Sunday, November 22, 2020

Interview with Lance Charnes Author of ZRADA


 Lance Charnes has been an Air Force intelligence officer, information technology manager, computer-game artist, set designer, and Jeopardy! contestant, and is now an emergency management specialist. He’s had training in architectural rendering, terrorist incident response, and maritime archaeology, though not all at the same time. His Facebook author page features spies, archaeology, and art crime.

Lance is the author of the DeWitt Agency Files series of international art-crime novels (The CollectionStealing Ghosts, and Chasing Clay), the international thriller Doha 12, and the near-future thriller South. All are available in trade paperback and digital editions.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | GOODREADS | FACEBOOK


Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

I’m the Emergency Services Coordinator for a medium-sized city in Orange County, California. I’m responsible for the city’s emergency planning. “Emergency” means anything larger than the day-to-day crises that all cities have, such as car accidents, building fires, and medical emergencies.

Before this year, I’d also travel someplace twice a year: once by myself to go scuba diving, and once with my wife to sightsee.

When did you start writing?

In fourth grade, with Adam-12 fan fiction. (You can figure out how old that makes me.) I stopped in college and picked it up again in 2004 when I needed something to fill my time between classes at an Air Force school in San Angelo, Texas. I’ve been at it ever since.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

There are two of them. One was in 2005, when I joined the writer’s critique group I still belong to. The other was in 2012, when I decided to independently publish Doha 12, my seventh full-length book but the first published. The first turned me into a real writer, and the second put my work out in public for the first time.


If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

The place where that next book is set. I get a lot of mileage out of photos and searching the web, but being there before I write the book would be a huge help. I managed it for my previous book (Chasing Clay) and it was tremendously useful for finding settings I didn’t know I needed until I saw them.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

Read. I have two bookshelves of books I haven’t read yet. I read when I go on trips or when I’m between writing novels, but once I start writing, it’s all about getting that book done.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

In the past. I’d love to do a historical mystery or thriller. However, historicals require a huge amount of research to get them right, and I simply don’t have the time or freedom to do it. I tried in two novels I wrote that switched between the present and a century before, and the “then” parts took many times longer to write than the “now” parts.

Back to your present book, Zrada. How did you publish it?

I publish independently through my Wombat Group Media imprint.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

Not this time. The entire novel is set in the Donbass, the breakaway part of eastern Ukraine that’s an active war zone. I wouldn’t be able to go there even if I had the time and money. I had to do all my research online.

Why was writing Zrada so important to you?

Chasing Clay (released 2019) was my third novel in a row starring Matt Friedrich, the lead character for my DeWitt Agency Files art-crime series. Because they’re written in first-person point-of-view, I was deep inside Matt’s head for over three years. I needed something else to do for a while.

I’d always intended to do brand extensions for the DeWitt Agency Files series. I already had a story outlined from before Chasing Clay. When Carson, Matt’s accomplice in the series, proved to be a popular character, I wanted to see if she’s popular enough to carry her own series. Writing Zrada was an exercise in both maintaining my mental health and exploring a commercial opportunity.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

I get most of my ideas from the news. It’s hard to make up scenarios that are stranger than what’s in the newspaper every day. Also, novelists are great at the “what if?” game. For instance: Zrada is loosely based on a real incident. When I read that story, I automatically thought, “What if Y had happened instead of X?” and had the logline for the novel in a couple of minutes.

Any final words?

I hope readers will like hanging out with Carson and will want to follow her adventures around the world. She’d like the company!

Book Description:


Two priceless paintings. Two million euros. A civil war. What could go wrong?

The DeWitt Agency assigned disgraced ex-cop Carson a simple job: carry two briefcases of cash to swap for two artworks stolen from a German museum. Except nothing’s simple in the Donbass, the breakaway Ukrainian region overrun by militias, warlords, and bandits.

After a brutal zrada – betrayal – Carson finds herself alone and hunted forty miles behind the front lines with half the money, one of the paintings, and a huge target hung on her back. The militia behind the exchange thinks she blew up their deal and wants the money and her hide. Her co-workers were in on the double-cross. And the Agency can’t send help into the hottest war in Europe.

Carson’s never been one to wait to be rescued. She hires Galina – a tough local with a harrowing past and a taste for revenge – to help her cut through every checkpoint, freelance army, crooked cop, and firefight between her and the West. But the road to safety is long and poorly paved. A vengeful militia commander, a Russian special-forces operator with an agenda, and her own ex-colleagues have Carson in their crosshairs.

Carson’s life is now worth less than a suitcase of money or paint on a plank…but if they want to take it from her, she’s going to make them pay.

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/3iOUP2o

Kobo  → http://store.kobobooks.com/Search?Query=9781733398923

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Interview with Larry Alex Taunton Author of Around the World In (More Than) 80 Days

 


Larry Alex Taunton is an American author, columnist, and cultural commentator. A frequent television and radio guest, he has appeared on CNN, CNN International, Fox News, Al Jazeera America, and BBC. You can find his columns on issues of faith and culture in The Atlantic, USA Today, CNN.com, and The Blaze. Taunton has been quoted by Rush Limbaugh, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, TIME, Vanity Fair, and NPR, among others. He is the author of “The Grace Effect” and “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens.”

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

I am usually busy with speaking engagements and interviews related to my writing. I also travel a great deal.

When did you start writing?

Oh, my. In early childhood.


As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

Probably my work with Pulitzer Prize nominee and celebrated historian Forrest McDonald. McDonald guided my graduate thesis and taught me a great deal about the discipline of writing. He believed my thesis publishable—it was—and he encouraged me as a writer, telling me that I was gifted and should consider it as a career. That made a deep impression on me.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

This is actually a question I think about a lot because I chose my writing environments carefully. It is an underrated aspect of the writing process. Your environment affects your mood and your mood affects your writing. Many are the times that I have read a book where it feels like the author has never seen or experienced the things he is trying to describe.

My next writing project is likely to focus on Karl Marx’s life in London. Much has been written about Marx, but the failure of his ideas to take root in his adopted home of Britain—he lived there the last 34 years of his life—remains unexplored. Why did he only have success abroad? The answer lies in the prevailing ideas and attitudes of the Britain of his time.

I will write this book in London not simply because the resources I need will be closer at hand—libraries, landmarks, museums—but I also want to capture the spirit of Marx’s London. That’s not easily done from a ranch in the rural South.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

I like to think that I would exercise. The life of an author can be intermittently sedentary. But I’d probably just write more!

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

As mentioned above, the 19th century London of Karl Marx is currently on the table. I am also working on a novel that is chiefly set in rural France and the Bavarian Alps. I have spent a lot of time in both researching that project. Beautiful.

Back to your present book, Around the World in (More Than) 8o Days: Discovering What Makes America Great and Why We Must Fight to Save It, how did you publish it?

Post Hill Press, excited by the projected, wanted the book.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

Just a bit. I went to 35 countries in all.

Why was writing Around the World in (More Than) 8o Days: Discovering What Makes America Great and Why We Must Fight to Save It so important to you?

Because I love my country and I think we are committing suicide as a people. Having seen much of the world—I have been to no less than 55 countries—I know what we risk losing.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

In an essay offering advice to aspiring writers, Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian Samuel Eliot Morison wrote: “The great historians, with few exceptions, are those who have not merely studied, but lived.”

As I graduate student, I took this advice to heart. As such, I have lived a life that few can imagine—and fewer still will live. It has been full of adventure, mountaintop successes, catastrophic failures, great suffering, extraordinary love, an eyewitness to a brutal hatred, and so much more. All of these experiences, even the bad ones—no, perhaps the bad ones most of all—give color and texture to one’s writing. More than that, from those experiences flow a wellspring of ideas.

Any final words?

Buy my book!

AROUND THE WORLD IN (MORE THAN) 80 DAYS IS AVAILABLE AT AMAZON.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

THE COLOR OF TOGETHER: MIXED METAPHORS OF CONNECTEDNESS by Milton Brasher-Cunningham

 

A book written with honesty and empathy about things common to us all…

THE COLOR OF TOGETHER:
MIXED METAPHORS OF CONNECTEDNESS

By Milton Brasher-Cunningham




Title: The Color of Together: Mixed Metaphors of Connectedness
Author: Milton Brasher Cunningham
Publisher: Light Messages Publishing
Pages: 160
Genre: Christian Nonfiction

The Color of Together begins with the primary colors of life–grief, grace, and gratitude–and enlarges the palette to talk about the work of art that is our life together in these days. The idea for the book began with understanding that grief is not something we get over or work through, but something we learn to move around in–something that colors our lives. Grace is the other given. Gratitude is the response to both that offers the possibility of both healing and hope.



“Locating ourselves in the adventure of life requires reliable tools for exploration. Milton Brasher-Cunningham gives us finely-tuned metaphorical gyroscopes to navigate our way with God, others and even ourselves. The Color of Together will help us find our place again and again along the way.”  ~ Rev. Dr. George A. Mason, President, Faith Commons, Dallas, Texas.

“In his beautiful new book, Milton Brasher-Cunningham shares arresting thoughts on grief, grace, and gratitude. He claims that we are all shaped by our sorrows and generously tells his own stories of loss. All the while, he leads us toward hope. The Color of Together is both poetic and instructive, relatable and deeply philosophical. It awakened my heart to read this book; I hope it will do the same for you.” –Jennifer Grant, author of A Little Blue Bottle

Amazon → https://amzn.to/30Urxsj

 Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/3jZ8OD6




Chapter 1

Sometime after we moved to Boston, Ginger, my wife, signed me up for a watercolor class at the Boston Center for Adult Education. Our first task was to make a color wheel. We set the three primary colors—red, blue, and yellow—equidistant from each other around a circle we had drawn on the paper, and then began mixing them to show the shades it took to move from one to the other. The purples, greens, and oranges that filled in the circle illustrated the relationships between the primaries, which stood in such contrast to one another on their own. Wherever we started on the wheel, there was a connection, a way to get to the other colors.

Color is more than pigment. It is figment as well. For us to see color requires an act of imagination and an understanding of relationship.

One Christmas after the watercolors, Ginger enrolled me in an iconography class at Andover Newton Theological School. I spent over a year learning the spiritual practice from a wonderful man named Christopher Gosey. Before we ever picked up a brush, we learned the vocabulary connected to what we were doing. We were not going to paint the icons, Chris said, we were going to write them.

As one who has learned to play with words more easily than with paint, the verb choice caught me. Good writing is descriptive and evocative. The challenge is to show, not tell; to reveal. Good writing tells a story, takes us on a journey, connects us to something larger.

The “cartoons”—the outlines of the figures we would write—had been passed down for centuries, much like basic plot structures in literature, or the elements of grammar and style.

The point of our work was to be faithful to those who had gone before and to what they had handed down, rather than to try and be original. Our offering was to trace the lines others had made and then color them with pigments we had mixed not so we could worship the icon, but so we could open a “window to heaven” to create a “thin place” for connection to God.

The phrase thin place entered our vocabulary through the earthy spirituality of Celtic Christianity. It describes the places where the border between what is seen and what is unseen becomes permeable. Liminal. Thin. Translucent. Transcendent.

It is a sacred space of disquietude; a turbulent silence where things are still and vibrant in the same moment.

As I sat in the sun-drenched room of the aging building, listening to recordings of Russian church bells, and learning how to write my brush across the blank parchment-covered block etched with the image of Mary, I came to understand more of what Jesus meant when he said, “Lose your life to find it.”

Our paint was almost translucent, by design. We mixed our colors by adding natural pigments to acrylic medium. In ancient days, the pigments were blended with egg yolks. The practice of iconography is more about prayer than painting; the necessary repetition was meditative and focusing. As we laid down the colors, we moved from heavier shades to lighter ones, choreography that held intentional theological significance. The first strokes of the lighter colors on the deep background didn’t seem to have much effect, yet, over time, and with intentional repetition, the colors took hold. The deeper tones became the background—the foundation—for the illuminating presence.

Without the contrast, the light would have had little significance. The base substances from which the pigments came were earthy and natural. The black was made from ashes. Some of the browns were made of dirt or powdered stone. At every level, the experience rubbed heaven and earth against each other like sticks to start a fire.

The work of icon writing is deliberate. To get a color to show up on the icon meant going over each line twenty to forty times. The spiritual practice was to turn the repetition into ritual—a sort of physical prayer. The move from heavier tones to lighter ones felt counterintuitive until I began to see the colors dawn on the icon. We traced images that had been handed down across centuries, much like we repeat rituals in worship. Everything about it was fraught with a sense of connectedness, a new way of seeing who we were in the context of who had come before and who would follow. The whole enterprise was steeped in metaphor.

In his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul wrote, “We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life.”

In a sermon on that verse, Ginger said, “We are dust, which becomes pigment in God’s artwork.” The pigments we used to write icons were made from earthy substances, just as we are.

The Greek word translated as work of art is poiema, which even my spell check knows is the root word of poem. Paul said, “We are God’s work of art.” Not works. Work. Not I. We. Together we become the artwork, handmade pigments illuminated by God’s presence, as it has been from the dawn of creation.

Riding the color metaphor train took me to the field of the philosophy of color, which is as esoteric as it sounds, and perhaps, not a journey everyone wants to make. But I took a trip, nonetheless, as I wondered about grief as a primary color.

Philosophers look at the way humans see color, or whether we actually see color at all. One of the ways of seeing is called color adverbialism, which is to say, we do not see red, as much as we see red-ly. What that means is there is a relationship between the object, the perceiver, and the context—another relational trinity.

The philosopher articulating the theory was not being intentionally metaphorical when she said, “Color vision is as a way of seeing things—flowers, tables, ladybirds—not, in the first instance, a way of seeing the colors.” What I heard her say was the colors we see have to be connected to something or someone for them to be significant.

In 2020, our sense of what it means to be together has been heavily shaded by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have lived in quarantine, without the ability to gather, to hug those we love, to share a meal, to go to a baseball game, or to share a pew at church. I have watched people gather on the Guilford Green
in groups of four or five, separating their lawn chairs to an appropriate distance just to be together. As Zoom has begun to feel like a necessary appliance in our lives, we have found ways to change backgrounds so we are surrounded by palm trees and superheroes in our little square on the screen. We are colored by our losses in ways our world has not known so pervasively for over a century.

Life, however, is a litany of losses in any age: failures, injuries, disappointments, betrayals, missed moments, things done and left undone, deaths, falls, illnesses, fears, lowered expectations. Life is also a compendium of blessings, of things for which we can be thankful: families, ball games, good food, starry nights, first kisses and last ones, friends, sunshine, spring rains, puppies, and pie. And life is an abundance of grace, of those things we stumble into, that find us, that surprise us and ambush us with the reminder of a relentless love that will not let us go. All three are true all the time.

Though we often feel them singularly because of our limitations, one is not there without the others. They are the primary colors we see in the context of relationships, with something or someone, in any moment. When we see grief-ly, grateful-ly, and grace-ly, we can see the color of together.














Milton Brasher-Cunningham was born in Texas, grew up in Africa, and has spent the last thirty years in New England and North Carolina. He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, and has worked as a high school English teacher, a professional chef, a trainer for Apple, and is now an editor. He is the author of three books, Keeping the Feast: Metaphors for the MealThis Must Be the Place: Reflections on Home, and his latest, The Color of Together.

He loves the Boston Red Sox, his mini schnauzers, handmade music, and feeding people. He lives in Guilford, Connecticut, with Ginger, his wife, and their three Schnauzers. He writes regularly at donteatalone.com.







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BABY BEAR'S SPAGHETTI MISADVENTURES by Linda Karimo


BABY BEAR'S SPAGHETTI MISADVENTURES
Linda Karimo
Children's Picture Book

Meet Mama Bear and her sweet little bear child, Baby Bear.

Sometimes he doesn’t do what Mama Bear says, sound familiar?

This one particular day when Mama Bear was cooking spaghetti and meatballs, Baby

Bear bounced his ball against the cave wall.

Baby Bear knew it was on the forbidden list.

He did it anyway.

Mama Bear gave him the look.

He did it again.

Find out what happened to Mama Bear’s spaghetti dinner and naughty Baby Bear.

 


Amazon → https://amzn.to/3nQtP6s


TEASERS

 
 





Back in the Stone Age, well maybe not that far back…

When Linda Karimo was very young, she learned to read at the knee of her Irish immigrant grandmother. Nannie, as she was known to the family, was just learning English herself.

They read all the classic children’s stories together. There was one in particular that became the inspiration for Linda’s current series of children’s books.

Moving forward, Linda was always a ravenous reader. She would often read all the books by a given author and then go onto yet another great fiction author. Espionage, legal, medical, suspense, and some “who done it” were her game.

Her day job as a Copywriter paid the bills while she dreamed of writing an extraordinary series of children’s books.

So, what childhood story prompted Linda to write a series about those characters?

It was Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Linda’s nickname was always Goldilocks.

She transports her readers into the world of bears whose lives are not much different than humans, just bear style.

She has a conversational style of writing and wants her readers to feel a part of the action taking place, not just looking through the window watching it all going by.

A Lifetime full of love and compassion!

 


Website: www.lindakarimo.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/KarimoLinda

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Linda-Karimo-Author-

106429491161549/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/linda-odubayo-thompson-56743445/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/accounts/onetap/?next=%2F

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/business/hub/



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Monday, November 9, 2020

Book Blast! HELLALYLE AND HILDEBRAND by Tagai Tarutin



HELLALYLE AND HILDEBRAND
Tagai Tarutin
Silverwood Books
Medieval Romance

Hellalyle and Hildebrand, were drawn into a relationship engineered by those same unseen forces who had selected her bodyguard; their purpose, to thwart the devil, incarnate in Prinz Paulus, in its attempts to kill the princess.

A downs-syndrome girl of mysterious origins, named Ethla, emerges out of the wildwood. She is taken care of by Princess Hellalyle. and plays a crucial part in the narrative.

The king, while away, learns of the developing relationship between his daughter and the leader of her bodyguard, and feels betrayed by the English knight, and so dispatches his champions – his seven sons, and Paulus – to arrest, and execute Hildebrand, and confine Hellalyle until the king`s return.

The eleven, remaining protectors of the princess, leave the kingdom, believing their contract has been nullified by Thorstiens edict, leaving Hildebrand alone to face Hellalyle`s brothers and step-brother. The Englishman takes the fight to his adversaries, and slaughters all the unfortunate siblings of the princess, except Paulus, who after surrendering to Hildebrand, turns about and treacherously kills him, and then brutally, incarcerates his step-sister.

As these occurrences were unfolding, in another part of the continent, one of her bodyguards, the Teutonic knight, Karl von Altenburg, now living in a monastic order, experiences a vision, informing him of Hellalyle`s plight, and sets out to for Castle Preben.

Meanwhile, in her prison, Hellalyle gives birth to Hildebrand`s son, now sole heir, whom she names Hagen. On a fateful day, Ethla, at the princess’s urging, flees into the wilderness, taking to safety, the infant crown prince, to save him from Prinz Paulus, who, feeling outwitted mortally wounds the princess in revenge.



“A beautiful love story of a medieval knight and a noble princess written by Tagai Tarutin. The book allows us to go back in history and hear more about the exploits of the legendary Hildebrand and his beloved Hellalyle. The book is full of picturesque scenes of the events in Medieval Europe and it gives us the opportunity to immerse in the spirit of those times. It will be a good read for those interested in history, literature and romance…” – Alexandra Suyazova, Teaching Fellow of English, Saint Petersburg, Russia

“A fabulous story that could be easily transformed into a screen version, about a truly romantic relationship beyond any prejudice, driven by pure intentions at the times when the chivalry and nobleness made the difference in survival of a human life.” – Anatoly Leonidovich Rasputin, graduate in English from the University of Linguistics, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.



Amazon → https://amzn.to/3mcbyi3

B&N → https://bit.ly/2TgAJnj






CHAPTER 26

In the great hall, Hellalyle, on hearing the news that her brothers were coming to arrest Hildebrand, pleaded with him to leave. “Hildebrand, you must leave – my father has dispatched my brothers to seize you. Our relationship has set in motion a fait accompli, and now your life is in great danger.”

However, Hildebrand, staring into the fire, was in no mood to listen to her pleading, saying, “Whatever the other knights decide to do, I cannot in all consciousness allow myself to abandon you to an uncertain fate, as I feel responsible for this dire situation.”

Hellalyle, in desperation, pleaded, “Will you, please, be sensible! You cannot defeat eight armed men! Remember, these are my brothers, and at the end of the fight you will lie dead, and so will most of my brethren, and for what end? My family destroyed, and

Prince Hildebrand ignominiously buried in a foreign field, which will be a tragedy for the English nation, and it will not end there, as I feel further calamity awaits those remaining at this fortress.”

“Fate must run its course!” exclaimed the defiant knight, raising his voice. “If you think I will deliver you into the hands of Paulus, you gravely underestimate me. No greater evil walks the land, and he will surely die on the blade of my sword! As for my remains lying beneath the woodland floor, that holds no fear for me, as you have introduced this knight to the beauty of nature, and honour awaits if wild creatures should walk across my grave!”

The soldier’s expose of his inner self prompted Hellalyle to gently grasp his forearm, in a gesture of empathy to his plight, with a pained expression etched on her face. The other bodyguards met to decide on what action to take considering the king’s command, knowing that they must not obstruct. All – save one – agreed that they should depart, convinced their contract with the monarch was severed by these unfortunate events. Von Altenburg, at first, declined to abandon his friend. He was fearful for the safety of the princess, but he eventually conceded, opting to join his comrades in arms.

News of their impending departure reached Hellalyle, who decided to visit them. In a fractured voice, she addressed the company.

“Honoured knights, whom I might almost regard as my brothers and such gallant men, warriors of the Christian church…my heart is about to break. I stand here now imploring you to persuade Hildebrand to leave at once with his fraternal fighters, for if he were to stay, I fear that some tragedy may befall him and my family.”

Her impassioned speech prompted the knight von Streitz to say, “He appears to be deaf to our pleading, Your Highness! What more can we do to sway him?”

Hellalyle, almost in despair, raised her hands to her face and burst into tears. All eleven knights, embarrassed, kept their eyes fixed on the ground before stealing past her prostrate figure, anxious to avoid an uncomfortable situation.

As they rode from the castle, von Altenburg lingered to pay one last visit to Hellalyle and Hildebrand. Entering a chamber, he observed them by the window, Hildebrand pacing up and down, stabbing the floor with his sword, in apparent frustration, the princess standing in sombre contemplation of the densely wooded prospect below. They were all alone as she had sent her staff to the safety of the kitchens. As they turned to face him, von Altenburg became struck by their dramatically altered demeanour. The once-resolute Prince of England now despondent and downcast; and Hellalyle, her face once so radiant now shut down, her eyes that brightly sparkled now eclipsed. She appeared almost lifeless.

 













‘Hellalyle and Hildebrand’ is Tagai Tarutin’s first completed novel.

There are two others of a completely different genre, that lie unfinished, awaiting inspiration.

He has worked most of his life in sales but has always had an interest in Arts and Humanities. Things that are beautiful and appealing play an essential part in his imagination.

Besides travelling in West Europe, he has journeyed to the far South Atlantic, and European Russia, anxious to see parts of the world that are for many mystical destinations on a historical map.

You can visit his website at www.hellalyleandhildebrand.com.




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