Guest Interview with the talented Erin Britt!

Please welcome, Erin Britt, author of Celia.

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“As a stay at home mom, she gave up her job and her outside life to raise her boys and be a good wife. Her family became her only focus. When Brian tells her he wants to “spice up” their love life, she is hesitant but agrees to his “surprise.” He lights the candles, plays the music, but when she opens her eyes, will it be the boost Brian hoped for or will it be the first domino to fall?”

ImageWhat did you want to accomplish by writing this book?:

The main “theme” (for lack of a better word) of the book is honesty and what happens to a relationship when communication breaks down and people aren’t honest with each other.  The book’s subject is a more unique one, but the underlying issues translate across many different areas.  Brian is the bad guy in the book because he refuses to be honest.  He isn’t honest with his wife and he isn’t honest with himself.  He ends up hurting a lot of people because of it.

How did you get the idea for your book?:

The book is based on my marriage.  Obviously, there are a lot of fictional elements to the story, but a lot of the emotion, the confusion, the pain, all of that comes from having been in that place.

How long did it take you to write and edit it?:

I wrote and edited the whole book in ten weeks.  About a year and a half later, I decided to go back and rewrite the last chapter.  This was the semester project for my fiction writing class, so I was held to a pretty brisk deadline.  Personally, I prefer it that way.  I tend to get lazy when left to my own devices.  If I know I need to have something finished by a certain time, then I find the motivation to work and finish the project.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?:

My first experience with writing was when I was twelve.  I had to learn about poetry in an extracurricular class I was taking and I was hooked.  I didn’t start writing fiction, I mean seriously writing it, until this book.  I bring a lot of my poetry background to it, so it tends to be a bit more lyrical and shorter.  Poetry means cramming in a lot in a tiny space and that’s carried over into everything else I do.

Do you outline your work or are you one of those writers that can just sit down and let the story flow?:

I had an outline for the book.  It was a loose outline, but I was given a target length I needed to hit, so I divided it up from there.  I wrote the chapters out of order, and I recommend doing that sometimes, and I found out that my narrator was a lot angrier than I had given her credit for so I had to adjust a few scenes based on that.  I also had to speed up the timeline, so that meant more changes. 

Where can we purchase your book?http://www.amazon.com/Celia-Erin-Britt/dp/1937758338/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364912272&sr=8-1&keywords=erin+britt

Do you have a webpage or a blog where we can follow you?: 

erinrbritt.wordpress.com

 www.facebook.com/erinbrittofficial

http://erinrbritt.wix.com/erinrbritt#

What is your next project?:

I’ve started a new book titled Enraptured. It’s the story of a small religious town that believes they know when the Rapture will take place. Think Harold Camping from last year.  One of the town’s children disappears on the date of the Rapture, so they believe she’s been called to heaven.  But has she?

Lastly, what advice would you give a writer just starting out?:

It doesn’t mean anything if it’s not on the page.  You can have the greatest ideas ever, but if you don’t get the words on the page, it doesn’t matter.

 

 

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Guest Interview with the amazing Sakina Murdock!

Please join me in welcoming one of my favorite authors to the blog.  I know you will enjoy the talented Sakina Murdock as much as I do! 

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Autotherapy is your first novel. Please tell us a bit about it.

Hey Susan, thanks for asking. Autotherapy is one detective’s attempt to find the truth about a series of vampiric murders that rip through his hometown. It’s told through the eyes of several people involved in the investigation, as well as through Detective Inspector Jake Campbell.

There are several analogies to self-healing throughout the story, including the fact that as humans we are expected to heal up (mind, body, soul) or die trying, even if we don’t get the justice we seek.

It’s set in rural Cumbria in England – any more north and you’d be in Scotland – and the tale incorporates the geological oddities and historical man-made artefacts that litter the beautiful landscapes here.

You can find it on Amazon US and Amazon UK, both Kindle and paperback versions, and those nice people have provided a free sample of something like 5 chapters, so you can decide it’s worth reading right the way through!

It’s also on Barnes and Noble, for those who have a Nook.

Where did you first get the idea for Authotherapy?Image

I was quite calculated at the ideas stage. I decided that I needed to write a book now because you never know if you’ll have time tomorrow. It had to have a vampire theme – those have been perennially popular for years – but I couldn’t just write something that said ‘yeah, it’s about vampires’ and leave it at that. What could be the scientific explanation for the existence of vampires? And the reason behind the explanation? That’s what drove much of the story.

I was inspired by the creepy town I live in (well, it’s creepy at night), tales of tunnels under the town, and a massive quarry in a fell (hill) near by. Oh, and ruined castles, Neolithic monuments and, I admit it, Crime Scene Investigation: CSI.

How long did it take you to write and edit Autotherapy?

It took around 9 months of actual writing time to get a first draft, but OMG, it was dreadful, and nearly of epic length, and I was lucky, lucky, lucky to have three people who were prepared to wade through it and discuss things with me to the point where I could develop it further. Editing wasn’t complete until just before publication in 2012, so that was almost 3 years in total.

How did you go about sending it out to publishers? You live across the pond – where you surprised to find a publisher in America?

I first hit the agents in the UK who are known for their thriller interests. They rejected it unanimously, mainly due to the mix of first person and third person narrative, so I changed it all to third and tried publishers directly. I aimed for those who were fine with email submissions – I’m not known for my patience – and the first gave me some great feedback and the second was Rainstorm Press. I’m so used to the internet that I didn’t think of them as a publisher in America; everything on the internet is about global, so that for me is where Rainstorm Press fits in. I know more American writers than British ones.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I remember saying I was going to be an author when I was about 8 or 9; I wrote a children’s book called The Adventures of Rabbit about a Rabbit who was born in an egg, and typed it into a booklet and illustrated it. I read books constantly, partly because my family only had TV for alternate years while I was growing up. I lost my way for quite a while as other creative areas beckoned, and it was only when I was about 30 that I took up creative writing again.

We have spoken before and I know that you use a very creative approach to outlining your work in progress. Please tell us about your spider charts.

Spider diagrams are my favourite way of presenting information. I’m a bit of a chart freak, and an A1 procrastinator, so to develop a story by following several lines of thought simultaneously, I like to make great big charts showing characters, plot, sub plots and action. They start with a first few ideas and expand outwards, like a catherine wheel firework. Initially I draw them by hand on A4, but if I’m in full procrastination mode, I use a programme like Edraw Mind Map to pull everything together. It’s procrastination because I spend a silly amount of time making it pretty.

You are a successful freelance writer as well as a successful novelist. Please tell us about your freelance work and how we can reach you.

‘Successful’ makes me laugh, Susan! I write for www.copify.com and www.purecontent.com at present, creating original internet content – blogging, researching, articles … even product descriptions (don’t ask me how I feel about production descriptions) but I’m as green as they come as far as freelancing is concerned, just feeling my way.

I’ve set up a website in beta at www.sakinamurdock.com, centring on copywriting – I’ve called it Just Words, but I’m still working in a frenzy to get it finished, learning the ropes of SEO, so I haven’t publicized it at all. When I can get it to appear on the first google search results page, that’s when I’m ready to go live with it!

I’m registered on www.LinkedIn.com, so the best way to contact me is through the message function on there.

You write one of my favorite blogs. I love to read your thoughts and recipes. I especially love finding out what your geese have been getting into! How do you come up with such interesting stuff to blog about?

Cheers, Susan, you are most kind! I love the mundanity of everyday life. The geese and lambs and food are the building blocks of my life and my blog, and those are intersected by things I find interesting. And I try to be honest. Ooh, and just so you know, I’ve just set my new incubator going for the first time. The eggs go in tomorrow! 

http://soulsubsistence.wordpress.com

What advice do you have for writers just starting their career?

Persistence wins over talent. Keep going, even though you think you’re not good enough. Above all, keep going. Think Bulldozer.

 

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Guest Interview with the fabulous Tammy Maas!

ImageToday I have the pleasure of interviewing Tammy Maas.  She is the author of two books, A Complicated Life in a Small Town, and God Save Us All.  

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? I was in third grade and won a writing contest for St. Patrick’s Day. There was even a fake blarney stone we had to kiss. When the teachers and students laughed and clapped after I read my story, I was hooked. From that moment on I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

What do you think is the hardest part of creating a book? I think the beginning, middle and end are easy and all the stuff in between is hard! For me a story plot is easy but the scenes that paint the pictures are the most important and they take the most time for me. I’m very impatient when I write and often want to jump to the ‘good’ parts prematurely and then I tend to fill in the rest at the end.

ImageDo you outline your work before you write, or do you let the story come to you as you work? No outlines for this girl. It’s not uncommon for me to write the end or a middle chapter before I write the beginning. If I’m on a scene and having a difficult time completing the chapter I’ll just start a new chapter and write about something else.

Your first book dealt with a lot of hard issues including Prader-Willi syndrome. Could you please tell us a little bit about this disease? Prader-Willi is a genetic disorder that causes people to never feel full when they eat. Therefore people with this disorder will eat themselves literally to death. This fascinated me as I wasn’t aware that such a syndrome existed. People with PW have to constantly be monitored. The caregivers or parents of PW patients have to go through extreme measures to ensure food is not accessible in homes. Cabinets must be locked and many chain their refrigerators shut.

I finished reading your second book and cannot stop thinking about the characters. I don’t want to give anything away, but the situation that Lydia finds herself in at the end of the book has just haunted me. Do you find yourself thinking about your characters during the day when you are not working? Do you dream about them? I think about my characters all the time. The characters are real to me and I can imagine them in different situations that I find myself in. I can remember saying to my husband once, “I have to write today, poor Lydia has been standing in the woods for two days!” I don’t have a lot of dreams but sometimes I will dream that I’m writing. It’s then that I wake up exhausted. There must be a dozen books in my head that I’ve written over the years.

ImageYou have school age children, and I know how busy that can make you. How and when do you find time to write? Prior to becoming a domestic Goddess (stay at home mom) I was a manager in distribution for a big box sporting goods store. After eighteen years of that I learned some pretty valuable time management skills. My family is top priority but they also understand and respect what I do. Being a writer is flexible, if I’m at a soccer game I can jot down notes while watching the game. While folding laundry (alone) I often talk out loud and walk myself through scenes. I’m a list maker. Every morning I write a ‘to do’ list. When the list is complete I earn myself some writing time. Some days I’ll start writing and won’t want to stop. On these occasions my husband and kids will step up and do whatever needs to be done because they know they won’t be able to tear me away from my laptop.

 In addition to being a successful novelist, you are also a successful blogger. http://www.aniMAASity.weebly.com

 How do you keep coming up with interesting ideas for your readers? My blog is about real life topics, things the kids said/did, things that make me happy, angry or disgust me. Basically anything goes but I try to keep to real. And I also use my blog as a platform to announce where I’m at with books and when they will be released.

What advice would you give writers just starting out? Social networking is the key. Prior to having a book published start writing a blog, sign up for Twitter and facebook and start gaining followers. When the time comes to announce your release date you will have a pool of people to hit up right off the bat. But don’t abuse social networking either. People do want to support you but they do not want to hear about your book every single day for a year.

Where can we purchase your books? You can find my books on Amazon;

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Tammy+Maas

Most importantly, when will the third book come out !?! My goal is to complete the book within the next six months. I’m so excited about this book! I’m sad that it will be the third and last book in the Lydia Porter series but so much is going to happen in the last book. I can’t wait for everyone to read it.

 Before I end I have a special invitation for your blog readers: On Saturday and Sunday my first book, A Complicated Life in a Small Town, will be available free of charge for the Kindle. This novella has ten, five- star reviews! If people love it they should consider purchasing the sequel, God Save Us All.

 Thank you so much for the interview! 

 

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A Discriminating Death is FREE for 2 days only!

Hooray!  My publisher, Rainstorm Press, has been kind enough to offer my second novel, A Discriminating Death, for free Kindle download for the next 2 days!

Grab your copy now and catch up with Rodney and Jane!  Enjoy!

 

http://www.amazon.com/A-Discriminating-Death-ebook/dp/B007SDCP5K/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1361361928&sr=1-1

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Welcome to my blog!

Greetings!  Thank you so much for checking out my blog!  I am Susan Dorsey, a local author from East Tennessee.  My first novel, A Civil Death, was published in 2011.  The sequel, A Discriminating Death, was published in 2012.  The third and final book in the series (so far!), A Haunted Death, will be out sometime this spring.   My first series of books follow Jane and her hairdresser friend, Rodney, as they uncover murder, mayhem, and history in Knoxville, Tennessee.    The books are available at local bookstores and at Amazon.com

A Civil Death cover. jpg

http://www.amazon.com/A-Civil-Death-ebook/dp/B005EZI440/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1361294626&sr=8-3&keywords=A+civil+death+susan+dorsey

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http://www.amazon.com/A-Discriminating-Death-ebook/dp/B007SDCP5K/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1361294626&sr=8-2

If you haven’t yet met Jane and Rodney, or if you just haven’t visited with them in a while, check up on them in  this short story…

DEATH’S A DRAG

A JANE BROOKS SHORT STORY

                 “Oh!  That bitch has really done it now!”

                “Rodney!  Watch your language.”  Jane smiled weakly at into the mirror at her client.  Mrs. Houser did not look happy.  She was in her seventies and was the most refined of Jane’s hair clients.  “Sorry,” Jane whispered. “He must be really upset to talk that way.”

                “You bet I’m upset.” Rodney stalked across the salon waving a piece of paper as if it was on fire.  “Ruth Anne just gave me this before she left.  She got it in the mail last week.”  Rodney reached Jane’s hair station and stopped.  He blew his breath out, ruffling his blond bangs.  “That son of a bitch has stolen our client list.”

                “What?”  Jane grabbed the paper from Rodney’s hand.   Her heart sank as she read the words on the flier.

 Is ‘The Salon’ getting too tame for your tastes?  Ready for something new?
Try the Queen B.  Get your first haircut free and see  how much better we are than Rodney and Jane!”   

“What the hell, Rodney?”  Jane glanced in the mirror again.  “Sorry, Mrs. Houser.”

                “Remember when we ‘lost’ the appointment book last week?”  Rodney framed the word ‘lost’ in air quotes.  “That cow Edwina must have sent a walk-in to steal it from us.  How else could she have gotten our client’s names and addresses?”

                Jane felt the blood rush to her head.  The salon business had never been pretty, but Edwina had taken things to a new low.  She, or technically he, had started a salon in downtown Knoxville.  As far as Jane could tell, he wasn’t that talented. His draw was the fact that he and all of his hairdressers were drag queens.  They dressed in outrageous outfits and fawned over their clients. College students and bored housewives had flocked to the Queen B since Edwina had opened its doors.   Jane knew they weren’t hurting for business.   “Why target us?  Why now?  What did we ever do to them?”

                Rodney frowned and grabbed the flier back from Jane.  “I kind of had a small incident with Edwina during the Regal Hair Symposium last month.”

                “You what?” Jane’s mouth fell open.  Mrs. Houser turned in her seat and glared over her wire-rimmed glasses at Rodney.

                “She was up on stage; all dressed up in a polka dot dress and five-inch heels.”  Rodney folded the flier in half and stuffed it into his back pocket.  “She was going on and on about how her business model was based on the entertainment industry.  I stood up and said that we were doing quite well on the old ‘do a good job and skip the gimmicks’ business model.”  Rodney looked down at the floor.  “Things got a bit out of hand, and I might have called her a glorified hag.”

                “Oh, you didn’t!”  Jane put down her scissors and glared at her friend and business partner.  “What were you thinking?  Why didn’t you tell me?”

                “Because I knew you would react just like that.”  Rodney shook his head.  “I’m going to go down there and make this right.  No drag-wearing, sorry excuse for a beauty school dropout is going to steal our clients.” He waved one hand in the air.  “Uh, uh.  I am not putting up with this.”

                “Rodney, dearest,” Mrs. Houser pushed her glasses up and reached out to pat his shoulder.  “Honey, if I were you, I’d own that bitch.”

                Jane spun the stylist chair around and stared at her client. “Mrs. Houser!  Don’t encourage him!”

                “I’ll call you after I straighten this out.”  Rodney pulled his car keys from his pocket and turned to the door.  “Edwina is going to regret the day she messed with The Salon.  I swear, she is going to get what is coming to her.  She’ll never cross us again.”

                Jane grabbed her scissors as the door closed. She had to finish Mrs. Houser quickly and go after Rodney before his mouth got them into even more trouble.

*

                Jane’s knuckles were white as she gripped the steering wheel.  She hated driving downtown Knoxville.  Try as she might, she always ended up on a one-way street heading directly away from where she wanted to go.

                She ignored the honking behind her as she slowed in front of the Queen B.   Jane sighed with relief.  There was one spot left on the street, she wouldn’t have to find a spot in the parking lot a few blocks down.  She had finished Mrs. Houser as quickly as she could, but Rodney had a good five-minute head start.  Who knew what trouble he was causing now?   At least there were no police cars parked in front of Edwina’s salon.  That had to be a good sign.

                Jane eased her car into the narrow parking spot and grabbed her purse.  She half walked, half ran to the front door.  She grabbed the handle just as the door was opened by a large man dressed in a bright purple fifties style dress.  His dirty blonde hair was styled in a beehive.  His black cat-eye glasses did not hide his elaborate eye shadow and false lashes.

                “Welcome to the Queen B!  I’m Andi with an ‘I’.  We are just thrilled that you are here!”  His singsong voice faltered as he took in her cutting cape and nametag.  “Not you too?”

                Jane peered around the drag queen.  The salon was huge.  There must have been twenty styling stations, and each one was manned, so to speak, by an elaborately dressed stylist.  All wore fifties-style dresses with polka-dot scarves around their neck.  Some sported embroidered aprons.  A June Cleaver look-alike sat at the front desk, a three-strand pearl necklace covering her Adam’s apple.   No one was moving.  It was as if Jane was looking at a photograph.  Everyone was paused, heads tilted toward a door in the back.  Jane could hear Rodney yelling insults over the drone of the dryer chairs.

                “He’s in the back.” Andi stepped aside and pointed to a door just past the bright pink shampoo sinks.  “I told him Edwina was taking a break, but he just barged on through.”

                A piercing scream echoed through the salon.  Rodney flung the office door open.  He stumbled into a shampoo chair and grabbed it for support.  “Oh, God!  Edwina is dead!  She’s been strangled.”

                The room erupted into movement.  Stylists slid in their five-inch heels as they raced for the office door.  Andi cupped his hands together and shouted.  “Stop!  Nobody go into the office!” He turned and pointed at June Cleaver.  “Davina, call 911.  We need the police.”  He turned back and pointed a shaking hand at Rodney.  “That man murdered Edwina.”

                A second scream pierced the air and the crowd ignored Andi’s voice.  Jane ignored him too.  She ran, pushing her way between skirts and elbows until she reached the front of the crowd.  Rodney was on the floor wrestling with a tall redheaded drag queen.  She had a tight grip on his arm and was twisting it behind his back.

                “I didn’t kill anybody!”  Rodney screamed in pain.  His face was pressed against the floor, his lips touching the cool tile.  He saw Jane and yelped again as the drag queen knelt on the back of his thigh.

                “I heard it all!”  The drag queen squirmed as Rodney flipped over on his back.  “You threatened to ruin her!”

                “Wait a minute!”  Jane clapped her hands together loudly, as if she were trying to break apart two fighting dogs, not two men who towered over her, even without the heels. “There has to be an explanation!  Let’s all just calm down here and see what in the world is going on.”

                “She’s right.” Rodney gasped.  “Let’s just calm down here.”

The drag queen looked at him with disgust before she sighed and pushed him away.  “You were the last person to see her.  There is nothing you can say to change that.”  Her red beehive was tilted to the side, revealing a platinum buzz cut.

 Jane reached down to help Rodney stand up.  His hair was a mess, his khaki pants were wrinkled, and he had a large red scratch mark down his forearm.  Small snips of hair from the floor covered his cheek.

The rest of the salon had pressed forward.  Andi was at the front.  All eyes were on Jane.

“All right.”  Jane took a deep breath.   She nodded toward the office door. “First, somebody needs to go in there and make sure Edwina is really dead.”

                “What?” Andi’s manicured hand fluttered up to his throat. “Hasn’t your partner done enough?  Now you want to go and make sure he finished the job?  You two are monsters!  Just monsters!”

                Rodney rubbed the scratch on his arm and stepped even further from the redhead.  “I didn’t kill her, Jane.  You have to believe me.”

                “I believe you, honey,” Jane said.  Rodney had his faults.  He could murder your reputation, but Jane doubted he would ever murder anybody for real.  Probably.

                “We all heard you yelling at poor Edwina.”  Andi’s voice cracked as he blinked back tears.  He brushed the bottom of his eyelid with the tip of his ring finger, dotting at the mascara that threatened to run down his cheeks.

                “She stole our client list.  I yelled at her, but I didn’t kill her. She was just sitting in her chair, staring out the window at the back parking lot.  I yelled and yelled to get her attention.”  Rodney covered his mouth with one hand.  “Oh God, I thought she was ignoring me.  I thought she was rude, not dead.”

                Jane glanced at the open door.  She could see the back of Edwina’s office chair.  The hem of a fire-engine red sundress hung down, revealing one leg in a fishnet stocking.  A red stiletto shoe was on the floor as if Edwina had kicked off her heels to relax after a long day butchering people’s haircuts.   Large red beads were scattered across the floor.

                “You killed her because she ignored you?” Andi shook his head.  “What kind of person are you?”

                “Listen to me!  I didn’t kill her.  When she wouldn’t even acknowledge me, I stormed around her desk to demand she speak to me.”  Rodney paused and looked around the crowd of customers and stylists that had pressed closer to hear him.  “It was awful.  Her eyes were all bugged out.”  Rodney shuddered.  “One hand was at her throat.”  His voice lowered.  “Her fingers were caught in her scarf.”

                Jane heard the sounds of sirens in the distance.  Davina must have the cops on speed dial. She looked again at the office.

                “The cops are coming, and you are going to get what you deserve!”  Andi stepped backward to the front door.  “You won’t get away with this.”

Jane narrowed her eyes and looked at the back of Edwina’s office chair again.  “What color was the scarf?”

“What?”  Rodney spun around to face her.

“What color was the scarf?

“Purple.  It was purple.” Rodney’s eyes widened as he stared at Jane.

“Rodney, think about it.”  Jane grabbed his arm.  “What drag queen would be caught dead wearing both a choker and a scarf?  The beads on the floor –” Jane nodded toward the office.  “Edwina must have been wearing a choker to hide her Adam’s apple.”

She spun Rodney around to face the crowd.  “All the stylists have their throats covered.”  She pointed at Andi with an “I”.  “All except the one in the purple dress.”

“Girlfriend, you’re right about the choker.”  The redheaded drag queen nodded at Jane, her beehive wig tilting even further off her head. “I complemented her on it this morning.  It was a vintage piece.  Besides, Edwina wouldn’t have ever mixed red and purple anyway.  Really, who would?”  She turned and pointed at Andi.  “And you!  You fought with Edwina last week when she made you stay on shampoo duty.”

Andi covered his throat with his hand.  “You’re all wrong!  All of you!  I am the best color expert in this whole salon, and I deserve to be head chair!  I deserve it!  Edwina was jealous of me.  She was jealous of my natural talent.  She was worried her customers would have liked me better.”  He broke down crying now, actual tears ruining his eye shadow.  Streaks of mascara ran down his cheeks. “She was right.  They would have.”

The front doors opened behind Andi.  Two police officers walked slowly into the room.  They stared at June Cleaver.  She pointed silently at Andi.

Rodney pulled Jane into a hug.  “Thank you, thank you,” he whispered.

Jane took a shaky breath.  “Did you learn your lesson?  Are you going to go around insulting stylists and fighting with drag queens anymore?  Even if they try to steal our clients?”

“Heaven’s no!”  Rodney shuddered.  “Not unless I bring you with me.”

***

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