Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Second Chance in Laguna by Claire Marti (VNBtM, guest post, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

I am delighted to be able to share a post from one of the writers from The Wild Rose Press (congrats on your debut and welcome to the Garden!), who answers my question...

ELF: What do you think is the strongest attraction about the genre(s) you like to write in?

CM: Readers love the romance genre for a variety of reasons. Romance novels impart a sense of hope in an uncertain world. In the genre, readers know they will receive a happy ending and a positive resolution of seemingly insurmountable odds. Who doesn’t need their faith in love renewed?

When choosing what book to pick up next, readers select based upon what experience they are seeking when they dive into the pages. Does romance provide an escape? Yes! A complex emotional challenge? Often! An opportunity to learn something new? Yes!

As a romance author, I love delving into emotionally rich stories where the characters learn and grow on their path to finding true love. I focus upon the personal evolution of the characters. Each one is like an onion and as the layers are peeled away, an individual’s truth emerges. When someone becomes more self-aware, they can discover how their own emotional patterns and habits limit their happiness.

Readers want to identify with a hero or heroine and hop on the ride with them. Navigate the twists and turns. When a fictional couple overcomes both individual challenges and joint obstacles together, the reader’s own faith in love and human nature can be renewed. A romantic story can transport the reader from the difficulties of his or her job, family, marriage, and the world in general. Despite any peril that may arise, there will be a happy ending for the couple. There’s comfort and hope.

If the character can overcome difficult odds and find true love, a reader will close the book with a sense of satisfaction.


by Claire Marti


GENRE: Contemporary Romance



When Sophie Barnes’s fiancé jilts her at the altar, her carefully planned life implodes. Considering her ex’s betrayal to be a rude wake-up call, she leaves everything she knows in San Diego and flees to Laguna Beach. She vows to transform her life by avoiding men for a year and by fulfilling her dream of writing a wildly successful novel. 

Sophie’s new landlord, Nicholas Morgan, is a gorgeous, successful architect with a player reputation. He makes it tough for Sophie to remember that she’s sworn to be single. Nick’s avoided the intimacy of a long-term relationship--until Sophie’s independence, courage, and beauty touch his guarded heart. Both Sophie and Nick are terrified of being hurt again, but can they resist the pull of true love?



Nick arrived right on time, looking gorgeous in faded jeans and a plain white t-shirt. How did he always manage to start the butterflies fluttering in her stomach? Just by standing there with the setting sun framing him? She was in trouble.

“Hi beautiful, ready to go?” He clasped her face in his hands and planted a soft kiss on her lips.

Returning his kiss, Sophie wound her arms around his neck and deepened it. She couldn’t resist. His strong arms wrapped around her waist, hugging her close to his broad chest.

“Mmmm, feel free to greet me like that every time I come over,” he said, lips curved up into a sweet smile.

Heat washed her cheeks and she returned his smile. “Let’s go. Prepare to be blown away by the movie snack of the century.”

Determined to keep things light and enjoy the movie before “the talk,” Sophie thrust down the lick of panic bubbling in her gut. She’d accomplished next to nothing all afternoon, instead wrestling with whether she needed to tell him about Doug.

The angel on her shoulder whispered to tell him because if they were going to have any kind of relationship, even a friends-with-benefits one, honesty and trust were vital. The devil urged her to zip it. They’d only known each other a few weeks. What if he lived up to his “Player of Laguna” reputation and expected only a fun fling? Even though he seemed deeper than that. What if she scared him off with a premature talk?

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.

Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga. Her debut releases from The Wild Rose Press on March 31, 2017 and is the first in the Finding Forever in Laguna series.

Twitter:  @clairepmarti



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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Parent Teacher Association by Jennifer Soosar (VBB, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

by Jennifer Soosar


GENRE:   Suspense, psychological



Fresh out of a mental hospital, Lizanne Demeter is thrilled to get a second chance at her career when she's hired to teach third grade in the backwater town of Splinter Wood, Pennsylvania. But hopes for a peaceful new life are ruined when demanding ‘helicopter mom’ Naomi Seabrook pushes Lizanne to the brink.

While struggling to maintain control of her classroom, Lizanne begins to unravel the secret behind Naomi’s hell-bent agenda. As deadly clues emerge, Lizanne suspects Naomi is guilty of more than just overindulging her child.

With her life teetering on chaos, Lizanne risks everything to expose the shocking truth. But first, she must race against her own spiraling sanity to prove herself a more dedicated teacher than anyone dared imagine—the kind of teacher who makes ALL the difference.




“See, here’s the problem with single female teachers,” Naomi said. “You got no life. You put an inappropriate amount of attention on insignificant things and work them up into a froth. There’s no perspective in your sad, one-dimensional world.”

Let that pass, Lizanne thought. You’re getting somewhere now.

“Don’t like me asking questions?”

“I don’t like you snooping around in areas that are none of your business,” Naomi said, eyeballs bulging. “Ruth made an error hiring you. You’re too weird, if that’s even possible. And know what else? You’re a lousy teacher! Sebastian is miserable in your class. I tried communicating that with you, but you’re clueless!”

The words stung—you’re a lousy teacher—and Lizanne labored to sweep it away.

“You’re easily the worst teacher in Battle Hill history and I’m including my own years spent there as a student.”

Sebastian appeared in the doorway.

“This so-called teacher of yours is useless,” Naomi said to him. “I’m amazed she dares to call herself a teacher at all.”

When he snickered, Lizanne felt crippled.

“Look how you allowed that poor child to climb that tree and fall to his death,” Naomi said, advancing with the box cutter. “That was all your fault, wasn’t it?”

Feeling tears come, Lizanne rushed to grab her coat.

Naomi followed. “Go ahead, keep thinking it was an accident, if that makes your stark life more bearable. But we both know it wasn’t…”

Sensing a grim truth had just been spoken, Lizanne found a sudden poise. She turned to face Naomi. “No, it wasn’t an accident, was it?” she said. “It couldn’t have been.”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Jennifer Soosar watched too much ‘America’s Most Wanted’ growing up and has been writing about shady characters ever since. She was born and raised in Toronto and has a degree in Anthropology from York University. Her short fiction has appeared in the Toronto Star and in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. She is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada, the International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

Her website



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Monday, July 24, 2017

The Blue Unicorn's Journey To Osm by Sybrina Durant (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

by Sybrina Durant


GENRE: Teen Fantasy Book



The book is about a little blue unicorn who was born into a magical metal-horned tribe of unicorns.  He is expected to save the tribe from the evil sorcerer, Magh but how will he be able to do that with no metal and no magic?  Read the book to find out how a plain blue unicorn comes of age with the help of a brave stag and a loyal firebird.  The book is meant for teen readers and anyone else who love unicorn stories with lots of pictures.



“Why, would you take off alone, Ghel?” Alumna asked. “You know how dangerous it is out there.  You were almost a manticore’s dinner.”

It was obvious Alumna was angry.  She tried to control her voice but it came out in sharp, short tones.

 “Or worse,” Lauda exclaimed, “you might have been captured by Magh’s minions and had your hooves and horn taken.”  The hide on her back rippled fearfully.

Ghel shuddered, too.  She had thought she was doomed when she first saw the manticore.  She would have been if Nix had not arrived in the nick of time to save her. 

All the other unicorns put on brave faces but the thought scared them, also. 

The seriousness of their situation was fully revealed when Alumna said, “The entire tribe is going to have to make a journey all the way across MarBryn to Muzika Woods.” 

She showed them the map which she had wanted to show the entire tribe at the same time.  Unfortunately, Blue never saw it.  Even with the map, there was no way to know which direction he had taken. 

“All he knows is that he is supposed to get to Muzika Woods,” Alumna said sadly.  "The Numen told me Blue’s destiny is to ensure the safety of our tribe. He said it is time for Blue to join with the Moon-Star.” 

No one tried to hide the shock they felt.  They all spoke at once: “Join with the Moon-Star?”

"Corn feathers! Is he gonna sprout wings to do this trick?" Lauda exploded.    "The Moon-Star’s in the sky and Blue sure as heck can’t fly.” 

They all thought it sounded like nonsense. Unicorns cannot fly.

Buy links (pay attention, as some are for different variations!)


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

I am the author of the "Learn To Tie A Tie With The Rabbit and The Fox" series of instructional books for boys and girls. I also co-write, edit and publish children's books by other authors, Sandi Johnson (Children's books) and Britt Brundige (Tween graphic novel). For the older crowd, there's a little bit of romance by Historical Regency Romance author, Gina Rose.

I am also the publisher of the 4 volume set - Sybrina's Phrase Thesaurus.





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My review

4 stars

The Blue Unicorn’s Journey to Osm written by Sybrina Durant and illustrated by Dasguptarts is a lovely children’s story that blends fantasy and a bit of science fiction in a sweet tale. The gentle reminders of the importance of acceptance and maintaining a sense of self worth are artfully woven into this fun adventure tale. The brightly colored illustrations underscore the fantastical creatures that populate the tale while elements of science are slipped in through descriptions of the types of metal horns utilized by various unicorns and fun words such as didgeridoo are woven into the story. The story can be read on multiple levels, from very simple for a young child to an older individual who can appreciate the nuances and inside jokes such as where the ice cubes originate. Those who enjoy the story should make sure to pay attention to the author’s notes at the end which detail accessory items including a coloring book as well as provide an illustration of a unicorn’s parts and a fun activity.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Duchess and the Highwayman by Beverley Oakley (spotlight, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) RBC

By Beverley Oakley

Beverley is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate and an ebook, "The Mysterious Governess" to randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here

A duchess disguised as a lady’s maid; a gentleman parading as a highwayman. She’s on the run from a murderer, he’s in pursuit of one… In a remote Norfolk manor, Phoebe, Lady Cavanaugh is wrongfully accused by her servants of her brutal husband’s murder. There’s little sympathy in the district for the duchess who’s taken a lover and made clear she despised her husband. The local magistrate has also vowed revenge since Lady Cavanaugh rebuffed his advances. When Phoebe is discovered in the forest wearing only a chemise stained with the blood of her murdered husband, she persuades the noble ‘highwayman’ who rescues her that she is Lady Cavanaugh’s maidservant. Hugh Redding has his own reasons for hunting down the man who would have Phoebe tried and hanged for murder. He plans to turn ‘the maidservant with aspirations above her station' into the 'lady' who might testify against the very villain who would see Phoebe dead. But despite the fierce attraction between Phoebe and the 'highwayman', Phoebe is not in a position to admit she's the 'murderous duchess' hunted across the land. Seizing an opportunity to strike at the social and financial standing of the man who has profited by her distress, Phoebe is drawn into a dangerous intrigue. But when disaster strikes, she fears Hugh will lack the sympathy or understanding of her unusual predicament to even want to save her a second time. Buy



  “Sir, your sister’s just being admitted through the front door. I wanted to warn you now so’s you could get this… piece out of her way.” She raked Phoebe with narrowed eyes and curled lip. 

“Where am I to go, sir? Downstairs?” 

Guilt surged through him. If he didn’t know better she could pass for a lady except for the ghastly gown, another of the miller’s wives’ which had been retrieved from an old trunk. Clearly it was not even one that she wore any longer for even he could see the fashion was years out of date. “You can go and find yourself something fitting to wear, Phoebe.” He tried to modulate his tone so as to inflame neither Phoebe nor Mrs Withins though he knew that was an impossible task. The housekeeper looked like a trussed up turkey growing even more purple in the face as Phoebe looked smugly between them. 

“How very kind, sir? So I might wear it to take tea with your sister?” 

“No!” He’d not meant to sound so panicked. 

She, clearly, didn’t take kindly to it for with a toss of her head she picked up her thick, cumbersome skirts and swept to the door. “I must be quick if I’m to avoid embarrassing you, sir, however I cannot do your bidding on thin air.” 

Embarrassed, Hugh thought quickly. “That’ll be all, Mrs Withins. Please see my sister into the parlour. Phoebe, come with me now.” He led her hurriedly down a short corridor to the room where the miller did his book work, closing the door behind him. “How much do you want, Phoebe?” When he glanced up he was nearly scorched by her fulminating look. 

“I am not a… whore!” she hissed. 

He blinked. 

“Five minutes ago you were taking your pleasure, despite my protests that the timing could be better-” 

“I did not force you, Phoebe. And you were more than ready for me.” 

“And immediately you’d had your pleasure you banished me downstairs because I’m not good enough to see your sister and then ask me what payment I require.” 

“You’re being too sensitive, Phoebe-” 

She cut him off. “Half a crown will do for the moment to amuse me with bibs and bobs. I shall see what else I need in the way of suitable attire and then you can arrange payment later.” 

“Oh, so you’re well accustomed to transactions like this, yet you speak to me as if I’ve insulted you.” Hugh wasn’t sure if he was more needled by her accusations of insensitivity on his part or the fact that Phoebe appeared used to having protectors shell out money for her charms. He’d been going to reassure her before Mrs Withins entered the room of his honourable intentions with regard to setting her up nicely. He wanted her much more than he wanted a wife and Phoebe, with her looks and prowess in the bedroom department would be quick to look elsewhere unless Hugh got himself in order. 

Links:  Amazon | All other buy links 


Author Info: 
Beverley Oakley was seventeen when she bundled up her first her 500+ page romance and sent it to a publisher. Unfortunately drowning her heroine on the last page was apparently not in line with the expectations of romance readers so Beverley became a journalist.
Twenty-six years later Beverley was delighted to receive her first publishing contract from Robert Hale (UK) for a romance in which she ensured her heroine was saved from drowning in the icy North Sea.
Since 2009 Beverley has written more than thirteen historical romances, mostly set in England during the early nineteenth century. Mystery, intrigue and adventure spill from their pages and if she can pull off a thrilling race to save someone’s honour – or a worthy damsel from the noose – it’s time to celebrate with a good single malt Scotch.
Beverley lives with her husband, two daughters and a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy the size of a pony opposite a picturesque nineteenth century lunatic asylum. She also writes Africa-set adventure-filled romances tarring handsome bush pilot heroes, and historical romances with less steam and more sexual tension, as Beverley Eikli.
You can get in contact with Beverley at:



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Friday, July 21, 2017

Somewhere My Lady by Beth Trissel (VBB, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

by Beth Trissel


GENRE:   Paranormal romance/time travel



Lorna Randolph is hired for the summer at Harrison Hall in Virginia, where Revolutionary-War reenactors provide guided tours of the elegant old home. She doesn't expect to receive a note and a kiss from the handsome young man who then vanishes into mist.
Harrison Hall itself has plans for Lorna – and for Hart Harrison, her momentary suitor and its 18th century heir. Past and present are bound by pledges of love, and modern science melds with old skills and history as Harrison Hall takes Lorna and Hart through time in a race to solve a mystery and save Hart's life before the Midsummer Ball.



Something about him held her spellbound…the tilt of his head, arch of his brow, glimpse of his profile… She followed his every move with the fixity of an owl.

He turned blue-gray eyes toward her and sensuous lips curved into a smile on his handsome face. Hands down. No contest. He was the hottest guy ever. Her heart beat a thrilling new rhythm.

He circled closer to where she stood rooted in the foyer, not moving a toe, scarcely drawing breath. Did he truly see her backed tremulously against the wall, or did it only feel that way?

Unlike the others in the ghostly assembly, his eyes didn’t skirt past her. He paused in the dance. Bending at the shoulders, he tipped his hand to her in a genteel flourish.

He’d freakin’ bowed. Her jaw dropped. He most definitely saw her. And she sure as heck saw him.

A sparking sizzle jumped between them, awakening her as she’d never been roused before. Even more than when the house charged through her at her arrival. It was as if she were plugged in—to him.

How that could be, she had no idea, but when he gazed into her eyes, time seemed to stop. She spiraled into moonless stars, and back again to this dizzying realm. To him. Even if she were dreaming, she’d never forget this moment.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Married to her high school sweetheart, Beth Trissel lives on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by her human family and furbabies. An avid gardener, her love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into her work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans, and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of her inspiration. She's especially drawn to colonial America and the drama of the American Revolution. And she loves a good ghost story. In addition to Young Adult and New Adult fantasy romance, she also writes historical, time travel, and paranormal romance, plus nonfiction.

For more on Beth visit her blog, One Writer’s Way.

Connect with Beth on Facebook

At Twitter

Visit Beth’s AmazonAuthor Page where all her books reside


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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Starting Over by Sheri Levy (VBT, guest post, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY)

It is my pleasure to share a guest post by author Sheri Levy, who gives us a glimpse of her hobby...

It is pretty easy to tell you about my favorite hobby. I grew up with a   brown, miniature Dachshund, Heidi. She roamed from room to room at night. My canopy bed was higher off the ground than Mom and Dad’s or my brother’s. When Heidi ventured to my room, she stretched her short legs as far as she could and whined. She’d wake me, and I’d lean over to lift her on to my bed. She immediately burrowed under my covers and warmed my feet.
After I married, my husband rescued the neighbor’s five-year-old German shepherd, Charlie. When she passed on, my husband was lost. While he traveled for his job, my two children and I plotted a surprise for his birthday. We discovered an eight-week-old, White shepherd and brought her home. I had never had a puppy, and I learned how much attention puppies needed.
I found a small wooden playpen in our attic and strung sheets through the slats to keep her small body inside. She used her paws to push the sheet down and would squeeze herself out. Of course, as soon as she was free, she peed on the carpet.
When Murphy arrived home, we had kept the puppy hidden and told him to go sit on the couch. He did as we commanded. My two children made Dad keep his eyes shut. I plopped the puppy on his lap, and she preceded to lick his face. His eyes popped open in shock. We let Dad choose her name. Since our four-year-old daughter couldn’t say Gretchen or Gretel and mixed the two words, we named her Gretchel.
This started my trek on training dogs. We didn’t have a fence, and Gretchel learned to stay in our yard. She loved to fill her mouth with rocks as we walked. When she couldn’t add another in her mouth, she’d drop all of the rocks on the street, and rearrange them in her mouth to fit one more.
After Gretchel, our children were gone, and we chose our first Aussie, Sydney. Aussie’s can learn words like a two to three-year-old child. I was teaching special education and became fixated on teaching Sydney as many words as I could. He knew the names of each of his toys, the colors, and many commands.
A black Lab blew into our yard during a snow storm when Sydney was six-months-old. The dog’s ribs were visible, and he had three puncture wounds. Once the snow melted, we took Jake to the vet and adopted him. Jake was full of mischief. He uprooted plants, chewed on electrical wires, tree trunks, and ate the tongues out to Murphy’s work boots. He needed a lot of positive attention!
Sydney and Jake enjoyed Edisto Beach. They learned about boating, and not drinking salt water, When I decided to write, I wanted to use my dog experiences and our days with close friends on Edisto Beach. Both Sydney and Jake had moved on to the Rainbow Bridge. But I continued learning new dog skills. I trained my next Aussies in Rally and in Agility. I researched service dogs and learned from how they handled and trained their service puppies.
At graduation services, the dog’s new forever companion shares how their lives have been made better because of their service dog. Their stories make me tear up.
Seven Days to Goodbye was published and my memories are on paper. The sequel, Starting Over, encompasses other memories from teaching many types of children. You cannot teach a child without getting involved in their life.
My multi-handicapped classroom became an oasis for troubled children. The minute they walked into my room, they knew they were safe and loved. My students understood about positive reinforcement. If they did what I asked, they received rewards.  During the summer, I enjoyed bringing a needy child to my home for a few hours. They had a chance to go swimming, picnic, and see movies. My children were young and they enjoyed having older playmates.
The Trina Ryan Novel series, has a new service puppy, teen issues, tough choices, family dynamics, changing relationships, horseback riding, and a fun first-time romance.


Starting Over
by Sheri Levy


GENRE:   Contemporary Young Adult



Trina Ryan’s challenging summer starts off with puppy-fueled energy burst as she takes on another service dog for training-an eight-week-old black Labrador named Colton. And to help explore another dream, she’s taken a job at the barn next door in exchange for riding lessons with the barn’s schooling horse. It doesn’t take long for Trina to butt heads with Morgan Hart, an award winning rider with a gorgeous thoroughbred named Knight- and a demanding, nasty demeanor with both people and her horse.

Adding to the list of frustrations is the difficulty in maintaining a long distance relationship with Chase, her first boyfriend from last summer, while trying to deal with unwanted attention from a new boy in her puppy training class.

At least best friend Sarah still has her back, but Trina wearies of Morgan’s constant insults and her heartless treatment of Knight, she decides to use her dog training skills to look underneath Morgan’s hostile attitude and develop a sense of trust.

Slowly, Morgan’s angry shield cracks enough to where she’s able to share a troubling family secret. Can Trina help Morgan confront her family problems and make a fresh start?


At three o’clock in the morning, I sat with my butt squished against the wall on the hard tile floor, my forehead resting on bent knees. I’d given up going back to bed and waited for Colton’s next outburst.

Seconds later he whined. I lifted my head as his nose poked out of the crate, sniffing. He tilted his head and toddled toward me. His tail beat back and forth. After a quick pee on the clean newspapers, he crawled onto my lap.

He put his front paws on my shoulders, and his dark eyes flirted mischief.

I smiled. “Ms. Jennifer and Mom warned me you’d be waking up all night.”

Colton’s ears drooped, and I stroked his velvety fur. Cradling his plump body, I buried my face in his fuzz. I inhaled his toasty puppy smell, trying hard not to think about Sydney, the first service dog I trained.

Sydney had come to me when his family moved away from South Carolina. At six-months-old, he was trained in his basic needs. He even slept through the night.

During our beach vacation, Sydney had worked his special magic with Logan, a young boy with autism. My best friend Sarah and I had met his cute older brothers, Peyton and Chase.

Sydney and I had snuggled on our last night and I’d told him about my memories of our year together.

In the morning, I’d clenched my teeth behind a fake smile and returned him to be matched to his forever companion.

Minutes before leaving the facility empty-handed, large, brown puppy eyes from the nursery had connected with mine. I’d decided to train another.

Eight-week-old Colton was a blank slate. I would be his first and only foster momma until he turned eighteen months old.

Colton nosed me again. He lifted his chocolate brown eyes to mine, and warmed the achy parts of my heart.

Starting Over will be published August 1st, 2017.  Please pre-order with FictionAddiction


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Sheri S. Levy is the author of an award-winning debut novel in her series, Trina Ryan’s Dogs in Training. Seven Days to Goodbye, won in 2015, and her magazine article, Scent with Love, won in 2011, with the Dog Writers Association in the Special Interest category. She is an active member of SCBWI and SIBA.

After a twenty-five-year teaching career in special needs, Sheri remains active with tutoring teens in reading and writing. PAALS, (Palmetto Animal Assisted Living Services), has helped with her research on writing about service dogs and how they change lives. Sheri, in turn, shares her book proceeds to support

Sheri enjoys doing author visits and teaching writing workshops. When she is not writing, she reads, plays with her two dogs, listens to music, and hangs out with her husband and family. 

You can find more information on her website; and Facebook, Sherislevyauthor; Twitter, @SheriSLevy

Amazon author page



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