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Guest Post: Tomas Pueyo—The Star Wars Rings

23 Aug

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Launching Books

 

 

I was 21. An introvert since I could remember, my two years studying in Paris had changed everything. I went from not eating the first few days, scared of asking people where to buy food, to witnessing never-ending parties with thousands of people. I had discovered the World.

Back in Madrid, I felt it was my duty and my pride to show my old college friends how you really party. I rented a space. Bought food and alcohol. Emailed all my friends and acquaintances. Prepared the mattresses for crashers. Promised an unforgivable night.

My birthday came. Seven friends showed up.

My best friends were kind enough to limit the derision to a few taunts, hop from bar to bar to drink the night away with me, and welcome the sun from a rooftop. But I never forgot the feeling of rejection, of not fitting in, of failure. I would never expose myself to that again.

And yet, ten years later, I ended up leading the product and marketing of a startup in Silicon Valley. I gathered millions of customers, but I always hid behind my products. It was safe. If they failed, it was them, not me. It was easy: look at data, optimize your channels, tweak the product, test how people react, iterate, spend on advertising, rinse and repeat.

The introvert side never left me. That’s probably what pushed me to moonlight writing a book. It was comfortable to retire from the world and spend a few hours with myself, filling pages with ideas. Yet something was bugging me. Every word I wrote brought me closer to the dreaded moment: publishing the book and finding out if people liked it or not, if they liked me or not.

I needed to get away from my daily job to move the book forward—and escape that looming fear. I took a week off to focus on my book. The days passed, pages piled up. Friday arrived; I opened my work email for the first time that week. Scrolling down the unread emails from my marketing team, it dawned on me: I know how to make and market things. I had to apply the same approach to my book, or else face another failure: one book, zero buyers.

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I decided I would apply to my book the same principles from my job as a marketer, to make sure it wouldn’t end up growing spider webs in the dark corners of Amazon. That meant writing another book.

It sounds a bit silly. Why would I write a second book to publish my first one? It comes from a deeply rooted belief in Silicon Valley: you never go all in with your first bet. You iterate. You try things fast, see what people like and dislike, change your approach and try again and again and again until you understand what people want and give that to them. I couldn’t just write a book and put it on sale. It would end up like my party a decade earlier: lonely, supported only by friends.

“Here’s my plan: I’m going to write a second book. It will be something I’d love to read, about a topic I enjoy and know well, so I can publish it and learn everything I need to know about publishing before I publish my initial book.”

At that time, Serendipity hit. Star Wars launched the trailer for its new movie, The Last Jedi. As a son of a TV commercials director, a fanatic of storytelling, a student of scriptwriting at Stanford, and a fan of Star Wars, I didn’t just see in it a bunch of cool scenes. I saw a repeating storytelling pattern that went back to the first Star Wars movie in 1977, all the way through each Star Wars movie ever since. And it struck me: many of the scenes of the trailer were actually quite predictable, once you understand the patterns in the movies.

I wrote a quick blog post about the topic to cheaply validate the potential of the idea, and it worked: people loved the post and dozens of comments flocked to my Facebook. I knew I had a good idea in my hands. I decided to write a book about the story structure of Star Wars. I moved my initial book aside and jumped knee-deep into my new project.

Fast forward five months.

The book is called The Star Wars Rings in honor of the Ring Structure, an ancient storytelling method followed by books such as the Bible, Beowulf, or Harry Potter. George Lucas fell in love with exotic story structures while he worked on the first Star Wars movie, and ever since, all Star Wars movies follow the same pattern. The book describes this hidden pattern, shows how it’s applied to many stories in the past, how Star Wars movies follow it tightly, and how we can use that information to predict what happens in the next installments of the saga.

Writing it made me reflect on our job as authors. I used to think that writing was about inspiration, letting my imagination travel, and capturing those images on paper. But after studying Star Wars, reading about other authors’ processes, and enduring the writing process myself, I realize that it’s not the case at all.

All stories follow innate patterns. That means stories can—and should be—designed. If Star Wars has done it to such acclaim, why wouldn’t we all? Isn’t it easier to understand the patterns of storytelling before we start writing?

In my mind, I imagine writing a book like walking in the most absolute darkness. One option is to start walking. You will stumble on uneven ground, hurt yourself, get stuck against rock, walls, and rivers, walk back. Another option is to look at a map. As you walk in the dark, you will still stumble on uneven ground, but at least you broadly know where you’re going.

An even better option is to also bring a torch light with you. For me, the equivalent is to share what I write as I write it, so people give me instant feedback and I incorporate it in real time. Iterate. Armed with a map and a torch light, you know broadly where you’re going and you can avoid any immediate pitfall. I will try this for my next book.

Writing books is like a journey. The first step is always the hardest. Writing this one has freed me from my mental cage of anxiety. I went from panic of failure to excitement: excitement about writing a fun book, about learning everything I can about publishing, and about being ok with failure.

–Tomas Pueyo

 

You can read more about Star Wars’ structure, how it helps us predict the next movies, and much more in the book The Star Wars Rings, from Tomas Pueyo, on presale now, launching Sep 19, 2017. If you’re interested in following Tomas’s learnings as he writes and publishes new books, you can sign up for his mailing list here.

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Guest Post by Michael Lloyd

27 May

Thank you to Micheal Lloyd who has written a guest post about himself and his new book, The Pirate’s Children.

Me

 I went to the Manchester Grammar School where I did not excel except in History and English, which still remain my favourite subjects. I wrote my first short story at the age of 11 and it became a best seller at the school, being a rather lurid story of the Latin Master’s wife. I was severely punished for this!

 From when I could remember, I wanted to go to sea, mainly because my father was a cruiser captain in the last World War and we even had tenuous family connections going back to Captain Henry Morgan, the famous pirate who showed that crime pays. Anyway, in the end, my father relented and I joined the naval training ship HMS Conway at the age of 14 and went to sea at 16 beginning a 50 year career at sea. I became a Captain at the age of 31 and sailed the world to almost every country and in every sea. If you do want to know more about me you can Google me as Captain Michael Lloyd.

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 Writing

 During this time I began to write, all technical and professional articles for various periodicals. Eventually, time tapped me on the shoulder and said enough fun, now go and earn a living, so I became the marine consultant for a famous Marine and Legal publishing house where I wrote several textbooks, some of which, to my surprise, became standard works.

 I then decided that the world had enough textbooks and began writing a novel about the sea and those on it of course, as it was the only thing I knew anything about. To my surprise, my publishers took the book and started a separate house to publish it, being the first novel that they had published in their long history.

 Four more novels followed, all based loosely on my experiences at sea and people that I knew. I would claim moderate success for these as they were only marketed through the marine booksellers and to the marine market where they are well known.

Two of my books were shortlisted for the Mountbatten Marine Literature Award.

 While I enjoyed writing these, I felt that that audience was too limited, and not the general public that I wanted to open the door of the real seagoing to and show that adventure still existed. Most of all I wanted to write for children and younger people. I looked at the standard successful books for this group and saw that there was very little written about the sea and most were written by authors with little knowledge of the subject, and often condescending in their tone.

 I wanted to write a book with a unique story. There are many pirate books but none about the pirates family. I blended historical fact with the realities of the times and sea life in the 17th century. Where children as young as 8 went to sea, working and fighting alongside the adults. On the other hand, I didn’t want to write too much about fighting in a children’s book, although a pirate book has to have some and children expect it, rather have an adventure story that could be seen as possible. I then made a young woman the central figure around which all the others revolved. Then I wanted adventure and romance. The result is this book. I don’t know if you have read many sea books but there is a thought that it is all about ships and the sea. Actually, while the sea and ships are featured, over half the book is on the land. I wanted children and people of different backgrounds and colour coming together. Finally, I wanted to make a woman the central figure as, traveling the world, I realised how women are the fabric holding our varied societies together especially the moral society essential in binding us together.

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 The Book

 So we have an elderly aunt, looking after four children who believe that they are orphans, only to find out on the death of their aunt that their father was a pirate and they have inherited an old decrepit ship. They travel to London to see the ship. They hear that their father may still be alive so they decide to sail the ship to the Caribbean in search of him. Eleanor is the eldest daughter at seventeen and makes the decisions.

 Finding a young Captain in a debtors’ prison and a crew made up of street orphans and old pirates, they set sail. On the way, they encounter a slave ship in Madeira and rescue a Spanish ship from pirates before arriving at Jamaica and meeting Henry Morgan and other pirates.

 Kidnap and rescue follow with the children having to fight the ship and sail it without the adults. Then the action moves to Cuba where their father is a prisoner. They achieve his rescue but are caught by the Spanish. Free at last, they encounter a pirate fleet and battle follows with final victory, a return to Jamaica, and then set sail for home.

 That is a brief summary of the story and me. I hope I have managed to achieve a unique story that had the right blend of fact, excitement and humour for younger people, although my wife tells me that it is for all ages as she thought it as my best book!

 It is a pleasure to introduce myself to you and I hope that, if you do choose to read the book, you enjoy it. It is not written to display my erudition, which is limited, or to win prizes, but to give pleasure and keep the pages turning. I hope it succeeds in doing that.

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The Pirate’s Children is available on Amazon.

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The Amazon purchase link in this post is an affiliate link. Purchasing through it helps sustain Bound 4 Escape.

Guest Post: Ceruleans Anniversary Party by Charlotte Wilson

1 Feb

Guest post (Ceruleans-world story)

 

Anniversary

The cake was homemade. Lopsided. Slathered in gloopy frosting. Judging by Adam’s previous attempts in the kitchen, it was safe to assume it would be inedible.

Estelle loved it.

‘You baked? For me?’

She reached over and pulled Adam into a hug, awkward with the massive baby bump wedged between them.

‘Happy anniversary!’ he said.

Estelle pulled back, frowning. ‘That’s tomorrow.’

A year since she had Become a Cerulean. A year since she had died.

‘I know,’ said Adam. ‘But I have a surprise for you. A… gift. And I wasn’t sure how you’d take it, so I thought: give it to you today, and if you… well, if it’s not what you want, then it hasn’t spoiled tomorrow.’ He smiled at her – nervously.

‘O-kay,’ said Estelle. She couldn’t fathom what gift she could potentially dislike that much. Unless he’d bought her something girlie. She didn’t do girlie.

‘Good,’ said Adam. He grabbed her hands. ‘Ready?’

She’d barely begun to nod when it happened… the picnic blanket, the beach, the ocean, all gone, replaced, in the bewildering blink of an eye, by a grimy urban alleyway.

What came next was not pretty. Estelle hadn’t been that sick since her first trimester.

‘Are you insane?’ she hissed eventually, when she was done and could get a word in edgeways between Adam’s apologies and panicked are-you-okay-is-the-baby-okays. ‘You Travelled us to…’ She looked about and recognition made her jaw drop. ‘No,’ she said. ‘Truro?’

White-faced, Adam nodded. He didn’t say anything; he just pointed at a shopfront visible at the top of the alley. The sign was so weathered it was unreadable. That didn’t matter; Estelle knew exactly what it said: Tattoo Tony’s.

Furious, she rounded on Adam. ‘You’d better start explaining right now.’

‘The nightmares you’ve been having about… him. I couldn’t do nothing. It’s not right, Estelle, that he’s living his life here. Unpunished. So…’ He held out his hands. Ethereal blue light lit the alley.

‘Quit it!’ Estelle slapped his hands, hard. ‘Adam…’ She stared at the one person she loved, who’d given her a home and a purpose – to whom she’d confided her deepest, most painful secret: that when she was nine, the year before her mother ODed, a man named Tattoo Tony had abused her.

Adam stared right back at her, and there was a spark in his eyes she’d never seen before. ‘What’s the point of having power over life and death,’ he said, ‘if you can’t use it to take out a bad guy? One touch, Estelle. That’s all it would take.’

No! she should have yelled. No, Adam, that’s sacrilegious, against everything the Ceruleans stand for. But the words wouldn’t come.

She looked up the alley again, at the shop. She lay a hand on her swollen belly. Then she reached out and took Adam’s hand, and they walked toward the street.

They would have looked an odd couple – he the picture boy for geek chic, her Gothed out from head to foot – had they been visible. They weren’t, though, thanks to Adam’s power. They could walk right across that street, into the tattoo parlour and kill a man, and no one would ever know it was them.

At the door to the shop, which was propped open, Estelle pulled Adam to a stop. She could see an old man inside. He was gaunt and stooped, and his breath was coming in wheezy pants.

‘Do you feel it?’ she murmured to Adam.

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Lung cancer, I think.’

‘How long does he have?’

‘Months, if that.’

Estelle thought carefully before asking the next question: ‘Do you feel the pull? Are you meant to heal him?’

She saw Adam shake his head. No. This man was destined to die. Slowly. Painfully.

Suddenly, she realised that she could see Adam; he was no longer shielding them from view. That’s how well he knew her. There would be no wicked deed here today, no Falling from grace. Only justice of the karmic kind.

‘God I love you,’ she said, and she pressed her lips to his.

‘Er… can I help you?’ Tony had come to the door and was frowning at the couple kissing on his doorstep.

Estelle and Adam broke off, but they didn’t even look at the man beside them.

‘Take me home,’ Estelle told Adam… and he did.

They stayed on the beach for the rest of the day, lying in the sun, paddling in the surf. When the sun set there wasn’t a crumb left of that cake. It was dry. It was salty. It was crunchy with egg shell. But it was the most delicious thing either of them had ever eaten.

 

ceruleans-poster

 

Buy links

https://www.amazon.com/Charlotte-Wilson/e/B00TDH4XLS/

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/death-wish-30

https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/charlotte-wilson/id200555

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/death-wish-charlotte-wilson/1125314541

 

About the Author

 

charlotte-wilsonOnce upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess. ‘Write, Charlotte,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did.

Thirty-odd years later, Charlotte is a professional writer. For authors and publishers, she writes and edits books as The Book Specialist. For herself, she writes soulful, coming-of-age romance for young adults.

Charlotte grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in a village of Greater Manchester with her husband and two children. When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her walking someplace green, baking up a storm, or embarking on a DIY project. She recently achieved a lifetime ambition of creating a library in her home to house her ever-increasing collection of books. She pretends not to notice that the shelves are rather wonky.

You can find Charlotte online at:

www.thebookspecialist.com

https://twitter.com/bookishcharlie

https://www.facebook.com/bookishcharlie

https://www.instagram.com/bookishcharlie/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15932269.Charlotte_Wilson

 

Giveaway

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Guest Post: An Inside Look at Loving a Wild Stranger by Kelli A. Wilkins

12 Jan

An Inside Look at Loving a Wild Stranger

By Kelli A. Wilkins
www.amazon.com/author/kelliwilkins

 

Hi everyone,

Today I’m sharing an inside look and an excerpt from my latest historical romance, Loving a Wild Stranger. This full-length pioneer-wilderness romance is set in the Michigan Territory and blends adventure with a sensual love story.

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Here’s the summary:

lovingwildstranger

Loving a Wild Stranger

A woman running from her past… straight into the arms of an untamed man

 

In a moment of desperation, Kathleen Stanton flees her pampered life in Kingston, New York and ends up stranded in a small town in the Michigan Territory. Out of money and forced to rely on her instincts, she impersonates a handsome stranger’s mail-order bride.

 

Committed to her deception, Kathleen calls herself Michelle and starts her new life with Luther in an isolated cabin in the wilderness. Luther can’t believe his luck when his beautiful bride arrives, but something doesn’t feel right about his new wife. Michelle has terrifying nightmares involving a man named Roger and is reluctant to talk about where she came from.
Luther’s friend, Redfeather visits and tries to convince Luther to send Michelle back east. Distrusting Michelle, he warns Luther that his bride is not what she seems. But Luther is in love with Michelle, and he is harboring a secret of his own—one that might force Michelle to reject him when she learns the truth.
Michelle falls in love with Luther and adapts to her new way of life. Together, they face off against brutal townspeople and overcome harsh living conditions. When they finally give in to their desires and agree to become a proper man and wife, a dark figure from Michelle’s past resurfaces and threatens to destroy everything.

 

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The idea for this book started with a simple premise: a woman on the run impersonates a mountain man’s mail-order bride and lives in his cabin in the woods. From there, I thought about the characters and how they would interact, learn to live with each other, and naturally, fall in love. 

 

But before I started writing, I went to the library and did a lot of research. First, I had to decide on the time period. When and where I set my story would determine all the necessary details that bring the characters to life—and also influence the plot.

 

Once the time period was finalized, I needed to learn about mail-order brides, fur trapping and trading, Native Americans, and get an overall feel for what life was like back then. As I wrote the book, I incorporated my research as background information. This gives the story a rich historical feel without going overboard with details that might bog down the book or bore readers.

 

I enjoyed creating the characters and all the conflicts that take place between them. Michelle and Luther are very different people—sort of like a city mouse and a country mouse—and I played on their differences in lifestyles, clothing, expectations, etc. throughout the book. When Luther’s friend Redfeather arrives, Michelle realizes how far she is out of her comfort zone and begins to see her situation (and Luther) in a new light.

 

As Luther and Michelle get to know each other (and fight for each other) they realize they have a lot more in common than they once thought. They both had to fend for themselves to survive in a rough world, with little or no family support. This brings them closer together and makes their love stronger.

 

I enjoyed writing this book, and I hope readers will fall in love with the characters the way I did.

 

Continue reading

Guest Post: The Origin of the Dakota by Andrew Joyce

30 Oct

I have one more guest post from Andrew Joyce. I’ve learned a lot from these posts and I can’t wait until I have time to read his latest novel, Yellow Hair.

 

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I would like to thank The Dawn for allowing me to be here today to promote my latest, Yellow Hair, which documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage I write about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in my fact-based tale of fiction were real people and I use their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.

Now that the commercial is out of the way, we can get down to what I really came here to talk about: the Sioux people. The people we know as the Sioux were originally known as the Dakota, which means ally. The name Sioux came from the Chippewa and the French. The Chippewa called them Nadonessiou, which means adder, or enemy, and then the French shortened the name to Sioux.

 

Every culture has an origin myth. We in the West have Adam and Eve. The Ancient Greeks had Gaia. According to the Norse people, Odin and Ymir founded the earth. If you will allow me, I’d like to tell you the creation story of the Dakota.

In the beginning, before the creation of the earth, the gods resided in the sky and humans lived in darkness. Chief among the gods was Ta՜kuwakaŋ, the Sun, who was married to Haŋyetuwi, the Moon. He had one daughter, Wohpe. And there was Old Man and Old Woman, whose daughter, Ite, was wife to Wind, to whom she gave four sons, the Four Winds.

Of the other spirits, the most important was Iŋktomi, the devious trickster. Iŋktomi conspired with Old Man and Old Woman to increase their daughter’s status by arranging an affair between the Sun and Ite. His wife’s discovery of the affair led Ta՜kuwakaŋ to give the Moon her own domain, and by separating her from himself, created time.

Old Man, Old Woman and Itewho was separated from Wind, her husband—were banished to Earth. Ite, along with her children, the Four Winds, and a fifth wind—the child of Ite but not of Wind—established space. The daughter of the Sun and the Moon, Wohpe, also fell to earth and later resided with the South Wind. The two adopted the fifth wind, who was called Wamŋiomŋi.

Alone on the newly formed Earth, some of the gods became bored. Ite prevailed upon Iŋktomi to find her people, the Buffalo Nation. In the form of a wolf, Iŋktomi went beneath the earth and discovered a village of humans. Iŋktomi told them about the wonders of the Earth and convinced one man, Tokahe, to accompany him through a cave to the surface. Tokahe did so and, upon reaching the surface, saw the green grass and blue sky for the first time. Iŋktomi and Ite introduced Tokahe to buffalo meat and showed him tipis, clothing, hunting clubs, and bows and arrows. Tokahe returned to the underworld village and appealed to six other men and their families to go with him to the Earth’s surface.

When they arrived, they discovered that Iŋktomi had deceived Tokahe. The buffalo were scarce; the weather had turned bad, and they found themselves starving. Unable to return to their home, but armed with a new knowledge about the world, they survived to become the founders of the Seven Council Fires.

The Seven Council Fires . . . or Oćeti Šakowiŋ . . .  are the Mdewakanton, the Wahpeton, the Wahpekute, the Sisseton, the Yankton, the Yanktonai, and the Lakota.

After Tokahe led the six families to the surface of the earth, they wandered for many winters. Sons were born and sons died. Winters passed, more winters than could be counted. That was before Oćeti Šakowiŋ. But not until White Buffalo Calf Woman did the humans become Dakota.

Two scouts were hunting the buffalo when they came to the top of a small hill. A long way off, they observed the figure of a woman. As she approached, they saw that she was beautiful. She was young and carried a wakiŋ. One of the scouts had lustful thoughts and told the other. His friend told him that she was sacred and to banish such thoughts.

The woman came up to them and said to the one with the lustful thoughts, “If you would do what you are thinking, come forward.” The scout moved and stood before her and a white cloud covered them from sight.

When the woman stepped from the cloud, it blew away. There on the ground, at the beautiful woman’s feet, lay a pile of bones with worms crawling in and among them.

The woman told the other scout to go to his village and tell his people that she was coming, for them to build a medicine tipi large enough to hold all the chiefs of the nation. She said, “I bring a great gift to your people.”

When the people heard the scout’s story, they constructed the lodge, and put on their finest clothing, then stood about the lodge and waited.

As the woman entered the village, she sang:

 

‘With visible breath I am walking.

A voice I am sending as I walk.

In a sacred manner I am walking.

With visible tracks I am walking.

In a sacred manner I walk.’

 

She handed the wakiŋ to the head chief and he withdrew a pipe from the bundle. On one side of the pipe was carved a bison calf. “The bison represents the earth, which will house and feed you,” she said.

Thirteen eagle feathers hung from the wooden stem. White Buffalo Calf Woman told the chiefs, “The feathers represent the sky and the thirteen moons. With this pipe, you shall prosper. With this pipe, you shall speak with Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka (God). With this pipe, you shall become The People. With this pipe, you shall be bound with the Earth for She is your mother. She is sacred. With this pipe, you shall be bound to your relatives.”

Having given the pipe to the People, and having said what she had to say, she turned and walked four paces from the lodge and sat down.

When she arose, she was a red-and-brown buffalo calf. She walked on, lay down and came up as a black buffalo calf. Walking still farther, she turned into a white buffalo and stood upon a hill. She turned to bow in the four directions of the four winds and then she vanished.

Because of White Buffalo Calf Woman, the Dakota honor our mother the Earth; they honor their parents and their grandparents. They honor the birds of the sky; they honor the beasts of the earth. They know that Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka resides in all animals, in all trees and plants and rocks and stones. Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka is in all. They know that Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka lives in each of us.

Because of White Buffalo Calf Woman, they have become Dakota.

 

About the Author

andrew-llAndrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

 

Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Kobo

Smashwords

http://andrewjoyce76.com

Facebook

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Andrew’s newest book is Yellow Hair.

Yellow Hair documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage written about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in this fact-based tale of fiction were real people and the author uses their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.
This is American history.

Guest Post: The Research Process by Andrew Joyce

24 Oct

Andrew Joyce has written guest posts for me in the past and he always does a wonderful job. I’m hoping to be able to find the time to read his books at some point since I can already tell I like his writing style. 

 

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I would like to thank Dawn for allowing me to be here today to promote my latest, Yellow Hair, which documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage I write about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in my fact-based tale of fiction were real people and I use their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.

Now that the commercial is out of the way, we can get down to what I really came here to talk about: the research that goes into writing an historical novel or an action/adventure novel that uses an historical event as a backdrop.

I want to say that I learned the hard way how important proper research is. But it wasn’t really that hard of a lesson. In my first book, which takes place in the last half of the 19th century, I made two mistakes. I had the date of an event off by one year and I had my hero loading the wrong caliber cartridge into his Winchester rifle. I would have gone blissfully throughout life not knowing how I had erred if not for my astute fans. Both mistakes were quickly pointed out to me in reviews of the book. One guy said he would have given me five stars if not for the wrong caliber bullet mistake. I had to settle for only four stars. Lesson learned!

Before I get into telling you about the year-long research I did for Yellow Hair, I’d like to tell you how I researched my second and third books and describe what that research entailed.

My second book was a western and the protagonist was a woman. The research took about three months. I had to know everything from women’s undergarments of the late 19th century to prison conditions for women in those days. (I sent my heroine to jail.) That kind of research was easy. Thank God for the internet. But then I had to do some real research. Molly (my protagonist) built up her cattle ranch to one of the largest in Montana, but she and her neighbors had nowhere to sell their beef. So Molly decided to drive her and her neighbors’ cattle to Abilene where she could get a good price. She put together the second largest herd on record (12,000 head) and took off for Abilene.

That’s when I had to really go to work. I wanted my readers to taste the dust on the trail. I wanted them to feel the cold water at river crossing. I wanted them to know about the dangers of the trail, from rustlers to Indians to cattle stampedes.

This is how I learned about all those things and more. First of all, I found old movies that were authentic in nature. I watched them to get a feel for the trail. Then I read books by great authors who had written about cattle drives to soak up even more of the atmosphere of a cattle drive. That was all well and good, but it still did not put me in the long days of breathing dust and being always fearful of a stampede.

That’s when I went looking for diaries written by real cowboys while they were on the trail. After that, I found obscure self-published books written by those cowboys. Then it was onto newspaper articles written at the time about large cattle drives. That’s how I had Molly herd the second largest cattle drive. I discovered that the largest was 15,000 head, driven from Texas to California in 1882.

My next book took place in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. Here new elements were added such as wolves and the extreme weather as adversaries. Dogsledding was also involved. I have seen snow only three times in my life and I have never dogsledded. I knew even less about wolves. I had to learn about those things. I had no idea what it was like to travel across a wilderness on a dogsled at seventy degrees below zero. I also had to acquire knowledge about the dogs themselves, especially the lead dog. I learned about all that by doing the same things I did for my second book. The old diaries were the most helpful. As to the gold rush, there was plenty of material in the form of self-published books by some of the participants. Some were never even published, but I found copies of them in the archives of universities and historical societies. Again, newspaper stories printed at the time were very useful. Concerning wolves . . . I read everything I could get my hands on about wolves—their habits, the pack hierarchy, the alpha male, and the different jobs or tasks the males and females have while hunting.

1yellowhair-800-cover-reveal-and-promotionalNow we come to Yellow Hair. As I mentioned above, the book is about the Sioux Nation from 1805 to 1890. I had to know both points of view, the white man’s and the Sioux’s. Getting to know the whites’ take on things was easy. There are many, many books (non-fiction) that were written at the time. I even found a book written by Custer detailing his strategy for wiping out the Sioux entirely. That was hard reading. And, again, there were universities and historical societies whose archives were a great help.

As to the Sioux’s point of view, there are a few books that were dictated to newspapermen years later by the Indians that took part in the various battles that I weave into my story. I found a lot of material from Native American participants of the Little Big Horn, written twenty to thirty years after the fact.

But I wanted to immerse myself in the Sioux culture and I wanted to give them dignity by using their language wherever possible. I also wanted to introduce them by their Sioux names. So, I had to learn the Lakota language. And that wasn’t easy. There is a consortium that will teach you, but they wanted only serious students. You have to know a smattering of the language before they will even deign to let you in. I had to take a test to prove that I knew some Lakota. I failed the first time and had to go back to my Lakota dictionary and do some more studying. I got in on my second try.

I’m running out of space, so I reckon I’ll wrap it up. I hope I’ve given you a little insight into the research process. It’s time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. But it is also a blast. Every new discovery is like finding the motherlode.

I’d like to sign off with another commercial. The three books I alluded to above are:

I would like to thank Dawn once again for having me over and you good folks for tuning in.

Andrew Joyce

 

About the Author

 

andrew-llAndrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

 

Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Kobo

Smashwords

http://andrewjoyce76.com

Facebook

Guest Post: Andrew Joyce’s latest book, Yellow Hair

17 Oct

Andrew Joyce has written guest posts for me in the past and he always does a wonderful job. I’m hoping to be able to find the time to read his books at some point since I can already tell I like his writing style. Here’s his latest:

 

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Dawn has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to talk about my latest, Yellow Hair.

Yellow Hair documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage depicted actually took place—from the first to the last. The historical figures that play a role in my story were real people and I used their real names. I conjured up my protagonist only to weave together the various events conveyed in my fact-based tale of fiction. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century. It is American history.

1yellowhair-800-cover-reveal-and-promotionalThe inspiration for the book came to me when I was reading a short article and it made reference to the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862. It also mentioned that the outcome involved the largest mass execution in the history of the United States. That piqued my interest.

When I started my research into the incident, one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was documenting the entire history of the Sioux, who are also known as the Dakota, vis-à-vis the relationship between them and the United States.

Because the book exists only because I read the phrase, “the largest mass execution in the history of the United States,” I’ll tell you a little about that. What follows is an extremely abbreviated version of events.

The Dakota signed their first treaty with the United States in 1805 when they sold a small portion of their land to the Americans for the purpose of building forts. It was right after the Louisiana Purchase and President Jefferson wanted a presence in the West. At the time, “the West” was anything on the western side of the Mississippi River.

In the treaty of 1805, the Dakota sold 100,000 acres to the Americans. The agreed-upon price was $2.00 per acre. But when the treaty came up before the Senate for ratification, the amount was changed to two cents per acre. That was to be a precursor for all future treaties with the Americans. There were subsequent treaties in 1815, 1825, 1832, 1837, and 1851, and basically the same thing happened with all those treaties.

In 1837, the Americans wanted an additional five million acres of Dakota land. Knowing it would be a hard sell after the way they failed to live up to the letter or spirit of the previous treaties, the government brought twenty-six Dakota chiefs to Washington to show them the might and majesty that was The United States of America.

The government proposed paying one million dollars for the acreage in installments over a twenty-year period. Part of the payment was to be in the form of farm equipment, medicine, and livestock. Intimidated, the Indians signed the treaty and went home. The United States immediately laid claim to the lands—the first payment did not arrive for a year.

The significance of the 1837 treaty lies in the fact that it was the first time “traders” were allowed to lay claim to the Indians’ payments without any proof that money was owed . . . and without consulting the Indians. Monies were subtracted from the imbursements and paid directly to the traders.

By 1851, the Americans wanted to purchase all of the Dakota’s remaining lands—twenty-five million acres. The Sioux did not want to sell, but were forced to do so with threats that the army could be sent in to take the land from them at the point of a gun if they refused the American’s offer.

“If we sell our land, where will we live?” asked the Dakota chief.

“We will set aside land for the Dakota only. It is called a reservation and it will be along both banks of the Minnesota River, twenty miles wide, ten on each side and seventy miles long. It will be yours until the grasses no longer grow,” answered the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

The Dakota were offered six cents an acre for land that was worth at least a dollar an acre. The payment would be stretched out over a twenty year period and was to be made in the form of gold coins. One year later, in 1852, the Americans took half the reservation, the seventy miles on the north side of the river. The Dakota were now reduced from a nation of fierce, independent people to a people dependent on hand-outs from the ones who stole not only their land, but also their dignity.

The Dakota were forced to buy their food from the traders who ran trading posts at the Indian Agency the U.S. Government had set up on the reservation. All year long the Dakota would charge what they needed. When the yearly payment for their land arrived, the traders would take what they said was owed them. Subsequently, there was very little gold left for the Dakota.

By 1862, the Dakota were starving. That year’s payment was months late in arriving because of the Civil War. The traders were afraid that because of the war there would be no payment that year and cut off the Dakota’s credit. The Indian Agent had the power to force the traders to release some of the food stocks, but refused when asked to do so by the Dakota.

After they had eaten their ponies and dogs, and their babies cried out in the night from hunger, the Dakota went to war against the United States of America.

They attacked the agency first and liberated the food stock from the warehouse, killing many white people who lived there. Then bands of braves set out to loot the farms in the surrounding countryside.

Many whites were killed in the ensuing weeks. However, not all of the Dakota went to war. Many stayed on the reservation and did not pick up arms against their white neighbors. Some saved the lives of white settlers. Still, over 700 hundred whites lost their lives before the rebellion was put down.

When the dust settled, all of the Dakota—including women and children, and those people who had saved settlers’ lives—were made prisoners of war.

Three hundred and ninety-six men were singled out to stand trial before a military commission. They were each tried separately in trials that lasted only minutes. In the end, three hundred and three men were sentenced to death.

Even though he was occupied with the war, President Lincoln got involved. He reviewed all three hundred and three cases and pardoned all but thirty-eight of the prisoners.

On a gray and overcast December morning in 1862, the scaffold stood high. Thirty-eight nooses hung from its crossbeams. The mechanism for springing the thirty-eight trap doors had been tested and retested until it worked perfectly. At exactly noon, a signal was given, a lever pulled, and the largest mass execution to ever take place in the United States of America became part of our history.

 

About the Author

 

andrew-llAndrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

 

Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Kobo

Smashwords

http://andrewjoyce76.com

Facebook

Guest Post: Danny and the Crab by Andrew Joyce

20 Apr

A few months ago, Andrew Joyce wrote a guest post about writing one of his books, Molly Lee. It was a great post, so when he emailed me about another one, I was happy to have him back. I’m glad I did because I love this story! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

 

 

AndrewMy name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Dawn has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new book RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure. I think it’s a good book, but what do I know? Anyway, I’m kinda shy about tooting my own horn. So I think I’ll turn things over to my dog, Danny the Dog. He always has a bad attitude and usually does not speak highly of me. But please understand that we co-exist as the old Soviet Union and the United States co-existed. We tolerate each other. So without further ado, here’s Danny.

Danny Looking GoodMy human, Andrew, dragged me away from a juicy steak bone to help him out. For a person that works with words for a living, he has very little to say in real life. He wants me to tout his book for him, but I don’t think I will. Instead, I think I’ll tell you about our latest adventure. We’re always having adventures, but this one takes the cake and it’s 100% true.

Andrew and I have been having some fine ol’ adventures lately. Well, maybe fine is not the exact word. I’ll start with the light stuff first. Andrew is okay for a human, but he does leave a lot to be desired. Do you know he hasn’t bought me a chew toy in years? I’m talking about those rawhide things. Yummy! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a toy type of dog, but I do like a good chew now and then just like everyone else.

Anyway, we were out walking around the marina (we live on a boat) about a week and a half ago when we happened upon Chloe. She’s my friend, a chocolate lab. She’s only a year old and very playful. Sometimes I will deign to acknowledge her existence, but most of the time I just ignore her. She’s a mite too rambunctious for me, like most females of my acquaintance.

So while she’s bouncing around me and nudging me with her snoot, trying to get me to play with her, I noticed a piece of rawhide lying on the dock. It was half chewed and it was oh-so inviting. Of course, I went over and started to sniff it. Chloe followed me and put her snoot down to it also. That’s when I had to assert myself. I gave her a short bark and a little growl to tell her it was now my chew thing. Then I grabbed it and made it officially mine.

I guess Andrew didn’t get the memo. He tried to take it from me while telling me stealing was not a good thing. Lucky for Andrew that Chloe’s human, Jeff, was there or Andrew would have lost a finger or two. Jeff told Andrew that it was all right for me to have the treasure. We went home and I sat out on the dock and chewed the thing until it was no more. All in all, it was a very good day. However, the next day, as you shall soon see, was a day that will live in infamy.

At the moment, I’m torn between telling you of my harrowing escape from the jaws of death or to tell you about Andrew’s slight, prosaic run-in with mortality.

I guess I’ll save the best for last. Here’s what happened to Andrew:

I was out walking him a few evenings ago and I was doing my usual sniffing. I caught the scent of a chicken bone or two in the vicinity and went on alert. Unfortunately, Andrew did also. The place we were walking is infamous for chicken bones, so Andrew was watching me like a hawk. And because he was looking at me, and not where he was walking, he slipped on an exposed root. His foot went into a small depression and we both heard a loud SNAP! His only comment: “Let’s go home while I can still walk.” He knew the pain and the swelling would soon set in and he wanted to be on the boat when that happened. He wanted to be near his pain medicine . . . I believe humans call it vodka. Well, long story short, Andrew had broken something in his ankle, but we don’t know what. He has a doctor friend, who offered to x-ray it for him at no cost, but the idiot (Andrew, not the doctor) said, and I quote, “We know something is broken, so the x-ray will only tell us what we already know. It was probably just a tendon snapping, I’ll be fine.”

I reckon you can’t argue with reasoning like that.

Now to the important news . . . what happened to ME last Saturday. Andrew is not the only wounded member of this household.

Saturday is the day the male humans escape their females and come to the Tiki Hut at the marina to drink beer and talk of manly things. Andrew is not a guy type of guy; he’s kind of a sissy, so he doesn’t hang out with the other males. Me, I like the guys and I am always happy to spend some time with them. Andrew usually brings me up there on Saturdays and leaves me for a few hours so that I can hang out. Then he goes back to the boat before the fresh air kills him. But this Saturday Andrew had some business to discuss with his friend Don, so he stayed around.

After Don and the other males made a big show of welcoming me, Andrew tied my leash to a tree. For some reason, Andrew doesn’t trust me, so I’m always on the damn leash. But I didn’t mind, there was a new scent on the ground and I was in heaven.

I followed the scent over to a log where it was the strongest … oh joy! There was a crevasse at the middle of the log and I poked my snoot into it. That’s when I got the surprise of my life. Out came a crab. But I was undaunted . . . his pincher claw did not faze me at all, no siree bob it did not!

This is going to be fun, I thought. I barked and backed him up a bit. Then he raised his claw over his head in a defensive position. That’s when my world was turned upside down. He clamped his big ol’ claw right on my beautiful nose! Yeow and double yeow! I let out with a cry that sent Andrew scurrying over, bad ankle and all. When he saw what had happened, he had the temerity to laugh at me.

Now the two of us sit on the boat staring at one another. Andrew has ice on his ankle and I have ice on my nose. Actually, there is more ice in Andrew’s vodka drink than on his ankle.

Here we sit, just two old males wishing for better times. And I’m not about to forget his laughter during my darkest moment. My Waterloo if you will. As I write these words, I am plotting my revenge.

Resolution-800 Cover reveal and PromotionalOh yeah, go out and buy his book.

This is Andrew again. On behalf of Danny and myself, I would like to thank Dawn for having us over. It’s been a real pleasure.

 

 

Available on Amazon.

 

 

 

Guest Post: C.L. Ryan

29 Feb

Well here I am at the age of 57, Grandmother of 2, totally dyslexic and being asked to do a guest post.

Question: How did this writing malarkey all start? I was recently asked. Good question I replied, now let me think.

About 3 years ago, my partner suddenly became afflicted with a terrible eye disease, which needed a lot of very nasty and serious treatment to save his sight. This meant hours of travelling to Bristol Eye Hospital, up and down sometimes as much as twice a week. This actually wasted so much time it was unbelievable, I would be sat in the car outside, sometimes for hours on end, the parking was so precious, waiting for him to stumble out into the brightness after his treatment, only to come back again a couple of days later and do this all again.

After one particular day where I was waiting nearly 3 hours in the car, my brain numb, listening to the radio and reading at least 2 daily papers and 1 magazine, I decided to clear out of one of the cupboards at home that I knew held about eight or nine of my old A4 writing notebooks. I always took one with me whenever I went anywhere, especially holidays, but never threw them away when I got home. I thought I might bring one with me, and make some notes on shopping for the week, and what little jobs needed to be done at home etc, just something to scribble on to keep me from going insane while I was waiting in the car, and of course I could get rid of all those that were full and needed throwing away. Good job I didn’t. When I got home and went to the cupboard and started going through them all, I was flabbergasted reading through them. Some dated back to as long as 20 years ago, when I was learning to dive in the Red Sea, and there it was again and again and again, the same thing. Although the name of the book has changed now, all these writing books that I have saved revealed to me all my scribblings, notes, thoughts ,traumas, events, oh my goodness, it had been staring at me, right in my face for so long, and here it was again shouting at me very loud!!

The next day we were going to the hospital, my partner spied this pile of notebooks in the back of the car, “What in God’s name are you doing with that pile of rubbish?” he asked me, seeing the back seat piled up high. I smiled back at him and replied, “Oh just something for me to do while I am waiting for you.” My brain was fizzing on the way to Bristol, some 27 miles from Weston Super Mare, which usually took from between 1 hour, to 1 hours and 20 minutes depending on the traffic, and I couldn’t wait to get him out of the car once we had parked. “Go on, hurry up, don’t be late for your appointment.” I shouted at him, I was so excited just trembling at the thought of getting my hungry paws onto this pile of books and start reading what I had already written some time ago. 3 hours later, I had written my opening paragraph, not even realizing while I was sat there, a traffic warden had given me a parking ticket for running over the time I had purchased, I was so engrossed in what I was doing, suddenly jumping up as my partner banged on the window to let him in. I was in heaven, away with the fairies and angels in my own little inner space, and that was it, I was off, sucked into the world of writing, literacy and all the ups and downs this business brings. I was suddenly in love, in love with doing something, for the first time in my life, for me!! Yes me!!

After 3 long years of emotional ups and downs, tears, frustrations, and long nights and early mornings at the computer, she was finally born. Secret Demon, my little baby girl, my nurtured inner child came out into the big wide world, and I am so very proud that she has.

Would I do this again? Yes of course. I wrote so much over the last three years, I now have 3 books and I am just finishing the 4th.

Book 2 is going for editing at the end of April, and the next project is the cook book which has emanated from all the cooking and recipes in the first 3. Excited? You bet!! Just can’t seem to put the pen down, and all this from just being bored and deciding to look back into a pile of old A4 writing books I kept from my travels.

All the time I was bored and needing to be fulfilled, and seemed to be wasting time, the one thing I yearned for all along was right under my nose, I just kept passing it by. So go on! Open up those cupboards, have a clear out, check your junk, you might just find something very precious, just like I did!

 

C.L.RYAN
AUTHOR: Secret Demon

 

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Guest Post: Transforming Barriers into Success by Zaheen Nanji, author of The Resilience Reflex

14 Dec

Did you know that there are 8 Keys to Transforming Barriers into Success in Life and Business?

We all experience challenging life experiences such as a death of a loved one, loss of a job, serious illness, and other traumatic events. It is how we deal and adapt to life’s ups and downs that move us forward instead of backwards. The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the ability to adapt well to adapt well over time to life-changing situations and stressful conditions.

Resilience is the process of adapting well and moving forward in the face of adversity, stress and tragedy. Resilience teaches individuals how to pivot from setbacks to success. Never giving up on myself was an important factor for me to overcome many struggles throughout my life. I have bounced back from not being able to speak because of my speech impediment, and from moving halfway across the world without my parents at the age of 15. I lived in country ravished by war called Africa. At age 5, an incident left me with a speech impediment-stuttering. I was also able to overcome a long battle with food, once being 40 pounds overweight.

Yet today I managed, and completed my education in Nutrition & Food Science, and Environmental Health. I work fulltime in the health field, manage two businesses – a wellness centre and my professional speaking career. This journey led me to write two books and become an award-winning author.

Both of my books, Attract Your Ideal Weight: 8 Secrets of People Who Lose Weight and Keep It Off, and my new release The Resilience Reflex dives into the behavior changes and mindset of people who have been successful and provides real-life experiences of people who have overcome their obstacles.

The Resilience Reflex took seven months to write and has plenty of real life stories from individuals who are resilient. Reading this book will inspire you to find solutions to your most pressing personal and professional challenges. The book includes self-assessment questions that help the reader discover their limiting patterns and how they can change them. This book provides everyday coping skills; developing resilience helps people in life and business.

Someone once said, “Life is not measured by how many times I fall down, but by how many times I’m able to get up.” Amazon Bestseller The Resilience Reflex is available on Amazon and other retailers. When you order the book you receive as a bonus gift The Resilience Reflex Workbook – 3 Powerful Steps to Get Unstuck and Bounce Back, this is available at http://zaheennanji.com/.

by Zaheen Nanji

Theresiliencereflex

 

Book Excerpt

flatCuriosity is borne from our attitude, and psychologists define attitude as a learned tendency to evaluate things in a certain way. When resilient individuals approach a difficult situation, they have an attitude of being curious, patient, and optimistic, thereby diminishing fear of change.

Attitudes are also formed as a direct result of our experiences, values, and beliefs, and these guide our behaviours and actions toward a response. You’ve heard people say, “Have a positive attitude,” but what does that mean? When I research resiliency in individuals, I have found that positive attitude encompasses the following traits that are guided by values and beliefs:

  • Creative and solution-thinking…

 

Available on Amazon.

 

Giveaway

Open Internationally.

PRIZE One Winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash.

PRIZE  One Winner will receive a Free Copy of the ebook.

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Statistic Source: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx/

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