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Archive for February, 2011

*NB: Some of you may have seen something like this post in the feed yesterday. I was trying to schedule it but it published. Sorry.

I mentioned before, I have a goal of finding a recipe for Shannon Stacey and her family. She’s not a cook – her own words – and her entire family consists of picky eaters. [Again, her.] She’s also quite cagey about what she and her family will or will not eat, so I’m going with the spaghetti method here. (Toss and see what sticks :P)

But first… yesterday HarperCollins made the decision to limit the number of times an e-book can be circulated at digital libraries. I love the digital library collections at my libraries. Their cap? Twenty-six times. It makes my brain cramp. I personally, think it’s incredibly stupid. Courtney Milan quickly had a thoughtful response to this situation, as usual. And I’m sure there will be many more posts popping up. Twitter friends who are librarians also had a lot of great comments: @SuperWendy, @MandaCollins, and @Tuphlos. (I won’t link their feeds because you know, it’s twitter and by the time you check they could very well be talking about pastrami.) Also, there’s a hashtag for HarperCollins, where you can say how you feel about the policy on twitter: #hcod. And since I just commented on the Smart Bitches post I feel obligated to link it :).

Wendy did say, there’s a common misconception – there aren’t “limitless digital copies” at an e-library (usually overdrive) collection. There are wait lists, hold lists, and the like – just as there are for print books. For example, I’ve been patron number 22 on a pre-release title before. I feel sorry for hold number 27 on a HC book now… and I also feel like I have to stalk my library to make it on the pre-cut off list. If my library even continues to buy them…

Ok. So, book/industry rant over. No more head-explodery. [Erm, and in case it wasn’t clear, the Happy Bunny pictures are what I imagine the publishing executives have on their doors… :P] Now we get to Ms. Shannon Stacey. First up recipe-wise… something simple, that I think will have mass appeal. It involves… Pretzel Crisps! Currently not available (at least not the updated version) on Amazon, but I asked [Pretzel Crisps] about it and they said hopefully in a month or two. So, yay! (You can also buy them from the website.)

This is a pretty no fuss no muss recipe, and great stress relief as well. You take your pretzel crisp flavor of choice- I’d recommend Buffalo Wing, or Garlic Parmesan, personally. I figure Tuscan Three Cheese would also be delicious, and possibly Supreme or the Everything pretzel crisps.

Ingredients needed: pretzel crisps flavor of choice, boneless skinless chicken breasts, flour or corn starch, vegetable and/or olive oil

“Tools” needed: food processor [optional], rolling pin and/or heavy/large surface, saran wrap or zip lock bags.

I’d say take 2.5 cups of pretzel crisps, and if you have a food processor, pulse them until they’re a flour-like consistency. Mix this with 1/3 cup either flour, or cornstarch. (The cornstarch is because it’s finer and might stick to the chicken better – but if you don’t have it, flour is fine too.) Basically it’s the workings of chicken piccata, but already seasoned/flavored.
If you don’t have a food processor, fret not. Or, if you do have one, but need some stress relief, here’s the option for you. Dump the pretzel crisps in a freezer size zip lock bag. Depending on how bad your mood is, double, or triple bag it. Then go to town. Smash the hell out of it. Use a rolling pin, cutting board, pan, your hand, throw it on the ground, have your kid do it, whatever. Kill it.

Spread the “flour” on a large plate in a relatively even manner. Set it aside.

Now, for the chicken. Trim it however you like. Either put it in a bag (you can use the pretzel crisp smashing one if it survived), or just cover it with saran wrap. Depending on how you feel about clean up, you can put saran wrap under, and over the chicken breast. This I recommend doing on a cutting board, or if your counters are sturdy, that. Flatten the meat to about 1/4″ – it’s pretty easy, actually. Take said rolling pin, or make shift rolling pin, pan, whatever, and whack away. Obviously if you have a meat tenderizer, you can use that.

If you’re feeling perfectly fine and don’t want to exert yourself, you can halve the chicken breast [or cut them into thirds] – just as if you were going to butterfly it, but slicing all the way through.

Preheat a pan with a large flat bottom, and pour in about 4 tablespoons of oil. You don’t need to cover the bottom of the pan. Medium to medium-high heat is fine. You want to hear a sizzle when you place the chicken in the pan.

Dredge the chicken in the pretzel crisp flour. Pan fry it. Done. [Because it’s thin it should only take a few minutes on each side – the chicken should be a golden brown color – adjust heat as needed. Medium high initially, turn it down after 30 seconds so the chicken gets a crust but doesn’t burn, and then depending on how full the pan is you might want to adjust the heat.]

If the bottom is almost completely dry – add one or two tablespoons of oil as needed.

You can serve it with bread, rice, or pasta, and your vegetables of choice. Done!

And… I got an email from Carrie offering up this suggestion: Ginger Soy Chicken. Carrie says, “We had it this week and was really good.  She could easily substitute Chicken tenders for the thighs if she only likes white meat.  Very few ingredients and took me less than 1/2 hour to make start to finish.”

Can you tell I’m not much of a recipe person? I’m the “a dash of this and a bit of that” type cook. I very rarely follow recipes to the letter. So, if you have any questions, ask, and I’ll clarify the best I can in the comments. Because we all know one thing I’m good at is talking 😛

What do you think? Gonna try the recipe? Maybe you’ll get lucky and Pretzel Crisps will send you a nice sample. And then… if you want, let’s wade into the whole publishing … muck. Or you know – random weekend! What are your plans? Got a recipe to share? Do you have a stress relief/go to town dish?

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Riding the Curve

A topic that everyone seems to talk about, but nobody (well, ok, so few are) is open about is reviews. So what am I going to do? Beat that horse carcass, of course! I’ve written about reviews before when I was with TGTBTU, and recently (okay, so a while ago. I’ve been delaying publishing this post a lot.) I believe it was Jessica who linked to a thoughtful post about reviews. When I’ve asked about them in the past, many readers say they like the one star reviews. Some say they only buy books based on one star reviews.

Well, I guess that horse might still have some life in it, because I’m going to talk about something else. Grading to a curve. I didn’t like the concept of them in undergrad, and they definitely made my life miserable in law school, but now… I can see a point to them. Well, in general. Do I think someone who has a 94% in a class should get a B+ just to fit the curve? No. Will I “assign grades” to books based on that system? Of course not.

In fact, I’m even playing with the idea of no grades. Total rebel right? There are objective and subjective aspects to grades… and nobody’s ever going to be entirely satisfied. My point and explanation is… while reviewers generally try to be as objective as possible… a tiny part of it is subjective. It happens the same way in academia. (Like if you have a particularly stupid class, people who might’ve been getting C’s a previous year will be getting A’s this semester.) And no matter what a teacher/professor says, his or her pet is going to come out better in the subjective “class participation” grade component. Grades gives us some sort of basis, or measurement.

The word “average” has acquired such a negative connotation. Perhaps “status quo” would be better received. That fancy Latin makes it smarter and thus better, of course. It’s a middle point. Many books are good. Dare I say most books are good? After all someone out there thought they were publishable. And thus, marketable and profitable. Books aren’t sold and printed on good will, there’s someone out there who thinks it’s a good business decision. The point of the book then, is to make money for both the publisher and author.

That point being understood, we should expect most books out there to be good. Consequently, a book that gets an average grade, could very well be good, and generally is. There are just ones out there that surpass it. They’re above average. Superior. Fantastic. Those are your B and A books. Four of five stars, books, hearts, coffee cups, apples, flames, whatever. Double it and you get the same thing – it just seems better.

There are many arguments as to whether reviews are objective or subjective… or whether reviews can possibly even be objective. I don’t want to go there. What I am curious about, however, is, do you “grade” books on a curve? Whether consciously or unconsciously? And this is a question across the board – not just for reviewers. Because everyone thinks “I like book X better than book Y… but not quite as much as book Z.” That’s a system of some sort, right?

I have to admit, I never would have thought I’d use a curve, even an informal one. (I definitely don’t have a checklist or sit there making a side by side comparison of each book or a group of books.) However, I will have to say that I’ve sometimes agonized over grades because I wavered between them, and went to check previous books I liked more or less, and looked at what grades those books got. I feel that in that at least, most people can be objective. I almost think you have to make the comparisons in order to make it work.

The question is then… do you want to see grades or not? Do you care to? While so many people shy away from assigning a grade, it seems those who look at reviews gravitate towards those first. The grade is a summary of the review in a one image or letter/character statement, that tells what the reader thought of the book. Good, Bad, or Awesome. I have to say that when buying books, if I’m looking at reviews, I want to see the grade. I actually oftentimes avoid the text of the reviews, because I don’t want any spoilers, or to be influenced by someone else’s opinions or reactions.

In the end – what do you look at in reviews? Do you look at reviews? It’s always been rather ironic – and yet something I freely admit… I don’t love reviews. Oftentimes I avoid them for the aforementioned reasons. And yet I write them. Guess I am one opinionated bitch. *angelface*

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Marie Force Winners!

Well, randomizer.org has spoken again, and the winners from Marie Force’s Guest Post are…

JenB, Stacie, Danielle, and Angie

As usual, you have until Tuesday to contact me – and there’s the handy dandy form for you to use. Enjoy!

[For who gets what… we’ll go with first come first served via book choices this time. There are two copies of Everyone Loves a Hero up for grabs courtesy of the publisher, and one copy of Fatal Affair and another of Fatal Justice.]

Stay tuned for future giveaways – as always, the Guest Author & A Giveaway series is the first Tuesday of each month, winners announced Saturday. (Random blog tour/other guests… rules will be stated.)

*ETA: Stacie has emailed me and claimed a copy of Everyone Loves a Hero – three more books to go! :))
**ETA2: Danielle has claimed the second copy of ELaH so now we’ve got the two Fatal books left.

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Hi Everyone! Please welcome Brandy to my blog today! I met her at RomCon and we instantly bonded. I think something annoyed me and she was all “yeah! yeah! Get violent!” 😉 No, but she’s super cool, and I’m definitely glad I met her and that we’re online buddies.

Hey look at me… I’m guest posting. Thanks Lime for letting me play around on your blog. Hope you don’t regret it. lol

This is kind of a funky post. Like a good book this will start one place and go somewhere completely unexpected. At least to me it will since I’m just winging it and watching TV. Actually watching one of my favorite shows: Gangland. (I LOVE Gangland!)

The show has been a ton these days and I can’t help but watch. Hell I even text back and forth with a friend while we watch. I mean who doesn’t want to see how gangs are formed and how they evolve as time goes by. They are organized and the violence insane. But that’s not what the post is about.

I’m fascinated by the whole concept of the gang. But there is one thing that always crosses my mind. I’m not cut out for the gang life. The biggest reason besides not wanting to join one – EVER, is that I have no doubt my fingers would cramp up trying to throw gang signs. My god I have no idea how they do all of those signs without hurting themselves or throwing their backs out. My luck I’d try making a sign, make the wrong one and something bad would happen.

Watching today I finally had a new thought and it’s an odd one at that. Where in all of the romance out there in booklandia is the former gang member love story? The storyline that has the hero as a past gang member trying to make his life better. The heroine who doesn’t know about his past and loves him as he is now. What would she do if confronted with his past? Would she stay by his side or run for the hills?
Could a couple ever overcome such a past life?

I have a feeling that there are some stories that will never get told. Maybe they shouldn’t be heroes in our love of slightly flawed men overcoming stuff in their past. This might be more than we readers can handle. You will always know that he did
some nasty stuff and I’m not sure pure trust could be achieved. Some fantasies just shouldn’t make the cut in the world of romance.

So my questions for you guys: What story line do you think should never be told? Is there a background that just can’t be forgotten?

Thanks again to Lime for letting me babble away and thanks for stopping by.

Brandy

Thanks so much for guesting, Brandy! She also has this gorgeous new site that’s all fancy and hosted and everything and I’m so jealous. 🙂 Please make Brandy feel welcome and not regret her agreeing to blog here! 😉

*NB: As I’m having a guest author each month, I like the balance of having a reader guest each month as well – so please let me know if you’re interested! Thus far I’ve had to hunt people down and put them on the spot, and they very kindly agreed to visit. ❤

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Tempt Me by Shiloh Walker
Contemporary Romance released by Shiloh Walker Inc. Feb 15, 2011

Tempt me…
She’s a temptation he can’t resist…
Roxanne ‘Rocki’ Monroe’s life is full of secrets and hidden heartaches. Cole Stanton would love to heal her pain and chase away the ghosts of her past, but she’s just a complication he doesn’t have room for in his life.
Or so he thinks.
It doesn’t take Cole long to realize he’s more than willing to let temptation get the best of him, more than happy to deal with complications if that’s what it takes to get her.
What he has and what he needs are two different things…and what he needs is Rocki.

Rocki Monroe is a heroine many people will like. She’s smart, savvy, and strong willed, but human. Rocki also owns her own lingerie store, and designs many of the products sold. I liked that she had well developed interpersonal relationships and a core group of friends. Rocki is independent, but knows when to ask for help. She’s happy with herself, and that’s a character I think we can all enjoy reading about. Her warmth and personality come through clearly, and within the first few pages, if not chapters, you know exactly what kind of person she is – and would love to have a friend like her in your corner.

Cole Stanton seems like, and almost reads like the perfect hero… (well, other than you know, being engaged to another woman at the start of the story), but I actually don’t feel like I know him that well. We know he’s a District Attorney (and yes, cue the lawyer jokes – there’s some of that), but otherwise… not much about him. We know he’s loaded. However, I just got the feeling it wasn’t a huge city, so… I expect Cole is independently wealthy. It seemed like he had no base. It’s hard to explain, but all I knew about Cole was how he felt about Rocki, really, and that he’s generally a good guy. That’s probably enough for most people, and it was definitely sufficient for the story, but I would have liked more. I think part of it is due to his ex-fiancee Mara – I found her to be too one dimensional. I know there are straight up evil bitchy people out there, but if it/she was so bad I don’t know why Cole stuck around so long. Yes, it’s “explained” and I understand sometimes it’s hardest for us to see the people around us clearly… Still.

There is one “throwaway” line that I loved, and I think will resonate with many readers.

“That’s because you are beautiful.” Rocki lifted a brow. “Beauty doesn’t have anything to do with the size of your clothing.”

Which she says after a woman in the store admits the corset she bought makes her feel beautiful – a nice surprise as most of the other corsets she’s tried haven’t worked for her. Speaking of corsets, perhaps it’s my unfamiliarity with them, but sometimes the descriptions were a bit lost on me, which made me sad because Rocki is almost always wearing corsets in this book. (Which is a nice touch and fitting considering her occupation…)

There’s a slight blip when an “ominous voice” is heard in a crowd, and I didn’t quite believe that. Personally I think if you know someone well, even after a period of time you’ll recognize his/her voice. (Or at least, I’ve noticed that.) Anyway, there were a few such instances that took me a bit out of the story. I’ll say the “suspense” is the sub plot, and unfortunately for me it detracted from the story. I felt that there wasn’t enough focus on Cole and Rocki. The other events seemed to diverge from Cole and Rocki’s budding relationship. I don’t want to give spoilers, but I felt an effort was made to “hide” who the “villain” was, and that it was a bit too coy.

Over all, I liked the characters. Rocki and Cole are personable, as were most of the secondary characters. As an aside, I expect some of the groundwork laid for Lacey’s story will come to fruition. The characters were very human, and they had definite depth. The interaction between Rocki and Cole was fun, and I enjoyed reading it, but for me it was missing that extra something to make it click in that “perfect story” way. There were, however, some nice touches of humor and I actually laughed a few times.

What I’m trying to say is that I liked the characters, but less so the story. I think the ending has something to do with it – it’s just a smidge too… tentative for my taste. Granted the story takes place over the course of only a few days. I guess I just wanted more about and on Rocki and Cole, not the other events that took place, with stalkers and hospital trips, etc. It would’ve been nice to see them react to each other, not to circumstances.

I can see Ms. Walker writing more stories set in this town – possibly with the characters from Tempt Me making only cameo appearances – or even just being mentioned. If you’re a fan of Ms. Walker you’ll want to check it out – it’s a novella that would be a nice read when you have a free evening.

Grade: C –

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Everyone, please welcome Marie Force! When I asked her to guest here she very kindly agreed… and it worked out perfectly that she had a new book out this month! So without further ado, let’s jump right into the interview :X

1. You told me I had to ask about socks, and mentioned a puppy. Well, how do you feel about socks? Particularly toe socks, sock shoes, and … toe shoes?
LOL, Lime! We’re all about socks in our house right now—protecting them, that is. Brandy the puppy is MAD for socks. She has chewed up scores of them since we got her last March. Even though we keep her out of our bedrooms and away from the laundry room, she still finds them! With a little help from my hubby, she “gave” us all socks for Christmas. Personally, I’m a BIG fan of socks since my feet are cold year round. Absolutely on the pictures! (I asked for puppy pictures. I’m a huge dog lover!) Brandy is happy to provide her picture free of charge, but she asks that you not sell or reproduce it in any way as her image is her main source of income. (LOL—just kidding!)

2. What’s your favorite vegetable? Least favorite? (And describe the preparation too, please)
Sigh… I’m not a big fan of any of them, but if I had to choose a favorite I’d say broccoli and least favorite would be lima beans. Preparation: boil and serve. I’m not much of a cook in case you didn’t notice.

3. Can you name at least three US Supreme Court Justices without looking it up?
Of course I can! John Roberts is the chief justice, Sonya Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, David Souter… Oh wait, you said three… Now I’m just showing off. LOL. My recent book Fatal Justice is about a murdered Supreme Court nominee, so I should be up on my Supreme Court info, right?

4. If you ever had to teach middle school, which subject would you pick to teach?
They call it ELA these days: English Language Arts, which is writing and reading. Trust me when I say you don’t want me teaching your children math. You REALLY don’t want that…

5. [For the serious people who visit…] What’s your writing process?
My writing process is very “linear.” I write the story in chronological order and edit as I go so I end up with a fairly clean first draft. Since I also work full-time and have two busy kids (15 and 12), I don’t have a lot of writing time, so I really have to make the time that I have count.

6. Who would win in a fight to the death? A Ninja or a Viking?
Yikes, I don’t have any idea! However, I wouldn’t rule out the old-school Viking. They have spears and stuff. Don’t they?

7. Which of the following “shapes” do you like most: circle, square, squiggle, triangle?
Definitely the triangle—one of my favorite things to write in romance is a good old- fashioned love triangle.

8. What author promo have you most liked doing and find has been the most effective? Do you have anything big/exciting planned?
I’ve most enjoyed the time I’ve spent on Facebook. I’ve met SO many new friends and readers, some of whom have become close friends. That has been time well spent. I have a big, fun promotion coming on my blog to plan the wedding of my Fatal characters Sam and Nick. The Fatal Destiny novella will feature their wedding, and from Feb. 1–14 I’m asking readers to vote on various choices for the wedding details, a la The Today Show. I think it’ll be fun and will help readers to visualize the wedding when they read the novella in September. My reader friends Aly Hackett and Ronlyn Howe have done all the legwork on the wedding, and they’ve come up with some beautiful choices for readers to consider. I’ve also been really enjoying the Romance & Oreos Book Club we started on my blog in November. We’ve had a lot of fun discussing some of our favorite books and chatting with some of our favorite authors, including Robyn Carr, Christy Reece, Pamela Clare, Lori Foster and others. We meet every
Thursday and newcomers are always welcome to join us.

9. What was your favorite book as a child?
I loved the Little House on the Prairie books. I read them over and over again. I also have vivid memories of reading The Thorn Birds the summer I was 14. That book made a huge impression on me. I loved it.

10. What’s your favorite type of snack and/or drink that you *must* have on hand?
Must have Diet Coke and Oreos. Must. Have.

Wasn’t Marie such a great sport, everyone? 😀 She’s busy today, so during the day she won’t be able to comment much, but hopefully in the evening Marie will stop by and answer questions and chat with us!

About Everyone Loves a Hero:
Hero pilot Cole Langston is learning to live with—and enjoy—his newfound fame and the rabid female attention that comes with it until a lucky punch knocks some sense into him and opens his eyes to true love.
When his copilot suffers a heart attack in flight, Cole lands the jetliner in a blizzard and revives the stricken captain. Catapulted to national hero status, Cole has more women vying for his attention than he knows what to do with. They all have one thing in common: they try without success to bring this happy-go-lucky pilot down to earth. Then comes an airport altercation, a punch to the face, and the lovely Olivia—a shy, timid artist who does what no other woman has ever managed to do: steal Cole’s well-protected heart. With women coming on to him everywhere they go, Olivia struggles to believe that Cole is ready for a committed relationship. His biggest problem is getting rid of all his extra ladies before the only one he wants figures out that she’s one of many. Available in bookstores and everywhere e-books are sold.

About Fatal Justice:
Supreme Court nominee Julian Sinclair comes to Washington expecting to be confirmed to the high court. Instead, he’s found shot execution-style in a city park. Detective Lt. Sam Holland’s list of suspects is long, but does it include her significant other, Senator Nick Cappuano, one of the last to see Sinclair alive? While tracking down Sinclair’s killer, Sam is also confronted with a new lead into her father’s unsolved shooting that results in unexpected danger for her. In the meantime, Sam’s partner, Detective Freddie Cruz, returns to the “scene of the crime” when he looks up Elin Svendsen, one of the late Senator John O’Connor’s sexy ex-girlfriends. After a lifetime of virtue, will Freddie be led down the road to ruin by a temptress who
wants only one thing from him?

Marie Force is the author of Fatal Affair and Fatal Justice, Books 1 and 2 in her new Fatal Series from Harlequin’s Carina Press. Book 3, Fatal Consequences, is coming in July 2011, Fatal Destiny, the Fatal Wedding Novella, in September 2011 and Book 4, Fatal Flaw, in February 2012. “This novel is ‘The O.C. does D.C.,’ and you just can’t get enough.” (RT Book Reviews, 4.5 stars for Fatal Affair). In its July 2010 issue, RT Book Reviews named Marie a “Future Star of Romantic Suspense.” Carina recently acquired Marie’s contemporary, Georgia On My Mind, coming in 2012.

Marie is the author Everyone Loves a Hero, Line of Scrimmage and Love at First Flight. Of Line of Scrimmage, Booklist said, “With its humor and endearing characters, Force’s charming novel will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers, reaching far beyond sports fans.” Wild on Books said, “Love at First Flight by Marie Force is most definitely a keeper. It is an astounding book. I loved every single word!” Marie is also the author of True North and The Fall (also available at Smashwords).
Since 1996, Marie has been the communications director for a national organization similar to RWA. She is a member of RWA’s New England, From the Heart and Published Author Special Interest Chapters. While her husband was in the Navy, Marie lived in Spain, Maryland and Florida, and she is now settled in her home state of Rhode Island. She is the mother of Emily, 15, Jake, 12, and a feisty dog named Brandy. (Pictured above!)
Find her at her website, on her blog, where she runs the popular weekly Romance & Oreos Book Club, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Marie loves to hear from readers. Contact her at marie@marieforce.com.

And now… the “good stuff” – or what I know you guys want 😉 Marie (via her publisher) has very generously offered up two copies of her newest release Everyone Loves a Hero, and Marie herself will be giving away a copy of Fatal Affair and Fatal Justice – so that’s four winners! Good luck and get to commenting! Personally I think you all should ask Marie all sorts of outlandish and fun questions 😛

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Of course what came to mind first (and inspired the title) was:

Granted there have got to be so many things wrong with that but… let’s not get into them here.

I would like to get to know all of you. Some I know in passing, some I recognize by name, and some I’ve had the luck to meet in person. 🙂 However, my original intent for this post was… about me. That sounds so selfish and aggrandizing, doesn’t it :X so I didn’t really like that. But I also realized, I have no idea how some people found this blog, and my assumption that most if not everyone clicks through from twitter shouldn’t be. Additionally, my “About” page is rather pathetic.

So here goes. Is there anything you’d like to know about me? What do you think should go on my “about” page?

And just for kicks… I’ll list five “quirky” things about me.

1. I hate butterflies. All insects, really. But yes, butterflies, ladybugs, dragonflies… hate. Sadly butterflies love me.

2. I melted many a night light (or other similar item) while hiding under my comforter reading instead of sleeping as a child.

3. Up through high school I made sure my closet doors were shut each night before I went to sleep.

4. I took piano lessons for a number of years but it never really worked out because I can’t quite reach an octave >.<

5. My family (well, dad) has banned me from the use of blow torches.

Now it’s your turn! Got questions? Or any fun quirk or personality trait you’d like to share? Please do! As I said – I want to get to know you too, so please think of something 🙂

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