the paint, glistening eyes and all (drat the vapors), I swiped them dry with my shirtsleeve and with gusto I tackled the nearest wall. Roll after roll it took on a sparkly sheen. Up and down the ladder I went, cutting in near the ceiling and at the baseboards, and when all was said and done, I stood, shoulders squared, chin up, and beamed at that gloriously painted wall.

Of course, I felt proud. Who wouldn’t?! Muscles I hadn’t felt in decades gave me a swift ‘Hello’ in the form of stabbing, shooting pains, and my legs trembled at the exertion, but I was not going to let anything dampen the exultation thrumming through my veins.

Satisfied, I stepped back and turned around, half expecting congratulatory slaps on the back for a job well done, but no matter. I was proud. Proud…

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And then, with a feeling of impending doom, I viewed the multiple walls yearning to be painted, and an overwhelming panic ensued. What. Have. I. Done????

*sigh*

Buck up soldier! Time to get the paint on, am I right?! So, I rolled up those imaginary sleeves, tightened that ponytail, and stared down those walls that taunted me from around the room. I would not perish! They were going down.

The ladder, which I thought helpful, turned traitorous with each painful step, and the endless sight of unpainted walls mocked me, but I kept on. Swipe after painful swipe, I tackled those obstinate walls, and when three were done (did I mention that I’ve got 18 walls to paint?) I leaned against the kitchen counter and exhaled.

Now, four days later, I’m still painting, and I’d rather be writing. I will NEVER complain about writing again. I think I’ll be dreaming about walls for the foreseeable future, but there was a silver lining in all the drudgery.

First, I’m sore which means I’m building muscle. Score! Second, I’m proud of those freshly painted walls. It was time, and third, painting shares similarities with writing.

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I know some might think I’ve inhaled too much vapor, but hear me out. Painting requires attention to detail. It also requires dedication and determination. I know that many writers would agree that to make it as an author, we must be both dedicated and determined because it’s easy to just give up. However, where’s the fun in that? Moreover, painting utilizes layers to cover up flaws or enhance them, and so does writing.

Anyway, I’ve had a crash course in painting, and once completed, I will not be painting walls ever again. However, I’m grateful for the ability to do it, and I appreciate those that paint for a living. You all get the biggest of high fives!

So, after I complete this painting excursion over the next few days, I will cherish my time for writing all the more. What about you? I want to hear from you. What are you up to? TV, movies, books, or painting, I want to hear about it. Leave a comment, and join the fun!

Happy reading,

K.D.

Put the Book Down!

Hello, friends! Another week, another blog post. It’s been a jam-packed week of research, editing, and rewriting. But the common theme? Books!

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Historical books, suspense, dystopian, and all things fantasy litter my desk and clutter my shelves. I’ve got the U.S. Civil War on the brain for my next novel, and I’m devouring Origin by Dan Brown at night. Hour long slogs, interrupting an already claustrophobic day of work, through Nashville traffic gets my family to ballet practice, but it’s SO worth it.

I sit in sweet solitude parked in a crammed lot of extrovert parents, and I sink down in the driver’s seat, sunglasses donned and sun visor down, as my introvert self avoids contact of any nature. I relish each turn of the page. Black script jumps off the pages and enlightens a middle-aged mind, taking me on a far off adventure, or reminding me of the importance of history (lest it repeat itself!).

Ah, the wonder of those sweet hours (yes, hours) of alone time where the usual day’s stressors (painting walls, laundry that could rival the Himalayan mountains, annoying solicitors that don’t take no for an answer, sticky floors yet to be cleaned, and a yard threatening to swallow us whole if not cut) can thunderously dissolve and books become my salvation.

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Of course, as a writer, books are my life. However wonderful I know that they are, to a non book lover (gasp), they are quite the nuisance. Although, I have to say that my loved ones appreciate my infatuation with the written words, they do find them rather cumbersome to walk around.

So, what would any sane writer do to tackle this all too familiar issue? Kindle, you say! Kobo, Amazon, Apple and other sites grant the reader’s delight in thousands of books all at our digital fingertips! Hundreds can be stored in a teeny, tiny space. Gone are the paper cuts, stubbed toes, and bruised hips. What more could anyone want, am I right?!

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Wrong!

You see, after all is said and done, there’s nothing I love more than the smell of a good book. The tangible nature entices; the sound of pages turning (sigh). It delights my neuronal synapses in a way that the digital copy can not. Don’t get me wrong. I still read digitally, but my LOVE awaits in those paperbacks yearning to be bought (my sweet precious).

Of course, the clutter continues, and until I can afford a decent library the size of the Smithsonian comes my way, I will continue to buy those darlings. I hope my family and friends will grunt (silently), bear it, and understand (probably not). If not, it’s been a fun ride. How I’ll miss their faces;-)

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Just kidding!!! I’m building shelves and determining which ones I’ll give to our local library and shelters. They shall not burden my family longer, and yet, when the last breath leaves this mortal body, may my lovely family surround me, and a novel be ever clutched to my chest.

I want to hear from you! Who else is a book hoarder? What are you currently reading? I look forward to your comments.

Happy reading,

K.D.

Sorting Hats and Computer Crashes!

Hello all!

First of all, I’ve had quite the interesting weekend. My computer crashed and all my backups were lost, EXCEPT that I always keep a written copy on hand. Although I’ll have to retype the entire manuscript, which will undoubtedly take me uncountable hours, I’ll have to push back the release date for The Guardians. BUT I’m grateful! No working from scratch for me;-)

So, I decided I needed some fun in my life, and that led me to J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore.

At the Pottermore.com website you can find lots of fun and exciting things to do. Have you tried it yet???  Let me know where the sorting hat put you! Don’t forget to get your patronus and wand!

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve attached a video of some of the cast getting sorted.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Happy reading,

KD

Cover Reveal and New Year Tidings!

Hello! I hope everyone had a pleasant New Year’s celebration, and I hope most are avoiding the nasty flu virus that’s spreading throughout most of the USA. Last year was productive, and I’m excited for 2018. I’m off to the races with the next in The Protectorate series with The Guardians set to debut either at the end of January or February.

Anna’s harrowing journey continues into her prophetic past as we rejoice in her triumphs and cry right along with her in her trials. On a worldwide rat race to uncover the mysteries surrounding her birth and the inherited role she must assume, Anna struggles for answers where friends become enemies and family are not who they seem.

I invite you to take this adventure with Anna in the second book of the series: The Guardians! Write a review and/or contact me on Twitter, FB, or here when you do.

Additionally, it wouldn’t be a new year without a new reading list. I’m up to my eyeballs in work and pleasure books, and I’m determined to read them all. Overachiever? Perhaps. Bibliophile? Absolutely!

At present, I’m reading Magnus Chase and The Gods of Asgard, Scarlet: The Lunar Chronicles, Archie Greene and the Alchemists’ Curse, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, My Dirty Fairytale, Paranoia: The Story of Jenni, and Origin to name a few. Yes, I read multiple books at once as it helps tremendously with my writing, meaning more wonderful books to churn out for my fantastic readers! Romance, YA, Suspense, Thriller, Mystery: I love them ALL. So, if you’ve got any you’re reading, please comment below and tell me which ones I should add to my TBR list of 2018.

So now, without further ado, I’m excited to present the cover for The Guardians.

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© protected image by IM²/Innovations Publications

Happy reading,

K.D.

 

Review: Live & Learn by Vance Pumphrey

Disclosure: A copy of this book was given by the author for an honest review.

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Age: Teen-Adult

Pages: 368

Book Blurb:

Defense of the Land Series

Book One

In the age old struggle of good v. evil, who gets to decide who—or what—is good?

Can a beautiful, goody-two-shoes paladin knowingly consort with an assassin? Depends on how desperate the assassin is….

Jaramiile throws her sword in with five others to stop the scourge of evil that has been reborn in The Land. Yet can she face her god when one of her companions admits to being hired to slay another? What if the target is her sworn enemy? To further confuse the matter, the assassin has skills their party needs—and he is very handsome….

Come along on yet another magical ride as Vance Pumphrey weaves The Valdaar’s Fist tale from another perspective—those who would stop the raising of the dark god.

Discussion: Vance Pumphrey has created an Epic Fantasy chocked full of orc battles, paladins, magicusers, rogues, narrow escapes and earth-shattering secrets. While able to stand-alone, I recommend reading Dragma’s Keep first as Live & Learn takes place simultaneously, coming from a different perspective.

As a brilliant example of hunter turned prey, Vance Pumphrey pens a magical page turner with this newest woeful band of misfits. Tracking Sordaak and his crew through the underground maze toward the elusive Dragma’s Keep, this group of characters sometimes bites off more than they can handle. While struggling to gain ground on Sordaak, they face monumental battles, a devious demon, and hidden agendas that strain the tenuous relationships forged on their journey.

Coupled with an interesting plot, I appreciate the parallels that Mr. Pumphrey includes in this latest installment. Since I have read Dragma’s Keep, I enjoyed reliving the hazards that befell Sordaak’s crew, and it added a sense of urgency and dread to the novel. After growing attached to Sordaak and his companions and hoping for their success in raising Valdaar, I began Live & Learn with a bit of trepidation. Not wanting to root for this new set of warriors, devoted to Praxaar, I held a grudge for a time. However, Vance Pumphrey writes in a way to compel those with the strongest of wills to hold the newest cast of characters of Live & Learn in high esteem. By the end, I respected their grit and determination, even though my alliance remained with Sordaak.

In the same fashion, similarities abound between the groups, each with a paladin, magicuser, healer, and jack-of-all-trades. Their devotion to a cause speaks volumes, and in any other circumstance, both sides would probably get along rather well. I can imagine them sitting around an open fire, drinking ale, and rehashing past battles and proudly displaying war wounds. Of course, the only obstacle that pits them against one another is who they serve which encompasses an age-old conflict in a thoughtful and vibrant way.

Vance Pumphrey breathes likability into each character, giving them notable, but believable, flaws that propel the story on and keeps the reader’s attention throughout the book. A likable mix of intensity and humor, Live & Learn gets 5/5 stars. I look forward to the next in the series!

For information about the author, his books, and updates, please check out vancepumphrey.com.

Happy reading,

KD

Review: Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy

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Cover via Amazon.com

 

Genre: Children’s eBooks

Age: 5-10 years

Pages: 98

“IMAGINE! See it, feet it, believe it! You can do anything, if you truly believe in yourself.” Ronaldo’s Grandad

Book blurb: “Ronaldo is the top flying cadet at the prestigious Reindeer Flying Academy. He dreams of getting his flying license and becoming one of Santa’s reindeer, just like his hero, Vixen.

In the first adventure in the Ronaldo series, the second year flying cadets face their toughest ever flying test — The Endurance challenge. Will Ronaldo be victorious and lift the silver cup? Or will mean brothers Dasher, met and Prancer ruin his chance for success?”

Disclosure: A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

Discussion: A wonderful spin on a Christmas favorite, Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy emphasizes the importance of believing in yourself. Funny and captivating, kids will get a kick out of carrot pancakes (can’t wait to make my own!), the ultimate parental stare down, and the obligatory embarrassments kids suffer during childhood.

Of course, the real gems of this story, apart from the message, are the colorful illustrations. They not only enhance the engaging text but take on a life of their own. Well designed and entertaining, this book would be wonderful to read any time of the year.

As for drawbacks, I would love to see this ebook offered in print! For little minds, the tactile stimulation and vibrant illustrations would be stupendous. It is for this reason that I’ll give Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy by Maxine Sylvester a 4/5 stars.

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Picture via Amazon

An enjoyable read, a great message, and another book to continue the tale! Please visit Maxine Sylvester on her Amazon page, connect with her on Facebook and Twitter,visit her website, and don’t forget to leave a review if you purchase.

Happy reading!

KD

 

 

Reviews: The Accidental Empress & Flyte

This year is flying by, and I’m churning away at the TBR list like there is no tomorrow. My days consist of writing, reading, editing, reviewing, and researching on a repeat loop, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sure, I throw in an occasional exercise routine. Weights here, a little cardio there, a recovery cookie for dragging myself through the mental prep it takes to force each pained step through the above “recommended” exercises.

Now, hear me out, I’m a healthcare professional, in addition to penning books, who values keeping the body healthy. Having stated the obvious, I don’t have to say I “love” it, or even “like” it, but all in all, I appreciate what exercise can do for my mind, body and writing.

What I do “love” is a great book, and boy do I have two I’m raving about today: The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki, and Flyte by Angie Sage. Yep, they are from different genres, the first is historical fiction and the later from fantasy fiction, but I do love reading various genres. I find that it enhances my writing in a number of ways. But, I digress. These masterful written and entertaining pieces of art command attention from the get go, and I’m excited to review them for you today.

Here goes!

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Cover via Amazon.com

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

Genre: Historical Fiction

Ages: Teen to Adult

Pages: 512

Book Blurb via Amazon:  “A  New York Times bestseller, The Accidental Empress is the “captivating, absorbing, and beautifully told” (Kathleen Grissom).love story of “Sisi” the Austro-Hungarian empress and wife of Emperor Franz Joseph.

The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe’s most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry.

Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead.

Thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world.

With Pataki’s rich period detail and cast of complex, bewitching characters, The Accidental Empress offers “another absolutely compelling story” (Mary Higgins Clark) with this glimpse into one of history’s most intriguing royal families, shedding new light on the glittering Hapsburg Empire and its most mesmerizing, most beloved “Fairy Queen.”

Discussion: Okay, as most historical fiction’s go, the 512 pages may seem overwhelming at first glance, and if you’re new to historical fiction, then this may be the absolute turning point in the decision to pick up the book or not. However, Pataki’s superior grasp on weaving an extraordinary tale gleaned from true life accounts of a young empress, plucked too soon from the protective confines of her childhood home, will leave you yearning for a sequel. And not to disappoint her fans, Allison Pataki hints at a possible continuation as the life of Sisi is too luminous and compelling to contain in one formidable book.

So, for those wondering about the length, don’t worry. The pages fly by, turning faster than a fan blade on high power. As a matter of fact, I was quite disappointed to have only touched the tippy top of this compelling, vivacious, resilient young Sisi, who after a long and arduous road, finds strength after heartbreak and despair on multiple occasions. Yes, I too swore indecent accusations at her mother-in-law (MIL) and spouse. I flung the book in haste onto the bed at the intrusion of Mother Sophie and relished in how her pompous attitude was hacked down a tier or two as I neared the close of the book. Don’t worry, the book was unharmed in the events of disdain. Although my psyche took a hit, dreaming about Sophie’s snooty grins and pudgy fingers grasping yet another delicate treat only the Hapsburg Court could afford to eat. Yes, the frustration and loathing was palpable in my household, and I can thank the exquisite Allison Pataki for that;-)

As far as the historical significance of the book, Pataki rarely strayed from actual accounts of Empress Sisi, and I owe a monstrous “Thank you” to her for that. It’s disappointing to read a historical fiction book that strays too far from the truth, and Ms. Pataki doesn’t disappoint. Her genius lies in the way she embodies Sisi’s imagined thoughts during her lifespan that keep the reader glued to the pages and wanting for more. I found myself wondering how it would feel to be plunged into the depths of the Hapsburg family without a life raft or boat, some kind of anchor to hold near. Not even her mother, who lived days away, could soften the blows of an overbearing MIL or the estrangement of her husband.

If you haven’t been introduced to Allison Pataki’s books, I’d advise you to take a look. She pens a book better than most, and she’s a credit to the historical fiction genre.

5/5 Stars

Flyte by Angie Sage

Genre: Children’s Fantasy/Magic

Ages: 8-12, but Adult’s love it too!

Pages: 532

Book Blurb via Amazon:

“It’s been a year since Septimus Heap discovered his real family and true calling to be a wizard. As Apprentice to ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand, he is learning the fine arts of Conjurations, Charms, and other Magyk, while Jenna is adapting to life as the Princess and enjoying the freedom of the Castle.

But there is something sinister at work. Marcia is constantly trailed by a menacing Darke Shadow, and Septimus’s brother Simon seems bent on a revenge no one understands. Why is the Darke Magyk still lingering?

Bringing fantasy to new heights, Angie Sage continues the journey of Septimus Heap with her trademark humor and all of the clever details readers have come to love.”

Discussion:  The second book in the Septimus Heap series, Ms. Angie Sage continues the fascinating and nail-biting adventures of Septimus Heap, Princess Jenna, Nicko, their dragon boat, and a mystical world of magic waiting for the reader who dares to turn it’s pages. The castle, in disarray, anxiously awaits the return of Septimus amongst the chaos of the Extraordinary Wizard, Marcia, whose sinister dark shadow grows ever more tangible with each passing day, threatening the demise of her charge over the castle and those seeking to keep the wizarding world from falling into evil hands.

Ms. Sage uses vibrant descriptions, placing the reader directly into the surroundings, which I find difficult to write, but it’s effortless for her. The terminology, spells, and background stories all compel me down the rabbit hole of Flyte. What an adventure! Likable for all ages, Flyte touches on the nuances of parental struggles, sibling rivalry, and the typical angst of growing up all compiled into one. A quick and easy read, I’m grabbing the next in the series, “Physik,” faster than a toddler throwing spaghetti onto a wall.

While the series targets an audience between the ages of 8-12, I recommend teens and adults grab a copy, too. It’s a fabulous book to drain away trials of the day. Although, it may contribute to some sleepless nights with a never ending internal dialogue of, “Just one more chapter!” Honestly, I’ve tried in vain to find something about this book that I could critique, but I’m at a loss. And, no, I don’t always give 5/5 reviews;-)

For lovers of magical fantasy, please check out Angie Sage.

5/5 Stars

So, what’s next on my TBR list? Well, I’ve got quite a few, but I’m always interested in your thoughts! Please, comment below on books or series that make your list of favorites. I love Indie authors, too! As a matter of fact, I’m reading an indie book right now in the midst of a plethora of books I’m using for research. A author’s work is never done!

Happy reading!

KD

New Adventures of K.D. Upton

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Photo by Anita Martinz

Good day to all! Spring has sprung, especially the allergies, and I’m on a new course of writing like never before. Daily challenges aside, I’ve put pencil/pen to paper almost everyday this year, and I’m thrilled at all the progress. Of course, writing is like fine wine. It takes time, but I’ve got lots of fun and challenging adventures on the horizon that I can’t wait to share.

What’s on the list for this year? Glad you asked! The Protectorate series continues with Anna on a whirlwind trip across the globe, hounded by traitors and enemies alike. Ancient artifacts, archaic rites of passage, ill-inclined organizations, and personal struggles threaten to topple Anna’s fragile world in her quest of self, vengeance, and salvation. Teeth will gnash, guts will churn, and lives will be lost! Stay tuned;-)

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In addition to my labor of love, I’m gearing up for a new writing adventure. EDITOR. Yes! I’ve always had a passion for the written word, and I’m now embracing editing into my tasks of writing, blogging, medication consulting, and sleeping somewhere in between. With years of experience, professional publications, and nagging from other writing professionals, I’ll add a page on the blog in the near future for my anticipated launch as an editor. Looking forward to a great launch!

However, not only am I anticipating my book launch and editing, I’m knee-deep in craft books to hone dialogue, character arcs, plot, etc… I’m also on a steep learning curve when it comes to Photoshop, book trailers, merchandise, etc… It’s enough to make my brain explode. No matter the age, though, one can always learn! As I continue to rewrite/edit my current WIP, I enjoy learning/trying new techniques to take my writing to a higher level. With that in mind, I’d love to hear what sources you use for improvement in writing, and if you’ve got some easy pointers on how to navigate Photoshop, I’m all ears! Please comment below or send me a DM.

And if the above wasn’t enough, I’m learning a new language: Norwegian!!! Why? Well, I want to! My filled days make life worth living, and I encourage you to pick up a book, any book, and dream. That’s what life is for, isn’t it? Dream and then go after the dream. You’ll be glad you did;-)

Until next time, happy reading, happy writing, happy dreaming!

KD

Review: The Platinum Dragon by Vance Pumphrey

Disclosure: The author sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Genre: Epic Fantasy

Age: YA to Adult

The final installment of The Valdaar’s Fist series, The Platinum Dragon leaves no stone unturned. What was once a crew of misfits has now turned into a well oiled machine with deep friendships forged. The final book finds our crew undergoing weeks of training with their respective masters, honing and fine-tuning their skills. They plan to reunite on the Isle of Grief with the Storm Giants in tow.

Construction of Sordaak’s Keep, thanks to the dwarves of the Dragger Clan, prosper and the temple for Valdaar’s resurrection is well under way. However, when Vorgaath never turns up, a successful excursion ensues to rescue Vorgaath from the clutches of feudal clans. Once reunited, the crew head back toward the Isle of Grief only to come under attack by none other than servants of Praxaar, including Sordaak’s half-sister. After narrowly escaping death, Sordaak forms a sketchy plan to obtain Valdaar’s Fist from Bahamut, the king of all the mighty dragons.

Each team member is pushed to the ultimate limit of skill and power. The epic showdown leaves a jaw-dropping and unexpected conclusion, impacting each in different and profound ways.

Like the other books in the series, The Platinum Dragon is an entertaining page turner. The author’s words flow effortlessly, creating 3-dimensional characters, vivid imagery and a flawless plot. The downside of any epic fantasy is the length, but with the final turn of the page, I found myself wanting more.

Vance Pumphrey astounds, mesmerizes and fascinates in The Valdaar’s Fist series. I anticipate his future endeavors to work magic of their own.

For more information on Vance Pumphrey and to buy his books/merchandise, please visit www.vancepumphrey.com.

Happy reading,

KD

Life Update!

Exciting times ahead, and I want to keep you updated. First, I’m all into Tai Chi for health! My health, like many out there, needs attention, and I’ve discovered the benefits of this ancient form of marital arts. As a writer, I’ve got to be centered, focused and as stress free as possible;-) Of course, stress is a common companion for any writer, but it doesn’t have to rule you. Plus, stress wrecks havoc on our immune systems, skin, hair, organs, you name it. So, if you haven’t tried Tai Chi, give it a go!

Next, I’m avidly writing the second installment of The Protectorate series. While it’s slow going, it’s coming along nicely. Like fine wine, my books get better with the wait;-) So, stay tuned as I get closer to finishing it and sending it off to my trusted and brilliant Beta Readers!

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In addition to life’s events and writing, I’m thrilled to read any second I get. My current reading list includes: The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki, Defiant Brides by Nancy Rubin Stuart along with lots of books/articles on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Who says you can’t have fun researching? My love for all things historical runs deep, and I’m up to my shoulders in research for my series.

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Cover via Amazon.com

 

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Cover via Amazon.com

Lastly, I’m gearing up for a new path in writing, and I can’t wait to share it. However, I’ll release information on it in due time. Just know that lots of time, energy and effort have gone into this new project, and I’m thrilled for the opportunity!

So, what books are you reading? I’d love to know! Comment below and read on:-)

Happy writing/reading,

KD