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Author: Ingrid Foster

Shirley Burly by Scott Pixello

Shirley Burly by Scott Pixello

Author Scott Pixello

One of the joys of writing is the constant opportunity to play with words, Scott Pixello uses this fascination to entertain himself…and us…

Shirley Burly and other Stories

For those who enjoy history and a clever play on words, Scott Pixello‘s Shirley Burly and other books looks quite entertaining…

 

Meet Shirley Burly:

Thirteen, half-Turkish, a little overweight and obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. Oh yes, and she’s just been told she’s ‘on the spectrum.’ Together with sidekicks Monty, Napoleon and Jasper, she starts a crime-fighting blog, aimed at her obsessive online fans, called ‘Dear Stalker…’ She’s a different kind of detective with a different skill set. She’s about to surprise lots of people, including herself. And still be home in time for tea.

– Copyright, Scott Pixello

 

Happy Valentines’ Day – Childhood Wishes…

Happy Valentines’ Day – Childhood Wishes…

Childhood Wishes turn into Grownup Kisses

“…and it all began with a key.”

Wishing, Everyone, a wonderful Valentines’ Day!

from Albion’s sweethearts Esme and Stone

…and may all your love stories come true!

 

“Be My Valentine!” Happy Valentines’ Day from our grownup sweethearts Esme and Stone – turn into – “And it all began with a Key”

Feedback from Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Feedback from Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Re: MY FATHER’S MAGIC

 

I am so pleased to announce that even though I didn’t win the Award for Genre Fiction, the commentary from the Judge is nothing short of thrilling. These long years of hard work, teaching myself to write creatively rather than technically has proven to be a success. I am so grateful to receive such wonderful feedback from a Writer’s Digest Judge.

Please read on…I hope it will encourage you to read Esme’s story, MY FATHER’S MAGIC, the first book in my fantasy suspense series.

From Judge #14 – Contest 2018 – MY FATHER’S MAGIC 

Special Book Signing Offer HERE

 

Comfort Food

Comfort Food

She crept along the corridor

Taking care to keep footsteps quiet
Her breathing soft
Her ears keen, listening for voices,


They said they were going out

But not to her
She was invisible,
A nonexistent entity
Her sole purpose to do their bidding
And disappear

The house was  empty

Except for her,
All was silent but the kitchen clock,
She was alone, finally
She loved these times
By herself, no one watching

She could sneak into the empty rooms

Restricted to her
Cupboards open, she was hungry
For love and affection but a stolen cookie or two
Would have to do,
To ease the pain and fill the hole

A car door slams, bare feet scurry

Up the stairs to her room, hoping
Her presence in the forbidden canister

Would go unnoticed.

Copyright 2009

Interview with Hounded Author Ellie Douglas

Interview with Hounded Author Ellie Douglas

 

Hi Ellie, thanks for joining us!

I just finished Hounded and Hounded2 and you made the zombie world your own personal playground. Both were so well-done and truly had an original edge to them, especially considering you approached it from the aspect of man’s best friend becomes a killing machine.

Zombie Dogs

Is there a story behind your choice of zombie dogs? Do you have dogs? I know I’d be shattered if our sweetheart of a dog, Jimmy, turned into a zombie.

ED: The story came from my own fears of dogs, having been attacked twice when I was young. Combine that with my love of zombies, the fact that it hadn’t been done before, and the lure of doing something unique. Put all those reasons into one box, and it is how I came up with the story 🙂

I actually do not own a dog, I love them, we just never got one. We ended up with two cats instead. LOL

What attracted me the most about Hounded is how detailed it was and yet your story doesn’t get bogged down in the details. The story’s flow is smooth. You write like a seasoned professional. How long have you been writing and how did your path lead to zombies? And do you want to tell us about your current WIP?

ED: Hounded was the first book that I completed and it took me just shy of one year to write it. Initially, it was one book, which I had to separate into two books. So, officially, I started writing in 2015, however, I have been writing for most of my life.

Yes, I am working on something, and I’m going to be very mysterious about it. Because it is another idea that hasn’t been done before and so I want to keep the lid tight on it so it will be more of a shock-surprise when I release it, which will be sometime in 2019.

I checked out your website, so very cool. I love the dark, mysterious ambiance. I also love the way you describe New Zealand and its accomplishments. It makes me want to live there! So, when you’re not writing and raising your four kids, tell us something special about New Zealand that you enjoy doing.

ED: What I think I like most about living in New Zealand is its beaches and how close they are to where we live. I can get in the car and be at the beach in less than 15 minutes, go for a swim, a walk, another swim and just spend the day there. It is my most favorite place to be. The beaches here are beautiful, clean and we even have a couple of beaches with black sand. But, don’t try to walk on them or you’ll burn your feet. LOL

Why the Horror Genre?

Ellie, what led you to become a writer or even interested you about the horror genre?

ED: I often ask myself, why did I want to be a writer? When I was a little girl my dream was to be an actress. However, living in New Zealand and growing up in the ’70s and ’80s there wasn’t much in the way of acting and one would have had to travel abroad.

Instead, I transferred that dream into one I could do which was write. I love writing down stories, in particular, short stories. When my kids were babies and then toddlers I would not only read them stories, I would also make up stories. They loved them. The giggles I got from them were insane. For a while, I thought I was going to be a children’s author. But the passion for horror overrode that as the children grew older.

I hate to be cliché or ask what everyone else asks…but in truth, all these things interest me as a reader. Do you live in Auckland or in the bush?

ED: I live in Auckland and I’d never live in the bush because I’m a wuss when it comes to bugs. LOL I hate the weta’s we have here.

There are far too many bugs in the bush for me. However, we are surrounded by bush and I love taking bush walks. The kids love them, too.

Felix and the Fear Inducer

Please tell us about Fear Inducer and your other stories and what inspired you to write them.

ED: Fear Inducer came about from somewhere deep inside of my mind. I wanted to create a complex character that could be both evil and nice. One that could commit murder without touching his victims. I thought about many ways to do this and came up with Fear Inducer.

Felix, the main character, is an award-winning psychiatrist and psychologist. He was the prodigy of his parents, due to them having performed brain surgery on him, many times throughout his first years of development. In the hopes that he would be the world’s smartest man. This was his parents’ hope and dream. They succeeded.

However, an accident occurred during one of the routine operations, and it caused Felix to dive very deeply into his dark side. He couldn’t stop the desire to murder, no matter how much he wanted to. So Fear Inducer was born.

As for inspiration, it was more a challenge than an inspiration. I wanted to see if I could write a character so intelligent and so murderess at the same time. Which I did successfully. He is loved and hated by the many who read that story.

My other stories/books; again I never really have the inspiration to create them. I have thoughts that challenge my mind into writing something that I hope no one else has. I like to be different.

My books touch on character levels, getting to know the characters is exceptionally important for me. Without a bond with the reader and the character, you have nothing but a bunch of words. So I ensure that each time I create a character that he or she will either be loved or hated.

So my stories always start with the building of a character, their personality, quirks, loves, hates, tastes in music, etc. all of it laying the foundation for the story to unfold around them. I get into the minds of my characters and like a ladder, I climb them molding stories around them.

I noted on your website your awards. Please tell us about them.

ED: I never in a million years thought I’d win a book award, let alone four. I submitted my books to New Apple, Readers Choice, Literary Titan, and Greenlight Screenplay Adaption. I received a large, beautiful crystal trophy from Greenlight and it is simply gorgeous and a true honor to have had my book ‘Hounded’ engraved on such a prestigious award.

The same for all the other awards. For an indie author, it gives a new light of acknowledgment that our work is greater than good. Such compliments as those are very confidence boosting. I suggest all authors reading my post submit their works to contests because the reward isn’t winning, it is the recognition which in itself is an enormous win.

To Follow Ellie

To find out more about Ellie and to stay in touch, here are her links:

Twitter      Facebook     Instagram     Pinterest     Goodreads     LinkedIn

The Graphics Business & Pre-Made Covers

And your graphics business, I’d love to hear about that. Did you create your own covers? How long have you been a graphic artist? I’d love examples of your work. Pre-made covers?

ED: Yes, I created my own book covers. I’ve been a graphic artist now for over ten years. I have a lot of samples on my website, https://www.authorellie.com/covers and yes they are pre-made covers. I also do custom design covers for authors. I have done web pages, too, and I make my own adult coloring books, which can all be found on the links provided 🙂

 

Great covers, Ellie!

ED: Thank you, Ingrid, and thanks for this interview!

In closing, thank you so much, Ellie Douglas, for the wonderful interview. And readers, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact Ellie using her links above or feel free to comment below.

And, if there is a certain Indie Author you’d like me to interview. Please nominate the book and author in the comment section below. If I enjoy the book as much as you obviously have, I’ll be sure to interview the author.

Thank You!

My Interview with Author John Claude Smith

My Interview with Author John Claude Smith

Occasional Beasts: Tales and Other Thoughts

This morning our interview is with John Claude Smith, author of the latest bestseller, Occasional Beasts: Tales. Welcome, John Claude, and thank you for being here.

I think I’ve read every book you’ve published since The Dark is Light Enough for Me. Your books are always horrifically fun and intriguing in a slightly messy and unnerving sort of way. 

So, tell us…who is John Claude Smith? 

 The Lowdown (aka Author’s Bio)

“John Claude Smith has published two collections (The Dark is Light Enough for Me and Autumn in the Abyss), four chapbooks (Dandelions, Vox Terrae, The Anti-Everything, and The Wrath of Concrete and Steel), and two novels.  Riding the Centipede was published by Omnium Gatherum in 2015 and was a Bram Stoker Award finalist for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. 

The Wilderness Within was published by Trepidatio/JournalStone in October of 2017.  His third collection, Occasional Beasts: Tales, has just been published and includes 14 tales and 92k words of weird horror. He splits his time between the East Bay of northern California, across from San Francisco, and Rome, Italy, where his heart resides always.”

JCS: Besides this, I am driven by the arts, be it music, painting, writing—of course—and many curious variations, a lot of it veering toward outsider art.

IF: For those who are not currently following John Claude Smith on Facebook, I strongly encourage it. His daily posts are always interesting, enlightening and, I must say, surprising. Now, on with the show…

First Tales and the Giant Claw

IF: John Claude, as we are in the business of writing the “what if” stories, the stories whose subjects are born from our own fears, our own curiosities, I might suggest that your stories are an index of who John Claude Smith is. Where he’s been, where he is presently and where he’s going on his path of life.

So with this in mind, I have to ask, John Claude, going back in time, what was your first story and what events in your life gave birth to it? Can you describe where you were either physically or even psychogenically at the time?

JCS: My first story was for a class in school when I was perhaps seven and I’d ignored the teacher and the project and, at the last minute, scribbled a tale based on the movie, The Giant Claw. I hastily drew a bad cover for the tale, turned it in, and was embarrassed when the teacher posted it on display with the other tales. I learned my lesson about caring about the work right then.

But, of course, that’s not the first real tale. I started writing with lyrics and then poems, before moving on to tales that veered strongly into Twilight Zone territory, both the television show and the magazine from the 1980s. Fast forward a wee bit, and a point when I thought, hey, since I’m writing stuff all the time, why not get serious about it?

I was in my late twenties and just kind of getting by and needed something more from my life than, well, just getting by.  The mindset had been triggered.  Being a writer might bring fame and fortune and, haha, hey, as long as I can write and perhaps get some tales out, that would be something.  My headspace needed renovating.

The first tales were more straightforward horror, but even then, I was exploring something deeper. I distinctly remember writing a tale called, ahem, “A Torrent of Ages,” some kind of warped exploration of how a watcher over history is needed in order to keep the balance in the world. That perhaps ten years later, maybe more, became “The Perceptive One,” which was once called, “The Oblivion Express,” what with the train in the tale.

The original version was around 3000 words, while the expanded version is over 10,000 words. Anyway, to tie this up, I do not remember the first tales, as I’ve written my whole life, but what eventually became “The Perceptive One,” from my first collection, The Dark is Light Enough for Me, was there in the beginning when I decided getting serious needed to happen.

My first sale was a tale called, “Slow Flies,” a zombie-esque tale that takes place in Eddie Van Halen’s house, years after he’s gone and the world’s gone the way of a plague and the only edible thing left are the big, fat slow flies…

IF: Gross! LOL

Snippets from Another World

IF: A little history here, I believe you told me that you started writing by reviewing local bands in San Fran? I would still to this day, love to read those reviews. But my question is what band, local or otherwise, influenced you enough to impact your writing? Or was it an amalgamation of more than one? And what stories or creative vibes did they influence?

JCS: Excellent question.  Yes, soon after I got serious about fiction writing, I was sidetracked by music journalism. I reviewed primarily the more obscure genres—dark ambient, death industrial, power electronics, experimental, etc.—along with metal and industrial. With the likes of dark ambient and all their noisy companions, I took a different path with my reviews.

Since most of the music was instrumental, and rather wild, cosmic, or at least inspiring me in such a way, a lot of my reviews almost came off as snippets of some other world, or something horrific, or just something a wee bit creepy. An example: “The A-side opens with the wail of a siren from an operating room in the pit of Hell, a pummeling beat tattooing the souls in torment (unwilling patients to a sadistic fate), scalpels wielded with negligible glee: dissection, imminent; anesthesia, questionable (non-existent…)” 

Another one, for amusement sake: “There is a tendency for the atmospheres to sound as though they are being electronically scanned, kind of a sonar blipping responses from the ectoplasm currents at the edge of a formless infinity thought eons dead, but alive because everything that ever was exists within us all, trace memories from the limbic mind.  Ingenious!  And then, at the point when the “I have come to tell you what I have seen…” sample (Ray Milland from X—The Man With The X-Ray Eyes) kicks in, everything grows more pervasively eerie, more discomfiting, nerves on needles, as if we have slipped into that other dimension/realm/(anti)world. 

It is a mirror warped, a negative reflection, an aural mutation—doors to alternate explanations of reality swing open, a flood of technologically interpreted sounds from the “Anti-World,”–a deluge of black static transmissions: layers of sound in revolt, a vortex brimming with disembodied voices and, toward the end, confusion as law, confirmation of a successful journey via the haunted, soulless chorus denouement…” etc., on and on, I did have a tendency to go on, haha…  And neither of these examples takes us into the deepest cosmic wasteland or dealing with strange alien creatures or… 😉

It’s funny, I don’t know exactly how or if the review writing did anything specifically for my fiction writing, besides training me to meet deadlines, which isn’t a bad thing. I believe because they were almost condensed tales…not really tales, but snapshots into other worlds, they stood on their own. I have twisted pieces of some into poetry, but I don’t believe I’ve used any for fiction (maybe one piece), though I often think I should, so perhaps that will still come.

The Influence of J.G. Ballard

IF: I believe this is a topic near and dear to your heart. What authors have influenced your writing the most? And have they also influenced your life?

JCS: Too many have influenced my writing at one time or another: Clive Barker, Kathe Koja, early Lucy Taylor, Charlee Jacob, Joe R. Lansdale, Hunter S. Thompson, William S. Burroughs, a slew of current writers, and many, many more. But I think the primary one, that also might influence upon my psyche, is J.G. Ballard. There’s nothing within the actual writing to indicate as much style-wise, but his mindset when writing, his distinct view, as well as how so many of his tales linger in my mind long after I’ve read them, tapping into something I cannot quite define. This fascinates me as much as the best of his writing.

IF: Wow, note to self, read J.G. Ballard. Okay, well, that’s all we have time for today.

John Claude, thanks so much for doing this interview. You’re an inspiration and I wish you and Alessandra a long, happy life!

For more about Author John Claude Smith and his wild, weird and absolutely fantastic tales, please see below…

Occasional Beasts: Tales

 

Reviews for Occasional Beasts:

“John Claude Smith’s collection Occasional Beasts is a dark mosaic of the weird, the surreal, and the bizarre. These stories will dig into your brain-meat and take up permanent residence there. Highly recommended!” — Tim Waggoner, author of The Mouth of the Dark

 “Smith has mastered the delicate art of dread, transcending genre to put his stamp on weird horror. Provocative and terrifying, he grounds Occasional Beasts in the human condition while warping the walls of reality in fourteen tales that are not for the faint of heart.” –John Foster, author of Mister White and Dead Men

 “Occasional Beasts is yet another dazzling collection of dark imaginings from the mind of John Claude Smith. His evocative prose, mastery of atmosphere, and wildly original concepts manage to cast a spell on the reader that is as alluring as it is unsettling. …a certain glorious madness permeates this collection, as well as a fearless, visceral writing style that demands your attention”– Taylor Grant, Two-time Bram Stoker Award Nominee, The Dark at the End of the Tunnel

“A tumble down a dark slide with stories extremely dark, poetic and metaphysical, Occasional Beasts feels like holding hands with a demon while an angel whispers in your ear.” — John Palisano, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Nerves and All That Withers

“John Claude Smith’s Occasional Beasts lurks in the subconscious long after the last page. Despair becomes peace, and the soul is left a scream in the darkness as these tales churn through your psyche… Occasional Beasts: Tales is a must-read, but do so with the lights on.” —Alex Scully, editor Firbolg Publishing

Links for Occasional Beasts: Tales and John Claude Smith:

Occasional Beasts: Tales Amazon

Occasional Beasts: Tales Omnium Gatherum

JCS Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

The Wilderness Within (blog)

 

Interview – Inspirational Author of the LoveLock, Eichin Chang-Lim

Interview – Inspirational Author of the LoveLock, Eichin Chang-Lim

Winner of the Award of Literary Excellence and Author of Flipping, A Mother’s Heart, and Love, A Tangled Heart, announces her latest novel, The Lovelock

Please meet Author Eichin Chang-Lim

Welcome, Eichin, and thanks for doing this interview!

ECL: Hello Ingrid, great to be here.

The LoveLock

When your book, The LoveLock came out, you immediately grabbed my attention with the cover and then drew me in with your book description.  The LoveLock is such a captivating, deeply touching story that I found myself doing something I’ve never done. I found myself relating so quickly to your characters that before the initial part of the story was over, I was crying. It was that intense!

If you don’t mind my asking, Eichin, where did the idea for this story come from? And how does one go from being a model to an optometrist and then an author of inspiring, uplifting, romantic stories?

ECL: Thank you so much for sacrificing your precious time to read my book and write a heartfelt review. I am grateful. 

Where did the idea for this story come from?

The subtitle of The LoveLock is A Romantic Suspense Novel. The idea of writing a book pertinent to depression and mental illness has been germinating within me for a long time—I would say since even before my first book, Love, A Tangled Knot (the first edition was titled Tough Scratch-Love, the Tangled Knot). But, I put this project on a back burner because I wasn’t ready to toil on such a vexing subject at the time.

You might have noticed that romance and inspirational are my niche genres. I write romance because I find it to be an intriguing genre; I find that relationships are quite complex in real life. Therefore, I use romance to depict the intricacies of relationships. Ultimately, it evolves into an inspirational and thought-provoking tale.

 I tend to tell love stories beyond the confines of romance. I strive to convey the kind of love that is much broader and more profound than romantic or physical love. It’s my conviction; love is more than a four-letter word. It’s multi-dimensional; it involves sacrifice, forgiveness, trust, demoting one’s ego, or even “letting it go” at times. I also like to encompass the love of friendship, family, and even pets in my story.

Although The LoveLock is still within the genre of romance and inspiration, it’s much grittier than my previous three books. It’s dark because the story revolves around the aspects of mourning of death, the anguish of loss, disappointment of being rejected, and torments of mental illness with a touch of the spiritual and supernatural. A portion of the book, I would say even right from Part 1, is engulfed with a deep sense of melancholy, which can be uneasy and challenging for some readers.

Mental Pain is No Stranger

If you ask whether I’ve injected personal experience into the storyline, the answer is yes. Mental pain is no stranger to me. For years, I blamed myself for my son’s genetic disorders and his deafness (as illogical as it may sound, I was drawn in that whirl of remorse for quite a few years.) With that, I experienced episodes of depression. Moreover, through the years as a health care provider, I’ve encountered an increasing number of patients who are taking anti-depressants and enduring other kinds of mental stresses.

In order to write the LoveLock with credibility, I read relevant books and did research. In addition, I consulted with a clinical psychiatrist about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms. Mental illness is a silent yet devastating condition. It hurts immensely, yet the wound is invisible. The pain is palpable; however, it’s indescribable verbally most of the time. Many times, people feel ashamed and uncomfortable revealing their inner torment to others for fear of being misjudged. 

At the beginning of the book, I quoted two talented writers and poets who are eminent in the literature arena. Please allow me to reiterate here.

“The world wavered and quivered and threatened to burst into flames.” —Virginia Woolf.

“I wanted to tell her that if only something were wrong with my body, it would be fine, I would rather have anything wrong with my body than something wrong with my head, but the idea seemed so involved and wearisome that I didn’t say anything. I only burrowed down further in the bed.” —Sylvia Plath

Both Woolf and Plath eventually committed suicide. What a tragedy!

About Writing

It’s my desire to write a story about the affliction of mental illness and how to find hope and strength to defeat the haunting inner strife and long lamented pain. A triumph after a long struggle is comparable to a small larva wrapped in a dark cocoon. The larva undergoes a gruesome metamorphosis, breaks through the chrysalis, and transforms into a majestic butterfly spreading its wings and flying.

I would also like to clarify a concern; some readers find it to be confusing and question my view on sexuality. The main character, Violet, becomes close friends with the strip club bouncer, who is gay. I feel obligated to explain that particular plot detail to my readers.

To be clear, I am a Christian and straight. I have no particular political or religious agenda. This inclusion is just an honest reflection of my real life. I have a few good friends and co-workers who have different stances and preferences in terms of sexuality.

It has never occurred to me that these differences could cause any conflicts in my friendships or work relationships with them. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of society could tear down all the unnecessary walls and build genuine friendships amongst one and another?

Yes, Eichin, it would.

Eichin’s Journey

How does one go from being a model to an optometrist and then an author of inspiring, uplifting, romantic stories?

It’s an interesting journey, I would say.

I wanted to be a writer when I was in elementary school. I even submitted several short stories and essays to youth magazines, and they were accepted and published. Of course, they were written in Chinese back home. In junior high, I submitted some more articles and stories; they were ruthlessly rejected. My confidence shattered; I started to doubt my writing ability. At the same time, I found interests in other areas of study. So, the idea of being a writer faded, and I gradually evolved my studies in science and healthcare.

After years as an optometrist, I realized that every person is a unique individual, and every soul is precious. I know this sounds clichéd. However, that’s my conviction. I really appreciate that my patients allow me to look into their eyes, “the windows to the soul.” (Again, a cliché!) I believe every person has a story. 

The urge to tell stories prompted me to become an author eight years ago. My novels are inspired by the stories I’ve have heard and the people I’ve met.

Regarding modeling and acting, they are for personal enrichment. I was in several short films and one feature movie, with a few IMDb credits. I savor the experiences and incorporate them into my plot; however, I don’t plan to make it my career.

Many thanks to this week’s guest,  Author Eichin Chang-Lim

For more information about Eichin and her great stories, here are her links…and please see below for a special announcement!

Twitter | Facebook  | Amazon | Google+ | Goodreads

And, as always, thanks for reading!

GREAT NEWS!!

Eichin just received this letter from Writer’s Digest –

Dear Eichin,

“Congratulations!

Your book, The LoveLock, has been awarded First Place in Young Adult category for the Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards. …an announcement [will appear] in the May/June 2019 issue of Writer’s Digest.

…many congratulations from all of us on the Writer’s Digest team!”

Best Regards,

Cassie Lipp

IF: Congratulations, Eichin, a well-deserved honor! I am so excited for you!

In Remembrance of a Beloved Friend

In Remembrance of a Beloved Friend

Jimmy 2003 – 2018

Isn’t it strange how the loss of a furry family member hurts as much, if not more, than the passing of a human loved one? But these animals are often such an important part of our lives, it’s no wonder we mourn their loss.

When I think of our dog, Jimmy, as the one-week anniversary of his passing approaches, I remember the constant vigil he always kept between my husband and me.  And, how he would  strategically place himself so he could see or hear us both of us at the same time.

I remember long walks in desert, his playfulness, even at 15. Jimmy was such a loving, happy dog. Yet he was also a fierce protector at our gate, refusing to let anyone pass unless we gave the go ahead.

Yes, we miss you, Jimmy, and feel your loss deeply. We miss our playmate, companion, protector, confidant and beloved friend. Rest in peace, Jim…

 

Jimmy’s Favorite Game

 


Rest in Peace, Sweet Boy, You will Forever be in our Hearts

Jimmy

December 2003 – December 2018

 

 

 

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