Posts tagged “Writing

October Events

I love October. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I always enjoy making my house creepy with spooky decor. If I could get away with it, I’d probably leave it that way all year, but I doubt my family would be happy about it. I did manage to sneak a mercury glass skull onto one of our bookshelves last year, and nobody objected. Maybe they didn’t notice it was there for the whole year.

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October is a good time to be an author too, especially one who delves into horror. In fact, here are five spooky writing prompts to inspire you. Want more? On the 14th, at 3pm, I’ll be at the Astoria Public Library, teaching a workshop on writing scary and suspenseful scenes. Then, on October 21st, I’ll be taking the show on the road for the Northwest Author Festival at Klindt’s Booksellers from 2-5pm in The Dalles. It will be my third year attending the festival, and I’m excited to be back at Oregon’s oldest bookstore. Maybe this time, I’ll be lucky enough to see the bookstore’s resident ghost.

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© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2017

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Beach Town

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One reason I decided to set Pitcher Plant, my new suspense novel, in Seaside is because I adore this little beach town. The Oregon coast is gorgeous, and Seaside is a city with a lot of charm. It’s no wonder we get an influx of tourists when the sun comes out.

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Seaside has almost two miles of beach, starting at the Necanicum Estuary, where wild elk like to forage, and stretching to the Cove, a popular surfing spot. Bordering the beach is the Promenade (or the Prom, as locals call it). You can walk the Prom, rent a surrey to bicycle through town, or cruise the Necanicum River in a paddle boat shaped like a swan.

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One of my favorite places on the Prom is the Seaside Aquarium, a spot I mention in the book. The aquarium opened in 1937 and is best known for its seals. For a few dollars, you can purchase a cardboard tray of fish to toss to the seals. It’s quite an event. Each seal has their own way of getting your attention, from slapping their bellies to splashing unsuspecting tourists.

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I also love the touch tanks, where you can get a closer look at the organisms in our tidepools—sea stars, crabs, sand dollars, anemone, and sea cucumbers. The aquarium does a great job displaying local wildlife, from wolf eels to small sharks.

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My absolute favorite creature is the giant pacific octopus, hanging out in the center of the aquarium. There’s no lid on her tank, so you can have a close encounter, staring into her intelligent eyes. I’ve often wondered, once the tourists leave for the night, does she ever leave the pool and go exploring?

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© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2017


Ghost Stories at the Library

Thank you to everyone who joined me last evening at the Astoria Library! I had a wonderful time talking about character-driven fiction with fellow writers, and it was fun to swap ghost stories during my presentation on Sunset Empire. I hope you enjoy reading about Burning Helen, the ghost in the tunnels under the Liberty Theater. Much appreciation to Ami for all your hard work facilitating this event.

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As promised, I sent a short story to everyone who signed up for my newsletter. If you’d like to be on my list and want a free story, comment below or send me an email at solasbeir at gmail dot com.

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2017


Finished

This week I’m thrilled to feature a guest post on writing by friend and fellow author, Diana Kirk. She is the author of Licking Flames: Tales of a Half-Assed Hussy. Her smart, thought-provoking essays can be found in Nailed, Thought Catalog, and Five 2 One Lit Mag. She lives on the coast of Oregon with her husband and three boys where she trades real estate and stories at tiny coffee shops.

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Finishing. The word itself and the act itself. To finish means you need to start and in between you need to work hard and persevere. Persevere is a word I’m thinking of tattooing on my wrist, but I’m also considering simply writing “Finished.”

Because I love projects that are finished projects. The feeling of completion is so satisfying to me that if it’s a success almost doesn’t matter. Every trip I’ve taken abroad has been a project, every business I’ve started, a project, my marriage, my kids, my writing…all projects with outcomes. Some obviously not so definable as raising a human and whether they are successful. I think if my kids are confident and laugh at themselves heartily, they will be successful adults. But when are you finished? I don’t know. I’m in the work hard and persevere section of parenting these days.

Children’s writer Margaret Dilloway shared a post this week on Facebook stating Meyers Briggs personality tests are bunk. My letters describe me to perfection. An ENTP is The Visionary, extraverted intuition with introverted thinking.

“ENTPs are fluent conversationalists, mentally quick, and enjoy verbal sparring with others. They love to debate issues, and may even switch sides sometimes just for the love of the debate. When they express their underlying principles, however, they may feel awkward and speak abruptly and intensely.”

The article might be correct about Meyers Briggs being bunk because The Visionary is not known for finishing. The Visionary is known for having ideas. Triangulating information into possibilities. My friends and family have all received these late-night texts from me…

“We should buy a sailboat to share. We’ll sail to the tip of Baja, you sail back.”

I can only imagine my cousin sitting on her couch, watching a vampire show and rolling her eyes at my weird texts rolling through.

Visionaries are not known for finishing. They’re delegators, they’re farmers planting their ideas in the minds of different people to see if they’ll sprout up or become something interesting. They’re not ones to finish a thing.

I have a lot more ideas than I actually follow through on. I guess you’d say that’s not finishing. I once started a business grey importing RVs to Canada. I only did it once then bailed from stress. I had a knitting business, I used to sell soup at campgrounds to American Snowbirds in Mexico, I’ve brokered real estate deals for percentages, pitched movie scripts to agents, tour guided through Detroit. I simply like doing stuff, trying to do stuff. Finding the interesting quadrants in life.

Which is why I’ve been thinking about the word Finished this week. The more I look at books from an author standpoint, after formatting a manuscript, editing, book covers, distribution, publicity…I see that really, a book Is a lot about finishing. It’s not always about the best writing, or the best cover or the best anything. It’s about finishing a damn project from inception to completion.

This entire idea came to me from a question posted on a writer’s forum I follow. A woman asked the question about writing her mother or her family in a memoir. How would they take it? How do writers do this? I wanted to answer her but I just couldn’t because what I’ve seen is that if you worry so early on in your project, whatever it is, if you worry about your friends and family, you’ll never finish a thing. Because after you write that beautiful piece you’re so proud of, you’ll submit it to reviewers and one of them will take offense. Then your editors will argue about the validity of a different part. Whether it should be put in your book. Then one of your reviewers for this golden book will not understand your book. They’ll tell you to rewrite sections you don’t want to re-write. Then publicists will take your finished book and twist it into something you don’t feel deep in your guts. But maybe you actually are the person they’re pitching. You tell yourself it’s just a part of who you are. They’ll sell you as something more interesting than you feel. Then strangers will read your book and some of them will not understand your chapter two. They’ll tweet about it and you’ll just sit there with a vodka tonic…not really worrying about your mom anymore. By the end, you’ll just need a mom.

So maybe “Finished” is a heavily undervalued and yet beautiful word. I’m obviously not finished with life so perhaps tattooing it onto my wrist isn’t the best idea but maybe…it is. Because the word isn’t weighed down with a numerical scale of success, it isn’t populated on Twitter, it doesn’t reek with anxiety. If you did the stuffs and you never gave up, and there’s a set moment in time of finishing, then you’ve succeeded. Maybe finished means success. Maybe it should be the sexiest word ever. If anything, it’s definitely a check mark in that life resume.

I finished a book.

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Connect with Diana Kirk on her blog, dianakirk.wordpress.com, on Facebook, on Twitter, or on Goodreads. Her book is available at Amazon, IndiePress, and Powell’s.

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2017


Favorite Reads of 2016

Happy Holidays! 2016 has been a Twilight Zone of a year, but I hope you’ve had some good moments in spite of that. I have. Some highlights were finding out my third book, The Sower Comes, won a book award, and hearing that the Secrets and Shadows boxed set had become a bestseller in the UK. I’ve had some nice opportunities, like releasing Sunset Empire and telling ghost stories on the Astoria Trolley on Halloween.

My blog will be taking a hiatus for a few weeks so I can focus on my family, but I’m looking forward to 2017. My goals are to finish a book called Riverbound I’m co-writing with a friend, and to finish editing a vampire novel for another author. I’m also excited about two upcoming book events. More on all that in January. In the meantime, there’s a giveaway for Sunset Empire on Goodreads. I hope you’ll enter if you haven’t already.

born-a-crimeWhat are you reading right now? I just started Trevor Noah’s biography, Born a Crime. It’s a fascinating and timely read which I highly recommend. It’s about him growing up in South Africa during apartheid, and his mother having to keep him hidden since he was bi-racial and interracial relationships were illegal. If they’d gotten caught, his parents would have been thrown in jail, and he would have been taken away and put in an orphanage. Here’s the book description:

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

the-firemanI also recommend one of my favorite reads of 2016, The Fireman, by Joe Hill. It’s about a plague that causes the infected to spontaneously combust. What I found so compelling about the book was the way society unraveled in the face of an end of the world pandemic. Here’s the book description:

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

three-dark-crownsWhat to read in 2017? I meant to read Three Dark Crowns, by Kendare Blake, but I’ve run out of time. That will be top of my to-read list. Here’s what the book is about:

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

end-of-the-watchI haven’t yet read Stephen King’s End of the Watch either, so I’m going to have to rectify that. This book is the third of a trilogy. I love everything Stephen King writes, but this series has been a favorite. Here’s a description:

The spectacular finale to the New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes (winner of the Edgar Award) and Finders Keepers—In End of Watch, the diabolical “Mercedes Killer” drives his enemies to suicide, and if Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney don’t figure out a way to stop him, they’ll be victims themselves.

In Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, something has awakened. Something evil. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, where eight people were killed and many more were badly injured, has been in the clinic for five years, in a vegetative state. According to his doctors, anything approaching a complete recovery is unlikely. But behind the drool and stare, Brady is awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

Retired police detective Bill Hodges, the unlikely hero of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney—the woman who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him on the brain injury ward. When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

In End of Watch, Stephen King brings the Hodges trilogy to a sublimely terrifying conclusion, combining the detective fiction of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers with the heart-pounding, supernatural suspense that has been his bestselling trademark. The result is an unnerving look at human vulnerability and chilling suspense. No one does it better than King.

Do you have any recommendations for my reading list?

Hope your holidays are wonderful, and all the best to you in the new year.

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2016


Secrets & Shadows, Part 3

Just a few more days until the release of Secrets & Shadows! If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet, you can do it here. 

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Today I want to introduce three more of the wonderful authors whose books are included in this young adult box set: USA Today Bestselling Author Kristin D. Van Risseghem, International Bestselling Author Sophie Davis, and International Bestselling Author Siobhan Davis. Check out their books and give them a follow!

Kristin D. Van Risseghem 

USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author Kristin D. Van Risseghem grew up in a small town along the Mississippi River with her parents and older sister. Currently, Kristin lives in Minnesota with her husband and two Calico cats. She also loves attending book clubs, going shopping, and hanging out with friends. She has come to realize that she absolutely has an addiction to purses and shoes. They are her weakness and she probably has way too many of both.

In the summer months, Kristin can usually be found lounging on her boat, drinking an ice cold something. Being an avid reader of YA and Women’s Literature stories, she still finds time to read a ton of books in-between writing. And in the winter months, her main goal is to stay warm from the Minnesota cold! Her book, Swords & Stilettos, is included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.

Here’s a description of the book:

swords-and-stilettosZoe Jabril needs to devise a kick-ass plan to save the world ASAP. Otherwise, Armageddon starts the day she turns eighteen—and if that happens, everything is going to hell. Literally.

She could be any other 17-year-old attending parties and checking out cute guys–except she discovers her best friend is a Guardian Angel and the boy she crushes on is a Nephilim, both sent to protect her from the demons who want her dead.

Now Zoe has to deal with growing feelings toward the Nephilim, who spreads a strange electrical current through her body every time he touches her. And she’s under constant attack from Demons, trying to stop her from fulfilling the Prophecy: a girl will be born who will unite Angels, Nephilim, Fairies, and Werewolves to battle evil. Then she has to control newly found talents if she’s to prevent the devil from escaping Hell.

Connect with Kristin on her website, www.kristinvanrisseghem.com.

Sophie Davis

“Sophie Davis” is the pseudonym for two best friends, roommates, and now writing partners. The pair met at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law in 2005 and instantly bonded over their love of great books and bad horror movies. After they graduated, when one longed for the ability to read minds so she wouldn’t have to study for the bar exam, a Saga was born. When the Talented Saga went on to be an internationally bestselling series, the girls decided to throw caution to the wind and follow their shared life-long dream of being writers.

The duo currently lives in Washington, D.C. with a poodle and a rescued mutt. The pups are their faithful companions–with frequent social media appearances–as the girls navigate the world of Indie Publishing. Their book, Talented, is included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.

Here’s a description of the book: 

talentedBlock it out.
Impossible for Talia Lyons. When you’re a Mind Manipulator, it’s hard enough to block the thoughts of others, let alone your own.

Block it out.
The pounding, siren-ready world Talia inhabits as she trains with her fellow Hunters. The physical demands. The emotional toil.

Block it out.
The secrets that Talia’s boyfriend is hiding. Talia’s unbidden feelings of frustration and annoyance toward her teammate, the Casanova of the compound. The wondering why she cares what he thinks.

Block him out.
Ian Crane. The man behind the bloodshed marring Talia’s memories of her murdered parents. The man she’s determined to kill.

Block it all out. Focus.

Talented is an emotional raw, Dystopian Romance about the life of a girl with extraordinary psychic powers, and what happens when a heart is torn between love and rage.

Connect with them on their website, www.sophiedavisbooks.com.

Siobhan Davis 

Siobhan Davis writes emotionally intense young adult fiction with swoon-worthy romance, complex characters, and tons of unexpected plot twists and turns that will have you flipping the pages beyond bedtime! She is the author of the Amazon bestselling True Calling and Saven series.

Siobhan’s family will tell you she’s a little bit obsessive when it comes to reading and writing, and they aren’t wrong. She can rarely be found without her trusty Kindle, a paperback book, or her laptop somewhere close at hand.

Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Siobhan forged a successful corporate career in human resource management.

She resides in the Garden County of Ireland with her husband and two sons. Her book, Saven Deception, is included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.

Here’s a description of the book: 

saven-deceptionThe truth doesn’t always set you free.

I’ve fallen hard for an alien, but he’s harboring secrets. Massive secrets that threaten the very essence of humanity. How can I give him my heart when his race plans on taking my future?

Sadie Owens has been slowly dying inside. Bit by bit, piece by piece, day by day. Trapped in a life she hates, she relies on only one person–herself.

Despised by her family and betrayed by an unscrupulous government, Sadie dreams of a different life. When she is chosen to participate in the government’s new social experiment, she is ecstatic at the prospect of spending six months in Thalassic City, the shiny new city under the sea.

Immediately drawn to Logan Chandler, Sadie is captivated by the beautiful boy with the ocean-blue eyes. Logan seems to embody everything that has been forbidden, but he isn’t all he appears to be.

Confused over Logan’s true intentions and concerned with best friend Jenna starts transforming in front of her eyes, Sadie partners with newcomer Jarod in a bid to uncover the government’s real agenda. The truth is more shocking than anything she could ever have imagined.

When Sadie finally understands why the Saven walk among us, will it be too late to save her heart and the human race?

Connect with Siobhan on her website, siobhandavis.co.uk.

Thanks for reading!

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2016


Secrets & Shadows, Part 2

I’m continuing the countdown to the release of Secrets & Shadows, coming November 30. If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet, you can do it here. Today I want to introduce three more of the amazing authors whose books are included in this young adult box set: New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Susan Stec, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Laxmi Hariharan, and International Bestselling Author Kelly St. Clare. Check out their books and give them a follow!

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Susan Stec

From driving a food wagon onto construction sites during her hippie days (peace, love, and a sparkling marijuana-induced smile) to working as an investment banker, Susan Stec finally found her niche, writing what she loves to read: fantasy and horror. She lives with her husband (who is perfectly normal) and three King Charles spaniels (also normal) on 50 acres of woods, fields, and streams in upper Michigan. Her book about fairies, The Other F Word, will be included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.

Here’s a description of the book:

Even with wings, you can’t fly away from fate.
 

the-other-f-wordWhat would you do if you found out everything you’ve ever known was a lie?Amidst bullying, homework, and friends being injured, the fairy, Dekram, and her friends discover something strange going on with their classmates. On the advice of Dekram’s father, they begin to investigate. When they find students sneaking into the human world, it’s obvious there’s more to the story than they realized.

Drugs. Destiny. Destruction. Nothing is as it seems, but one thing is for certain: Dekram’s whole life is about to change.

Connect with Susan on her website, thegratefulundead.blogspot.com.

Laxmi Hariharan
 

Laxmi Hariharan is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Her stories intersect paranormal action-romance with mythology and are set in a near dystopian future. Her book, Chosen, the second book in the Many Lives Prequel Series, will be included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.Here’s a description of the book:


His family is being held for ransom by a deadly mastermind.
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Vik never should have left his family, but when his father brings his half-brother Vishal home, life will never be the same.Vik thinks things will be better now that he’s gone. He’s met the love of his life, his future looks bright, and then everything is shattered.

Now, his family’s life is hanging in the balance, and only Vikram can do what needs to be done to save them.

Connect with Laxmi on her website, laxmihariharan.com.

Kelly St. Clare

When Kelley St. Clare is not reading or writing, she is lost in her latest reverie. She can, quite literally, drift past a car accident while in the midst of her day dreams, despite the various police sirens and chaos.

Books have always been magical and mysterious to her. One day she decided to start unraveling this mystery and began writing. Her aim: to write stories she would want to read. 

A New Zealander in origin and in heart, Kelly currently resides in Australia with her soon-to-be husband, a great group of friends, and some huntsman spiders who love to come inside when it rains. Their love is not returned.

Her book, The Retreat, is included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.

Here’s a description of the book:

the-retreatEarth was ruined. Humankind destroyed. And it’s old news.

Romy’s life is simple–for a genetically enhanced space soldier: pick up space junk with her four friends, and stave off the invaders fixated on stealing Planet Earth.

It isn’t much. But it’s temporary–only another 850 years to go, give or take. Then the 4000 space soldiers can reinhabit their beloved homeland once more.

When her crew tangles with a gulp-worthy alien mothership, Romy’s return to Earth is brought forwards at hurtling pace. And what she finds on the ground defies everything she’s been told.

Strength comes from the unlikeliest of quarters.

As does leadership.

…As does betrayal.

Connect with Kelly on her website: www.kellystclare.com.

Thanks for reading!

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2016