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Category: Guest Post

Guest Post: Kemberlee Shortland: Researching Murder in Mornington

Each Thursday in December, this site will feature an author guest post, and it it goes well, that will continue after the first of the year. Today we welcome Kemberlee Shortland, one of my favorite people, and a great author. She talks about the research that went into her new mystery, Murder in Mornington:

Researching Murder in Mornington

Since releasing my latest story, Murder in Mornington, I’ve been asked what inspired it. After all, it’s a cozy mystery and I’m a romance writer. Why the change?

Well, it’s as simple, or as complicated, as real murder.

Two years ago, my hubs took a new job which meant relocating to new digs. We found what is probably the best place we’ve ever lived in Ireland . . . a cottage style house in a small bedroom community called Mornington, on the east coast where a major river opens into the Irish Sea right behind us. Bliss, right?

Bliss until a dead body was found on the riverbank!

The poor fellow had actually met his demise in our nearest town then dumped at the river, for what purpose, I don’t know. But as I’m a writer and have a curious mind, my imagination started working overtime the moment I realized there had been a murder in Mornington. “What the heck are we getting ourselves into?” More importantly, what was it about Mornington that inspired this body dump? Had others met their demise here?

With the title practically leaping into my lap, I asked myself if I could apply this to a story. Writers put everything they experience into stories . . . which is why you’re not supposed to upset us. Because we could put you into a story and torture you. A lot!

morningtonSince I live, literally, behind the scene in question (I can see the tower from my office), I’m down there all the time with our dogs, so the location research was easy. The harder part was the investigative stuff. For that, I have to say, it pays to know someone who knows someone.

Long story short, I met with an active Irish police investigator who spoke with me at length about the procedure of an investigation . . . from the moment the call is made to 999 (Ireland’s equivalent of the US’s 911).

This information was invaluable, to say the least. I was able to look through a real case file that was actually presented to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) and used during the trial. Every little last detail of the investigation went into this three inch thick tome. Every inspectors’ note, every forensic result, every report . . . every *everything* revolving around the case. Which also included additional reports that were stuck in the back of the book after printing. And we went through the first part of this investigation with fine toothed comb until I fully understood the process of Irish investigations and could then ask questions which would apply to my fictional case.

Without having an opportunity to talk with someone in the field in which I was writing meant I was mainly reliant on the news to see how things are done. But we all know how subjective news reports can be. While what I had written was believable, it wasn’t 100% accurate. I wanted 100% accuracy.

My new friend also agreed to read my story for accuracy, which I *really* appreciated. He got out his red pen (a real red pen) and made loads of notes which I then used to amend my work. It was a good thing too because my fictional detective had illegally collected a crucial piece of evidence that would not have been admissible in court. With my friend’s guidance, I had avoided a major FUBAR. With my friend’s help, I was able to accurately write scenes from the initial discovery through search warrants to evidence collection.

I can’t say enough about good research, and about going the extra mile, especially when it comes to facts that matter. Writing a believable story is one thing, but writing one that’s accurate takes work. It pays off in the end.


The last thing hair stylist Sassy O’Brien expects to find on her morning run on her local beach is a dead body. An addict of TV crime programs, she thinks, “What would Beckett do?” After ringing the police, she takes several crime scene photos on her mobile phone, as you do.

Much to Detective Donnelly’s consternation, Sassy’s involvement becomes instrumental in his investigation, especially as clues are overlooked by his team.

How will Sassy cope when all the clues point to her?

Author Bio:

Kemberlee was born and raised in Northern California in an area known as America’s Salad Bowl. It was home to many authors, including John Steinbeck, and for a while Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson.

In 1997, Kemberlee left the employ of Clint Eastwood when the opportunity to live in Ireland for six months presented itself. It was there she ended up meeting a man who convinced her to stay. Kemberlee is now celebrating her eighteenth year in Ireland and has been lucky to travel the country extensively, picking up a cupla focal along the way—a few Irish words.

Kemberlee has been writing since a very young age and over the years she has published dozens of travel articles and book reviews, as well as worked with some notable authors who’ve set their books in Ireland.

2006 saw the publication of Kemberlee’s first two short stories, Tutti-Frutti Blues and Dude Looks Like a Lady, set in her hometown. Since then, Kemberlee has published a number of short stories and novels, many of which are set in Ireland.

Kemberlee Shortland authorContact Information:

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Watch for book two in this series, Lynched in Laytown. Coming Spring 2016.

It’s happened again. On her morning run, Sassy discovers the body of a man hanging from the scoreboard at the Laytown Races winner circle—the jockey who’d won yesterday’s famous beach race. When two women are discovered to be carrying the deceased baby, a disgruntled and jilted wife, and jealous jockeys, suspects are at a premium.

Detective Donnelly is called in to investigate, but will Sassy’s involvement be of help or hindrance? If anything from his past experience with the hair stylist is to go by, this case will take an interesting twist.



GUEST POST: How Writing Helps With My Mental Illness by Allie Burke

Here is a guest spot by a writer I admire, not only for her writing, but for her blatant honesty about her struggles, something I have trouble doing publicly. Her blog posts have at times transformed my day from rotten to grand, or at least added the feeling that in some of the craziness of what we do, I am not alone.

I hope she inspires you as well. (See her bio and the links to her work below this post) Be sure to check out her latest release, Paper Souls

Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

Artistic expression may or may not be supportive for a healthy mind—it depends on who you ask—but I am inclined to believe it is, in some ways. I’ve talked before about how the writer life—the seclusion, the alcohol, drugs, the introverted lifestyle—can and will be damaging like it has been to so many writers before us, but that’s a whole different thing. There is positive passion and there is negative obsession and I can say I have been too far away from the line on both sides. The universe requires balance, and so does writing along with everything else.

However, like my most-of-the-time skewed reality, my thoughts on this specific question are backwards. I don’t think writing helps with my mental illness or helps work towards an ultimate recovery from Paranoid Schizophrenia. I write purely for artistic expression, to give something back to the world that has given me so much and to make people think in a capacity that they normally would not.

Nicholas Denmon, Bestselling Author of For Nothing, once dubbed me The Queen of the Surreal. He had read my charity piece The Sandman, which is a very short excerpt from my literary novel Paper Souls, and the nickname caught on pretty quickly. It’s an honor really, but to say that I don’t enjoy being called that would be a blatant lie.

I’d begun writing somewhere around two years before I’d been diagnosed with Schizophrenia, and quit writing for about just as long during my campaign to not fall into the cracks of the illness like so many schizophrenics before me—the cracks being suicide, of course—so I hadn’t ever really made the connection of schizophrenia and the surreal style of my pen until recently. I mean, people have always said this about my writing—#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Courtney Cole once said that Violet Midnight, my debut, read more like a piece of art than a piece of writing. I never could have imagined the fulfillment a compliment like that could have given me, and even with as many books as I have under my belt these days, I still can’t describe the feeling one gets from that kind of thing. I guess I was so happy that I had made something of myself at the time that I didn’t really think about it. I was just lucky or gifted, I guess. Maybe I am. I’m making the indirect statement now, but I may or may not be offended if someone came out and said some shit like “she’s only a good writer because she’s fucking crazy”. I’m inclined to lean towards the definitely offensive side. It’s true, though, as much of a hypocrite that makes me. I don’t take psychotropic medication (anymore). I really do see and hear things that are probably not there. Like, every day. I have heard things that no one wants to hear, seen things that would scare the living shit out the most well-adjusted human beings, and I still do. How could hallucinations not positively support the literary style of a writer who goes through that kind of a thing on a daily? I swear to you that I have really seen most of my fictional characters standing right in front of me at one point or another. It’s not normal, but neither is my writing, and that’s probably why I get some of the reviews I do. Anyone who tells you Paranoid Schizophrenia doesn’t have perks is lying.

It is my mental illness that helps my writing, not the other way around.

TRUTH IN FICTION: Paper Souls by Allie Burke

Los Angeles, CA

Paper SoulsBestselling Author Allie Burke, diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia in 2011, is announcing the release of Paper Souls, a literary fiction novel that exhibits the reality of psychosis in the surreal style she has come to be known for.

Burke uses Paper Souls to shed light on an illness that is so often shoved under the rug and forgotten, by utilizing her own experiences with the illness and producing a fictional account of one woman’s struggles to appear normal in a world that never seemed normal to her in the first place.

The novel holds nothing back against its raw, emotional backdrop, telling of Emily Colt’s damaging experiences in mental institutions, her attempts to hold on to her failed relationships, and follows her from one city—and country—to the next in her quest to find normalcy. It keeps a close eye on her recovery through holistic healing, and falls backwards, as Emily falls back into psychosis, again, and again.

“Literature is about awareness,” Burke says in an interview. “Writing in any form is about awareness, to keep society aware, and no one seems to be aware of the trials the people with this illness have to navigate. No one seems to be aware of how many schizophrenics commit suicide every year, or care. That’s why I wrote Paper Souls.”

Paper Souls is available in e-book and paperback from Booktrope Editions on Amazon.

–Melanie Karsak, Author of Chasing the Star Garden

About the Book

From the author of the bestselling genre-defining Enchanters series, comes a new literary tour de force about Emily, a young woman balancing two worlds between her fingertips: the one that is real to her and the one that is real to everyone else…

The question is: which one will she choose?

Never romanticizing what it means to be a twenty-something schizophrenic in a world broken by normalcy and half-baked fairytales, Allie Burke’s latest novel unites Emily and her world at large spanning from the streets of Russia, to the sheets of her bed, to the idiosyncratic comfort she gets from worlds that don’t exist at all.

Woven with angst and darkness, bursting with heartache, Paper Souls tells of the irreparably damaged and broken, and how they survive.


 About the Author

Allie_BurkeAn American novelist, book critic, and magazine editor from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal.

Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales.

From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.

Visit Allie at


–J.L. Gentry, Author of Syn: Fin





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Guest Post: Daithi Kavanagh

Today I welcome to my blog Daithi Kavanagh! Author of a great thriller, The Gun, available here from Tirgearr PublishingDaithi Kavanagh hails from Ireland. Give him a warm welcome, and visit him on the rest of his blog tour by clicking the button at the bottom of the post, or here.

When I was a teenager in the 1970’s in Wexford I left school at fifteen and found myself unemployed as there was also a recession in Ireland at that time. Rather than going around swatting flies and watching Love Boat on television (I kid you not) I took up reading. One of the first books I read was Wuthering Heights. It was a mystery to me how a young girl living in the heart of the country in England of the 1800’s could have known so much about life and I realized from that moment how powerful the mind is for conjuring up images and stories. I also found books lying around my home such as A Stone for Danny Fischer by Harold Robbins. These were my first inspirations to read because in school reading was not a pleasure but a penance.

Country Living

I have been living in the countryside in a place called Trinity since 1998. It is such a beautiful part of Wexford. It is a tiny village with a small population. There are loads of forest walks near our house and most days I get to walk in the forest with my wife and two dogs Rosie and Sam. On these walks I can mull over what’s going on in the world and take in the beautiful scenery. It gives me time and space to think. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would end up living in the country and enjoying the peace that that brings. I get inspiration to write every time I go walking. While I was writing The Gun I used to leave it aside and go on my walk to think about the story and where it was going. I would then come back and start again.

During the summer I would sit in my garden and do my writing. I found a little spot under the trees that I loved and found that my writing would flow when I was there. It’s amazing that the stimulation for a crime novel can come from such a tranquil setting.

The GunBook Blurb

Garda Detective Tadhg Sullivan leads a special unit that investigates politically

motivated crime. A man known only as The Deerstalker is a cancer who has infected

the Irish political system.

Sullivan teams up with journalist Helen Carty, and together they try tracking down

the mysterious killer. Carty adds to Sullivan’s problems, when he finds himself falling

in love with her. And further complicating things, he starts losing trust in his partner,

Detective Pat Carter, who appears to be on the side of the Garda Commissioner,

who Sullivan is rapidly falling out with.

Sullivan’s case is further thrown into confusion when a copycat killer, Tommy Walsh,

is shot dead by the CIA. When the CIA discovers that they’ve killed the wrong

person, the two agents involved–Simon, who has become disillusioned by his time

stationed in the Middle East, and Joey, a psychopath who confuses zealotry with

patriotism–are also in pursuit of The Deerstalker.

Sullivan finds himself in a race against time, if he is to arrest The Deerstalker before

the CIA take him out, and use his death as a pawn in a political game of chess.

Who will win out in the end?

Buy links



He stared at the gun lying on the bed.  It was in his possession for nearly half his life and he’d never known what to do with it.  The funny thing was, he’d always hated guns and yet, here he was.

He heard his wife moving around downstairs and knew that very soon she would call him for a cup of tea.  He had to get the gun back into its hiding place.

He thought back to the first time he’d seen it.  A late night knock at the door and a man from down the street had handed the gun and ammunition to him, wrapped in fertiliser bags.

“What the hell is this?” he’d blurted out.

“It’s a gun,” the man had said showing no expression.

“What are you giving it to me for?” he’d whispered, not wanting his family to hear them.”

“Because I trust you,” he’d replied.

“What the hell do you mean, you trust me? You hardly know me! And all I know about you is that you’re mixed up in the IRA.  I have a family and I don’t give a damn about the North.  Now please get away from my door and take that thing with you.”

The man had stared at him, but all calm had disappeared from his features.  Then he spoke through gritted teeth.

“Now listen to me.  The guards are going to be here shortly.  Something serious happened tonight and now you’re mixed up in it, whether you like it or not.  If you don’t take the gun from me now, when the guards arrive here and see us together, I’ll implicate you.  Even if they don’t believe me, it will mean that you’ll have to stand up in Court and give evidence against me. Do you want that for your family?   It would be much easier for you to stick the gun in the boot of your car drive off somewhere and hide it.  But you’d better make your mind up fast, before they drive up and arrest us both.”

He often wondered why he’d taken it.  Was it because he’d had sympathy for the man?  He didn’t think so.  Maybe it was the fear of being implicated, or like the man had said, being branded an informer.  He wasn’t sure, but whatever the reason, it seemed like providence.


I am 56 years old and I live with my wife and two teenage children in Trinity, Wexford. Up to 2012 when the recession hit Ireland I was making my living as a musician. I then went back to adult education and completed my Leaving Certificate in 2014. I am now studying for a degree in Culture and Heritage Studies at Wexford Campus.

While I was studying for I began writing ‘The Gun’ which is the first book in The Tadhg Sullivan Series.  I have just completed the second book in the series.

I play guitar and sing in many of the pubs in my hometown of Wexford where I am often joined by my two children Ella and Rory who play fiddle and flute.

In my spare time (which I do not have a lot of) I like to walk my two dogs with my wife Caroline.


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Blissmas Blog: Christmas Traditions

One Night in Boise by Troy Lambert - 1800HRI didn’t grow up with much of a Christmas tradition. We were poor, and often far from family. If Grandma and Grandpa were in town, or at least close, we would see them. Sometimes aunts and uncles, even cousins.

So I wasn’t the best at establishing traditions for my kids either. In fact, although I like order and some would even say ritual, I don’t do much traditionally. I’m a hybrid author: I’ve self-published and published with small presses. And I’ve written everything from short stories to novels, humor to fantasy, and even a little erotic romance.

Yes, erotic romance. Even though it does have thriller elements. It’s called One Night in Boise, and its available here, from Tirgearr Publishing.

IMG_20141127_103421331The only tradition I keep nearly every holiday, mainly because a holiday is my best excuse, is grill a turkey. It is so much more moist and better than cooking it any other way, at least that I have found. How, you ask?

You turn your grill into a humid oven. You’ll need a charcoal grill (okay, I guess I am traditional) or a gas grill with two sides, so you can turn one off. You’ll need a pan you don’t mind putting in the bottom of the grill, and getting a bit messed up. I use one of the disposable foil ones, after ruining two of my wife’s baking pans over the years, (another story).

IMG_20141127_091719Build a fire, or light the burner, on one side, put the pan filled with water on the other. The turkey goes over the water. This is called indirect grilling (it’s not truly “smoking” the turkey). As the water evaporates, it keeps everything in the “oven” moist.

I like turkey to be super moist. The first step is injecting it with something. Melted butter and rosemary is one recipe: or as simple as melted butter and soy sauce (about a 1 to 1) mixture. The soy sauce gives it a smoky flavor. Reserve whatever you don’t inject for basting.

IMG_20141127_114306069_HDRYou’ll want to baste every hour. If you are using charcoal, this is when you restoke the fire, make sure the coals are still hot.

Depending on the size of your turkey, it will take about three hours or so. Check with a meat thermometer near the breast bone and thigh bones.

That’s it. I stuff mine as well, but you don’t have to. In fact, you can do almost anything to make this your own. But I promise the turkey will be one of the best you’ve ever had.

Got an idea? A comment? Go ahead and leave one! By commenting on this post you get 1 entry into the Blissemas grand prize for a Kindle Paperwhite stuffed with smut. For a list of rules and other Blissemas blogs please check .

Have a Happy Holiday!! IMG_20141127_153752623


Guest Post: Tegon Maus

Today, I turn over my blog space to the author of one of my favorite books this year, Tegon Maus. He has some great work, but perhaps my favorite so far is his book, Bob, published recently by Tirgearr Publishing and available here. 

Take it away Tegon!

3 - The Eve Project - The Cordovian Effect by Tegon Maus - 200I think most of us have someone we looked up to as kids… someone that helped to shape the way we see the world.  Someone that made us a better person.  Okay, maybe I went a little too far with the word better…  let’s just say influenced.

Personally I had two.  The first… at the top of the list was Benjamin Franklin.  An all around great guy… anyone who can fly a kite in the rain, just to see what lightning is made out of and live to tell about it is always at the top of my list.

The second was Reed Richards… okay, nobody said it had to be a real person.  As a kid when I read the Fantastic Four I was held in awe by the wild machines that populated its pages not to mention by the man himself.  He had perfect posture, broad shoulders, chiseled good looks and a generous swath of gray at the temples.  Anyone could see he was one of the good guys.  He was an unparalleled genius able to multi-task in a time that had never heard the term.  He could manage the problem at hand and his relationship with all the other team members all at the same time.  I had envisioned myself in his likeness a million times.  I wanted to be this kind of man… but genetics being what they are and much to my personal disappointment I wound up looking more like Franklin.  Happily, the trade off turned out to be the craving for knowledge and the feeling of kinship were machinery is involved.

I think this, above all else, is what Sci-Fi is all about.  It makes you want more… not just for the sake of having material gain but to have and be more than you are… to become something better than you were in the beginning, even if it’s just for a little while.  It makes you want to visit those worlds, see those creatures, have those adventures… see all those incredible machines and spaceships and ray guns and zapping arcs of energy from things we can’t possibly understand.  But we want to, we really want to.

We want it to transform us in unimaginable ways so we can be part of something bigger than ourselves, something wonderful and good.  Isn’t that why we read?  To live a life not our own for however long that book will have us.  We crave that kinship with our stories and Sci-Fi lets us live in those pages to its absolute fullest.  We want a happy ending, don’t we?  We want to wipe the tears of our involvement from our cheeks and say to ourselves… “that was really, really good.”

Down deep inside that’s what we all really want isn’t it?   Well… that and chocolate.


BobA part of me was disappointed irritated that Fred hadn’t opened the door for me or at least for Emma.  I pulled at the handle several times but it remained locked.  To my surprise Emma place her hand over mine and the door opened instantly.

“Is belt,” both Fred and Bob shouted simultaneously, turning in their seats, before either Emma or I could get all the way into the car.

A new fear gripped me as Bob sped onto the freeway with the door on my side still open, swinging wildly back and forth.  I leaned out as far as I could grabbing the door, wrestling to get it closed.

At last, the car swung in such a way as to allow me to pull it closed.  Uncertain if the loud, mournful groan had come from the door or from me, I was just grateful we had escaped.

For several minutes the roar of the engine straining under the weight of Bob’s foot filled the interior.  Then the sound leveled off and everyone broke into laughter at the same time.

“God damn, Fred, you were a maniac.  I’ve never seen anything like that before in my life,” I joked, slapping his shoulder over the seat.

Everyone laughed again.

“Bob, you were great… I never would have stepped in front of Carl like that… damn, you guys are nuts.”

The laughter slowly faded as the car slowed for the first time in my experience with Bob to match that of the traffic.

Leaning closer to one another in the seat, Bob and Fred spoke softly in Russian, gesturing toward me and Emma.

“Bob?” I said, beginning to feel a little uncomfortable.

“They are saying, we need a place to hide… quickly,” Emma offered.

“Dude,” Fred said incredulously, pointing at Emma.

“By the way… that’s Russian for “is belt,” I said sarcastically.

“No, it’s not,” Emma protested with a hint of annoyance in her voice.

“Really?” I asked, happy for my chance to put Bob on the spot.

Bob immediately said something to her in Russian, his hand waving in the air.

“I stand corrected,” she said, easing back into her seat, a smile of self-satisfaction lifting her lips.

We rode along in silence for several minutes.

“You have a wonderful machine, Bob.  What’s it called?” Emma asked, tracing a hand over the upholstery.

“Is car,” Bob returned a little confused.

“I know that, silly.  I’ve seen one before but I had no idea that they could feel like… like this.  What do you call it?” she asked, leaning forward in the seat to be closer to Bob.

“Is car,” Bob repeated.

“No, what’s her name?” she prompted.

“Bob not understand,” he said, looking into the rearview mirror.

“She doesn’t want to be a bath tub…  she rather likes being a car,” Emma explained, leaning on the back of Bob’s seat with both elbows.  “She loves you very much,” she said, softly.

“Dorota,” Fred offered in Bob’s place.

“It’s pretty,” Emma said.

“Means…  gift from God,” Bob said, barely over a whisper.

“Yes.  Yes, she is,” Emma said, rubbing an affectionate hand over the door, touching its metal.

Then the tips of her fingers seemed to melt, becoming part of the metal itself.  At that instant the sound of the engine began to run smooth, strong and took off at an incredible rate.

We had flown down this part of the highway several times before but this time… something was different.  The way the car sounded, the way it felt as it glided over the pavement was like a dream.  If there was one day in its creation when everything that made it a car worked perfectly, then today was that day.

I had a thousand questions for Emma.  As I tried my best to focus on at least one, music softly filled the car… John Mellencamp’s “Paper and Fire.”

As I laid back against the seat on one level I felt good… happy, very satisfied with life but had no idea why.  It felt as if I were suddenly drunk or… I had no explanation for the euphoria that filled me.  As I looked to Bob, it appeared that he and Fred were under the same spell.

It felt as though we were stuffed in a thick liquid, making it nearly impossible to move.  My head turned slowly as I tried to focus my attention on Emma.

She appeared to be surrounded by a strange, pale blue light as she turned to smile at me, but I couldn’t be sure.

“Bob.  I think we’re in trouble,” I called, trying to wrap my head around what was happening.  I struggled to regain some form of control over my mind, over my senses.  “Bob,” I strained, almost yelling.

“Is okay, I have cousin,” he said, turning in my direction, smiling.

Author Bio:

I was raised pretty much the same as everyone else… devoted mother, strict father and all the imaginary friends I could conjure. Not that I wasn’t friendly, I just wasn’t “people orientated”. Maybe I lived in my head way more than I should have, maybe not. I liked machines more than people, at least I did until I met my wife.
The first thing I can remember writing was for her. For the life of me I can’t remember what it was about… something about dust bunnies under the bed and monsters in my closet. It must have been pretty good because she married me shortly after that. I spent a good number of years after inventing games and prototypes for a variety of ideas before I got back to writing.
It wasn’t a deliberate conscious thought it was more of a stepping stone. My wife and I had joined a dream interpret group and we were encouraged to write down our dreams as they occurred. “Be as detailed as you can,” we were told.
I was thrilled. If there is one thing I enjoy it’s making people believe me and I like to exaggerate. Not a big exaggeration or an outright lie mine you, just a little step out of sync, just enough so you couldn’t be sure if it were true or not.  When I write, I always write with the effort of “it could happen” very much in mind and nothing, I guarantee you, nothing, makes me happier.





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