#GuestPost- LV Lewis: How I Got My Self-Published Book Produced as an Audiobook

***Today I’m happy to welcome a good friend of mine. Maybe you’ve heard of her book….50 Shades of Jungle Fever? If not, check it out, its not exactly what you think. But before that, take a few minutes to learn how she took her self-published novel and had it turned into an audiobook! ***

Since making the momentous decision to self-publish in 2012, my goal has remained creatively homogeneous for the most part. I have always wanted my book(s) to be veritably indistinguishable from the product put out by traditional publishers. Therefore, it has always been my intention to produce the best product I can in its entirety, from the story itself–including plot, structure, grammar, and punctuation–to the packaging of the product, the various forms it would take, and its subsequent production in all those forms. Going in, I was working at a deficit on most of these fronts, particularly when it came to pursuing the avenue of making my story available on audiobook.

I believe without a doubt that things happen to us in life for reasons we’re not always privy to as mere mortals. Our destinies are made or broken by some of the minutest decisions. So, I thought it fortuitous in so many ways when I ran across the link for ACX.com. For those who don’t know, ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) is the indie arm of Audible.com, which is a subsidiary of Amazon.com. Oh yeah, they are all in bed together, so I thought, hey, why not join them and make this an orgy! LOL (I couldn’t  resist this pun. I’m an erotic romance writer. Duh!)

After reading what ACX was all about and how I could tap into it online from cover-to-virtual-cover, I went through the process of placing my book on ACX among all the titles open for audition. The site is very user friendly, so this process didn’t take exceedingly long, nor was it terribly labor intensive. Once I was out there, I could’ve just laid back and waited for a narrator, producer, or combination of the two to come to me, but that’s just not in my make-up. I got on there and combed through the narrators for hire myself and narrowed down a short list of about five whose voices I liked.

In the meantime, I began to get narrators that I had not pursued, contacting me to do auditions, then I found out why when one such narrator sent me her audition with an email. She congratulated me on being awarded a stipend to assist in getting my audiobook produced. I had no clue what this meant, so I went back on the site and read everything I could find about stipends.

Apparently, if ACX is impressed with your relative success on Amazon, and the stars align in some other unknown ways in their algorithm, they will award some Titles, and its author, stipends to defray part of the production costs, making it infinitely easier for you to hire an expert narrator. In my case, I was awarded a $100/hour stipend which I could use to sweeten the deal with my producer/narrator. This could be used to shore up whatever project rate the narrator was charging, or to provide the narrator the stipend as a bonus if I chose the royalty share. (I understand now, after the fact that some presenters at RWA were advising authors to pay the project rate rather than choose royalty share because it seriously messes with your ROI, or return on investment, when you give someone half of your future royalties. I want to go on record to say, as poor as I am, the royalty share and stipend were a godsend for me because I didn’t have $200-400 an hour to pay someone to produce my story which rounded out at nine hours. You do the math.)

I was given the task early on to choose an excerpt of my story for the narrators auditioning to read and send me back a sample of what they could do. Let me just interject here and say, you have to think long and hard about who your characters are and how you want them to be presented. What type of voice do you hear in your head when you’re reading their words? When I decided who Keisha was (my character whose POV the story is told in), I was ready to describe what kind of voice I wanted.

Don’t be intimidated by this process. The ACX site virtually holds your hand through it. They help you break down your project by genre, gender, language, accent, voice age, vocal style, and project rate, so narrators are able to sift through what you want and audition accordingly. By the same token, the producers/narrators, are broken down in the same ways and a few others, like age, style, payments accepted, location, and whether they are Audible Approved. You will know in a snap-shot what a producer/narrator you’re interested in charges hourly, and whether they are Audible Approved. You can also listen to samples they provide on the site of work they’ve done in the past. Thus, giving you some idea how they sound. This is where you get the first hint of whether or not a narrator’s voice fits your wish list.

I was so fortunate to get my narrator, Marie Hélène (delectablevoice.com). I listened to so many narrators in order to create my short list of five or so, and had I been driven by price only, I might have passed her up. She is extremely professional and does not come cheap. She has an impressive command of the English language, and a few other languages. If she is unsure of a pronunciation, or if you just prefer another pronunciation she is extremely accommodating to you as the writer and her boss. I know I’m digressing, but I just can’t help but sing her praises.

When I narrowed the field down to three voices that I liked, I got my readers involved in the process. I posted the auditions on my Facebook Group for readers of Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever, and they gave me their opinions of each narrator. In the end I made the choice to hire Marie because she was the best, most professional narrator I could get for ACX’s stipend, plus my royalty share, and she read the hell out of my story. Had I hired her on a project basis, I would have had to pay between $200-400 up front to have my book produced. When she accepted my royalty share, I was over the moon.

Once the narrator was selected, we worked out a schedule for production. She agreed to begin on a set date and to end before the stipend would be lost to us. Yes, ACX requires that a production is complete within 60 days of signing the contract if you plan to collect the stipend (also, the stipend itself had to be claimed and used within a certain timeframe). So, she kept me abreast of deadlines and such. Marie was super easy to work with. When she sent me the MP3s via Dropbox.com, I would listen, make revision notes and get my notes back to her, typically within a day or so once we got everything rolling. I have no process to compare it to, but surprisingly, we got through the 20 chapters fairly quickly in my opinion.

Working with an experienced narrator also paid dividends for me, because I was so new to the process. She walked me through and kept me aware of things I wouldn’t have known otherwise, like break-even figures, when to begin promoting, and how the Whisper Sync feature works on Amazon. For instance, she told me that the beginning and ending of the chapters had to be the same for the recording and the e-book. Early on she even told me the percentage of difference there could be between the written word and the recorded word, so I made sure to give her a final copy that matched in those ways.

All in all, my experience with ACX was an enjoyable one, and depending on how things go with my first audiobook, I’ll be going back to ACX to make the new audiobooks, as well.

Audio Book Cover

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY to the second power meets Keisha and Jada from the Block.

If you’ve wondered how an ethnic girl from the hood might’ve handled an arrangement with an experienced white Dominant, this is your book. If you’d like to see the sexiest TWIN DOMS in a contemporary romance series in interracial relationships, this is most definitely your book.

Aspiring recording studio owners, Keisha Beale and Jada Jameson, score a rare meeting with venture capitalist Tristan White, and are thrust into a world beyond their wildest imaginations.

Street-wise Keisha is startled to realize she wants this rich white man, despite the certainty that he is out of her league. Unable to resist Keisha’s sassy, irreverent, and fiercely independent spirit, Tristan knew from day one he wanted her, too–as his first African American submissive.

Upper Class Jada of the Springfield Jamesons has traveled in almost the same circles as the White brothers, and has had a secret crush on Nathan White, the point guard for the Chicago Bulls, for quite some time.

Both brothers have succumbed to jungle fever, and want a little coffee in their cream.

Lured by Tristan White and his offer of fronting the capital for her business in exchange for kinky sex, Keisha finds herself with no other option. Keisha is also tortured by a demons from her past, and her inability to come to terms with them threatens to undermine the future of her business and her tumultuous, unconventional relationship with Tristan White.

Erotic, amusing, and in places hilarious, the Ghetto Girl Erotica Trilogy is a parody with a unique take on a Fifty Shades-type story that will take you even further into the BDSM world, and promises to make the vanilla original Fifty Shades Blacker.

For the Book:

 Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Smashwords     Kobo

For the Audiobook:

Amazon     Audible.com     iTunes

About the Author:

L.V. Lewis is a married, mother of four who lives in South Georgia and works in the Florida Panhandle. A new author who decided stories like Fifty Shades of Grey needed a bit more diversity and comedy penned Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever as a parodied response to those wildly popular books from a woman of color. A voracious readers since Kindergarten, Lewis loves nothing more than to curl up with a good book and a glass of wine. She and her husband are political junkies, a hobby that is time consuming but free. Now that Lewis has teens who think they don’t need their parents anymore, she has taken up another time-draining career of writing. However she is happy to report, for once, her extra-curricular activity costs far less than her husband’s. Her love for writing is only eclipsed by her love for her family.

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Guest Post: Adrienne Thompson – How to Handle a Negative Review

Thanks, MJ, for the opportunity to be a guest on your fabulous blog!

Today, I want to talk about something that’s been on the mind of probably every writer who has ever presented his or her work to the public—negative reviews.

No one wants to receive a negative review. Many of us are very sensitive about our work. We put our heart and soul into every page, paragraph, sentence, and word. We work hard. Our pen bleeds straight from our soul. Our books and stories are like children to us. And no one wants someone criticizing their child.

Seriously, who among us has received a negative review that didn’t bother us at least a little? I remember when I received my first negative review—a 2-star assault on one of my dear babies. First I just sat there—shocked. It was unbelievable to me that someone didn’t like my work. My work? How could someone not like my work? How was that possible?

After I read the review over about ten times, I called a friend and told them about it. Being my friend, of course they thought the reviewer was crazy. She agreed with me—how could someone NOT like my work? Were they insane?

Days passed, more favorable reviews were posted, and the sting of the negative review began to fade away. I went on with my life of writing and had nearly forgotten about the negative review when…bam! Another one. Different book—different reviewer. What in the Sam Hill was going on?! Two people didn’t like my work? What was the world coming to?

I read this review and my heart ached and my head hurt and then as with the first one, time healed that wound as well and I went on with my life. I continued to write and market and publish and checking reviews became like a scene from a best-selling thriller. I would close my eyes and wish for a good review when I saw that another one had been posted.

Okay, don’t get me wrong. My good reviews far outweigh the bad ones. My books average from 4.5-4.8 star ratings. All of my books have been Amazon bestsellers. I get glowing emails and messages all of the time. I’ve been nominated for awards and invited to speaking engagements.  But like most things in life, no matter how much positive feedback you receive, the negative just seems to speak louder.

Then one day I had this huge epiphany. I was reading a book that had come highly recommended to me. It has an average 4.6 stars out of a ton of reviews on Amazon. Reviewers use words like excellent and marvelous when describing it. A friend of mine liked it so much that she bought a copy and gave it to me. That’s how good it is. Or how good it’s supposed to be. Well, guess what? I don’t like it. No, I don’t like it at all. Couldn’t even get through two whole chapters. And that’s when it hit me.

The fact that someone doesn’t like or didn’t enjoy a book takes nothing from the writer.

A bunch of people LOVED that book, but I just didn’t like it at all. I just didn’t.

Does that mean the author is not good? No. Does it mean that the book is not good? No. It just means that I didn’t like it—point blank, period. And the same goes for the people who didn’t like my book. Their dislike is not an indictment against me or my writing. They just didn’t like it—point blank, period. Nothing personal. Nothing malicious. Just subjective criticism.

I can’t tell you how freeing that revelation was for me. Lots of people like my work and some people love it. Some don’t. And what do I do with that knowledge? I write on. And so should you.


A woman, her husband, her ex-lover, and the ties that bind them together…

The drama continues in this eagerly awaited and highly demanded sequel to Been So Long. Married for three years, Mona-Lisa and Corey face normal, everyday marital issues. But with a past like theirs, normal can spiral out of control at any second. Will they be able to hold things together or will Mona revert to her old ways?

Purchase links:

Kindle and paperback      Kobo       Nook     Website

me websiteAbout the Author:

Married at sixteen, a mother twice by seventeen, and thrice a mother and divorced by twenty-four, Adrienne Thompson is no stranger to adversity. Not your typical teenage mother, she went on to complete her college degree and to earn her nursing license. She attributes God’s faithfulness as the catalyst for her success in life. Now, having raised two children as a divorced mother, with a third fast approaching adulthood, she is sharing a long hidden talent and passion with the world. Using the lessons that life has so expertly taught her as a guideline (betrayal, abusive relationships, self-esteem issues, witnessing the deteriorating effects of drug abuse), she has created stories that will both entertain and inspire the reader.

Adrienne currently resides in Arkansas with her daughter. Formerly an RN, she now writes and publishes her stories full time.

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!


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#8Sunday- A Heart Not Easily Broken and a Tribute to Star Wars

A tribute to Star Wars???

I know, this is not my typical #8Sunday post, but yesterday was May 4th (May the 4th Be With You!) for Star Wars Fans (geeks!), of which I am one and proud of it. Today is May 5th (or better known as Revenge of the 5th!). Before I started writing Women’s Fiction/Contemporary/Interracial Romance novels, I was reading nearly every Star Wars novel in the Expanded Universe that I could get my hands on. Following the main characters lives after the events in the main movies helped develop my love of sequels and series. Studying the authors storytelling skills was also a great way to learn how to develop my own series.

Sci-Fi and Women’s Fiction…crazy, I know.

Any ways, when I wrote my first novel, I had to insert a tribute to George Lucas and the Star Wars franchise. In this weeks sample, Ebony Campbell and Brian Young are on their second ‘first’ date. As they get to know each other, Ebony shares the fact that she was a tom boy growing up and preferred to play Star Wars with her twin brother, Trevon, and his friends, instead of playing fashion show with ther older sister.


“Fashion show.” Her button shaped nose wrinkled at the memory. I continued to laugh, but toned it down.

“That annoyed the hell out of me. My brother would be outside playing Star Wars, while I got stuck inside wearing a stinking dress.”

“Let me guess, you wanted to be Queen Amidala.”

“Nope. I was the doctor who worked on the Wookie.” She grinned.

“An animal lover all the way, huh?”

“Oh yeah.”


If you haven’t read the Amazon Bestseller, A Heart Not Easily Broken, buy your copy today! It’s $3.99 and available for Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and on Smashwords. If Paperback is what you prefer, find it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble! 

M.J.Kane- Women's Fiction/Interracial Romance/Contemporary Romance

M.J.Kane- Women’s Fiction/Interracial Romance/Contemporary Romance

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond-haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge.

When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust.


For more information on The Butterfly Memoirs Series and a sample of the next book, Jaded, visit this link! 

Looking for more #8Sunday Samples? Visit this link! 

#WriterWednesday- Interview with Tammie Clarke Gibbs!

Welcome! This week I introduce you to author, Tammie Clarke Gibbs who writes in several different genres. Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and get a chance to know her!

author pic

Welcome, Tammie!

What inspired you to write?

 I’ve always loved to read. When I was a junior in high school, I had one of those teachers who recognized something in my ability. I had a short story class and after my first story, my teacher was hooked and told me I’d “found what I should do with my life.” That was something heavy for a teenager to hear, but it was a turning point for me that changed the direction of my life.


What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

 My first three novels have all been romantic suspense, gothic and time travel.  I love all of those elements and enjoy writing them. My upcoming release will allow me to return to my roots. The first book in my Legends Series is a Paranormal Thriller that will have a love story, but isn’t a romance in the more traditional sense of the word.


What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

 I’m very entrepreneurial which means that I’ve owned several businesses. It’s helped me juggle multiple tasks and projects so when I sit down to write I usually write a few thousand words.  The challenge is balancing my full time real estate career with my full time writing career.

Are you a pantser or plotter?

Well, I plot for sometimes weeks just in my head, but then I’m pretty much a pantser. I call it “mulling it over and letting the story percolate”.


Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share an example?

My novels have been inspired by accounts in some family history books.


Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Write. The only way to improve your craft is to exercise it. Then once you feel that you have mastered it write some more and improve some more.


Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

All three.


What are your current projects?

I touched on this above, but I’m really excited about the current work in progress.  Society of Blood: The Immortals, will allow me to write across the genres I love in a fresh new way.

Connect with Tammie!

Twitter     Facebook     Goodreads     Blog     Website     Email


sworn to secrecyn1band


Their arrival was foretold in a journal and protected by one family for generations.

The time has come and one woman will succeed or fail –

She’ll have to help to fulfill the past, but they’ll have to protect her future.

Dak Bartholomew is a US Secret Service agent. When he wakes up locked in a dark room, it’s just another day until he realizes that he’s not alone. Protecting the woman covered in dirt comes natural, but the feelings she stirs inside him are anything but ordinary.

Elizabeth Porter would like nothing more than to plunge her knife through the stranger’s heart for all the trouble he’s caused, but he doesn’t seem nearly as bad as they said he was. When he looks at her, she fears her heart is the one in danger. .

Together they’ll take an unexpected journey to a time and place they could never have imagined and discover a secret they’ll be sworn to protect.

An unlikely alliance…a love born from the ashes of adversity….but will it be enough to preserve the past and guarantee their future?

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Thanks for stopping by!



M.J. Kane- 2012 in Review!

Wow! Can you believe the year is almost over???? It’ll be 2013 in a few hours….This year by far has been my most productive year, well, besides giving birth that is! This is the first year I have ever set a goal and actually worked to see it to fruition. I posted my resolution in January 2012 and promised to write about what I did/did not do, so here it goes: (in order of that post)
* Be published by a publishing company: 
DONE!!! 5 Prince Publishing signed me in July and my debut novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, was published in September!
*Sell a lot of books:

DONE! Hit Amazon Bestseller in Multicultural Romance within hours of publication (have managed to stay there for three months, now it’s off and on). It as also been on the African American Literature & Fiction, African American Romance, and African American Women’s Fiction  Amazon Bestseller lists.

*Be interviewed  by local radio and television stations:

Didn’t happen, but I have done a ton of blog interviews, guest posts, and features…Yay!!!

My manager, Lady Kayne and I.

*Participate in the Writer’s Conference in my city: (Library Headquarters):

ALMOST! Scheduling changed and instead of the conference, a community event was held where local artist, writers, and musicians had the opportunity to share their talent and work. I held my first official Meet and Great as a local author two weeks after my book was published. That was also the day my sales ranking on Amazon  hit its all time peak: #5 in Multicultural Romance and #17 in African American Literature & Fiction!

*Continue to make wonderful connections with other authors and readers: 

This will forever be an ongoing activity, and one I enjoy the most. Having the opportunity to talk to readers via Twitter, Facebook, or in person, and listen to them share their thoughts about my story and characters has been a wonderful experience. It has given me the motivation to continue to write and explore other topics and continue to bring my characters to life.

It is so interesting to go back and look at January’s blog. After writing my list, I spoke of my next thing to do, which was start working on the second book in The Butterfly Memoirs Series, Jaded. I am so glad I did. Here it is, a year later, and because I put in the work a year ago, my publisher will be getting the full MS in a few days with a publication date of March 2013! Whoo Hoo!! I am so excited about that. See what putting in the work a year ago did? It’s actually paying off!

Now, what does MJ have in store for 2013?

*New blog! Yep that’s right! This Writer’s Life has made the transition from Blogger to  Wordpress. All of my blogs have been moved.( Check out the pages entitled, Helpful Advice for Aspiring Authors and Quick Links to My Most Popular Posts for quick access.) The transition isn’t about Blogger because I have enjoyed working with this site. But I have two blogs that I write, this one and one for The Butterfly Memoirs. It’s taken a lot to keep both of them up and going for the past few months. With WordPress, I will be able to combine the two into one site, making blog writing content easier .

*New book release! As mentioned before, my second novel, Jaded, will be released in March. Now that I’ve learned my way around marketing and promoting one book, the challenge will be to do it with two! But before that comes final edits with my editor, final reads, and publishing day, and all the fun stuff in between. It’s work, sleepless nights for a while, and oh so worth it!

*Write book three in the Butterfly Memoirs Series: The third book, who’s title will not be released just yet, is a quarter of the way done. Characters have been outlined, story line plotted, even the first 6 chapters written.  As soon as Jaded is published, I’ll dive into writing this story and giving it the same amount of love and attention that was given to AHNEB and Jaded. So looking forward to it!

*Super Secret Project: Yep, it ‘s a secret, nope not sharing just yet, but keep an eye on my blog and  you’ll know in a few months….you’ll be glad you did.

*Radio Interview: Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to make it happen this year….LOL!

*Attend the Moonlight and Magnolias Georgia Romance Writer’s Conference or the Romance Writer’s of America Conference (to be held in my home town, hello!!!): Start the savings account, cause here I come!!!

So, those are my writing goals for 2013…how about you?


My Straight Jacket is Purple…How About Yours?

***This blog was originally published  12/2011, and was my most read blog on my old blog site. I decide to dust it of, refresh it a bit and share again. After all, I’m sure all authors can relate! :)***
I know, it’s a crazy statement, but as an author we all have an element of crazy in us somewhere. How can we not? We have to balance our lives, family, and day to day responsibilities with the art of storytelling. We create lives, personalities, likes and dislikes. It’s like giving birth without the added weight gain and late night bottle feedings.
Or is it?
If they all came like this, I’d want one!
If we don’t watch it, we drink coffee, eat snacks, and are glued to our computer screens for hours on end. Thus the weight gain. Late night bottle feedings come in the form of waking up in the wee hours of the night, turning on the bedside light or computer to jot down notes or write a scene that’s been plaguing us all day.
How do we stay sane? Where do these fictional people come from? Why are we not wearing straight jackets?????
My best guess is because we’ve learned to blend in with the rest of society. Thankfully people are intrigued by our stories and want to be entertained. Thus the reason why the straight jackets stay tucked in the corner and the psychiatrist keeps the crazy pills at bay.
But, all jokes aside, it is my opinion that writing is the truest form of self-expression, of healing, and finding a way to cope with whatever ails you. Whether you write in a diary, a memoir, take the experiences of your life, or pull from those around you. No matter what avenue you decide to take, writing can help you make it through.
How well you write is another story.
I love to create the characters in my stories. As an only child I spent a lot of time playing with my baby dolls, stuffed animals, and Barbies’. Each had a name and a voice of its own. I spent hour after hour making up stories and creating adventures to entertain myself. Each story had a Happily Ever After. From time to time I would get the tape recorder (remember that ancient form of electronics?) and make cassette tapes of these little adventures to share with my parents. They of course thought they were funny. Little did I know that form of storytelling would eventually lead to me putting stories down on paper.
I still use a recorder – digital that is – and the stories are the ones from my books. No dolls allowed; I leave that to my daughter. Now the stories are not about princess riding horses and marrying the prince. Now it’s stories dealing with real life experiences. Not all are my own, but they are real, they do happen, and there is heartbreak and pain. But through it all there is happiness and love.
As I create the heroines in my stories, I’ve come to realize something. In each character – as different as they are – there is an element of me. The woman I once was, the woman I am, the woman I secretly wish I could be, and the woman I aspire to become. Multiple Personality Disorder at its best. By telling these women’s stories I’ve found a way to work through the pain in my past and find happiness in my family and the ones I hold dear.
Along the way I’ve made friends I never would have known, and gained knowledge I never would have attained. In short, I’ve not only learned how to become a better writer, I’ve learned more about me. Writing has allowed me to make a mark of my own outside of being a wife and a mother. After thirty-eight years I have finally discovered something I love, something I’m good at, and something that unless I actually lose my mind, no one can ever take away from me.
There’s not a morning I don’t get up with an idea in my head and am anxious to get down on paper. Seeing my first story, A Heart Not Easily Broken, become a published Bestselling novel on Amazon has been a mind  blowing experience. There are days when I pull up  Amazon and look at my name and cover on the screen and go, ‘Wow, did I really write that?” What’s even more mind blowing is knowing that I am on the eve of the publication of my second novel…
If someone  told me three years ago that this would happen, I’d probably laugh and say, ‘yeah, right.’ But it just goes to show that following your dreams and not being afraid to wear that straight jacket can pay off……
As long as you write a book good enough for the ‘doctors’ to read. What can they do if they’re distracted? 🙂
Can’t believe I found purple shoes to match! LOL!
To all of you who are on various stages of your writing path, I wish you the best journey. Write your heart, write what you feel, let those characters out and onto paper. Just do me a favor, watch your back. If you don’t tell the story right, the men with those special white coats just might change their mind and take you for a ride!
By the way, my straight jacket also has butterflies!
Until Next Time, Write On!