Extracts: Gustave Flaubert by Giuseppe Cafiero

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A quick note from the author:

I thought that it would be very stimulating to write a story which would also involve the characters in Flaubert’s books, to allow them to experience a fascinating and different adventure. An intimate and specular journey characterised by two primary elements: his life and the characters in his books.

Extracts

1. The Muse, Louise Colet, has never been a tranquil woman, respectful of the feelings and lives of others. She is invasive, possessive, indiscreet to the point of tedium. She has consumed, with her blond grace and languishing simpering, an entire generation of intellectuals, she has engulfed some of the most brilliant minds of our epoch. Still not content, and now mature in age, she has taken to investigating and inquiring into the past to provoke new troubles, to be tediously importunate, to make herself definitively hated.

Our Muse, mon cher Max, has never known or wanted to accept the shadow of anonymity, to which she seemed inevitably condemned, in which it was permissible and legitimate to foresee that she would have finished up after having stirred up so much dust, after having long played the role of the beautiful statuette. Worse as a writer, worse as a woman. She tried to become a George Sand and has ended up a caryatid who has put into print poisonous little books and verses.

2. The almée, the courtesan of Esneh, the petite princesse, Koutchouk-Hanem, marked me deeply. I remember every moment of our night of love. I remember the sky filled with stars, the tremulous lights of the oil lamps, the scent of resin, her majestic body, her look, her lips, her warm and welcoming sex, the silence of love-making. In twenty years the recollections and the sensations I experienced have never weakened, vanished or changed. I relive even today the sensual rapture of her flexible movements, of the warm colours of her clothes. Why should one renounce one’s own joy?

Cher ami, cher Max Du Camp, I don’t know if the years have marked us. The detritus of memory appears today as signs of small indecipherable scars. Confidences like secrets, rarefied curiosities of time. The events of long ago seem now like stains, violated by successions of days, hours, minutes. What happened and what is happening. It is inevitable. The Muse is part of the detritus of time, of the dystonias of an open weave frayed by the precariousness of feelings.

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Image: Authoright UK PR
3. Gustave was fundamentally a fabricator of books with the rhythm of one word every hour, as Edmond de Goncourt goes around saying. Gustave’s desire to make me a real character was based instead on very ambiguous considerations.

Everything began for me on 29 March 1862 when Monsieur Gustave Flaubert began to manifest his dreams, his plans for a novel. He had a great desire, which he was unable to renounce, to write a book on the Orient … a book he had just sketched out, a book he would have entitled Harel Bey. This then is how I was imagined and, in truth, created from a diligent and scrupulous reflection by a writer usually seduced by eccentric fables, even though they were always original.

Here I am then, forged in a manner similar to how you Christians will mould a man, making use of a prodigious but tried and true formula. This in synthesis is my creation. Now, and diligently, let us go over once again our meeting, our finding each other, albeit for very fortuitous reasons, as characters imagined by that writer called Gustave Flaubert.

About Giuseppe Cafiero

Giuseppe Cafiero is a prolific writer of plays and fiction who has produced numerous programs for the Italian-Swiss Radio, Radio Della Svizzera Italiana, and Slovenia’s Radio Capodistria. The author of ten published works focusing on cultural giants from Vincent Van Gogh to Edgar Allan Poe, Cafiero lives in Italy, in the Tuscan countryside.

For more information about Giuseppe and his work, visit his website or find him on Facebook. Gustave Flaubert is available to buy now.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Guest Post: Exploring the Celtic Way of Life by Tony Halker

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I have imagined and written about a time, hundreds or a thousand years before the Romans threatened the Celts of Britain, about their civilisation, values, order, myths and relationships; about emerging hidden art and sounds we may call music.

It is impossible not to be in awe of peoples who thousands of years ago mixed metals in exact proportions to refine the properties they needed to harness, to make agricultural implements and weapons, then being able to repeat the formula time and time again. They did these things without the benefits of chemical analysis. Perhaps an ingot would ring or sing when hit in a certain way with stone, telling them whether they had achieved the right mix for their purpose.

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Image: Tony Halker / Authoright UK PR
We talk of the Celtic nations today, but before the Romans came much of Britain and Europe were peopled by the Celts and their Druid Priests' class. We have romanticised who and what they were, the legacies they gifted us. We can walk the places they did and see remnants and beauty they created as gifts to the Goddess Nature.

In folklore, the Druids seem to imbue who and what we were before the Roman invasion and therefore what we are now. Their society did not use writing, so we have very few hard facts about what they valued and revered or from where they came. Most of what we think we know is either Roman propaganda or what we glean from wonderful artefacts often found hidden in the UK landscape and indeed all over Europe. Celtic Druid cultural remnants, values and genes are in many of us, yet we often rely on the words of their enemies to define them.

Celts were in their own time originally seen as outsiders, people on the fringes of what considered itself the “civilised” world: Greek and Roman civilisations. The colonial marketing machines of those civilisations wanted to define the Celts as savages at their fringes to be brought under Roman “guidance”.

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Image: Tony Halker / Authoright UK PR
My fiction is set long before the coming of the Roman Empire. At a later date, it is clear that the Celts were a threat to Roman expansion in terms of culture, military prowess, organisation and the extent of their own linked civilisation through Europe. In later times the powerful Celtic remnants were on the fringes in England, Wales and Ireland.

No civilisation and culture suddenly appears or disappears, even when it seems that way in the archaeological record. Foundations are laid, tribes develop, technologies become important, power structures organise peoples who prosper and spread. I envisage Druids as a learned warrior and craft priest caste, providing balance to tribal clan power. The Druids exercised influence through, knowledge, learning, connections with the Deities of nature and monopolies of valuable trade.

I like to imagine their lives in our landscape because we know so few facts and can use folklore and landscape to invent these peoples from the nano information we really do have; the canvas on which to reinvent them is almost blank, but a few items of beauty and enigma are there to look at and enrich the imagination. Folklore passed down the ages and festivals still sung, danced and celebrated also inform our view.

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Image: Tony Halker / Authoright UK PR
Much of the landscape they inhabited has hard stone remnants built or “created by the gods” before Celtic times, during the stone age. The circles, standing stones, dolmen and mounds we see today existed in and on the landscape when the Celts and Druids first emerged, were there before them. Therefore these great structures helped form the ancient Celts' views of ancestors and gods, perhaps especially the Mother Goddess.

I am motivated by the craggy hard stark and powerful landscapes in which so many of these remnant artefacts nestle. I can imagine Druids in these places and while I know they came from more mellow lands across England and Europe, I prefer to think of them on today's Celtic coast, in the mountains and gulleys of North Wales and Ireland.

These peoples were much more important than the Romans would admit; they were more than an irritant and had a culture that survived Roman domination and brutality. Twice the Romans attacked Anglesey and its sacred Druid groves. When Boudica rose up and attacked Colchester the Roman military governor was away beating up the Welsh Druids on Anglesey. Seventeen years later they had to go back to finish the job since this persistent, organised rich culture was threatening again.

An efficient thriving society needs, organisation, structure, technology, culture and values. I have taken, places, landscape, beautiful artefacts and Roman propaganda and imagined the way these people were and lived. They needed trade; their pots and jewellery are found all over Europe as are common designs for swords, spearheads and shields. Rich trade would have been controlled. Perhaps it was Druid networks through Europe that prospered with trade and undermined Roman merchants, perhaps it was a society where women held sway and shared power that threatened Roman patriarchy.

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Image: Tony Halker / Authoright UK PR
The Learn is available to buy now.

About Tony Halker

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Image: Tony Halker / Authoright UK PR
Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tech business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places.

For more information about Tony Halker, visit his website or blog.

What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Spotlight: The Eden Tree by Peter Worthington

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An ancient relic opens a family up to new beginnings, and dangerous forces, in this captivating new fiction inspired by the author’s own experiences with losing a child to cancer.

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

John James Morgan knew the day he was born. Two days before his sixty-first birthday he found out why.

John is a happily married businessman, father and grandfather, living in Cheshire, in the heart of England. Happy, that is until his family face a crisis. His grandson Wesley, son of his daughter Becky, is terminally ill. Darkness has come to Kirmingsham Hall. At the local market, a flower-seller tells John a story of a mysterious box that will change his life and those around him. Assured his destiny is in his own hands, John crosses the globe in pursuit of a religious artefact which has remained hidden for two thousand years. Finally, in Tel Aviv, he is presented with an antique box containing maps, parchments and a bag of leaves. 

On his return to the UK John witnesses a miracle. With the box in his possession, John and his family find new friends and enemies; lives are threatened and people die, although some will be healed. With the help of many different people, from all walks of life -from a Mossad Colonel, a group of cyber buffs, and his son James– John’s journey will finally lead him to the discovery of an extraordinary and mysterious tree. But what will this Eden tree mean to John, his family, their faith and their future?

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Image: Peter Worthington / Authoright UK PR
The Eden Tree is author Peter Worthington's first novel and is inspired by his own experiences with his son, John Wesley, who underwent treatment for cancer but sadly passed away shortly after his seventh birthday. Although a difficult time, Peter has never lost his faith or exuberance for life, and The Eden Tree is his way of giving his much-loved son a happier ending. He hopes it will give comfort, and escapism, to others who have gone or are going through similar difficult situations in their own lives.

Peter commented, "I knew the story of the Garden of Eden and was aware that the leaves from the Tree of Life were said to bring healing. Using my biblical knowledge about Jesus and His followers I began to imagine what could happen if the Saviour was in possession of leaves from the Tree and maps to Eden. I developed a scenario of how Jesus passed on the leaves and parchments and the instructions. I grew the story to include the mystery box, its lid and my protagonist’s tattoo.

Soon I had surrounded the Wesley in my story with the main character, his grandfather, and his wife, family and friends. The story had a life of its own as characters had their own story lines portraying their development. Other people also joined the plotlines, many having their own adventures within the central story of The Eden Tree.

My debut novel, The Eden Tree, has believable characters in a story which is also plausible. Readers looking for some mystery, action, romance and a message of hope, should find the book entertaining. What sets it apart is cancer, the framework of a caring family circle, the IT and survivalist skills within the extended family, and my knowledge of the Bible and its core themes. Using detailed research about the location of the mystical garden my characters are able to solve the mystery of the garden of Eden. It is unique in that it both asks questions and yields some answers as an apologetic.

Enlightening and adventurous with touches of comedy and a World of Warcraft tournament, The Eden Tree is an engrossing and heart-warming story that can, and will, be enjoyed again and again.

The Eden Tree is available to buy now.

About Peter Worthington

Today Peter Worthington lives in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire with his wife Margaret. Peter has enjoyed a bright and varied career as a church minister, financial adviser and internet consultant. Now retired he is busier than ever thanks to his three grandchildren, studying for an Open University Degree in Creative Writing, public speaking voluntary work, playing World of Warcraft, serving on the board of a housing association and writing. He has previously published short stories in a number of Christian magazines.

To find out more about Peter and his work, you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

Interview: Azrael James

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Azrael James' debut novel, Mark of Destiny. To celebrate, I managed to catch up with Azrael for a quick chat ahead of the book's release.

Firstly, tell me a little about your childhood.

Well, here goes. I was raised in a very gypsy-like family. Before I was seventeen, we had lived in twenty-seven different places across the western half of the United States. My dad travelled a lot for his work.

I developed an interest in the guitar and fantasy fiction when I was twelve years old, and haven’t set either of them aside for long. Currently, I am teaching guitar and working on developing my writing career.

How did you first become interested in writing?

I would have to say that my love for reading has really been the catalyst for the desire to write fiction. This desire really came to a head when I owned a used bookstore, but between running the store and working two other day jobs to keep it afloat, there was very little time to even consider writing. Sadly the store closed, but when one door smacks you in the ass, you tend to look for a better situation.

What draws you to writing fantasy?

I love fantasy. This genre has always been my doorway into other worlds, an escape from the known. Honestly, when I read, I read to leave this world behind. After reading Tolkien, I was hooked.

Tell me about Mark of Destiny.

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Image: Bewitching Book Tours
Mark of Destiny is my debut novel, and it is truly the birth of a new world. While retaining many fantasy norms, the novel is also quite unique. Tizrah, the main character, represents the maxim, ‘Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans’. Sometimes this road called life takes unexpected twists and turns, and we find ourselves a long way off from where we originally intended to go. I think this is kind of the theme of the novel. Yes, there are wizards, gods, magic, and even a dragon, but over all the theme of the novel is really about chance, or destiny.

How do you get inspiration?

Inspiration comes to me through reading awesome books by authors like Sanderson, Rothfuss, and others. When I am brainstorming a plot, I tend to get very enthusiastic. The muse comes in so many forms. It could be the way the sunlight reflects off of a water droplet. We just have to open ourselves to the amazing flow of life surrounding us at every instant.

What’s your writing process?

Plotting, loosely constructing the outline, procrastination, and then crunch time. I write with an outline, but many of the twists and turns happen all on their own. Sometimes my characters decide to do things differently. I try to be open to where the story will take me.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Work hard at perfecting your craft. Always approach every situation with a mind open and ready to learn. Learn as much as you can about marketing and promotion, what works, and what is a waste of time and resources.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I am working hard to realise my dream of being a full-time writer. My plan is to accomplish this in under two years.

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

Music, meditation, family, and living with peace in my heart.

What are you currently working on?

Fate of Belstrom, the sequel to Mark of Destiny is my current project, but I am also working on a YA steampunk novel.

What are you reading at the moment?

Age of Myth by Michael Sullivan, and so far I am really impressed with it.

To find out more about Azrael, you can follow him on Goodreads or find him on Facebook.

Mark of Destiny is available to buy now.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

Gig Review: Amy Macdonald at Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham

First published here by Kettle Mag:

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Image: Amy Macdonald / Wikimedia Commons
Scottish songstress Amy Macdonald is currently in the middle of her latest tour, heading out across the UK to promote her recently-released album, Under Stars. As this is the singer-songwriter’s fourth studio album, she now has a healthy back catalogue to draw on and is able to alternate between rousing fan favourites and showcasing her new material.

Under Stars builds on the classic Amy Macdonald sound, now virtually perfected after four albums and ten years in the limelight. It may seem as though Amy has come a long way since the release of her debut album, This is the Life, in 2007, but the Scot is one of those precious few stars who hasn’t lost sight of her beginnings since she started off along the long road to fame.

Confessing her nerves to the audience and begging them to “be kind” to her at points during the set, Amy still seems to be living one of those ‘pinch me’ moments. Admitting that she was incredibly nervous about performing without the safety net of her band behind her, it is this kind of realness and air of vulnerability that lends a particularly endearing quality to both the performance and Amy as a person.

Performing a good mix of new tracks and old favourites, the set lasted almost 2 hours – 2 hours of non-stop entertainment on a Saturday night in the city. Her band were talented and enthusiastic, but it was Amy’s incredible voice that really stole the show. Performing a stripped-back ballad version of hit single ‘4th of July’, the power and emotion in her voice were clear to see. It wasn’t hard to understand why the audience went silent whenever Amy opened her mouth; everyone was utterly captivated by the palpable atmosphere in the room.

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Supported by singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner, the show was a massive success from start to finish. Newton’s unique blend of folk-inspired pop-rock was the perfect opening act for the evening to come – and with a set lasting approximately 45 minutes, there was plenty of time to get the crowd warmed up ready for the main event. Newton played a strong combination of tracks, comprising of well-known singles like ‘Dream Catch Me’ right through to unfinished half songs from his upcoming sixth album.

Performing entirely solo, with only the accompaniment of a trusty guitar, a kick-drum and a loop pedal, it’s clear to see his influence in other acts like Ben Howard and fellow redhead Ed Sheeran. Ending the set with a truly remarkable one-man rendition of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, Newton very nearly managed to steal the show.


The crowd present at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall on Saturday night were treated to a memorable night of music, thanks to two extremely talented artists. It’s rare to find musicians who refuse to let their rise to stardom change who they are, but both Newton Faulkner and Amy Macdonald have managed to do just that, sticking to their roots regardless of the trappings of fame.

In a cut-throat industry like the music business, it’s more Amy Macdonald’s and Newton Faulkner’s that we need.

Are you a fan of Amy Macdonald? Let me know in the comments below!

Spotlight: Remnants by Carolyn Arnold

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Profilers. Serial killers. The hunt is on.

Do serial killers and the FBI fascinate you? Do you like getting inside the minds of killers, love being creeped out, sleeping with your eyes open, and feeling like you’re involved in murder investigations? Then join FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher and his team with the Behavioural Analysis Unit in their hunt for serial killers.

About Remnants

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Image: Carolyn Arnold
All that remains are whispers of the past…

When multiple body parts are recovered from the Little Ogeechee River in Savannah, Georgia, local law enforcement calls in FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher and his team to investigate. But with the remains pointing to three separate victims, this isn’t proving to be an open-and-shut case.

With no quick means of identifying the victims, building a profile of this serial killer is proving more challenging than usual. How is the killer picking these victims? Why are their limbs being severed and bodies mutilated? And what is it about them that is triggering this killer to murder?

The questions compound as the body count continues to rise, and when a torso painted blue and missing its heart is found, the case takes an even darker turn. But this is only the beginning, and these new leads draw the FBI into a creepy psychological nightmare. One thing is clear, though: the killing isn’t going to stop until they figure it all out. And they are running out of time…

About Carolyn Arnold

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Image: Carolyn Arnold
Carolyn Arnold is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series and has written nearly thirty books. Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark, POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

To find out more about Carolyn and her work, visit her website or follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Remnants is available to buy now.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

Interview: Vivian Probst

Today I have an interview with the author Vivian Probst to share with you. Read on to find out all about her writing, the writing process, and her latest book Death by Roses.

Firstly, tell me a little about yourself and your background.

The older I get, the more there is to tell. I am a national consultant to the affordable housing industry which doesn’t mean much to others unless I explain it. I’ve been travelling and teaching housing program regulations for over 30 years and at the same time communicating the message that ‘You Make a Difference!’ everywhere I go.

My post-high-school education was in culture, language, and anthropology and I have lived overseas briefly.


How did you first become interested in writing?


I always loved to read as a child. In my teenage years, I had an English teacher who encouraged me to use my writing skills so my parents enrolled me in a correspondence writing course (that can tell you I’m old enough to know what those are).

I have written and been a columnist for the affordable housing industry for many years but it wasn’t until March 10th, 2000, that my true writing life began when I woke up from a dream that I knew had to become a story. Most of my written works are not yet published, but they will be.


Tell me about Death By Roses.

Ooh la la! Like all of my writing, this story showed up as an idea that begged to be written. It was shortly after my older sister had passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease and I was grieving. Except that over the course of the five years that I worked on the story, it turned into a romantic comedy.

A couple who have been married thirty years end up in an argument due to the wife’s over-reaction and jumping to conclusions (I have never done that myself, of course). She is so outraged she dies. In heaven, she learns that she could have had a wonderful life with her husband so she decides she needs to let him know, which is okay except for the divine ‘no meddling’ rule which she ignores. This leads to consequences, including being returned to earth inside the body of another woman.


How do you get inspiration?

It’s a good question. Mostly, I listen to what’s going on inside my mind. All of my work comes through that process and most of it is fiction. I have no outline; I don’t know the story content until it shows up.

What’s your writing process?

I write out of curiosity because there’s usually a lot going on in my mind - characters talking, scenes developing, and I can’t wait to know what happens next so I write in a sort of download style. Then another piece shows up, not always in an orderly fashion, so eventually, the story will have to piece itself together. I love letting my imagination run wild.


What’s the hardest thing about writing?

Being true to the story. Sometimes I don’t particularly like what’s showing up - or the way a character is behaving - but I’ve learned to go with it. There’s always a reason even if I can’t see it while I write.

Death by Roses has some sex scenes in it - not my forte (I mean the scenes - it’s not a commentary about my personal sex life), and I tell people I turned 50 shades of red while writing.

What do you love most about writing?

What I learn in the process. It’s always magical. There are life lessons buried in the character interaction so I feel like I’m growing through the stories I write. It’s creative fun and a perfect balance for my otherwise ‘follow the rules’ consulting life.

Which authors inspire you?

John Irving, Dan Brown, Nicholas Sparks, Jackie Collins, Phillipa Gregory, Kate Morton, Deborah Harkness.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

If you’re serious about writing, life will find you and give you a story. Watch the world around you. Begin by writing about something you know in order to find your own voice. Don’t imitate anyone and for Pete’s sake, don’t let others read what you write until you’re finished writing it. Taking suggestions during the writing process affects the development of your own voice, in my humblest opinion. I think Stephen King is of the same mind if you’ve read his fabulous book, On Writing.

What’s your all-time favourite book?

Unfair question! But it would have to be A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.


Where’s your favourite place to write?

My writing study, at home. There’s a window in front of the desk that my husband bought me to write at. I can write and watch what’s going on in the rural area where we live. Next is our cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin. However, I’ve learned to write just about anywhere. When the story wants to be written, I simply sit down with my computer and let it happen.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

To uplift others - to make them laugh and feel good about life. To have my books become movies which means pretty much that my books have to become bestsellers or I have to talk my husband into starting our own movie production company. I’ll do what it takes.


What are your interests outside of writing?

Unfair question! Is there life outside of the plots that are swirling in my head? I love speaking in public, especially if I’m teaching; I love spending time with our growing family - eleven going on twelve grandchildren; I love sharing a bottle of wine with my husband and/or a small group of friends. Tom and I are in the early stages of developing a wine import business. For me, personal growth is a big deal. I’m a voracious reader of non-fiction and I work on life issues so that I can enjoy a wonderful life.

What are you currently working on?

I am just completing a non-fiction memoir titled I Was a Yo-Yo Wife about what I learned as I wrote Death by Roses that helped to enrich my second marriage.

We hope to be releasing a five-volume series in 2017 titled The Woman Who Forgot Who She Was.

The sequel to Death by Roses, titled Death by Violets, is also in the writing stages and should be ready in time for Halloween 2017 - it’s the scariest book I’ve ever written.


What are you reading at the moment?

I just finished The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers - see how serious I am? Before that, I absorbed Paulo Coelho’s book, Adultery.

Death by Roses is available to buy now. To find out more about Vivian, visit her website.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!
 
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