The Yemeni Package

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I spent the better part of a week reading one book. One. Normally, I whip through several in a week, review, take a break, write, rewrite, edit, etcetera, ad infinitum. 

I know when I am going to read one of Dale Amidei’s novels, I had better slow the heck down. There will be a lot of players, intricate subplots within plots, and complex political and military strategism. 

I finished ‘The Yemeni Package’ about fifteen minutes ago, and again, Dale’s ability to spin a yarn so complex, so fantastic, it simply bears reading again. Which I will. Since this was the twelfth and final in his multiple series (as I await more). I love the main characters in all of his novels, and I recommend the books highly. You can read them out of sequence as a stand-alone or ‘as they happen’ chronologically through the Main Game. 

There were twists I did not see coming. The main character, Sean Ritter, is dealing with previous emotional crises. He is thrown into another field operation but the U.S. president doesn’t want any bad press (thus another bad situation), the advisor has his own agenda, as well as foreign assisting characters. 

Ritter and his team take this job in the worst of situations among very hostile players without any backup, without the firepower they normally would need to extract someone, and of course, everything goes south with a CIA operative who also has his own agenda. No one is who they say they are. Then I guess you could say, this ‘should be smooth going’ operation goes further south. And just when you thought hell was hot, everything hits the fan. 

Dale Amidei beats the livin’ crap out of his main character, Sean Ritter. Authors do this to twist our emotions. And so were mine. Biting my knuckle. Laughing at ‘duty-bound’ detail, and crying in more than one chapter. Gear up, folks. It’s another ride dodging bullets and deception. Just an FYI, I have not read any political military intrigue thriller that comes close to Dale’s writing. Outstanding, once again.   

Once again, a five star + novel.    

Are You GDPR Compliant?

Please check out Marilee McDonald’s blog. You may be required. No wait. You are likely required. If you have any contact with any person living in the EU, you are most definitely required.

https://www.maryleemacdonaldauthor.com/gdpr-compliance/

I am going to do what I can to put the compliancy check box here. It is already on my website, total pain. Next… Facebook. Then… LinkedIn.

author funny tease

Because the EU has nothing better to do than to crap on people’s lives. Idiots.

 

AND YES as I preview, it has my information in there. If you can, please edit that out, add a fake I mean ‘your’ name, optional for website, and check box if you want to receive updates.

Pfft.

-Claire

 

 

 

 

 

Wisdom from Kristen Lamb

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This is another good post from the insane, I mean … wise Kristen Lamb’s blog. These are editing tips you do not want to skip.

Why… Pay… More?

kill bill

So slash those sweet lil’ things you love so much. Hey, I had to, and it … sucked.

http://authorkristenlamb.com/2018/04/self-editing-writers/#comment-92608

Don’t blink. Save them in another folder if you can’t let go, but … <pulls pages from your hands> Just Do It. Stop thinking.

wonder

Dopamine and social media

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OK

Gone for the day. Social media is sucking up what’s left of my soul and I have no desire to fall into pools or poles for that matter, no matter how awesome the text.

Can I go for at least an hour without  (addictive as heroin, cocaine, cigarettes) checking my sites? Not even texting.

See you in a few. Days. Maybe hours. Minutes?

A Funny Reblog

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Kristen Lamb has blogging down.

Especially about serial killers, I MEAN writers. So, as a writer, I can relate. Reading her blog this afternoon just sent me into a fit of giggling.

I have read her blogs, and her fiction. She is an awesome serial killer, I MEAN writer, and if you aren’t following her, well, your loss. Give me a comment that you are not, and I may write you in as a … victim.

jason bourne

Read. Please. Before I add you to that list …

http://authorkristenlamb.com/2018/04/diagnosing-real-writer/  Continue reading

What? Fingerprinting? Old School, Man. Old School.

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For crime fiction writers, you won’t need all of this information. However, if it’s tucked away in your mind, what you do need on paper is available to you.

 

So… fingerprinting. You see it all the time on TV, watched as times have changed. I have trained in the ‘How To Collect Prints’ (the old fashioned way in a rural setting).

 

Here is an overview of the ‘new’. Technology has changed; a new standard of equipment is the portable scanner over one or more fingers. If you know anything medical, it’s not unlike taking someone’s finger oximetry (which I also know how to do).

The CSU team in the field or medical examiner does this work. The finger of the dead or live victim/suspect is placed into or on a scan, much like your biometric safe where we know you keep your guns…  And there are several new techniques even for scanning.

The scan is saved and uploaded to a computer, where the very accurate image is sent to local, state databases to send to AFIS, the Automated Fingerprint ID System (local, county or state) or IAFIS, which is nationally maintained through the FBI. Both AFIS and IAFIS store not just fingerprints, but criminal history.

So, you’d better have a spotless background check before you purchase a gun and/or concealed carry weapon… The DMV is now also sending your picture into state databases by the way, to match you and your prints together.

Yes, we all know that DNA trumps everything (except in identical twins, only fingerprints finalize identity). Circumstances, environment, clothing, and… the smoking gun. We love that smoking gun. Especially in reality. The ‘interview’ involving anyone around the crime scene, knows the victim, or saw everything can be recorded on tape and video without consent because after all, it’s just an interview, no Miranda rights needed (some interview policies are state-based). Good baseline gathering for your evidence.

Back to old-school prints still being used today.

Collecting old-fashioned prints is an art. It can take some time to master how to print, lightly dip into the powder of choice, and lightly twirling the ‘brush’ (I must make my confession. When I was in the learning process, one night after midnight … I printed the kitchen with black carbon powder. My kitchen. I then face planted into bed a good two hours later, and my early riser husband had… a … fit… it gets everywhere, on you, your skin, your dog, etc.).

First… inking the fingers. Use an ink pad and fingerprinting paper. Get the entire pad of each finger blackened and roll each—right after each finger printed. There’s a method to this messy madness.

Your suspect or victim must have clean hands/fingers so dirt particles and grease do not interfere with the process. Hold each finger for both ink and print paper. With the same, light pressure, roll the thumb from the outside to the inside. Fingers, roll onto the paper inside to outside. Outside to insideà if you aren’t sure what I mean, stick your thumb in the air like a thumbs up. Turn it to palm up, other fingers curled. Press the outside first and gently roll to the inside. The opposite for each finger. Make sure they are numbered correctly. Your nerves count. So does the suspect’s. A smudged print is pretty much useless. Palms can be printed, feet, even lips.

After learning to ink and clean fingers, you get to twirl the brush in one hand lightly. Trust me when I tell you , learn to twirl before you have powder on it. Then, dip the brush (for real) into your powder of choice (not too much). Powder of choice is that which you need to dust, and where in the house/scene to print. That’s just part of the job, because trainees practice on their friends, family, co-workers. You’ve got it down, right?

But wait! Before you leave, I have a free special!

 Yeah. No, you’re not done. Not even.

 Now comes the fun part. You have learned to print an individual walking through your door for a CC license, realtor license, etc. Even a suspect (if they are now in the interrogation and highly suspect… so to speak). Hallelujah.

 Now Ms. and Mr. CSU, you’re characters are working a real scene with the printing powder, dusting for latent prints (invisible) and the more *obvious* prints that develop best on porous areas and greasy and dirty hands. Windows, cups, paper. Different powders…

 What is print powder made of? Oh, great question. Because there are many types of powder and guidelines on what powder, what to do before the powder, and what to use chemically to enhance a print (to scan when done).

Keep this in mind: A lot of powders (okay, most) require a different, dedicated brush, some black, some white, some feathered. If you are going to use two different types of powders make sure you have a brush for each and a method to keep them separate, not contaminating another. Simple plastic wrap will do fine. Mark them lest you forget which is which.

First and before powder, your scene had better be marked, measured and a numbered placard place next to said print. Then, you photograph … twice. From above and a 45 degree angle, using a 35mm camera and a thumb drive to upload to your computer. Don’t worry about getting extra pictures …. just not of you and your friends at the site.

Done? No. You have your handy field guide to fingerprinting or your cheat sheet… and FBI manual in your kit. What powder to use. After the photos. After all the on site processes take place. Some require sprays or ‘superglue’ on a hot plate in a box… literally sticking to the print (basically this is how it works without all the fancy terms. Got those, too, but processing is another article.).

 Do not forget your print tape to lift and a designated placard number. I have two types of tape, but guess what? 3M tape works, not perfect but try it. You place your tape against the appropriate colored background paper and voila! Print in the field is collected–not the process required in the lab. You’ve processed the crime scene for prints. This is just one of the many things that CSU teams go through.

 

Some officers /CSU use the black, carbon based powder on just about everything, including porous surfaces. Meh, I like to go FBI-style. I have a full kit and every powder available. I have an extensive cheat sheet I made, and FBI handbook. My kit is almost twice as big as the sheriff’s office… and I saw them slathering. White powder is available and useful for windows, dark surfaces such as very dark countertops, chrome, plastic bags. Some are made with aluminum or titanium. Wear your masks for all powder prints, please.

Carbon-based black powder has been the standard until cooler stuff came along. Magnetic powders are my hands down favorite for porous, non-porous surfaces, plastics, Styrofoam and rubber (eyes wide open… don’t forget the tossed condom). For magnetic powder, no brush required, and is easy clean up. Magnetic powder (made from iron) sticks to the oily portions of a fingerprint. It’s truly outstanding. You use a magnet designed for the dropping the powder, and then cleanup… No muss, no fuss, not a lot of left over like carbon powder twirled onto the kitchen walls, plates, cups, wood, counters… ahem.

Special dyes are used for colorants in fluorescing powders to use your Alternative Light Sources with, but take care, these powders can over-process in the field, and yes, the prints are ruined. Got one print, and you just over-processed it? You will be called Dusty the rest of your days. And maybe a kick in the butt. The UV lights require yellow or orange tinted glasses, unless you want cataracts before you reach retirement. Yes, I have two light sources and two sets of glasses…  just in case my husband thought one was a flashlight (he did). It’s lost. Do not use fluorescent powders on large surfaces.

Photograph. Occasionally the fluorescing powder requires two people to photograph, and the reason should be obvious. One to shine the light the correct angles and one to get the photos.

Red oxide powders and magnetic oxide powders are used for either dark or light background surfaces, and work well on non-porous surfaces.  These are cool because of their versatility. Messy.

Coin box powders. Another fun animal. Use these on metallic surfaces, vending machine, pipes. They require one or two types of ‘smoking’ which are dangerous during lab processing. Leave this to the processing team. By the way, let the processing team work all the prints you’ve collected. Lifting possible ammunition, full or partial prints are best left for the processing team. However, for your fiction, you may get a partial print, thumb and forefinger prints that need special care. You only get one chance.

Brushes: using your feather brush, (different that your carbon based and magnetic brushes). These do well on countertops, wood, and household woodwork (like unpainted doorjambs, decks and lightly painted wood).

Uneven surfaces suck. But that’s where that handy dandy 35mm comes in after you’ve brushed or dropped the right powder. Sometimes they can be processed well with little or no warp.

I haven’t invested in spray powder but the powder spray covers the print more accurately and evenly. It doesn’t replace your powder, but is another cool tool for your kit. If you’re dipping too much powder onto your brush, it’s a mess and your print will be well, useless. That’s when the spray comes in handy.

 

What about wet surfaces? You see a print in condensation or a wet counter. Use a small particle reagent. This is a liquid powder, sprayed onto the print and the reagent will stick to the print.

The latest powder I do not have are supernano powders made with very fine silica that according to processors, improve print demarcation by 30%. They are processed differently, with lasers. These pick up so much more information than any other print powder that you will want it. Me, too.

 My next article will be on processing, including superglue… For now, get an ink pad, print paper (or your home ink pad, regular paper) and start twirling that brush with a bit of powder or dropping a wee clump of magnetic powder to play with. I recommend aprons, gloves and never past your bedtime.

Well, boys and girls, we got a lotta work to do in coming days, weeks, months.

Why is this in Romance tags? Because … what if your characters are in love but er, don’t know it? Bicker?

If you know of more printing techniques and / or glaring errors, that I have not covered, errors, do give me a comment on my website blog. I’ll hit up the stores for more to put in my kit, correct my work and give you the credit.  🙂

http://cmahoneyfnp.wixsite.com/claireosullivan/blog

Writing, Critiquing, Beta and Launching

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Wow. What a list there.

listThe list may go on.

As I write, I look for those readers/writers for critiquing, and Beta before I send to editor. And then … launch (that does not mean, ‘to the moon, Alice, to the moon!’)

moon

Writing is my job.

jim carrey typing.gif

Critiquing is for … critique-ers – i.e. committed folks offering to suggest better sentence structure, grammar, and spelling, big plot holes. Pronouns with each sentence … i.e. I, I, I, or she, she, she … confusing statements, things slowing the plot down.

Beta readers are those committed folks who reads/swap novels to beta (or critique), and look for interest, pacing, plot holes and words like, ‘I would buy this.’ Or … ‘this sucks, start over, dump it,’ etc.

reading dog cartoon

Not the soul-sucking critiques/betas that pulverize the soul of the writer/author. Generally, in one’s genre or close to … or willing to suspend belief enough to read the work (and if you swap with me, I would do the same). But, honest. Above all honest and respectful. I have had the bashers, some with good points; good grief, leave the mean crap out. Not cool.

writer book sucks.gif

Then the launch. Meaning … I am now ready to sell that work. Add the novel to social media. All of the above willing to be part of it. Easy job. Post to your Twitter, Facebook, or whatever your favorite social media site(s).

When I review a book, launched, I hit all my sites. I give stars (honest) on Amazon (no stars if it requires work, at which time I send the author a note … this needs work, want another review?). I am a dedicated critique -er, Beta, and launcher, ARC reader and reviewer. It is what authors & readers do.

If you are interested in a dedicated swap, critique, beta, launch, these are free copies/swaps. I post via email to a group I dedicate, both readers only, writers only, both. And swapping novels. I have two more Betabook spots that are free. On my beta site I send chapters at a time since my current work is still … in the works.

writer reader dedicated

Let me know if you are interested. Send me that email, and I’ll answer and add you to my list of readers etc.,.

c.mahoney.fnp@gmail.com

Experts…

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I love sharing my process. It’s kinda fun. The how-to’s of what I do to plot/pants/polish a manuscript (rewrite…). Takes me forever. But, that is part of ‘my’ process. I’ve shared some of my ideas on process before, but, I am not an expert. Be careful. Why?

monty python

Experts are frequently authors. They’ve done well. Experts are all over the place. I Googled the findings of experts and writers of experts were available. Over … three … million. Yikes!

Just like ‘too many cooks spoil the broth…’ whether webinars, conferences, books, coaches, too many experts can spoil not just your process or plot, first lines… they can halt your progress. You become depressed, drink yourself into oblivion, live on the streets… That maybe overstating your situation, but…

You are now too paralyzed to write for fear of breaking the rules, regulations. Your process is decimated, the manuscript is cooked to death and your love for creative writing is gone. Gone, I tell you, gone. Might as well be a ‘Kill Bill’ extra where volunteers set themselves to die (for real).

kill bill

You’ve buried the manuscript. Taken up skydiving. Without the parachute.

oops snoop dog think I was high.gif

Pfft. Yes, there are great resources you should avail yourselves of, but watch where you step. You pay for expert classes, books, ad nauseum. The pile of money you spend may well be a poop full of crap. If you find yourself unable to follow your plot today, or your manuscript is simmering for those two weeks, read. This is true advice. Not from me, but a bazillion writers. That many writers who say the brief statement, ‘If you are not reading, you are not writing.’

reading is vital to writing

I mean, read fiction. The genre you love, the genre you don’t. Immerse yourself in books that are clean, spotless, and I don’t mean the edit. I am talking about voice. Your voice. I hate horror. But I love Stephen King’s writing. Flawless. Characters that make a novel scarier. Oh, please, do not watch movies based on the book. You will never get a real voice, inner thoughts, emotions as actions.

Now the destruction begins. Have you killed your darlings? Fixed plot holes? Made characters three dimensional? You are ready for your critique group. They will find more.

writing destruction.gif

And you are allowed to weep. The important aspect is ‘listen to your critique group’. Sweep, dust, clean the mangled manuscript, and get your beta group. Whatever you do, do not use friends, family as readers. They don’t want to offend you. Allow the attacks. You’ll be stronger for the battle. Again, listen to your beta group.

Everything is subjective, in the eyes of the groups that read your work and in the opinions of the experts. Are you satisfied? Did the changes help?

I keep copies of what I have cut, one never knows when that scene will be pertinent to the next novel. A bit OCD I suppose, I keep every copy from a daily write in a file. Because the previous scenes/language/character might have been better than what you pen right now. Yeah, Sherlock. Keep it safe.

oops sherlock

So there you have it. Again, my process. Listen, or listen not. It has meaning for me, perhaps not for you. But for cryin’ out loud, do not … do not run to everyone who calls themselves an expert.

Don’t drink the poison, and please, don’t sign this.

airhead anon

 

 

 

Self Publishing. Is it up or down?

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Make Self-Publishing Mighty – Setting Goals

Claire O’Sullivan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorClaire1/

Steps to publishing have many different routes, including (yay!) self-publishing. These free the writer from the constraints of the traditional route. I point to the length of time one may wait for agents/traditional houses to accept a novel. Not all (many) make it through slush pile(s). Indie is self-publishing peppered with a light to traditional publishing taste, except… different.

The cavalry has arrived. No, really. The cavalry is here and self -publishing, after several years, is gaining popularity. Again, yay! That cavalry is you. So this is a sexist image, but… okay, I think he’s hot.

cavalry

 

How does one enter the foray of fast growing market? As you read, don’t lose heart. It seems overwhelming for first time self-publishers. Self-publishing is a funny animal. It has ups. Then… downs. The market waxes and wanes.

These are the goals you must have to follow through. You are starting a business, and floundering around ends in ‘dead fish’ fodder.

While tempted to throw your first draft to a self-publishing outfit, don’t, have a cup of coffee. Do not pay an agent or publishing house unless you are wealthy (or a politician). Do you want to spend your hard-earned money for ‘I’m published’ gleam in your eye? The real sparkle is in their eyes: the scratch in your pocket. Oh, get your mind out of that gutter. Money.

 

Here it is:

You’ve completed the manuscript. That is an endeavor. And a half.

pen and sword

 

Determine your budget for every step of this endeavor listed. I cannot stress this enough. Encourage an elephant to sit on you before you write checks. Have a look around for self-publishing groups.

What do you want to sell, e-books only? Consider Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/about/tos Or both e-books and paperback? I recommend both, but in the end, this is up to you. E-books are far less expensive but bring fewer royalties (though I have heard some great success stories). Smashwords gives you about 70-85% of royalties… though you pay 35 cents per book sold. This royalty number is awesome. You keep copyright, and can participate in other parts of the program. Well worth the look. Your biggest obstacle with ebooks is the dearth of readers who are aghast at any work requiring more than 99 cents.

 pay writers ha

 

Set a time goal. Six months before your novel is ready for printing, start your online advertising. Tell your friends. Get the word out. You are Wonder Woman. Or Superman. Pick one.

      Wonder_Woman                              superman          

 

Plan a marketing program. Let’s talk cost. Squish your toes in social media. Make it sexy. If you don’t have a website, fer cryin’ out loud, get one. WordPress blogs are free. Their websites cha-ching your pocket from one hundred to five thousand dollars. A domain name will cost from ten dollars to one hundred. Go Daddy and others will offer for a fee, SEO (search engine optimization) to improve visibility.

marketing

Some custom websites charge ten times that amount.

Facebook fan page. Love this. If you want advertising on your Facebook fan page advertising costs, but nominal. Twitter is free. With WordPress blog free, you can post to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter… you get the idea. You can find free or pay for website services. I went cheap. As in, starving-artist-free: http://cmahoneyfnp.wixsite.com/claireosullivan a DIY site. 

 

ISBN number. You must have one for your novel. That’s the little barcode on the back so you get paid. CreateSpace offers one free, however it remains with them … forever. You can also purchase one for one hundred dollars or more.

 

ISBN.png

Get your murder hat on. Why do I mention this here in your goals? You want your book to sell I suspect. So, slash those scenes like Dexter in a bad mood, those that don’t push the plot along. Some self-publishing businesses will not pass three-hundred-eighty pages. Paying for editors is not cheap. Pretend for a second your novel is five hundred pages. You want to pay said editor a zillion buckaroos for pages to be removed, and edited… again? How do you spell redrum? Editors often charge thirty to forty dollars per hour. Your team of readers/critique buds can help with murder. One with the vase. One with the rug. One with the shovel.

kill em offer

 

The cover. I know you already have a cover in mind. Now find an artist/photographer to design, or look at stock photos, you can pay a lot or minimal. On my website, I have stock images I want on my new works. Some folks have luck with fivver, a less-expensive method. Fivver is a conglomeration of people who will work in five-dollar increments. Ask your Facebook fans which cover mock-up they like best.

CreateSpace offers free front/back and spine flaps with limited covers, though you can upload your own. When they create a cover for you, now you are looking at over three hundred dollars. I changed one book’s title and cover three times… that’s a buncha clams if you switch from one picture or another through custom artists. Keep that in mind. This was my second free cover (which I liked), another DIY on CreateSpace. The Big However… upon beginning the first chapter as a reader, I realized my fiction (and title) didn’t fit the cover—the formatting was fine. Don’t bother looking for it, the cover never moved passed the proofing stage. Sigh. Looks lovely, though. Keeping it for my next book.

CreateSpace is an easy platform that offers eBooks and paperback. They do the hard work such as bookbinding. They will gently place your work on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and it’s ready. Amazon Publishing is not currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts, but this is their site: https://amazonpublishing.amazon.com/work-with-us .

Preview your work online. Order five book drafts if in paperback. Most self-publishing requires a minimum. CreateSpace requires five. When you receive the box, shout with glee, review it, and bust out the champagne (or beverage of choice). I have declined some first copies and reformatted. No they don’t give you your money back. Rats. Each print-on-demand book through CreateSpace costs three dollars and ten cents. Minus shipping and handling.

Social media blitz and marketing. Put pictures of the books, a box of books in fact, onto every social media site you have. Plug to your friends, and now, family (they don’t count early on). Take the box you’ve ordered to local bookstores. Go to signings wherever you can find them. Authors Innovative Marketing on Facebook is chockfull of ideas for authors. Post your novel on Goodreads. Don’t forget! Put a PayPal button click on your website, and your Facebook fan page-

social media

 

Before you think the endeavor is beyond you, it’s not. Royalties may be great: but read the contract with a jaundiced eye. Not … really jaundiced, but … Consider the amount you will pay for twenty-five books, print-on-demand. Three-dollars per book. Consider shipping/handling and your profit and loss.

So check around. Self-publishing sites that are true self-publishing sites are tough to find. Vanity and boutique presses, shrouded vaguely, tell you the cost for purchasing a package and then sink their teeth in your pocketbook like Monty Python’s savage attack bunny… “Run away, run away!

monty python

            If you are interested in Indie publishing, the larger Indies (for independent, not East Indian) pay well. And do not make fun. I thought that’s what Indie meant… hey, it was a long time ago, yeesh.

 

https://www.myidentifiers.com/Get-your-isbn-now ISBN site

 

This is Diggypod. I don’t consider these folks self-publish but you may get some ideas: https://www.diggypod.com/self-publishing/companies/

 

Here is CreateSpace, and I do recommend taking a look: https://www.createspace.com/

Post your books on https://www.goodreads.com/

 

And … a list of the top Indie publishers: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/73281-fast-growing-independent-publishers-2017.html

Here you have it. Goals for your journey to self-publishing.

Cool Surprise!

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Giving a shout out to WritersDetective Q&A on Facebook (and Twitter). Received through their email a surprise mention to the group regarding forensic science, and I certainly hope to live up to the status!

I also finished a novel that has nothing (or very little) to do with romance or faith– a gritty (violence and colorful language) military and medical (kinda gory) based on a true happening.

So, if you have any fun and interesting questions for me, find me at: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorClaire1/ or here and I will research what I don’t know, or give you info on what I do know.

This is what I picture the finished product to look like (the book not the disaster…)

 

AIR