Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shameless Self-Promo

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Popping in to let you know I'm being interviewed today at READING WITH TEQUILA. Oh, and there's a giveaway too! Hop over and check it out!  

SIS Beth

Monday, August 30, 2010

I Can See It

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Ah, yes. The finish line is in sight. Yesterday I had a very productive writing day. One of many in the past week. The end of this book is near and I'm already starting my happy dance. Sure, I'll have to go back and make some pretty major revisions, but to know the bones are there and that I know every in and out of the story is a complete treasure to me. I had hoped to continue the momentum today, but unfortunately I have to go to my day job. No worries. I'll just jot down notes and then start writing again tonight. I so want to finish this one!

And since I'm in such a positive mood, I'd like to share these quotes. I challenge you to share one too!

Oliver Wendell Holmes~~
Man's mind once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimension.

Erma Bombeck~~
It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.

Chinese Proverb~~
If you get up one more time than you fall, you will make it through.

Ferdinand Foch~~
The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire. 

Sheila Graham~~
You can have anything you want if you want it desperately enough. You must want it with an exuberance that erupts through the skin and joins the energy that created the world. 

SIS Barb aka Elle J Rossi

Saturday, August 28, 2010

And the Winners Are....

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Congratulations to Edie Ramer and Tura Lura

Thanks to handy dandy random number generator, you won signed copies of my romantic adventure, INTO THE WILD.  Please email your mailing info at  beth@bethciotta.com  I'll send out your books pronto.  Thanks to all who chimed in for the giveaway!

Now.... scroll down for today's post written by Bro Krys!

SIS Beth

Under Pressure

When it came time to brainstorm for today's blog, I came up with what I thought was a good topic. Then I read BJ's post and that took care of that. Great minds think alike, I guess. So that left me with Plan B. Unfortunately I didn't have a Plan B. Undaunted, I thought about my life and what's going on with me at the moment that I could blog about.


So I perused the local and national news stories for some gem that I could post that would spark endless conversation or lively debate, or both.


Still not giving up,  I thought about the television shows and movies that I've seen lately, and the books I've read. Surely that would inspire me to write at least a halfway decent Blog.


It's now Friday night and I'm left with that sinking feeling that no matter what I do, I'm not going to come up with anything good. The dreaded creative block. So I'm going to do what I normally do and make the best of the situation, for what it's worth. As a creative person, which I believe we all are in one way or another, what do you do when you want/need to come up with an idea or inspiration to be creative and it's not happening?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Something To Talk About (and a giveaway)

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Once upon a time writers wrote the best darn story they could and their publisher handled most, if not all, of the promotion and advertising.

That was before my time.

I've been published since 2001. Even then an author was expected to invest time and money into self-promotion. Today... let's just say expectations are pretty intense. The average author is responsible for arranging their own interviews, news features, blog tours, newsletters, and booksignings. To order and purchase promo items such as bookmarks, book trailers, excerpt booklets, and (if they so desire) giveaways such as pens, notepads, buttons, etc...

A website is a must and a blog is pretty standard. Presently there's a big push for the author to engage in social networking via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and readers' sites such as Good Reads, Shelfari, and Library Thing. Although I don't know the percentage, I'm pretty sure most of the ads you see in industry magazines and readers' websites are purchased by the author. And I'm here to tell you that can get really expensive.

Kudos to the authors who have the resources and time to cover and keep up with all, or even most, of the above. I truly envy and admire those marketing dynamos. Between working a full time job and writing two novels a year, I've had to learn to pick and choose. I've tried different things over the years. Some promo efforts work for me. Some don't. Presently, I'm convinced that the thing that lifts sales most is 'word of mouth'. I see this at work all the time at the library. One patron tells another about this great book they read and suddenly that person has to have it, reads it, loves it, and tells another person and so forth. Word spreads via blogs and social networks too. A personal recommendation is a powerful thing.

I want readers to talk about me, or rather my books, and especially just now my September release INTO THE WILD.  So this time around I'm focusing on stirring up talk by giving away my authors copies. So far I've done this in my personal blog, Twitter, and Facebook. I also have a couple of guest blogs and interviews lined up and I'll give books away there too. Mid September I'm attending an Independent Bookseller trade show and I'll give away probably 30 - 40 books there. It may sound a little crazy because I guess you could consider those lost sales. But I truly believe that giving away books will generate sales... that's if the story is good.

I had a blast writing INTO THE WILD and the fact that it was voted TOP PICK by RT Bookreviews gives me hope that the story will win many a reader's heart. Hopefully, they'll be so charmed by Spenser and River's romantic adventure that they'll say to a friend, "I just read this really great story!"

This is one call she can’t resist…

When River Kane's fiancé abandons her at the altar for being too conventional, she's heartbroken. But everything changes when her estranged archaeologist father sends her his journal—filled with cryptic maps and a note indicating he's in mortal danger. Worried, River faces her greatest fears and flies to the Amazon to find him. But she needs a guide. Someone completely unlike danger-seeker Spenser McGraw.

A charismatic treasure hunter who thrives on risk, Spenser hosts the popular TV show Into the Wild, dedicated to locating lost treasures and mythical icons. But River's father's life depends on discretion, and too-sexy Spenser is all about publicity. Forced to team up, they embark on a jungle adventure ripe with temptation and danger…ultimately discovering a hidden treasure that could alter history—and a steamy love neither expected.
* * *

In an effort to 'get people talking' I'm giving away two signed copies of ITW here at SIS. For a chance to win, just comment and mention one of the last books you read that you think we just HAVE to read!

(winners chosen at random and announced Saturday morning)

SIS Beth

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Autumn, I am waiting

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This morning, while I walked my youngest daughter to school, I noticed that there was a different feel to the air. It was cool and crisp, just like Autumn. I loved it. I am not a Summer person. As Barb says, I'm allergic. While I do like the warmth of the Sun, I don't like the scorching heat or the humid air. I don't like that it stays light for so long. I enjoy Summer most when it is dark and the stars are shining. I can light a fire, roast marshmallows and watch for shooting stars.

I feel more energetic and alive in the cooler seasons. I love Autumn and Winter and adore the warm sun of Spring after a long, cold Winter. During the Summer I could hibernate. If there was a way, you wouldn't see or hear from me all Summer long.

I am eagerly awaiting Autumn as the hot Summer ends. I will resume my walks in the woods. I will be a lot happier ( I'm grumpy when I'm hot ). Best of all, I will be more creative in the cooler months to come. Autumn, I am waiting, I will dance for joy when You are here to stay. All hail the coming of the Autumn winds!!

Are you a Summer or Autumn person?

SIS BJ aka Aleena Ravenwood

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wahoo! It's Wednesday!

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Not that it means anything to me that it's Wednesday.  I just felt like saying Wahoo!  I'm a gomer like that.

I had the opportunity to watch a couple of movies this week.  I rented both from the Blockbuster box at the local grocery store for $1.  One was great, while the other was almost a waste of my $1.

We were in the mood for a comedy and decided between The Bounty Hunter and Date Night.  The box was out of Date Night so first we rented The Bounty Hunter starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler.

From IMDb:  Milo Boyd, a down-on-his-luck bounty hunter, gets his dream job when he is assigned to track down his bail-jumping ex-wife, reporter Nicole Hurly. He thinks all that's ahead is an easy payday, but when Nicole gives him the slip so she can chase a lead on a murder cover-up, Milo realizes that nothing ever goes simply with him and Nicole. The exes continually one-up each other - until they find themselves on the run for their lives. They thought their promise to love, honor and obey was tough - staying alive is going to be a whole lot tougher.

My husband asked if I thought Gerard Butler was a good looking guy.  I said "ehh....not really".  Then came the scene where he walks out of the bathroom with just a towel wrapped around his waste.  I said, "He just got better looking". 

Sadly, that's about the only good thing I can say about The Bounty Hunter.  It wasn't awful, but I wasn't all that entertained.

The next night, Date Night, starring Tina Fey and Steve Carell was in.  I had my fingers crossed.

From IMDb:  Phil and Claire Foster are a couple who have been married for several years. Their days consists of them taking care of their children and going to work and coming home and going to bed. But they find time to have a date night wherein they go out and spend some time together. When another couple they know announce that they're separating because they're in a rut, Phil feels that he and Claire could be too. So when date night comes Phil decides to do something different. So they go into the city and try to get into a new popular restaurant. But when it's full and still wanting to do this, Phil decides to take the reservation of a couple who doesn't show up. While they're having dinner two men approach them and instructs them to stand up and go with them. They think the men are with the restaurant and want to talk to them about taking someone else's reservation. But it appears the couple whose reservation they took crossed someone and the two men work for this person. The men are after something, but whatever it is they don't have it.

In a case of mistaken identity, the couple end up running for their lives, trying to find what it is these two tough guys want.

We really enjoyed this movie.  There were quite a few lines that had us laughing out loud.  I thought Tina Fey and Steve Carell were great together and I can almost see a sequel.

Hope your Wednesday is wonderful, and if you have any recs, please share!

SIS Bren

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Day at the Faire

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My family and I attended the Renaissance Faire in Bristol, Wisconsin. It was a first experience for all of us and one we all enjoyed. I think our favorite part was the jousting, though if you ask Drama, her favorite part was all the shops. That girl never tires of browsing. Here are some of my favorite pictures:

The gentleman above was my absolute favorite costume of the day. The feathers, the leather, the boots, the tights...I loved all of it! The best part? He had a smile on his face every time I saw him. He made me think of the word "jolly". Good for him!

During the joust, we were all told which knight to cheer for depending on where we were sitting. The knight above is the one Drama and I chose. She informed me that she didn't care who they told her to cheer for, this knight was hers. I applaud her independence and her choice!

Is it any wonder why this was Drama's favorite knight? I must say the girl has taste! When she saw him sitting by this tree shortly after the joust, her face lit up and she insisted on a picture.

My son, Comedy, chose these 2 guys as his favorite characters. I wasn't surprised. They really do look like superheroes or maybe even villains. Either would be fine with him.

The man above actually hand crafts these amazing leather "costumes". The craftmanship was superb. Comedy wanted a pair of those clawed gloves. Unfortunately I didn't have an extra $200 laying around. 

This lady (pictured above) was a hoot. Man, she had to be sweating her arse off.

And this picture is absolutely priceless. Nothing was going to stop this gal from getting her Renaissance on. I had to do a double take, but, yep, that's oxygen she's toting behind her. You, go, m'lady!

How about you? Ever attended a Renaissance Faire? What's your favorite part? If you haven't been, I highly suggest you do so. It's really a lot of fun. I'd like to go back next year, but this time I'd like to be in costume!

SIS Barb aka Elle J Rossi

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Leap Of Faith

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I read a story last week that I wanted to share with you. An advertising executive was walking to a restaurant in Manhattan to join her friends for lunch when she was approached by a homeless man who asked her if she had any change she could spare. She didn't, but offered to let the man borrow her American Express Platinum Card. Needless to say, people who witnessed this were stunned by her apparent lack of common sense. She would never see him or her card again, they told her. They were wrong.

A few minutes later the man returned with deodorant, body wash, a pack of cigarettes and Vitamin water. He thanked her and returned her card. She said that she never once thought that he wouldn't come back with her card and he said that he never considered keeping it. Her act of kindness and leap of faith made a difference in the man's life and hopefully had a positive impact on those people who witnessed it and later heard about it on the news.

My own greatest leap of faith happened a little over ten years ago. I was single with not much of a romantic social life and still living at home. Then completely unexpectedly I met someone online that I could relate to. I met her in person, got to know her and moved in with her even though there were a few issues at the time. It hasn't always been easy, but we're still together and will be as long as she will put up with me.

What is the greatest leap of faith you've ever taken? How did it work out?

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's Friday? Seriously?

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What? WHAT? It’s Friday? My day to post? Um. I’ve got nothing. Nu-thing . I’m swamped with the day job and immersed in a new proposal for an editor who might, maybe, with luck, be interested in contracting one of my new stories.

I’m worried about our courageus brother who’s battling cancer. I’m . . . . overwhelmed. I have nothing of significance to write but I can at least post a picture that brings me joy. A picture snapped just last week when I went home to Indiana to visit Bobby. A picture of me with SISters, Barb/Elle, BJ and Brandy. The only one missing is Brenda. Rats! 

Note the cornfield’s. Significant to our roots. Just sayin’.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Book Store

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I spent Monday with SIS Barb, Drama and Comedy casually strolling through an outside mall. The weather was beautiful and the company undeniably extraordinary.

While we shopped, we decided to browse the book store.  SIS Barb went one direction while I followed Drama and Comedy to the children's section.  I loved watching which books caught their eye.  They would grab a book off the shelf and flip through it the same way I do when shopping for a book.  Comedy suggested we plop down on the floor to take a better look at the super-hero book he had found, so we did.

As we were making our way to the exit, SIS Barb expressed how although she knows they will be a thing of the past, she would love to own a book store.  I agreed that it would be much fun.

But wait....a thing of the past?  Really?  I hate to admit it, but she's probably right.  How very sad.

I can't imagine that browsing for a book on a Kindle or Nook or various other e-readers could be nearly as enjoyable as walking into a book store, smelling the unique scent of paper, ink, coffee and pastries all mixed together and seeing the rows and stacks of books everywhere you look. 

The discount table, the Best-Seller table and the Just-released table can't possibly look the same on a screen.  How can you stroll up and down the aisles touching each book until your hand reaches one that has somehow intrigued you on a Kindle?  How can you shop for books with your niece and nephew at the same time on a Nook?

While I know that the e-readers are convenient and hip, it saddens me to think that book stores, as we know them, probably will be a thing of the past.  I'm sure they won't be gone altogether, but they won't be the same either.

What do you love most about your visits to the book store?

SIS Bren

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The High School

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Today is this first day of school.  I just got back from dropping off my two oldest girls.  One was very excited.  She's now in 5th grade and loves her teacher.  The other is now a freshman. (makes me feel way old!!!)  She was pretty nervous.  She is worried about getting lost and not liking being the youngest.  I assured her that everything would be fine and that she'll be loving it by the end of the week.

So, we pull up to the school.  Some girls that she knows from guard come walking up.  My girl jumps out of the car to walk in with her friends.  All signs of nervousness are gone.  She struts into the school looking totally cool and beautiful. 

I look around me for a few moments.  I am in a different world now!  These kids don't look anything like the ones last year at the middle school!!  Now mamma's nervous.

I watch a tall gorgeous blond glide in.  She had on a short tight skirt, a sexy little button up blouse, and great heels.  Whoa!  When did girls start to look like this?!?  We didn't look anything like that when I was growing up.  I feel sorry for men.  You think your checking out a 23 year old and then... surprise she's 15! 

Then this man walks by.  Well, I say man but I'm sure he was probably 16.  My ten year old shouts from the back seat " Wow mom! That kid has a beard!"  Yep - a full blown one. 

Next comes many others.  A few really handsome boys, some more too mature-looking girls.  Yeah now I am totally nervous.  Are these boys going to want to date my girl?  Is she going to start to look like these other girls?  I can see my hair turning gray as I type this!!!

Any thoughts?


Monday, August 16, 2010

No One Puts Baby in the Corner

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First off, I'd like to thank everyone for their support and prayers for our brother. He is still fighting and being the true hero he is. While it is a tough time, we are so happy to be able to spend quality time with him and his family.

Something incredible happened this weekend. I know it'll be hard to believe, but I swear it's true. This weekend I became Patrick Swayze. That's right, folks. But let me be more precise. I was Johnny Castle from the Dirty Dancing movie. This movie just so happens to be one of my favorites. The soundtrack is fantastic and the dancing is just plain fun. How could I possibly just sit on the couch and watch? Not a chance. I sang, I danced and everyone laughed. I'm positive they were laughing because they were being thoroughly entertained and not because I looked like an idiot. 

I know what you're thinking? Didn't Johnny have a dance partner? A love interest? Why, yes, yes he did. Baby was the second star of Dirty Dancing and I couldn't have just anyone channel their inner "Baby". No, no. This person had to be special. This person had to rise up to the challenge. They had to want it and want it bad. I didn't even have to pick. This person dove off the couch for a lift that would amaze the finest dancers at the New York ballet. Unfortunately I didn't catch her like Johnny caught Baby, but we made up for it by improvising! Ladies and gentlemen, Baby was played by no other than SIS Bren! She was amazing. 

We sang every song, danced every routine and even though I'm sure it was quite annoying, I recited many lines.

But that wasn't the end. We were so inspired we decided to move on to Danny Zuko and Sandra Dee. I got to be the girl this time!!! Oh, yes! We rocked Grease for about 30 minutes, but then our energy started to recede and we ended up on the couch singing along for the rest of the movie. All in all, a fantastic night of movies and fun.

The look on our brothers face was priceless. I'm not sure if it was pride, embarrassment or wonder, but I do know that it was definitely fun and entertaining for all who were present. 

Next time, I think Bren and I will charge admission!

How about you? Any favorite movies that you just have to act out? Who have you become lately?

SIS Barb aka Elle J Rossi

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Family Time

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In order to spend time with our amazing and heroic brother, 
SIS will be taking a hiatus for the next week or so. 

There's no other love like the love for a brother.  There's no other love like the love from a brother.  ~Astrid Alauda

Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk.  ~Susan Scarf Merrell

To the outside world we all grow old.  But not to brothers and sisters.  We know each other as we always were.  We know each other's hearts.  We share private family jokes.  We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.  We live outside the touch of time.  ~Clara Ortega

~SIS Beth, Bren, BJ, Barb and Brandy~

Saturday, August 7, 2010


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Today is our brother Bob's 47th birthday!  Let's all sing....ready...one, two, three....


We all love you very much and are so proud to have you as our brother!
Hope your day is special!

Please scroll down the page now to read our honorary BRO's post for today.


Most people love a good mystery, and I'm no different. The origin of the Universe and everything in it has been a philosophical mystery the human mind has contemplated for many centuries. There are primarily two schools of thought on the subject, the religious and the scientific. Regardless of which you believe, there is one thing that they both have in common: The close connection between humans and the natural world.

Most religions have a Creation narrative that tells how everything that exists was created by a God or Gods. If they are true, than humans and the natural world are closely related because they derived from the same source. The same could be said for the scientific viewpoint. If the Universe and everything that followed was created by the Big Bang, again humans and nature would be closely connected because they came from the same source.

Until very recently in our history, we had little choice but to live closely connected with the natural world. Our very survival depended on finding food, water and shelter from the elements which we had no control over and could not predict. The only way to achieve this was to live as harmoniously with Nature as possible. Many early cultures successfully managed to do just that. Gradually that would change, however.

As mankind made more and more discoveries and inventions, we began to bend and shape the natural world to suit us. We created artificial structures to live, work, travel and play in, with artificially controlled environments. Wild animals were domesticated and transformed into useful tools for our benefit. The natural world is being dug up, burned down, paved over and replaced with an artificial world of concrete, glass and steel.

Do you feel as though you are closely connected to the natural world? Do you feel that it's important to be?

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Quote to Live By

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"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."

Jack London
American Author

SIS Beth

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Inspired by the Celts

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There are two poems from Celtic Myth that inspire my daily life. One reminds me of the fact that we are connected to everything and everything is connected to us. The other speaks to me of what we may have been in past lives.

The Song of Amergin

I am the wind on the sea;
I am the wave of the sea;
I am the bull of seven battles;
I am the eagle on the rock;
I am the flash from the sun;
I am the most beautiful of plants;
I am a strong wild boar;
I am a salmon in the water;
I am a lake in the plain;
I am the word of knowledge;
I am the head of the spear in battle;
I am the god that puts fire in the head;
Who spreads light in the gathering on
the hills?
Who can tell the ages of the moon?
Who can tell the place where the sun rests?

(Translation by Lady Gregory)

from the Battle of Trees

I was lanterns of light for a year and a half;
I was a bridge that stretched over sixty estuaries;
I was a path, I was an eagle, I was a coracle in the seas;
I was a bubble in beer, I was a drop in a shower;
I was a sword in hand, I was a shield in battle;
I was a string in a harp enchanted nine years, in the water as foam;
I was a spark in fire; I was wood in bonfire;
I am not one who does not sing; I have sung since I was small.

(Translation by Patrick K. Ford)

The first poem is by the poet Amergin and the second is from Taliesin, son of the Great Goddess Ceridwen. There are many translations and meanings of the poems. These two are my favorites.

How do these poems speak to you?

SIS BJ aka Aleena Ravenwood

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Things I'd Like To See

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Every morning, I wake up and turn on The Weather Channel and Headline News.  It's my only way besides Yahoo News of knowing what's going on in the world. 

This morning on The Weather Channel, they've been talking about The Northern Lights, aka Aurora Borealis.  What a magnificent sight, and one I'd love to see sometime in my life.  I've always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise, so hopefully I'll get to see them WHEN I take my cruise.

There are a few things in the world that I would LOVE to see.  I hope to some day be able to have the chance to experience some of these.

Here's my short list:

1.  Italy (any or all of it)
2.  The Grand Canyon
3.  The Great Pyramid (and other Egyptian wonders)
4.  Niagra Falls
5.  The big giant statue of Jesus on the mountain top in Brazil  (I know it has a name, I just can't think of it)
6.  Jamaica
7.  Hawaii
8.  The Great Wall of China
9.  The inside of Buckingham Palace
10. Graceland

What's on your list?  I'm sure I've left out many exciting things!

SIS Bren

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Best Gift

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Main Entry: imag·i·na·tion 
Pronunciation: \i-ˌma-jə-ˈnā-shən\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin imagination-, imaginatio, from imaginari
Date: 14th century
1 : the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality2 a : creative ability b : ability to confront and deal with a problem :resourcefulness  c : the thinking or active mind : interest 
3 a : a creation of the mind; especially : an idealized or poetic creation b :fanciful or empty assumption

The gift of imagination may have been the greatest gift of all. What would children do if not for the ability to escape into a world full of kings and queens, dragons and dungeons, tea parties and stuffed animals that talk?

What would teenagers do without images of a first kiss, a first date, getting a drivers license and getting out of their parents homes?

What would adults do in a world with no creativity, no wonder and no what-ifs? It's the unknown that keeps many of us going day after day. Each day is the same, yet different because we have the ability to escape into a world created within our mind. This world is full of treasure, whether it be the sparkling kind or the kind of miracles. 

If we're lucky enough to have the desire to write, we get the ultimate pleasure of letting our imagination soar, take us to places we've never been and only dreamt of. We get to meet characters, take them out of our mind and introduce them to the rest of the world.

Imagine today. Escape.

SIS Barb aka Elle J Rossi