Murphy’s Aurora

Apparently New Zealand is in the middle of a ‘super massive’ Aurora. The Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights, are supposed to be the brightest they’ve been in two years. Photographing the Aurora is one of the items on my photography bucket list, so when they said that visibility would be better from the east coast, I headed to my mother and sister’s house. They live about an hour away from me, on the east coast, whereas I’m on the west coast.

I headed up straight after work, and while Mum was making dinner, I did some research on how to photograph Aurora. I found this article really useful.

My mother and sister had a yoga class to go to after dinner, so I sat and read my book while I waited for them. When they came back they informed me that the cloud cover hadn’t dispersed as predicted, and so we might not be able to get a clean shot. I figured I might as well make the most of the two-hour round trip, so I suggested we head out and take some photos of the Auckland city lights at night. Well, we set up our tripods and snapped some shots, but the wind kept buffeting our cameras and ruining the shots. Then it started to rain.  It clearly wasn’t meant to be.

As it turns out, we were never going to see the Aurora. Firstly, it was only going to be visible ‘as far north as Wairarapa’. Ugh. That’s nearly 8 hours’ drive south of me. Secondly, there was a full moon. Thirdly, it was delayed and didn’t arrive until 6am which means it was only there at daylight when no one could see it anyway.

My sister was laughing at me, and pointed out that I had driven all that way to read my book in their house while they went to yoga. #fail

Then, in the way of Murphy’s Law, the motorway was closed for roadworks and it took me longer to get home than it should have. *facepalm*

I’d say that the moral of the story is to do your research first before leaping into action, which would have saved me the trip, but I actually don’t agree with that sentiment. Yeah, if you’re spending a lot of time or money on something, definitely do your research first. But spontaneity has its place. So, it cost me a couple of hours of my time. No big deal. We had a laugh, and learned some stuff.

My kids love it when my husband and I surprise them with spontaneous silliness, like driving to Pokeno (an hour’s drive) for an ice cream, or deciding that each person in the car in turn can decide which direction we turn at the next intersection. Ha ha, that last one saw us driving in circles around Blockhouse Bay. The kids thought it was hilarious though.

While I was at Mum’s, she asked me what I was reading at the moment. We share an Amazon account, as we both read romance ebooks. She reads more historical romance than I do, and she doesn’t read my m/m books, but there’s a lot of overlap. Anyway, I said I was in the middle of a m/m book (Found At The Bookstore by Christi Snow) and she said she was reading a Lori Foster book. She’d read When You Dare, the first book in the Edge of Honor series, then moved on to Bare It All, which is the second in the Love Undercover series. I asked her why she wasn’t reading them in order, and she said that because it wasn’t obvious by the title, she had no way of knowing the reading order. So I looked them up on Lori Foster’s website and made a list for Mum of the correct reading order for the two series. I also thought she might like the Buckhorn Brothers series, so I wrote down the order for that one too. So see, I did accomplish something. Ha ha!

An interview with author T R Byron

You blog, you write short stories, you’re a novelist and a poet. Do you have a preference for a particular format? Do you find it hard to switch between them?
I usually have a general idea of where I’m going, but I usually don’t know exactly where the stories will take me. Blogging is a stress reliever for me. As for poetry, that is my biggest struggle. Staying structured makes me a little crazy.

How long have you been writing?
Since I was in grade school. I came across a few books I wrote as a child. They are horrible! But you could tell that I had a knack for putting stories together. I was in my late twenties when I really started writing novels and short stories. My first novel I wrote in twenty-four hours. I couldn’t sleep, the story wouldn’t let me get any rest until I had it all written down. That one book turned into a four book series. This was during my VC Andrews phase and that series really shows it.

What has been the hardest thing for you so far on your writing journey?
Probably believing in myself, in work, that it is good enough. Aside from the common issues with grammar and missing words, I tend to be a perfectionist, and am constantly editing trying to make it better.

What genres do you write in? Do you have a favourite?
Romance and erotica mostly. I love flawed characters with heart. If I had to choose, it would definitely be Romance.

Do you ever find it hard to admit that you write erotica, or to let close friends/family read your erotica?
Definitely. Most people think erotica is porn and cannot see the difference. They focus on the sex and nothing more. And then, of course, there’s that little flash I will see in their eyes where some people wonder if I’m just a tramp. If you write about it so openly, then you must be doing something dirty. What they fail to see is sex is as natural as breathing. If feel that if I’m going to write about love and romance, it’s a natural progression, and leaving the intimacy out downplays its importance.

So, can you explain the difference between porn and erotica, when it comes to writing/reading?
I see porn as having no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire. Anyone can do that. Plot isn’t required in Pornography, nor is the emotional connection between the main characters. The characters usually don’t grow emotionally, stay together, or even in some instances like one another. Readers of porn want to read about sex, plain and simple. Pornography’s concentration lays in the physical activity between the characters. You won’t find a happily-ever-after here, but do expect a wham, bam, thank you ma’am. Don’t assume the word choices will be nice or sensual either. They won’t be. They can get rather crude, distasteful and cringe-worthy, which all depends on your preference of what you want and prefer

The driving force behind Erotica is exploring a character’s sexual discovery. I see it as a romance. Sex is the common link between Erotica and Romance, but the outcome of the story can be completely different. Erotica can easily leave the door open to the characters staying together, or going their separate ways, while in romance the couple must come together by the end of the book. All Romances have a hero and heroine that strive to be together no matter what, the reader expects to root for both, and to have the happy conclusion. What set Romance and Erotica apart are the details in the sex scenes itself. My erotic scenes fall in the middle of Romance and Porn. The most important thing to me is making that emotional connection between my characters and reader, and letting my readers enjoy the journey with them as well.

Are there any difficulties particular to writing erotica? For instance, I find it hard to write erotica in first person because I end up feeling like I’m writing about my own experiences even if I’m not!
I’m like you there and usually write in third person. It allows me to step outside and visual the scene more clearly in my head as I write from my characters point of view. The most difficult for me was my first erotica novel, Distracting Duncan. I had this one character who used women, loved prostitutes and used his status to the fullest. I had to write a scene where he gets physical with the prostitute, and I struggled for weeks to write that one scene. I had to keep stepping away, but when I finally completed it, it made me hate that character, and that was the emotion I really needed my reader to hone in on.

Are there any genres you’re afraid to try, or struggle to write in?
I try to put a little comedy in my stories. I love to laugh. I don’t think I could write a real tale of horror.

Do you read in the same genres that you write in?
Yes. I am always looking for a good romance to read.

What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
People inspire me. I like getting to know people, what makes them tick, those little things that make them smile. I get my ideas everywhere. I find myself watching television or movies and thinking, I wouldn’t have written it that way. I love good dialogue, and will often write certain phrases in a notebook to use for my characters.

Do you have a favourite author? Or perhaps an author you view as an inspiration?
I’ve read everything by VC Andrews and that is what really started me on my writing path. I am a huge fan of Linda Lael Miller and Maggie Shayne. Miller has great romances, a lot of them centered around cowboys. Maggie Shayne does supernatural. I like that even her darker characters have some endearing qualities.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Slow down and visualize the scene. In the beginning, I had a tendency to rush through just to get the story out. When I came to Writing.com, that’s when I really learned to slow the scene and work on painting a picture so the reader could catch a glimpse of what was happening.

What is your purpose in writing? Do you aspire to be published?
Being published is the dream. I even went so far as to pay $1500 for an editor who was supposed to shop my book around. After a year, and minimal editing, they sent my manuscript back. It was a good lesson. I’ve tried for years to find an agent, sending in manuscripts. Finally, last year, I decided to put my books out there on CreateSpace. Mostly family bought them, but I’ll never forget seeing my book in print.

What’s your favourite piece of your own writing?
My novel, A Perfect Fit. My main character has a lot of me in her. I think she’s the stronger, more outgoing version of me.

Anna flew out of the Boutique on cloud nine, ready to burst. In her excitement, she plowed right into someone on the street. Their hard figure was as unmovable as a brick wall. Her eyes focused on a chest covered in a light brown T-shirt. The man caught her at the elbow, preventing her from stumbling to the ground. When she looked up into his face, her knees almost buckled and her heart pounded at an erratic pace. Those eyes she knew so well looked down at her, and Nolan smiled for a change.

“Where’s the fire?”

Anna swallowed the hard lump in her throat. The mere sight of him, mixed with the feel of those strong hands holding onto her sent her pulse racing as she fought for control.

“Sorry. Guess I didn’t see you.” She couldn’t let that smile and those intoxicating dark eyes deceive her again. She refused to let him into her heart so he could take advantage of her emotions, not to mention her eager body. Their eyes met and locked, making Anna powerless to look away, even though she knew she should.

“That’s obvious. What are you doing in this part of town?” The softness in his eyes disappeared. The coldness returned while he continued to stare at her. One eyebrow lifted as he waited for her to respond. “Checking up on me or you just couldn’t stay away?”

“Try again,” she said taking a step back. Anna steeled her spine and stood tall as irritation flooded her. “If you must know I was offered a job, not that it’s any of your business.” The quick anger thankfully hardened her voice. This man was nothing but trouble, and trouble she didn’t need.

“So you are trying to get close to me, honey,” he said, moving closer.

Again with that word! The endearment rattled her mind and began to break away all her defenses, not that she had many when it came to him. The fact that he presumed she was following him galled her and reinforced Anna’s opinion about his massive ego. He did nothing more than irritate the hell out of her, knew it and enjoyed it.

“I’m not your honey, so don’t say it again. For your information, I don’t spend my days wondering where you are and what you’re doing.”

A Perfect Fit by T R Byron

Do you do anything in particular to promote your published works?
I did start a facebook page, and I had a few giveaways for my books, hoping that I would get some objective reviews from it, but sadly, nothing happened. I find it hard to try and promote myself, and I know I seriously need to look into doing that. I’ve considered donating a few of my books to my local library, but haven’t yet.

Is there a third book in the Endurance series, and when can we expect it to be available?
Books three and four are halfway complete. I started a big edit of Bride 2 Be, the third book in the series, and am hoping to finally finish it by the end of the year so I can complete book four.

You can find the first two books in T R Byron’s Endurance series, A Perfect Fit and Megan’s Man at her Amazon profile.

An interview with author Reb Kreyling

You blog, you write short stories, you’re a novelist and a poet. Do you have a preference for a particular format? Do you find it hard to switch between them?
I seem to focus on a format for a while and not touch any others. Right now that means short stories. All the short stories! As I play with characters and ideas.

I haven’t done much with novels lately because my life is just crazy and I haven’t got sucked into the worlds. Doesn’t mean they aren’t there, just haven’t been sucked in.

My poetry is more a catharsis. I don’t really write it unless I need to get some feelings out. Or it was assigned in college.

Click.
I take your picture.
Laughing.
Your hair flying.
Your body dancing.

Click.
I take your picture.
Tears falling down.
Frowning smiles on your face.
Eyes cloudy–salt water clean.

Click.
I take your picture.
Hands raised in self-defense.
Black and blue.
Fear etched on your face.

Click.
I take your picture.
Calm.
Serene.
Finally at peace.

Click.
Photographs by Reb Kreyling

As for my blogging, it’s part of my way to get my name out to readers and I try to make it more of a conversation.

Apart from blogging, do you do anything else to promote your work?
Not at the moment. If I have a sale or something I post on Facebook. And I make comments on WDC, but I don’t have an author page anywhere. At some point I’ll do more, but not until I have more books published.

You refer to yourself as a life-long writer. What has been the hardest thing for you so far on your writing journey?
Two things really.

I submitted what I thought was a really good, solid piece of writing to an editor. An editor I know and consider a friend. And she rejected it. What made it less hard? She didn’t know it was me until after it had been rejected (it was a blind submission).

The other is sometimes just finding time to write is sometimes a tricky balancing act.

When your submission was rejected by your editor friend, what did you do?
I’m going to revise it, although I haven’t yet. She’s actually offered a more in depth critique so I’m waiting to hear back. I’ve written a lot new since then including another story for submission to her–which also got rejected but I didn’t like it nearly as much. And yeah I did wallow around for a few days.

You primarily write science fiction and fantasy. What appeals to you most about those genres?
I like the escapist qualities of fantasy. I was always fascinated with mythology as a kid and a lot of my stories have that type of idea in them. And Narnia, oh I loved Narnia. So I always wanted a world like that to play in that was all my own.

As for science fiction, although I’m not as good at the hard science part, I enjoy the “what if…” idea of science fiction.

Are there any genres you’re afraid to try, or struggle to write in?
I wouldn’t say afraid to try or struggle with any genres. I’m willing to try anything once. Maybe. I’m not a huge fan of horror though. And although romance creeps into my stories, I wouldn’t say I write much romance. Because of my day job, you will probably never see any erotica under my name either. Not my real name anyway.

Do you read the same genres that you write in?
Absolutely! I won’t get any better if I don’t read in my chosen genre. And honestly I just read.

What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
Life inspires me. Which sounds funny considering what I write, but it’s true. I get ideas from friends, conversations, prompts, teaching moments. Just life. I also sometimes just get ideas from letting my mind wander.

Do you have a favourite author? Or perhaps an author you view as an inspiration?
Hahhaaha. Do I have a favorite author? Come sit down and let me unroll the REAMS of authors I adore and explain why I have a Kindle now and why my moms banned me from buying books for a while. But seriously right now I would say my top four are Jasmine Walt, Pippa DaCosta, Jim Butcher, and Tanya Huff. Oh and Mercedes Lackey. My moms would say Dean Koontz, but I’ll counter with none of his recent work—he’s become too commercialized. So…five really; maybe six.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
“You just write like you got words.” From a friend on WDC. Not very grammatically correct, but it amuses me and at the time got me to write. It often prompts me to keep writing and I actually have it as a wall hanging.

Other than that? My freshman year in high school, my English teacher was always very encouraging as was another teacher in middle school.

What drives you to be published?
I don’t know that I have a drive per se. I write because I need to. If I feel I edit it into enough shape, I share my babies with other people. Sometimes that means publishing.

What defines success for you as an author?
Having someone enjoy my work and telling me so.

Your published book – When the Prince Didn’t Come in Time – is marketed as a ‘comic retelling’ of a fairy tale. Tell us a little about it.

When the Prince Didn't Come in Time: (Sleeping Beauty) by [Kreyling, Reb]

I know this is supposed to start “once upon a time” but since it doesn’t end “happily ever after,” I’m not going to bother. I didn’t mean to kill her. Honestly that wasn’t my intention at all. I mean I grew up in the shadow of a great big hulking relic from another time. How was I supposed to know she was waiting for her prince to come? The stories never told us that. All they said was that she was asleep and would sleep for a hundred years. Can I help it that I hit that hormone driven age just as she hit those one hundred years? I’m telling you it seemed like a really good idea at the time. Sneak into the castle, kiss the princess; hey, instant wife or concubine or whatever.
When the Prince Didn’t Come in Time by Reb Kreyling

I can’t say too much or it gives away the whole thing but it’s based off a quote from the David Crosby/Phil Collins song Hero. And wonders what would happen if someone other than the prince kissed Sleeping Beauty. The narrator is a bit of a sarcastic smart mouth which is where the comedy comes in.

You can get When the Prince Didn’t Come in Time free on Smashwords until the end of July, or you can also buy it at Amazon.

You can also check out Reb’s blog and her Writing.com portfolio.

Mid year book freak out

I found this quiz over at Maxxesbooktopia and thought it’d be fun to give it a go.

Just to be clear, I’ve excluded all re-reads. So this only covers books read for the first time in 2017.

Best book you’ve read so far in 2017?
Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle.

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It’s tells the story of Lou, who moves to a small, isolated town in the Rocky Mountains and joins the dive rescue team.  There’s pretty much everything you could want in a book – suspense, action, romance, humour…  This book has it all.  The humour was what made it a five star read in the end I think.  The rest gave it depth and made it a great read, but the humour elevated it above other books I’ve read.

Best sequel of 2017 so far?
I’m going to have to go with Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell. This is the third book in the Cyberlove series, and I wrote some more about it in a previous blog post – Cyberlove.

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It features two gamers, and although they know each other online (and we met their online entities in the first book of the series), this book is where they meet in real life for the first time. It’s definitely worth reading the first book in the series before reading this one. I’ll be honest though, I skipped the second book in the series. If you’ve read it, let me know how it was.

Anyway, the two main characters are wonderfully crafted, and the book has depth. Despite that, I found it a really easy read and flew through it. The characters lingered with me though, as all good characters do.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to read?
Ooh, really tricky.  I assume by new release it doesn’t mean ones that are releasing later this year.  See, if I’m waiting for it, I usually read it straight away.  So I don’t have any that jump out.  However, I went for a browse (yep, while writing this post) and realised that a novella epilogue to Katie Ruggle’s Search and Rescue Series was released earlier this year.

After the End (Search and Rescue) by [Ruggle, Katie]

It’s actually free on Amazon, so saying I ‘bought’ it is a bit misleading, but I’ve downloaded it, and am looking forward to reading it.  Apparently it gives an intro to her Rocky Mountain K9 Unit series too, so hopefully it will lead me into another good series.

Most anticipated release of the second half of 2017?
That would have to be The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream by Christina Dodd.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

Merida Falcon is a world-class beauty, a trophy wife who seems to have it all…except she has no voice. For nine bitter years, she lived to serve her wealthy elderly husband. On his death, Merida vanishes…and reappears in Virtue Falls with a new name, a new look, and a plot to take revenge on the man who loved her, betrayed her and walked away, leaving her silent, abused and bound to an old man’s obsession.

I just hope I can get it in electronic format. I would read the earlier books in the series while I waited (nope, haven’t read any of them) but Amazon doesn’t seem to have any of the ebooks.  Does anyone know why?

Biggest disappointment?
That would definitely be Just One Touch, the fifth book in Maya Banks’ Slow Burn series.

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I’ve already written a review of this book so I won’t repeat all my opinions, but wow. A one star book that came with so much hype, and followed some great books earlier in the series.

Biggest surprise?
Hmm… I think I’m going to go with Bloodline by Barbara Elsborg.

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The blurb doesn’t really grab me, and I’m still not entirely sure what made me decide to give it a go. I had already read good books by the author, so there was that, and it had good reviews. Maybe that was enough. Anyway, it was well worth the read. The best part was definitely the humour. I love a book that makes me laugh without trying too hard or losing the connection between the characters. This was well done.

Favourite new author (debut or new to you)?
That would definitely have to be Katie Ruggle, whose Search and Rescue series I really enjoyed. Her first book was actually published last year, but I didn’t find it until this year. Interestingly, she released all six books (four full length novels and two novellas) in quick succession so that ‘readers didn’t have to wait too long to find out what happened next.’ Yes! I’m on board with that! Ha ha!

Newest fictional crush?
Ooh, I think I’m going to have to go with Zach from Dianne Duvall’s Immortal Guardian’s series. We get glimpses of Zach and I couldn’t wait to read his story which we finally get in Night Unbound.

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Zach is strong, both physically and mentally. He does what he thinks is right, regardless of what others think and he’s definitely got that mysterious vibe going for him. But ultimately, he won me over when the big badass sat on the roof with Ami, eating lollipops.

Newest favourite character?
I think that has to be Kai Bannon, from Strong Signal. That’s the first book in the Cyberlove series by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell.

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Kai is a wonderful mix of contrasts – somewhat of an exhibitionist, and yet suffering from crippling social anxiety.  I just loved him.

Book that made you cry?
Hmm… I’m a little embarrassed to admit there’s more than one! Okay, first one is Smoky Mountain Dreams by Leta Blake.

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There’s the death of a secondary character that hits one of the main characters really hard, plus some really emotional scenes.  Definitely a tearjerker.

Okay, second one is Unforgiven by Ruth Clampett.

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This book comes with a trigger warning for a reason.  Jason is suffering serious trauma as a result of childhood abuse, and his breakdown is just heartbreaking.  He truly reaches rock bottom, and it’s so hard to read.  I challenge you to read it without shedding a tear.

Okay, and my final one for this question is Logan’s Need by Sloane Kennedy.

Logan's Need (The Escort #3)

Again, this one features the death of a secondary character which hits both main characters really hard.  As the story goes on, we learn more and more about the character who died, and there are some truly bittersweet moments that make you wish that character was able to play a more current role in the story.

Book that made you happy?
Interesting question! Let me see… I’ve already mentioned Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle and Bloodline by Barbara Elsborg. Both had great humour. What else? How about Be True by Stella Starling.

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Trevor was such a fun character, and this was a really easy read without too much angst and darkness.

Favourite book to movie adaption you’ve seen this year
Ooh, tough. I don’t watch many movies. Erm… Maybe Allegiant? Did I see that this year or last? The BFG? I think that was last year too. Erm… I guess you could count Beauty and the Beast, but I honestly didn’t think it was that great, so not sure I wanna count it as a ‘favourite’. I know it’s not a movie, but I’ve just started watching Game of Thrones from season one, so I’m gonna count that.

Favourite review you’ve written this year?
I guess that’d have to be The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher.

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Here’s what I wrote:
Grady is a white water rafting guide, and his cousin invites him to join up with his company. On his first trip in the new job, Grady’s raft hits a submerged log, killing a man and putting his cousin in a coma.
Grady is overwhelmed with guilt, and currently waiting to hear if his name is cleared or if he is going to jail. In the meantime, he is visiting his cousin in hospital and trying desperately just to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Micah has experience with comas, and enjoys reading to coma patients. When he meets Grady, he offers to help him by answering some questions, talking things through and generally being a friend. But Micah works at a leather bar frequented by most of the guys that work at Grady’s job. The last thing Grady needs is for any of those dominant men to find out he has a submissive streak. No way can he work with them once they know that, they’ll never respect him.

This book was emotionally intense, and I got sucked in by both the main characters. They both have secrets and issues, which makes for a really well balanced book. Both characters grew and evolved over the course of the book, and both had to learn to accept themselves as they were and fight through their obstacles. Neither one was magically ‘healed’ of their issues, rather they had to learn to embrace themselves and figure out how to make their relationship work with those issues.

I’m not into the BDSM scene, but these characters are not heavily into it either. They’re more on the fringe of it. There are some scenes, but the actual relationship between the two men is very equal (which I liked). I think the next book will be heavier on that side of things, as the main character in the next book has already admitted to being a sadist. Whether the book is accurate about such things, I can’t say, you’ll have to form your own opinion.

Most beautiful book you bought or received so far this year?
Does that mean the one with the most beautiful cover? If that’s the case then, maybe it’d be Wondering Sight by Melissa McShane.

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What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
I don’t really have a ‘to be read’ pile at the moment, but one thing I hate is having half-finished books. Currently I have two books that are sitting half-finished and I am determined to get them read. The first is Between These Sheets by Devon McCormack.

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This book has some great characters, some great scenes, but oh my god, so much sex! Every now and then I get a bit fed up of reading all the sex and take a break from the book. Need to just finish it and be done with it.

The other book is Play of Passion by Nalini Singh.

Play of Passion: Book 9 (Psy-Challenging) by [Singh, Nalini]

This is book 9 of the Psy-Changeling series, and it’s a fantastic series. I know it gets better too, because I went to the Auckland Writing Festival and heard Nalini read from what was then a new release in the series, but I haven’t got to it yet. I have a signed copy of the first book in this series too. So yes, I will read this. I just have to be in the mood for it.

Ha, this quiz took me way longer to finish than I thought it would. I’d love to hear your answers. Tag me if you do the quiz so I can see what you’ve been reading!