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Character Interview: Claire Clairmont from Marty Ambrose’s new historical mystery, ‘Claire’s Last Secret’

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We’re thrilled to have here today Claire Clairmont from Marty Ambrose’s new historical mystery, Claire’s Last Secret.  Claire is a “woman of letters” living in nineteenth-century Florence, Italy.

It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Claire Last Secret CoverThank you so for this interview, Claire.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

I am beyond happy that I have finally been able to tell my side of the “haunted summer” in 1816 when Mary, Shelley, and I lived in Geneva, sharing the company of Lord Byron.  So much has been written about the great Romantic poets and how Mary conceived her novel, Frankenstein, but no one has ever really focused on my character and how that summer impacted me.  Byron was the great passion of my life at the time, and I later gave birth to our daughter, Allegra, who supposedly died as a child.  But I never believed it.  I outlived all of them and, in my later years living in Florence, I was finally able to delve into this unsolved mystery and tell the world about it.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

I like how Claire’s Last Secret caught the many sides of my personality by showing two eras of my life:  my juvenescence in Geneva and my mature years in Florence.  During my long life, I evolved from an impulsive, passionate young girl, often caught up in my own fantasies, to a much wiser woman “of a certain age.”  I may not have always loved wisely, but I was true to my own heart.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

My strongest trait is my ability to survive.  I had to live by my own wits for most of my life, yet I always tried to rebound quickly from even the most difficult of circumstances.  I had a child on my own, traveled the world, and always believed that a woman could have the same freedom as a man.  I embraced life wholeheartedly—the good and the bad, even when my choices didn’t always produce the effects for which I hoped.   I lived life on my own terms.

Worse trait?

Impulsiveness.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

If my story became a film, I would like the British actress, Lily James, to play my character during the 1816 summer in Geneva when I was seventeen; she reminds me of myself as a young woman.   Jane Seymour would be a perfect actress to play me in my later years.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

I had the great fortune and misfortune of loving Lord Byron—the British poet who figures prominently in my story.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When I left Geneva at the end of the summer of 1816, I knew that my affair with Byron was over.  I was devastated but, at least, I had our daughter for a short time.  Later, in Florence, I eventually (and unexpectedly) had a chance to right this wrong from my past.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I would not want to be my stepsister, Mary.  When her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, died, she was left a widow with a young son—and very few resources.  Her later life in England always seemed to be lived in his shadow, though she achieved her own fame from her novel, Frankenstein.  I loved her dearly, but I never wanted to be her.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

I think the ending will surprise many readers.  It leads into the next book where I’m on a quest through Italy—with more surprises coming!

What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it?

Well . . . I happen to know the author is writing another book with me as the protagonist!  I would like her to show how my character becomes more daring and braver as I begin to solve the mysteries from the past:  I take on new adventures that I never dreamed would happen.

Thank you for this interview, Claire.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Absolutely!

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About the Author:

Marty Ambrose has been a writer most of her life, consumed with the world of literature whether teaching English at Florida Southwestern State College or creating her own fiction.  Her writing career has spanned almost fifteen years, with eight published novels for Avalon Books, Kensington Books, Thomas & Mercer—and, now, Severn House.

Two years ago, Marty had the opportunity to apply for a grant that took her to Geneva and Florence to research a new creative direction that builds on her interest in the Romantic poets:  historical fiction.  Her new book, Claire’s Last Secret, combines memoir and mystery in a genre-bending narrative of the Byron/Shelley “haunted summer,” with Claire Clairmont, as the protagonist/sleuth—the “almost famous” member of the group.  The novel spans two eras played out against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Italy and is the first of a trilogy.

Marty lives on an island in Southwest Florida with her husband, former news-anchor, Jim McLaughlin.  They are planning a three-week trip to Italy this fall to attend a book festival and research the second book, A Shadowed Fate.  Luckily, Jim is fluent in Italian and shares her love of history and literature.  Their German shepherd, Mango, has to stay home.

Website:  www.martyambrose.com

About the Book:

1873, Florence. Claire Clairmont, the last survivor of the ‘haunted summer of 1816’ Byron/Shelley circle, is living out her final years in genteel poverty, but the appearance of British tourist, William Michael Rossetti, brings hope that she may be able to sell some of her memorabilia to earn enough cash to support her and her niece/companion, Paula.

But Rossetti’s presence in Florence heralds a cycle of events that links the summer of 1816 – when Claire conceived an ill-fated child with George Gordon, Lord Byron, when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, and when four tempestuous lives came together – to a tragic death. As Claire begins to unravel the truth, she must go back to that summer of passion to discover the identity of her old enemy.

Learn more on Amazon

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Character Interview: “The Murderer” from Verlin Darrow’s PI mystery, ‘Blood and Wisdom’

We’re thrilled to have here today “The Murderer” from Verlin Darrow’s new PI mystery, Blood and Wisdom.  “The Murderer” (he won’t provide his actual name) is a 50-ish cypher living in Santa Cruz, California.

It is a pleasure to have “The Murderer” with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Mr. Murderer.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

-Are you kidding me? Fairly portrayed? Not a chance. That son of a bitch so-called author made no effort whatsoever to tell my side of the goddamn story. So what if a few losers end up dead? I had my reasons and they were damned good ones. What did the Bible say? Judge not, or you’ll get judged. Something like that, anyway.

BloodandWisdom_w12516_750Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

-Colorizing? What’s that? Use regular language, for Christ’s sake. I’m not a writer. I’m a goddamn character, aren’t I? But here’s how I’d change things. Gimme a scene where I talk to a victim or two and explain why they have to go. It would touch the reader and I’m sure it would make sense to most anyone with any sense. I need to be a more sympathetic character. Murderers are people too. It’s the human condition to have flaws, isn’t it?

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

-I’m brilliant. Way above the curve in the intelligence department. It was pure luck that yahoo detective figured things out. That’s another thing I’d change. The luck factor wasn’t clear at all in Darrow’s version.

Worse trait?

-That’s a hard one. Sometimes I’m a picky eater.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

-Brando. Definitely Brando. Before he started eating like a pig and got so fat.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

-You bet. And she’s way more woman than you could handle, buddy.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

Well, I got worried when Gatlin came snooping around the cabin in Big Sur, and I wasn’t thrilled when that cop got arrested, but I gotta be honest, I didn’t see it coming. I mean, I knew it wasn’t a slam dunk, but I never thought the deal wouldn’t work out for me.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

(Laughs). Victim # 1. I like having my head on my shoulders.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

What do you think? You think I want to rot in prison? What’s wrong with you?

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

Make me the protagonist. I am SO much more interesting than that detective and his drippy girlfriend. And I’ve got a lot of ideas about how to beat the system. Playing by the rules is for losers, and I think most intelligent readers know that.

Thank you for this interview, Mr. Murderer.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

I doubt it. I don’t think anybody’s gonna see me for a very long time.

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Verlin Darrow is currently a psychotherapist who lives with his psychotherapist wife in the woods near the Monterey Bay in northern California. They diagnose each other as necessary. Verlin is a former professional volleyball player (in Italy), unsuccessful country-western singer/songwriter, import store owner, and assistant guru in a small, benign spiritual organization. Before bowing to the need for higher education, a much younger Verlin ran a punch press in a sheetmetal factory, drove a taxi, worked as a night janitor, shoveled asphalt on a road crew, and installed wood flooring. He missed being blown up by Mt. St. Helens by ten minutes, survived the 1985 Mexico City earthquake (8 on the Richter scale), and (so far) has successfully weathered his own internal disasters.

http://www.verlindarrow.com/

About the book:

When Private Investigator Karl Gatlin takes on Aria Piper’s case, it was no more than a threat—phone calls warning Aria to either “stop doing Satan’s work” or meet an untimely demise.  But a few hours later, a headless John Doe bobs up in the wishing well at Aria’s New Age spiritual center near Santa Cruz.  Aria had ideas about who could be harassing her, but the appearance of a dismembered body makes for a real game changer.  And what Karl Gatlin initially thought was a fairly innocuous case turns out to be anything but.

Dispatching former rugby superstar and Maori friend John Ratu to protect Aria, Karl and his hacker assistant Matt are free to investigate a ruthless pastor, a money launderer on the run, some sketchy members of Aria’s flock, and warring drug gangs.  With his dog Larry as a wingman, Karl uncovers a broad swath of corruption, identity theft, blackmail, and more murders. But nothing is as it seems, and as the investigation heats up, Karl is framed, chased, and forced to dive into the freezing water of the Monterey Bay to escape a sniper.

Against the backdrop of a ticking clock, Karl races to find answers. But more murders only mean more questions—and Karl is  forced to make an impossible choice when it turns out Aria’s secret may be the most harrowing of all…

AMAZON

 

Review: FROZEN, by Christine Amsden

Frozen_medReview: FROZEN, by Christine Amsden

Release date: April 11th, 2018

Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mystery

Series: Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective, Book 7

Get your copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Fans of the Cassie ScotParaNormal Detective urban fantasy series will enjoy this the 7th instalment. This time, Cassie is married…but if you think life ends when you’re married, think again, especially in the small paranormal town of Eagle Rock, where everyone seems to have a magical ancestry and magic keeps poppingup in unexpected places. In fact, the magic seems to be getting greater every year, with sorcerers growing stronger and mothers like Cassie channelling more magic while pregnant. The Magical Underground tries tokeep things at bay, but sometimes it can get out of control, like now…

Two people are found frozen to death, a pack of hellhounds has appeared out of nowhere, and there appears to be a sudden outset of suicides. Who or what is causing all these happenings? It is up to Cassie to find out—only, this time, while nursing her baby and managing her new marriage and family life.

Being a fan of the series and having read all of the previous books, I was happy to find out that the series didn’t end with Cassie getting married in the last book.  It’s not easy solving mysteries and facing dangerous situations in between diapers or arguments with a husband, that’s for sure! I found the story fresh and entertaining, with Cassie’s unpretentious, honest voice shining through the pages. She is both strong and vulnerable, which I love. The writing is engaging, smoothly flowing from chapter to chapter with the “quiet” tone of a cozy mystery. Though the book can be read as a standalone, without the intrusion of too much backstory, I highly recommend reading the books in order for a more satisfying experience.

Reviewed by Mayra Calvani

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for my review.

Character Interview: Cassie (Scot) Blackwood from Christine Amsden’s urban fantasy novel, Frozen (Cassie Scot Book Seven)

character interviews logoWe’re thrilled to have here today Cassie (Scot) Blackwood from Christine Amsden’s new urban fantasy, Frozen (Cassie Scot Book Seven).  Cassie is a 23-year-old private investigator living in Eagle Rock, MO.

It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Cassie.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

It’s as fair as she could make it! I mean, hindsight is 20/20 and I’ve learned some things since the end … but that’s a story for another book.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

The personality is spot on. If you met me in real life, you wouldn’t have any trouble connecting me to my books.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I think determination. But my husband says it’s compassion.

Frozen_medWorse trait?

Self-doubt. I wish I could say it was altogether gone after the first four Cassie Scot books (the original quartet), but as I say in Frozen, self-actualization is more a journey than a destination. I’m proud of who I am now, but that doesn’t mean I’ve reached some perfect state of inner peace!

Do you have a love interest in the book?

I’m married in this book! I know, right? But seriously, life doesn’t end when you get married. I mean, the original quartet did, and then I figured out that I still had more stories to tell.

So to make a long story short: Yes, my love interest is my husband, Evan Blackwood. And I’m just as attracted to him as I ever was. (His magical kiss doesn’t hurt anything … but I don’t want to spoil that for you if you haven’t read the first book.)

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When a thick fog rolled in, and the temperature began to drop sharply, and I was sure I’d freeze to death the same way Nadine did. :(

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

My mom. She’s fallen apart, and doesn’t seem capable fo taking care of my younger siblings anymore. I might have to step in …

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Honestly, more nervous than I felt at the beginning. I solved one mystery, only to uncover a bigger one!

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

Don’t be afraid to challenge me; I can take it. But if you put my kids in danger, we’re going to have problems!

Thank you for this interview, Cassie.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Oh yes! Christine haven’t started writing it yet, but a sequel to Frozen is in the early, brainstorming stages now. In addition, she’s written two other books, each of which starts a completely different, unrelated series.

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Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, which scars the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. In addition to being a writer, she’s a mom and freelance editor.

Social Media Links:

 Apparently, life doesn’t end when you get married.

When a couple freezes to death on a fifty degree day, Cassie is called in to investigate. The couple ran a daycare out of their home, making preschoolers the key witnesses and even the prime suspects.

Two of those preschoolers are Cassie’s youngest siblings, suggesting conditions at home are worse than she feared. As Cassie struggles to care for her family, she must face the truth about her mother’s slide into depression, which seems to be taking the entire town with it.

Then Cassie, too, is attacked by the supernatural cold. She has to think fast to survive, and her actions cause a rift between her and her husband.

No, life doesn’t end after marriage. All hell can break loose at any time.

Buy Links

Frozen (Cassie Scot Book Seven)

Print Release: July 15, 2018

Audiobook Release: TBA

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective (Cassie Scot Book One)

Press release: Manhattan Novelist Awarded The Garcia Memorial Prize for Best Fiction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Maryglenn McCombs, (615) 297-9875 maryglenn@maryglenn.com 

Manhattan Novelist Awarded The Garcia Memorial Prize for Best Fiction Book of the Year: Diana Forbes wins prestigious honor for her debut novel, Mistress Suffragette 

Mistress-Suffragette-IMAGE-e1512431996188AUSTIN, TEXAS – Manhattan novelist Diana Forbes has been awarded The Garcia Memorial Prize for her debut novel, Mistress Suffragette.  An annual award presented in conjunction with the national Reader Views Book Awards, The Garcia Memorial Prize is awarded to the best fiction book of the year. 

Sex and the Suffrage movement collide in Diana Forbes’s debut novel, Mistress Suffragette.  A brilliantly crafted work of historical fiction that unfolds against the backdrop of Manhattan’s Gilded Age, Mistress Suffragette has earned high critical praise. In a Starred review, Kirkus calls Mistress Suffragette “a sprightly, winning historical novel.” San Francisco Review of Books reports “writing of this quality is rare…a very welcome debut.”  New Theory Magazine notes:  “the plight of the clever main character, Penelope, has a timelessness that every 21st century woman will recognize.” 

About Mistress Suffragette:  Sheltered but feisty Penelope Stanton, growing up in Gilded Age, Newport, Rhode Island is tarnished by her father’s bankruptcy during the Panic of 1893.Penelope quickly attracts the unwanted advances of a villainous millionaire banker who preys on distressed women. After she flees him to nearby Boston, Penelope, by necessity, becomes a paid public speaker in the early women’s suffrage movement. Now she’s speaking out on women’s issues from Boston to New York. But will her disastrous choices in love unravel everything she’s fighting for?  In the glittering age where a woman’s reputation is her most valuable possession, Penelope will be forced to discover her hidden reserves of courage and tenacity—and she’ll have to decide whether to compromise her principles for love.

A mesmerizing tale that blends elements of history, romance, and women’s fiction, Mistress Suffragette is a beautifully-written novel that will stay with readers long after the final page is turned.  Meticulously plotted and brimming with multi-dimensional characters that spring to life within the novel’s pages, Mistress Suffragette leads readers on a rich, rewarding journey to a time long past.  An extraordinary novel by an extraordinary writer, Mistress Suffragette is a timeless, unforgettable tale. 

According to Susan Violante, editor of Reader Views, “We were overwhelmed by both the quantity and quality of entries in this year’s Reader Views Literary Awards. This year’s awards program featured numerous outstanding works of fiction.  Mistress Suffragette by Diana Forbes was a true standout. This incredible novel has it all:  excellent writing, a mesmerizing storyline, and memorable, realistic characters. Mistress Suffragette is an exemplary work of fiction and it is our honor to recognize this title as recipient of the Garcia Memorial Prize for Fiction.” 

Diana Forbes is a 9th generation American, with ancestors on both sides of the Civil War. Diana Forbes lives and writes in Manhattan. When she is not cribbing chapters, Diana Forbes loves to explore the buildings where her 19th century American ancestors lived, loved, survived and thrived.  Visit Diana Forbes online at: www.DianaForbesNovels.com 

Published by Penmore Press, Mistress Suffragette is available in trade paper and eBook editions. Mistress Suffragette is available where fine books are sold. The Reader Views Awards is an annual literary awards program that recognizes excellence in independent publishing. Founded in 2005, Reader Views(www.readerviews.com ) is based in Austin, Texas. The Garcia Memorial Prize honors the life and memory of Garcia, one of the finest Old English Sheepdogs to have ever roamed the earth. Members of the news media wishing to request additional information about the Garcia Memorial Prize or author Diana Forbes are kindly asked to contact Maryglenn McCombs by phone – (615) 297-9875, or by email –  maryglenn@maryglenn.com  

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The Story Behind ‘Traveling High and Tripping Hard’ by Joseph Davida

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Some folks might sa-ay that I’m no good

That I wouldn’t settle down if I could

But when that open ro-oad starts to callin’ me

There’s somethin’ o’er the hill that I gotta see

-Hank Williams,

Ramblin’ Man (1951)

I always knew I wanted to travel and see the world. My first “real” trip abroad was to Italy in 1988, when I was 12 years old. We were mainly there to visit my family’s villa in Sorrento, but first, we had to fly in to Rome. It was my first glimpse of the ancient world, and after seeing things like the catacombs, the Colosseum, and the Sistine Chapel—I was absolutely blown away. Aside from some of the amazing artifacts at the Met and Museum of Natural History, nothing that old existed anywhere near where I grew up in New York, or even in North America for that matter. And while I loved taking class trips and seeing all the antiquities at the museums, it couldn’t compare with actually standing inside an arena where gladiators fought to the death.

It wasn’t just the monuments that made Rome different…it was the food, the language, and even the pornography! On one of the first nights there, my mother tried to save a few bucks on a hotel and decided we would stay at a local convent. Earlier in the day, I picked up a copy of some weird Italian nudie mag, and hid it under my mattress before going to bed. The next morning, one of the nuns who made up the rooms found it and started screaming at me in Italian. Although I was definitely embarrassed and in fear of my life…I quickly realized that this was what traveling was all about! There was something about getting into trouble in a foreign place that made things more fun…and somehow the memories that got made became that much more vivid.

And that’s why I wrote Traveling High and Tripping Hard…to try and share some of my adventures from around the world before I forget them all. And while I might not get the chance to trot around the planet the same way that I used to, there are still plenty of things over the hill that I gotta see. If all goes well, maybe I’ll write a sequel in another thirty years: “Traveling with a Walker and Tripping Harder”.

Because ultimately, no matter how old you get…it’s never too late to jump on a plane and find some trouble, and hopefully get yelled at in a language you don’t understand.

Pixel Egypt Dave

Joseph Davida is the pen name of a successful Nashville- based entrepreneur, former rock musician, and New York native.  He is currently at work on his next book, as yet untitled. Connect with him on the web:

www.josephdavida.com

https://www.facebook.com/Joseph-Davida-1434314893350886/

http://josephdavida.com/blog/

Character Interview: Olivia Becouche-Albukerk from M. J. Joseph’s novel, The Lübecker

character interviewWe’re thrilled to have here today Olivia Becouche-Albukerk from M. J. Joseph’s new novel, The Lübecker.  Olivia is her merchant family’s 23 year-old emissary to the political and social milieu of pre-World War I Constantinople, Turkey. It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Olivia.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

9781614935247-JacketGray_Lubecker COVER.inddI believe that my younger life and my family’s history should have been more thoroughly presented, but I have to give Mr. Joseph the benefit of the doubt, now that he has admitted to me that The Lübecker represents Book I of The Lübecker saga. He refuses, however, to tell me if I will have my own book, like the character whose name he deliberately allowed me to see him write next to “Book II”.  He’s so, how do the English put it, dreadfully cheeky?

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

I believe Mr. Joseph produced a careful, perhaps, hesitant, rendering of my character for Book I, while strongly suggesting deep mystery and an almost unearthly sensuousness, if you’ll forgive my presumption.  I believe that I know what he’s up to, especially since he calls me Esther sometimes or admits to calling me Justine when he’s dreaming about me.   

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

The projection of my intelligence, undiminished by my incredible beauty. What? Should I just say, “my good looks?”

Worse trait?

Spitting pistachio shells at Old Benetar.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Easy! Gal Gadot, but with enhanced eyes and lips, of course.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yes, and that’s all you get from me.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When I took to the wine-dark sea.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Charlotte Meckler, because she hadn’t the power to see her wishes fulfilled.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

I am grateful. For now.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?

I must suffer, slightly like Durrell’s Justine.

Thank you for this interview, Olivia.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

I can’t be avoided.  Thank you; this was fun.

View More: http://aislinnkate.pass.us/joejoseph-miniBorn and raised in Florida, M.J. Joseph maintains membership in the English Goethe Society, the Siegfried Sassoon Society and other literary associations. He is a supporter-member of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, as well as an Associate of Lincoln Cathedral. Prior to retiring, Joseph enjoyed a lengthy and rewarding career with an industrial firm where he served as CEO and managed the company’s merger with a larger international corporation. He divides his time between Europe and his home on Florida’s northern coast. M.J. Joseph and his wife Ann have two children and reside in Florida.

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