Worn #writephoto

worn-steps

I wrote this in response to Sue Vincent’s write photo prompt. If you would like to join in the fun, please visit her wonderful blog and have a look around: Sue Vincent

Please suspend your disbelief and picture a convoy of leaf cutter ants crawling across the fourth step from the top, on your right. The ants in this story are all female because worker ants tend to be this gender. The males exist to breed only, surprised? Let’s have a peek into the lives of our six-legged cast, shall we?

“Company halt! Major Amelia, do you have any idea where we are? Why are we crawling into a valley? And a better question is, what are those really tall things sticking up from the ground? They almost reach the sky!”

“Well uh, you see Commander Ava, I, um, was not really, well, you can see, the wind keeps blowing the leaf I’m carrying into my eyes. It’s huge, you know, I am very efficient, as some of us are. The most fungus for the leaf, as they say, or something like that. Hey, you know who might know, because she can’t handle the big stuff? Captain Abigail, of course! Oh, and she’s right here! She’ll know the answer.”

“Very well, Major Amelia, and I’d appreciate a proper antennae salute, or I’ll have you busted down to trash duty? You hear me?”

“Ouch! Yes Commander! Loud and clear. Oh, by the way, did you notice that omeone-say lse-eay idn’t-day altute-say?”

“Enough of that and stop pointing your antennae at the Captain. But yes, you owe me a salute, too, Abigail. And by the way, Major, someone in your position ought to have mastered a simple salute without poking herself in the eye. If your daddy hadn’t taken off after mating with the Queen, I’d swear that he bought your rank for you.”

“But Commander Ava, I don’t even know who my daddy is. None of us do. There’s just too many daddies!”

“Silence! Major Amelia, I’m well aware of how it all works. Now, we have a big problem here and of course, the best way to solve it is first to find out who is to blame.

“Those giants of the Sky Colony that walk up and down these mountains in just eight steps, well, I’ve learned their language. I hear them talk, and that’s what they do.

“We all know that might makes right, and since they are mightier, that means they must be rightier. Isn’t that right?

“No, you imbeciles! What are you, a bunch of dung beetles? Everyone stay in formation! I’m not talking about a direction, just about being right about might. Ah, never mind!

“Captain Abigail, as the lowest rank among the three of us, you are automatically guilty. If you wish to save your precious exoskeleton, you can start by explaining how you created this mess.”

“Me? I mean, Commander Ava, I was third in line, following Major Amelia. I’ve walked in lockstep the entire trip.”

“Hope you like the smell of garbage, because you’ll never forage again.”

“I will take it from here, thank you, Major.”

“Oh, sorry, Commander. But can I just say one thing?”

“Sure, but that’s it.”

“Captain Abigail is lazy. She only carries forty-nine times her bodyweight. She spends most of her time gawking around and smelling the pharaoh moans.”

“And you’re so dumb you can’t even pronounce pheromones.”

“Don’t clack your mandibles at me, Captain. I outrank you, remember?”

“Girls! Can we have order here, please! Now Captain, you’re still guilty and will be punished, but when you mentioned that phero-thingy, came up with a brilliant idea, yet again. You see, the Captain has allowed our route to be sabotaged by the drones of the Sky Colony.”

“No disrespect, Commander, but what are you talking about?”

“Oh, sweet Captain, you have much to learn . . . explains your lowly rank, I suppose. I have personally seen one myself. It was days ago, and it flew over me, on its way up these very mountains. It had black and yellow stripes and made a horrendous buzzing sound.”

“Um, Commander—”

“Do not interrupt me, Captain! Now, as I was saying, the beast flew up these mountains towards that big blue, Sky Portal that the Sky Colony comes from.”

“Um, again, no disrespect, but I don’t think that’s the sky. You see, it’s vertical and the actual sky is— ouch!”

“If the Commander says that it’s the sky, that’s what it is. Now stop rubbing your eye and do not speak until you’re told to.”

“Thank you, Major. I’m ordering everyone to do a smell check. That way we can be sure that no enemy is among us. Look for yellow and black stripes, as well as anyone who buzzes like the gossip mill back at the Hill.

“That’s right! Get those antennae working. Major, get away from me! Ouch! You bit me! That’s it, Captain Abigail is now on permanent trash duty!”

“Me? But that was the Major’s fault.”

“You see me not listening? Yes, that’s what it’s like, but no one cares what you have to say. Alright, halt! It is clear that we have no enemies among us. Now we can resume the blame game. Captain, turn in your badge.”

“But we don’t have badges.”

“That’s it! You’re, hey, what just hit me?”

“Commander! It’s starting to rain! We need to seek shelter before we’re washed down these mountains!”

“Don’t tell me when it is raining, Captain. I’ll tell you, that’s how it works!”

“Um right . . . everyone, we need to get out of here! Move, now!”

“They won’t unless I command it. I say it might be rain, but if it is, then it is only a light rain. It will pass and we shall proceed in determining a new punishment for your insubordination.”

“Everyone, this is your captain speaking! Follow the chain of command but start with me. We’ll pretend the upper ranks do not exist. The rain is getting worse and we’ve no time to reach shelter, get to the base of this mountain and use your leaves to shield yourselves! Yes, that’s it, now hold on. Here comes the downpour!”

“Hey, Not-Captain-Abigail! You are way out of line . . . Major, take that leaf off your head and stand beside me at the edge of this cliff.”

“Y-yes Commander.”

“That’s a good girl, now listen to meee….!”

“They’re gone! I’m glad we listened to you, Captain.”

“All in the chain of command, Sergeant. Now hold steady!”

 

Review of Tiger House, by Wendy Scott

The Blurb:

Betrayed. Kidnapped.
Mistaken for a warrior; Jairus must survive the Emperor’s Games.
Disposed. Ostracized.
Tekagi seeks vengeance and power.
Farm boy versus sorceress.
An empire hinges on the outcome.

Thousands compete for the dragon banner, but in the end there can only be one winner.

The adjudicator thumped the scepter into the ground three times. “By the fates, the war dragons will not return until a new emperor wins the dragon scepter.”
The crowd parted as Tekagi threaded her way toward the funeral cart waiting by the main gate. Tiger pelts adorned the two caskets. Only emperors earned the right to be entombed within the Dragon Palace. The sons were relegated to less hallowed ground.
A few of her most treasured belongings were also piled on the cart. No longer an emperor’s daughter she was being cast out of the palace. A limp tiger tail trailed over the side of the cart. She ran the tips of her obsidian finger stalls along its striped length before tucking it beneath a tapestry.
She tapped her fan against the cart’s side and the driver flicked the horses’ reins into a funeral march. Head bowed, she followed a few paces behind, flanked by her two bodyguards. As she exited through the palace gates and headed to Tiger House she patted the snake bracelet on her forearm, and vowed, “I will reclaim my birthright. Let the Emperor Games begin.”

Tiger House: The First Chronicle of Jairus Tanner (The Chronicles of Jairus Tanner Book 1) by [Wendy Scott]

My Thoughts:

A well-constructed plot that has more twists and turns than a theme park waterslide. Tiger House serves up plenty of action. Imagery is this novel’s forte. Wendy Scott has a wide and colorful pallet of descriptions that say more than the average photo.

It was easy to connect with the characters emotionally, to cheer on the protagonists and to despise those evil Xjiangsuans.

The conclusion sets the stage for a second book and creates the anticipation of another exciting round of adventure.

The book would have earned a Five Star, but I found the first competition to be unoriginal, and for that it will be designated a Four Star.

I recommend Tiger House for those who enjoy High Fantasy and who look to the skies and wonder, “What If?”

About Wendy:

Wendy Scott

Wendy Scott has a New Zealand Certificate in Science (Chemistry), which allows her to dabble with fuming potions and strange substances, satisfying her inner witch.

Wendy writes fantasy and children’s novels, and short stories.

One of the creeds she lives by is to always – Live a life less ordinary!

Pen Names: Fantasy ~ Wendy Scott, Children’s ~ WJ Scott, (Romance/Paranormal) ~ Wendy Jayne

Connect with Wendy and purchase her works.

Blue Treat Award: RRBC KCT International Literary Book Awards 2017 & 2018.

Twitter:  @WendyJayneScott

Blog

RWISA

Amazon page

You can find Wendy’s books listed under the following categories in the RRBC Catalog:

Children’s Books

Education & Teaching

Paranormal, Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Short Story

Teen & Young Adult

Wendy is a member of Rave Reviews Book Club, check out her Author Page!

 

 

Review of A Ghost In The Kitchen, Three Ingredients – 2, by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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aghost2

The Blurb:

A Ghost in the Kitchen, Three Ingredients-2 continues the flapper adventures of Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip. It’s a 1920s “pantser” story and a culinary mystery. This time Pip’s pal Andy (from The Three Things Serial Story) returns. Granny Phanny is there too. She’s still trying to teach Pip to cook. Granny is in a lather because of the supernatural goings-on in her kitchen. There’s also one pos-i-lutely potent poltergeist! New adventures abound as Pip and Andy unravel an old mystery. It’s all spontaneously driven by “ingredients” sent by readers of the blog, Teagan’s Books. Jump into the jalopy and enjoy the ride. There’s no telling where we’ll go, but it will be the cat’s pajamas!

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this part humorous, part poignant tale of ghostly goings on that began in Granny Phanny’s kitchen, with the introduction of Maestro, the chef poltergeist. Pip and Andy have quite an adventure with all the ghostly characters they meet, and I love the link to food.

If you’re looking for a not-so-scary, but entertaining ghost story, I highly recommend this!

Five stars!

About Teagan:

Teagan

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy. There are no extremes in violence, sex, or profanity.

Her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. http://www.teagansbooks.com

Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

Purchase your copy and connect with Teagan:

Amazon.com

Blog

Pinterest

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Linkedin

 

Partial Excerpt from Chapter 1 of my Upcoming Novel

Happy Saturday! It’s one of my rare weekends off from work and I thought I’d share a segment of Chapter One from my next novel. I refrained from putting the entire chapter on here because of spoilers. No, I don’t have a title for the book yet, I always seem to leave that for the end. It’s just a quirk of mine, I guess. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy!

 

Chapter One

Seattle, Washington

June 6, 1889

 

“The tide’s out! The stream won’t reach!” cried a firefighter from Engine Company Number One.

The steam-powered Amoskeag chugged on as it sucked the frigid water from Elliot Bay, before sending it smashing against the only flameless wall of the Commercial Mill.

“Just push the dang thing into the depths!” A bystander suggested. He pointed a beefy finger towards the black smoke that poured from the pumper’s stack. “It’s only making things worse!”

This was the end of the mill, it was obvious, even to thirteen-year-old Danne Stromgren. The place where he’d worked with his father, Albin, for the past year, would soon be ashes. Mother had once told him that hope was the best cure for despair, but there was little of the former and plenty of the latter on the faces of Father and the other mill workers. Some of them shouted bad words at the firemen, the kind that would have earned Danne a mouthful of soap. Danne added one or two but Father squeezed his arm hard. The pain was far worse than the taste of Sapolio.

“It’s not their fault! Look around! Half the downtown is on fire! There’s not enough water in the pipes! We must get your brother from school and hurry home! Do you understand?”

The question was not meant to be answered, that became clear when Father pulled him into the street. Removed from the cooling wind of the bay, the sudden blast of heat gave Danne a new sympathy for melting candles. Smoke wasps stung his eyes and built hives in his lungs, he tried to cough them up. They dug in with lengthy stingers.

Swarms of people raced through the downtown. They fled from stores and businesses that had made their final sales. Piles of clothing and food had grown legs. Mr. Rennalls burst from his barbershop, with his latest victim at his heals. Half of the man’s face was still covered in shaving soap and blood. A young woman crashed into Danne from behind. The cobbletones beneath him sparkled with hundreds of orange, red, and silver stars. She dropped to her knees and hastily snatched up the necklaces and rings as she muttered to herself about stupid, clumsy boys.

Guilt overcame the “clumsy” boy and he stooped to help. He was yanked to a stand.

“Not worth dying for! Keep moving!” Father commanded.

Another block flew beneath their feet, and yet the inferno remained one step ahead. Heated tongues lapped greedily at an unused wooden fire hydrant in an apparent attempt to destroy the enemy. Danne’s expectation that water would burst from the hydrant in a counterattack, went unmet. His father’s words about the lack of water pressure came back to him.

A familiar, though blurry, sign came into view. Danne wiped away his tears. Wallack’s Seamstress Shop! Erik’s school was a stone’s throw away! A silent prayer for his younger sibling’s life was cut short by a loud explosion. He was shoved to the ground. The impact, along with a crushing weight on his back, stole what little breath he had.

“Stay down!” Father shouted into his ear. There was little choice, Albin was a large man.

Danne tried to scream for release. He pushed against the cobblestones, attempting to lift himself high enough to breathe and when that failed, was reduced to slapping the street in helpless desperation.

“Get up!” Father’s strong arms hauled Danne to a stand. His deprived lungs sprang into immediate action, filling themselves to the bursting point. Their good intentions were punished for failing to distinguish air from smoke.

Father paid no heed to his son’s coughing fit and pulled him forward with the power of a locomotive. The boy managed a quick glance backwards and saw that a fiery fist had smashed through the wall of the liquor store.

“Don’t look back, Danne! Faster!”

They were almost at the end of the street when the liquor store exploded. A fiery storm rained over the entire block. Falling embers landed around and on the two of them, but they’d escaped the worst of it.

“Keep up boy!” Father snarled.

Danne was yanked around the corner and onto Marion Street. This street, for the moment, was untouched by flames, but the smoke was beginning to creep in. Madrone Elementary, a half block away, came into hazy view.

They reached the school and were met inside the main entrance by Erik’s teacher. Her name always escaped Danne’s memory, but it sounded something like sausage. That’s what he called her, Mrs. Sausage. Leave it to him to think about food at a time like this. He could be forgiven for her name, he’d skipped a grade due to his intelligence and extraordinary vocabulary. He’d left the school a year before she’d arrived.

At the moment, Mrs. Sausage was frantic. She white knuckled the handle of a large-cloth bag and spoke quickly. She declared that Mother and Charlotte had already taken Erik home.

Danne was jerked backwards by Father’s hand, twisting his torso and causing a momentary twinge of pain.

The door opened to a scene from Pompeii. Pillars of soot moved over the neighborhood, like ghostly serpents, dropping bits of ash onto gingerbread trim and turning greenery into slate.

The boy’s stomach wanted to empty. If it were not for the strength of Father, he would already be lying in a pile of vomit, gasping for that last breath. A two-legged fish in a hostile world that he once called home.

Unlike Pompeii, this volcano actually moved! And with freight-train speed! The boy dared himself to look back but refused his own challenge. There was no need for him to see it. The wall of heat that toasted his back combined with the crackle of wooden bones splintering was proof enough. There was no outrunning or avoiding an iron horse that required no track. All seemed lost until they reached the intersection of Abbey and Thorn. A quick turn onto Abbey and they’d arrived! Mother, Erik, and his younger sister, Charlotte, stood anxiously in front of the fourth rowhouse on the left. A two-storey Gothic-Style that had been home to Danne from birth.

“Thank you, Lord!” Mother cried in relief. She embraced them both.

There was little time for a happy reunion. Abbey street would soon be a memory.

“Grab anything of reasonable size and value. Put them on the front yard!” Father ordered, “I’ll be back soon.” During their dash through the chaotic downtown, Father had noticed people hiring wagon drivers to move belongings onto ships docked at the wharves. The idea had yet to be generated in this neighborhood. The patriarch rushed off, not waiting to ensure that his orders were carried out. There was no reason for him to do so, his commands were always obeyed.

This is only a segment of the first chapter. To include more would include spoilers.

 

Welcome To The WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RWISA With Suzanne Burke.

Watch Write Showcase Tour

suzanne-burke (1)

Welocme back!  If you haven’t been following our wonderful Rave Writers – International Society of Authors (RWISA) blog tour, you can view most of the former posts on this site. It began on July 1. Today I have the privilege of hosting Suzanne Burke.

 

THURSDAY’S CHILD

By

Suzanne Burke.

Copyright 2019.

 

She hadn’t really intended this to happen. Oh, sure, she’d thought about it often enough, but thinking about something didn’t make it a crime. A convergence of circumstances had prompted her choice. Regret was such an outmoded commodity.

She checked her latex gloves fitted well, and flicked her dark eyed gaze across to where Peter Cameron lay, still and silent. “You brought this on yourself, Peter. Did you think me a complete fool?”

Carol moved across to the edge of the bed and stood over him. She reached down and flicked the blonde hair back from his forehead, then gently rested her hand there.

“You’re cold. Shall I fetch you a blanket?” Her laughter soothed her.

The man’s eyes were now open, and Carol revelled in the fear she witnessed in their blue depths. “Ah, there you are. How do you feel?” She laughed again. “Oh, silly me. You can’t feel anything. Can you? Such a handy little drug, and no taste I believe, especially in your malt whiskey.”

Peter Cameron’s blue eyes registered the words and Carol watched on as he commanded his brain to activate his fingers, his arms. He had no control of his voicebox. His brain refused to obey. He remained still.

“Oh, don’t fret so, darling. You’re not going to die … yet. The paralysis will last just long enough for my needs. It’s all in the timing. You need to helplessly contemplate what I may have in store for your immediate future.”

Carol walked away from him, and headed for the bar, whistling happily in anticipation. She placed his used glass and the bottle of Glenfiddich into her handbag, then poured a stiff belt of burbon into a paper cup, and seated herself comfortably on the sofa in the large living room and admired afresh the warm ambience of her surroundings. 

“The best that all my money could buy.” Her voice brought her comfort.

She drained the cup and refilled it. When empty she crumpled it and placed it alongside the other items now concealed in the bag.

The wall clock reaffirmed that she had an hour remaining before company arrived. She nodded in satisfaction and rested. 

With twenty minutes remaining she stood and checked on her captive one more time. “Not long now.”

A low groan came from the bed. 

Carol gently stroked his cheek. “Are you terrified, my darling? Your eyes tell me you are. Good. That’s as it should be.”

Carol smiled in satisfaction and left the room, content to wait this out for a few minutes. At exactly 11.02p.m she heard the front door open and close again. A musical female voice called out, “Peter? Darling, where are you?”

Carol listened carefully from her dark space in the hallway. She held her breath as the woman came into view and she watched her enter the master-bedroom in search of her lover.

“Waiting in bed for me, darling? That’s different. I thought we were going to share a late supper.”

The woman sounded disappointed.

“He can be very disappointing. I agree.” Carol said from the doorway.

The woman jumped in fright and managed to say “Oh, my God. I’m not, that is, we aren’t, this isn’t.” She shut her mouth when her frightened eyes took note that her lover’s wife was standing in front of her wearing latex gloves and aiming a gun at her head.

“It isn’t what? An affair? Oh, please. Do you expect me to believe that you’ve come here to my home every second Thursday at 11.00p.m for 3 months to do something innocent?  Go ahead, enlighten me. I’m a reasonable woman. Convince me I don’t have a reason to hate you.”

“Please! I’m so sorry. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Oh, no, Thursday’s Girl. It means everything. The others meant nothing to him, therefore I ignored them. Ah, but you, you’re different. Turn around, let me take a closer look at you.”

Carol walked across to the shaking woman and prodded her with Peter’s handgun. “I said turn around.”

The younger woman nodded and hurriedly complied.

“He does love a tight ass. Long legs too. That’s always a bonus.”

“He doesn’t care about me. It’s a … a fling.”

“Nice try.”

“I’ll end it and never see him again. I promise. I’m sorry, please. Let me go.” The woman was sobbing now.

“Don’t you want to know how I know your special?”

The woman shook her head. “I’m not ….”

“Shut your stupid mouth and listen!” Carol barely controlled her anger and shoved the nozzle of the Glock into her rival’s chest.

She drew a deep calming breath and lowered the gun slightly. “I know, because he’s been happy. Happier than he’s been for many years. The only thing that’s different in his life since the advent of his peculiar behaviour is you!”

Carol fished inside the pocket of the coat she was wearing and drew out a small velvet box. “He brought you this little diamond trinket from Caliago. His jeweller of choice. It’s an engagement ring for you, Thursday’s Girl. The ring size is smaller than mine, and besides I only wear emeralds. My contact at the jewellers tells me it’s worth upwards of one million dollars. I do hope it’s insured. Give me your hand. Let’s try it on for size.”

The hand the woman held out was shaking. Carol nursed the gun, and held out the jewellery box. “Now place it on your finger. Don’t be stupid enough to flex your hand. Slide it on.”

The diamonds glistened as the ring slid into place perfectly.

“And lastly, should you think me presumptive, then don’t. You see our darling Peter visited our attorney to get the ball rolling for divorce proceedings. I can only wonder that he made such a stupid mistake. Our attorney was the one I recommended twenty-years ago. He earns every cent of the additional fees I pay him every month.”

Peter groaned again from the bed and his lover stood there watching on, too afraid to move.

Carol smiled. “How tragic love is. How very sad that you came here to end your relationship. Peter Cameron had never been denied anything in his life. He couldn’t take the rejection. He apparently decided that if he couldn’t have you, then nobody would.

The woman began to scream, and Carol laughed with pleasure. “Oh, yes, scream. Go right ahead! We do love living out here. There’s a righteous freedom in having no near neighbors.”

The woman was still sobbing as Carol sat next to Peter on the bed and shot her three times in the chest. She calmly watched as the body was flung backward by the impact and dropped to the floor.

Carol gazed down on her for long enough to see the faint hold on life vacate her eyes.

Carol checked the spandex gloves, satisfied that they’d worked as they should. She placed the weapon down for a moment as she removed the other things that she’d need from the bureau.

Peter’s arm felt like a dead weight as she wrapped the tourniquet around his upper bicep. The veins responded beautifully, and Carol inserted the syringe and watched in fascination as her husband’s body jerked several times. She watched him begin to foam at the mouth. She watched him die. “Heroin is so deadly, if you don’t get the dosage just right. I believe it’s referred to as a ‘hot shot’. 

She placed the Glock in his right hand and checked to ensure the trajectory married up with the bullet’s impact on his dead companion. Carol squeezed his fingers closed around the weapon with his finger on the trigger, then let his arm drop and the gun lay loosely in the dead hand.

Carol stood back and admired her handiwork. Content now she hurried outside.

She ran to her car secreted behind a tall stand of trees and drove it into her driveway, behind the visitors Porche. She let the car idle and punched in 911 on her iPhone.

“911. What is the nature of your emergency?”

“Please! Help me. I need help! Please!” The voice was frantic.

“I’ll help you, Ma’am, but I need you to calm down. Please tell me what is happening.”

“I heard a woman screaming! Then I think there were gunshots! Now I can’t hear anything. Please! Please, I beg you, please hurry, I think my husband is inside. Should I go in? I have to help him!”

“Please give me your address.”

Carol gave it.

“Do NOT enter the dwelling. Police and Paramedics are on the way. Stay on the line with me. Are you close to the house?”

“I’m outside in the driveway.”

“Please move away from the property. Stay away from the windows. They’re on their way.”

***

CNN breaking news.

“In breaking news! The body of United States Senator Peter Cameron has been found at his home. A crime scene now exists. Early indications from our sources indicate that another body has been found at the scene. Murder/Suicide has not been ruled out.”

“Tragically it was the senator’s wife who made the grim discovery. She is reported to be resting under sedation. In deep shock as these events unfold. Police at this stage don’t believe that a third party was involved in the tragedy.”

Carol listened to the excited broadcaster and smiled.

Then she settled down in her pristine hospital bed and drifted off to a contented sleep.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan. 

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author: Suzanne Burke