What was I talking about?

This is one of those weeks when I just don’t know what to talk about. It’s just a week until Halloween. Do we discuss costumes? (I totally want to go as a sharknado!) Or perhaps the immense conflict of Stranger Danger vs Trick Or Treating (don’t take candy from strangers…except this one time…)?

Bette Midler released a cover of TLC’s Waterfalls and it is scrumptious. You know I love me some Bette. Probably not blog worthy though…

Oh, hey, I got it! I went to my very first writer’s conference last weekend. In Denver. And I didn’t even take the kids and the husband with me. It was me. On my own. With real grownups. It was ahhhh-mazing. I talked about things that weren’t related to PTA, poop, or pets… no, wait, we did talk pets. Literally, at the dinner table, people were passing their phones around and oohhing and awwing over pets. Is that normal at a writer’s conference?

This picture of my corgi in an owl hat was a big hit!

This picture of my corgi in an owl hat was a big hit!

Anyway, I took pitches for Kensington and it was a blast. I heard some really great ideas. Actually, I didn’t hear any bad ones. I asked everyone to send me their manuscripts because if I didn’t want it, I was sure someone else would. Really, the pitches were just that good. Or maybe I was just so happy to be there, that I was overjoyed and everything sounded good.

I also …gasp… pitched my own book to an agent. And he wants to read it! I was super excited until I realized he had probably succumbed to the same writer’s conference joy that I was under. Well, damn…

Anyway, I thought I’d share some pointers for those of you with upcoming conferences who may be delivering pitches.

  1. Even if the person across the table from you isn’t interested in your story, they aren’t going to be mean to you, so relax.
  2. Be prepared. More than one person rambled aimlessly while fidgeting with my business cards. If they’d taken just a few minutes to think about what to say, it would have gone more smoothly. **disclaimer** I totally pitched to the agent on a whim and was one of those rambling people. It was horrible.
  3. Share your characters, their motives, the conflict, and the resolution. Don’t talk to about the publishing biz. This is your time to sell yourself, chatting can be done throughout the conference.
  4. Smile and be confident. We like that.
  5. Did I mention breathing?


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Critique Buddy

cheri and moniYes, I finally met my critique buddy, Cherise Sinclair. We’ve been trying to find a conference where we both were attending, and finally managed to meet at the Novelist’s Inc conference in St. Petersburg, FL. Needless to say, I was stoked.

The beginnings of being crit buds were founded in being fan girls of each others books.  I loved Cheri’s books.  I re-read them when I need a comfort read.  Her voice calls to something in me.  It’s as if I “know” her like an old, dear friend or twins separated at birth. She also writes clean, tight prose with romance, kink, and just enough action to make my thriller-writing soul happy.

She likes my books which is very flattering. She says I write erotic romance.  I’m just thankful she likes them and wants me to critique her books.

As crit buds, we’re tough on each other–but that just makes us strive to be better writers.

Meeting her wasn’t awkward at all.  She is very nice.  Down-to-earth.  She put up with my babble and rapid change in topics. We are both normally introverts.  We both like to sit at the back of a conference room in case we feel the need to leave.  We both like our nests where we write. And we are both married to men named Tom who are retired and finding their way in that retirement. And I have to say we are both married to men who let us be what we need to be.

Yes, as I said, twins separated at birth — friends and crit buds ever since my Stormy Weather Baby and her Hour of the Lion. And I hope, friends forever now that we’ve met.




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Website – the Foundation of Author Marketing

When was the last time you updated your website?

Screenshot 2014-10-22 09.24.46

My KaLyn Cooper updated website

As some of you know, I teach social media workshops and I recently took my own advice and updated my website. I will admit, I still have more to do especially after conducting research for this blog. Check out my website at http://www.kalyncooper.com/

In a recent study of Romance readers, the author’s website was the number one place readers went to find information about an author and upcoming book releases. Unfortunately, most authors get swept up into Facebook, twitter, blogging, etc. and forget about their website for months at a time.

I’ve compiled some tips for revamping your website.

  1. Streamline your design. Just as readers judge a book by its cover, they judge the author by their website. It should look like your brand. Even though you personally like the color orange and wispy lines that swoop into tight curls, it’s not going to work if you write romantic suspense. You want it to look as professional as possible.
  2. Create a HOME page that teases the reader to delve deeper into your site. Give them only a little of the most important information with links to pages with more about each specific book.
  3. Make sure it’s easily navigated. Not sure how to do this? Ask someone over fifty with limited computer skills to check out your website. It needs to make sense. If you are going to have a separate page for each book, great! Then label each page accordingly. Separate page for each series? Same.
  4. Give the reader something new or different. That doesn’t mean to give away some swag, it means give them something interesting about you and/or your books. Your website is social media, be sociable. Talk about your work in progress, unique research into your last book, a quote from a great review.
  5. Be sure to have a Call to Action on every page. Ask yourself what you want them to do while on that page. Want them to sign up for your newsletter? Put a link to the sign up page. Buy the book on that page? Include your links to Buy Now button prominently and in a stand-out color. That reminds me, every book page should have the cover, blurb and excerpt of about 150 words. Include something interesting about this book.
  6. Make it sharable. Admittedly, I didn’t do this on mine but read this idea just yesterday. Create quotes and a Click to Tweet button. This makes it easy for readers to share your information socially, tying them to you and spreading your info to their friends.
  7. Deftly add key words to your headlines and first sentences. Search Engines read your headlines. You can also embed hidden key words into your headlines that SEOs will hit. Be sure these are words that people search for and then search for them yourself to see just how deep your website is. Once you find your site, be sure to click through the search engine to it. It raises your visibility within the SEO.
  8. Type your name into Google, Bing, etc. and see what comes up. It should be your website. This is also a good way to check to see what Search Engine Optimizers are doing with your name.
  9. three men running on beach

    These men were inspiration while writing Christmas in Cancun which will be out December 1, 2014.

    Increase your use of quality images. Nothing screams amateur louder than bad pictures. Keep in mind the larger the picture, the longer it may take to download and in the world of impatience, readers may give up and move on with a negative feeling toward you. Be sure to lock aspect ratio so you don’t get elongated features or squashed bodies. You can add a link so your readers post your pictures to their Pintrest boards, increasing your exposure. Be careful of copyrighted photos! (Speaking of Pintrest, thought I’d share here. Check out my Hunks and Junks board.)

  10. Fonts, bold, italic, colors all help keep the reader engaged. Direct mail houses have used these techniques for decades. Use them to highlight something important by drawing the eye and thus attention to it, but be careful not to overuse. Be sure to proofread every word and phrase. Nothing turns off a reader more than typos and bad grammar. (Fingers crossed I proofed this blog well.)
  11. Link everything together. Check all your author pages and be sure they are linked correctly to your website. Don’t forget Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, ARe, Fresh Fiction, The Romance Review, and anywhere else.
  12. Install Google Analytics and USE the information. The program is free and it tracks who visits your site.

Hope this has helped!

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Are heroines becoming more passive?

“Someday my prince will come.”

Yup, that’s what the lady sang. And as Snow White, sweet, passive dear that she was, pined and waited for her prince, we all sighed and sympathized. And yet, as time wore on, as the face of romance changed, heroines became more active. Entities with their own powers. Not so of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty (never my favorite Disney heroines). They were docile and unassuming and, well, they slept a lot. By all that’s holy, they spent most of their time in a comatose state, waiting, waiting, waiting for a man to save them.

And he always did. Dashing and virile, those early princes knew exactly what to do in any situation, and always managed to carry their chosen gals to safety.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love a rescue fantasy as much as the next woman. In fact, many of my heroines get rescued too, but I like to think they “rescued” their heroes in their own ways.

Then, for a while, we began to see stronger heroines. Girls with character, who could hold their own, and who had no trouble speaking up. Think of Belle (my personal fave). Belle didn’t sit around, waiting for the Beast to fix everything. She worked hard to rescue their love.

Romance novels seemed to follow this pattern, too. After decades of simpering, passive, Barbara Cartland-style heroines, we began to see women who were willing to take charge. Think of Diana Gabaldon’s Claire Randall. She never stayed put. Sure, Jamie had to bail her out a few times, but Claire held her own. And so have a score of other modern heroines.

However, I’m starting to glimpse a return to the submissive leading lady. Now, this is not a rant on BDSM. I’m not talking about that kind of submission, which involves a clear choice.

Yesterday, I spent some time browsing my local book store and wandered the romance aisle. I read a lot of blurbs while I was there. In 95% of the cases, the stories involved rich men bartering for the heroine’s attentions. In most cases, the women were less affluent, sometimes in wretched circumstances. In many instances, the heroines worked for the heroes, often in clerical positions. Now, this doesn’t mean a struggling woman is a weak woman, but it did give me pause. And perhaps I may be generalizing, but I see a lot of new Snow Whites out there. Women who can’t quite seem to carve out their own lives, and who need a strong man to show them the way.

Consider this as well. Dubious consent has become a new sub-genre in erotic literature. Dubious consent. I’m sorry. This does not sound romantic to me. However, perhaps that’s an argument for another day.

I get it. A powerful hero can be a real draw. We all love a take-charge sort of man. But have we sacrificed some of our heroines in the process?

I don’t know. Perhaps I should sleep on it.



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Guest Blog: Margaret Etheridge

Happy Saturday, my darlings! Parker here. I’m excited to have one of my dearest writing buddies with us today. Margaret Etheridge (or Mags, as I call her) is here to tell you about her new boxed set – Enchanted Lover – and to talk about food. *le sigh* I do love this woman. :) Y’all please give Margaret a warm Love, Love and Laptops welcome!


Comfort food

It’s fall, the season for all my favorite things – warm days, cool nights, college football (Go Hogs!) and comfort food!

Pot roast, chicken and dumplings, homemade vegetable soup… I love it all. There’s nothing better than a pot of chili simmering in the stove on a cold, wet day. When I know I’m going to be stuck inside, I like to bake Toll House cookies so I know I’ll be properly supplied for the duration. If I’m feeling under the weather I need Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup and a peanut butter sandwich.

I’m a Catholic school survivor, so in my mind, Kraft Macaroni ‘n Cheese should be served on Fridays with tuna casserole. The kind with the crushed potato chips on top.


In my book, Paramour, Camellia Stafford’s neighbor, Mrs. Kelly, expresses her condolences in a most time honored way. She presents the bereaved with a Corning Ware dish filled with tuna-noodle casserole. Later, Cam invites sexy ad man, Brad, to her apartment and seduces him with meatloaf and mashed potatoes. What man could resist?

We’re all susceptible to the lure of comfort food. My personal favorite? Toast – the perfect food for all occasions. When I’m anxious, I take it plain and dry. Feeling cozy? I slather that toasty goodness in real butter. You know I’m celebrating when I break out the cinnamon and sugar.
How about you? What’s your go-to food when you need a little solace?

ENCHANTED LOVER: Tales of Everlasting Love 

Seven Novels of Mystical, Magical and Paranormal Romance


PARAMOUR by Margaret Ethridge (ghost)
Two men: one living, one dead, and both vying for her love. Camellia Stafford has never been alone in her room. For twenty years, she’s been engaged in a fierce power struggle with her bedroom’s previous tenant, Frank DeLuca, the ghost trapped in the light fixture above her bed.

ENTRANCED by Maddie James (time travel, reincarnation)
Jack and Claire set out on a wild search through time, not only for the resolution to a powerful attraction between them, but also for a historical artifact that holds the key to their future happiness–the coveted silver-plated chalice made from Blackbeard’s skull.

MYSTIC THUNDER by JC Wardon (witch, mystic)
Millennia of tempestuous ancestral history forewarn Rayne Cavanaugh to hide her ability to communicate with ghosts. But– When the nephew of the man she just can’t resist goes missing in the mountains of Mystic Waters, West Virginia, she must decide between self-preservation and love.

RUNNING OUT OF TIME by Cheryl Norman (time travel)
When Stacy Webber travels to Germany for her best friend’s wedding, she loses more than her luggage and purse. She lands in a different time, fifty years ago, with no idea how to return to her world.

TIMELESS by Jan Scarbrough (psychic, ghost, reincarnation)
When Beth Abbott receives a surprise inheritance from her birth mother, she travels to the family’s nineteenth century mansion in Old Louisville, KY, now a bed and breakfast. There she meets the resident ghost, a little girl whose crying not only scares, but also intrigues guests.

MAN OF HER DREAMS by Cat Shaffer (dreams, parallel times)
Jessi Flint has a perfectly good life with a successful business and the perfect man. So, he’s only in her dreams…until her flaky assistant goes to a New Age fair and Jessi suddenly begins receiving gifts with love notes signed by a mysterious Damian.

ALMOST MAGIC by J.M. Kelley (magic, witch, gifts)
When it came to Vivian Burroughs’ unique connection with nature, her grandmother always said, ‘Mediocrity may not burn as bright as a firecracker, but it seldom blows up in your face.’ But the old woman never advised her on what to do when a sexy new neighbor stokes the flames of attraction.



Margaret Ethridge 3203 (2)

By day, Margaret Ethridge is buried in spreadsheets. At night she pens tales of people tangling up the sheets. The product of a charming rogue and a shameless flirt, you only have to scratch the surface of this mild-mannered married lady to find a naughty streak a mile wide.

Margaret pens tales of true-to-life women’s fiction, contemporary romance, and has been known to dabble a bit in the paranormal. She also writes steamy erotic romance under the pen name Maggie Wells.

Find her online at: http://www.margaretethridge.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MKEthridge

FB: https://www.facebook.com/#!/AuthorMargaretEthridge

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Fall Madness and a Wedding

Happy Thursday my darlings! I love the fall. You know what I love best?

© dusk - Fotolia.com

© dusk – Fotolia.com


That’s right, I’m one of those people. I buy pumpkin in bulk during the winter months, just to have it on hand in case I get a craving for something orange-ly delicious in the summer. (Yes, I’m aware orange-ly isn’t a legitimate word. But it works, right?).


Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin custard (are you seeing a pattern here?), pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin latte … I’m starting to sound like that dude from Forrest Gump.

I shouldn’t discriminate against the other varieties of winter squash. The truth is, I love them all. My current favorite is the sweet dumpling squash. I like to carve out the top and clean out the insides (as you would a Halloween pumpkin – which is NOT a cooking/eating pumpkin). Then, I fill it 3/4 full with chicken broth. Replace the top and pop it in a 375 degree oven for an hour or so (until tender). Here’s the best part. Once I pull it out of the oven, I remove the top and spoon in 3 tablespoons of couscous. Replace the top and wait 5 minutes and voila! Dinner!

I wish I could take credit for this delicious way of preparing the sweet dumpling squash, but the credit goes to a male friend of mine who loves to cook. You know who you are. :-)

This fall also brings the wedding of Gavin Mathis and Lauren Delgado to Shadow Maverick Ranch! And you are all invited! Mark your calendars – for $0.99, this is one event you won’t want to miss!











White Collar Wedding is an Amazon exclusive, bonus short story from the Shadow Maverick Ranch Novella series. Thank you to all the readers who requested this story. I’m thrilled to share Gavin and Lauren’s day (and night) with you. Available November 18th for the low price of $0.99!




Do you have any favorite pumpkin recipes? What are your favorite things about the fall?

Until next time,


Posted in Parker Kincade, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Stories, Stories, & More Stories

cowboy saddle no faceI can’t keep up with the stories dancing around in my brain. Honestly, there are times when I want to strangle my thoughts. Right now I’m jostling four tales-Prymal Passion, Jomsviking Blood Brothers #1, The SEAL and The Pink Poodle, and the first book in The Warriors of Ragnarök. That’s not even including the tales that I’ve started and deliberately set aside-Rocking Around a Christmas Cowboy, Seathe, and Murder To Go.

So help me decide which beginning of the following should I finish:

hunk 062211Murder To Go – Excerpt:

Why the hell was he here?

Fernando Diaz jammed his back against the cool brick wall lining the periphery of Zanadu’s outdoor dance floor. He ignored the pulsing bass reverberating through the soles of his well-worn sneakers, scowled at the gyrating South Beach wannabes writhing on the dance floor, and slugged down his two-ounce shot of vodka. Eighteen months ago he’d have been in the midst of the dancers casting his eye over the crowd searching for a woman to screw. Eighteen months ago he’d been on top of the world, voted Food and Vine’s Best Chef of the Year, cast as the top competitor for The Next Iron Toque, slated to win, to take his spot next to Bobby, Cora, and all the rest.

F**k eighteen months.

The sting of the alcohol couldn’t mask the bile souring his saliva. Fernando pushed off the wall and headed to the jetty. His past life, lived in the glare of the lights from the dozens of paparazzi who dogged his every move, didn’t hold a teaspoon of appeal. Nowadays he relished privacy and solitude and avoided reporters and photographers.

The low-slung half moon cast a silvery glow over the artificial lake. Drawn by the solitary setting, by hypnotic pull of the shimmering water, he strolled in the direction of the pier. Things were finally looking up, the restaurant had had two months in the black, and with a little spit and luck, he would dig himself out of the mire of bankruptcy that had plagued him for the last eighteen months. So why couldn’t he shake the feeling that a meat cleaver was about to obliterate everything with one hack?

The humidity that dogged South Florida’s summer days and nights lifted and the first breezes of fall sloughed a cooling welcome around his nape whisking his hair away from his skin. He halted in the middle of the pier, jammed his hands into jeans’ pockets, leaned his head back, and enjoyed the playful wind dancing over his cheeks, hoping the magic of the moon’s beams, and the solace of the lapping lake would somehow erase the anger burning a hole in his chest.

“Are you okay?”

The soft question jerked his self-pitying thoughts out of his head.

What the?

He twisted to the sound and froze, stifling a curse.

His jaw dropped.

I’m finally losing it.

A fairy?

An ethereal woman-child sat sideways against the post at the end of the jetty. Bathed in moonlight, clothed in a diaphanous dress, the wings on her back fluttering in the wind, she tilted her chin, and when their gazes met he held his breath.The walls he’d built over the last eighteen months crumbled.

“You look like you could strangle someone with your bare hands,” the fairy said. The moon’s incandescence played with her silver hair, and her eyes glimmered like amethysts.

cowboy hat tattooRocking Around A Christmas Cowboy – Excerpt:

“You’re giving me a cowboy for Christmas?”

Esmé Rawlins, of the Southern Rawlins, the revival fundamentalist Christian Rawlins, knew her mother’d gone insane.

It had happened overnight.

On the day that her husband, the Reverend Deacon Montrichard, had been indicted on fraud and embezzlement charges, and bigamy. Or was the right word frigamy? Since there were five frigging wives and assorted sons and daughters scattered all over several Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana counties.

“Mama, you cannot give me a human being as a Christmas present.” Esmé kept her eyes fixed on the photograph she’d unwrapped. The man wore a tan Stetson pulled low on his forehead and the wide brim cast a shadow over his narrowed eyes half-obscuring their shape and color. As if a guy this good looking would glance her way once. Esmé stifled a snort. Dream on Mama. Or maybe Mama had picked out this one for husband number three?

“Emmy honey, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short lifetime, it’s that’s money can buy anything.” Shelby, a former Miss Arkansas, had managed to prove that little pearl of wisdom with a justified, pecan pie sweetened spate of financial vengeance in a matter of days after the scandal had broken.

“I told you already, Mama, I’m going back to college tomorrow morning.” Esmé’s brother Colton scowled at the computer-printed certificate in his hand. “I’m not going to a dude ranch in the middle of nowhere.”

“And I don’t have any vacation left. I can’t take a whole week off. The library’s busy over Christmas.” A blatant lie, but since Shelby had never set foot in the building, she’d never know. Esmé crossed her fingers behind her back.

Shelby’s newly surgically plumped lips quivered. “You two are the only family I have left in this entire world. Neither of you can spare five days for the woman who birthed you? You’re going to leave me alone over the holidays?” The three-carat diamond on one slim French-manicured finger winked as Shelby patted her chest. “You know the doctor said I shouldn’t be alone.”

Colton and Esmé’s glances met over the top of their mother’s gold-dusted honey hair. Her brother rolled his eyes; Esmé cringed and barricaded her face with open palms. Here came the waterworks, the innuendoes re depression, and the inevitable “I chose Deacon because you two needed a father figure” laments.

“And it’s not as if you couldn’t afford to drop twenty pounds.” Shelby cut Esmé a glance. “It’s a spa/dude ranch combo. I paid for your horse riding lessons. And, as for you young man, I hired that coach you talked about to work on your golf swing.”

Two days, several boxes of Kleenex, and innumerable Shelby crying jags later, Esmé jerked out of deep sleep when bongo drums shattered her favorite sexcapade pre-dawn fantasy. Her unfocused gaze met a wood-timbered ceiling.

Where am I?

rolan cropped 022111Seathe – Excerpt:

“This is going to be a total disaster.”

“Don’t get your knickers in a twist,” Shaggy advised. “Try to look on the positive side. He saved the resort. If Seathe MacFarland hadn’t bought Ricky’s Landing, Jonathon Lowell would own us lock, stock, and barrel, and you know what that would mean.”

Genie scowled. She stared at the black pitch of the airport’s runway wanting nothing more than to get the whole meet and greet over and done with.

As usual for the dry season on a tropical island eleven degrees north of the equator, the day had dawned with a crisp clarity and a dazzling brilliance. Not a cloud marred the azure sky. A flock of vultures danced an apostrophe above the rugged peaks and dips of the mountain range above the galvanized roof of the airport hangar.

“Who has a name like Seathe, anyway? What kind of idiotic mother names her son, Seathe? He’s going to be a bully, I just know it. One of those arrogant, insufferable, whiny Yanks who thinks he’s better than us.” She had a love/hate relationship with Americans. Genie loved they thought they could rule the world, and she hated that they actually did, culture-wise.

“You forget I was there for the Skype negotiations, girlie? The man is reasonable. He agreed to keep everyone on, didn’t he? And he agreed to provide complete medical and dental care and a pension plan. Damn, I can finally get that cracked tooth fixed.”

Genie knew how terrible Shaggy’s toothache had grown, but her major worry on the medical score was the pending birth of her BFF’s first baby.

Chantal’s pregnancy had been smooth and easy until last week when she’d awoken in a pool of blood. Placenta previa had been Doc Harry’s conclusion. But Doc hadn’t been able to verify the diagnosis because the only ultrasound on the island belonged to the hospital her step-uncle Jonathon controlled.

When Genie’d researched the condition on the internet, she’d been scared spit less. The odds of Chantal and her baby surviving a natural childbirth were slim. That had cinched the decision in Seathe MacFarland’s favor.

In this case, better the devil you don’t know than the devil that you do. As in, her step-uncle Jonathon. Genie shivered when a chill settled on her nape even under the tropical heat and humidity.

Not going there.

It had taken her years to recover from Jonathon’s evil perfidy.

pink poodleThe SEAL and The Pink Poodle – Excerpt:

“What the fu—”

The pouffed, powdered, and perfumed poodle had the most ear-blasting, high-pitched bark on the planet.

Montana clenched his jaw for the umpteenth time today. In a brief lull of silence, he snapped, “Sit.”

He hadn’t been able to wrap his head or tongue around the dog’s full name—Priscilla Persephone Padigan.

Not that it mattered.

According to Clara O’Halloran, the woman who’d taken the dog in after Montana’s step-uncle died, the animal answered only to either the full version of its name or Prissy.

Prissy. He shuddered.

Montana had a history with canines.

None of it good.

A pit bull had killed his mother when she intervened during the dog’s mauling of him and his brother, Topeka. Not that he had any memory of the event him having been all of five years old when the tragedy had happened. He’d learned to respect canines during his time in the TEAMs, but tolerance didn’t equal anything near resembling liking.

How had a simple visit to inspect the property inherited from his recently deceased uncle on his mother’s side become a living nightmare?

The dog reared onto its hind legs and scraped the wooden door with eight pink-painted toenails.

Montana didn’t bother to repress a mortified-for-the-dog grunt when he spied the pooch’s manicured claws.


He jammed the heel of one palm against his forehead.

Why would any sane person paint a dog’s toenails pink? He grimaced. Swept a glance around a living area designed and detailed to celebrate every shade of pink in existence and then some.

Okay – someone choose – tell me what tale to write this merry Monday. I’m done in with confusion.



Posted in Jianne Carlo | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments