Monday Mayhem – Duranies Rock On!

I’m on vacation this week (which means I am busy typing and editing), so I asked my good friend and fellow Duran Duran junkie, Karen Booth, to stop by and talk to you about her smokin’ hot new release. Check it out here:

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If it wasn’t for the pesky brunette vs. blonde thing, I might make a guess that Margaret and I were separated at birth. We are both Midwest girls, both writers, lured to the South by our husbands. Margaret and I also share an adolescent love that never managed to go away, a vaguely unhealthy preoccupation with Duran Duran.

When I first befriended Margaret and found out she is also a Duranie, my only thought was this: “She’s so awesome. We could be such good friends. As long as she’s a Simon girl. If she’s a JT girl, this might not go well.” Ah, silly me. Of course Margaret had to be a JT girl (John Taylor for those not up to speed on Duran Duran vernacular). Dammit.

Alas, Margaret and I have learned to set aside our friendly JT rivalry. Neither of us will bad-mouth the other in his presence. We would never send him disparaging tweets. If we happen to show him a slightly unflattering picture of the other person, that’s purely by accident. Besides, he’s a rock star, he’s bigger than life. Surely there’s plenty of him for Margaret and I to share.

My brand new (smoking hot, if I do say so myself) book, Love My Way, comes complete with a hunky-on-the-outside and sweet-and-geeky on-the-inside rock star named Peter. He’s dead-set on snagging my heroine, Katie, but she isn’t ready to risk her heart for a rock star and she definitely isn’t willing to share. So, I want to know which rock star you want all to yourself, the one you aren’t willing to share. One responder will win an e-copy of Love My Way!

Love My Way

After her fiancé penned a “Dear Katie” letter, Kate Stillman vowed she’d never give a man more than one night. Free from emotional entanglements, she’s had some hot one-night stands, her heart has stayed off-limits and her photography career has skyrocketed. It’s the perfect plan until a Miami getaway brings her face-to-face with Peter Barrett.

Hunky rocker Peter has been pursuing Katie from afar ever since she photographed his band. In the flesh, it’s clear it was more than flirtation. Katie gives in to their sizzling chemistry, thinking Peter will appreciate her one-night rule. Instead, he balks and extends an invitation for a second night of pure abandon, an offer too tempting to refuse.

When they part, Katie realizes her rule protected her heart only too well. Time away from Peter leaves her wanting him more. Every steamy late-night phone call makes her wonder if she can love again. But when Peter returns and her trust is tested, Katie must overcome her past to learn that love her way was never the way at all.

Buy now at: Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, All Romance e-Books

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Monday Mayhem – Fresh meat!

I’m traveling quite a bit over the next few weeks, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce you to a few of my author buddies. I’m kicking this little foray into the unknown with a complete unknown. I’m crazy like that.

Meet my very funny friend, Evelyn Jules. Her debut story, Blind Faith, will be released by Turquoise Morning Press later this summer. I had the opportunity to read this sizzling little story, and trust me, you’re going to want to read it too! Without further ado…Ms. Evelyn Jules!

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Hi everyone! I’m taking over Margaret’s blog today. *maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh* If only you knew how long I’ve wanted to do this. But now I have special permission seeing as how I’m an official author and everything. Yep, it’s true! I signed my first contract with Turquoise Morning Press in April! It just magically floated into my inbox one day. Okay, that’s not exactly how it happened. You want the real story? Here goes….

It all started about a decade ago…Oh. You want the Cliffs Notes version? Hmmm. So a year ago I went to the Lori Foster Reader/Writer Get-together in Cincinnati, Ohio. I attended as a ‘reader’ but I was also there to support my incredible author friend, Margaret Ethridge. I follow her wherever she goes. True story. During the get-together there was a raffle with fabulous prizes. One of those prizes was a professional critique of 10 pages of manuscript from Kim Jacobs at Turquoise Morning Press. Guess what? I love watermelon gum. Oh, and I totally won the critique! 😀

As soon as I got home I started writing like a fiend. It took me close to two months before I had something I thought was presentable. This was my big chance. I didn’t want to waste it. They always say the waiting is the hardest part. Hardest. *giggles* Yeah, I write smut. I might as well come out and say that right now. Anyway, it was another two months before I heard anything. Kim gave me tremendous feedback, offered several suggestions on improvements, and in the final line of the email she told me that if I was willing to make the revisions, she was very willing to look at it again and offer me a…contract. *gasp* The ‘C’ word! What every author and aspiring author dreams of!

So I went back to my writing cave, added another four thousand words to my story, polished it, hugged it, kissed it, and forced Margaret to edit it more times than I can count, then I held my breath and resubmitted it. Fast-forward to April 1st (also known as April Fools’ Day). I got an email from Kim. She said my story made her laugh and cry. She loved it. More importantly…she wanted it! Happy, spastic dancing ensued. But it all came to a crashing halt when I recalled what day it was. Wait a minute. This wasn’t a joke, was it? I wasn’t entirely convinced either way until I received that ‘C’ word. My very own contract! Happy, spastic dancing ensued once more, this time accompanied by fits of sobbing. Margaret can tell you all about that. She was the recipient of a very watery phone call.

And I suck at Cliffs Notes. But I would like to share one last important detail with you. My first story, an erotic romance entitled Blind Faith, will be released this summer. Here’s the blurb:

Faith Lawson is just your average, wholesome librarian with a dirty mind . . . until a chance encounter with a handsome stranger brings her fantasies to life in a frantic night of passion. But when he walks out her door, he leaves a piece of his past behind that changes everything.

Sounds good, right? Just smile and nod. Oh, and please come visit me on my blog, twitter, and facebook for updates, news about future releases, fun games, contests, and general dirtiness! Thanks so much to Margaret for having me here! Don’t tell her I told you this (because she gets all weirded out when I get schmoopy) but she’s totally my favourite author.

So to leave you all with a question, what will you be reading this summer (besides Blind Faith)?

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Thanks, Evelyn! I’m going to bypass the schmoop and post a few links. Be sure to like/follow/bookmark these babies so you’ll know when Blind Faith becomes available!

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Monday Mayhem – New release, fabulous weekend, & my bed

Soooooo much going on today. Are you ready for this?

Inamorata is now available in all ebook formats! Run, run read!

As I was scurrying about the interwebs this morning (posting links, updating this site, etc…) it suddenly struck me. Inamorata is my fifth…FIFTH…full-length novel released in just eighteen months. The third in 2012. No wonder I’m so damn tired all the time. It’s a sickness, I tell you.

Of course, you know what this means, don’t you? I need to stop screwing around on the interwebs and get to writing. More to come in 2013!

All this release day excitement on the heels of an incredible weekend at the Annual Reader & Author Get Together in Cincinnati. I had such a good time catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, and in typical Margaret fashion, making a fool of myself to score a laugh or two.

And THIS! Check out this fabulous blog post on the kindness of strangers – it features one of my best friends AND one of MY BOOKS!

And last night, I crawled into my very own bed with my warm and snuggly man. Could life get any better? I think not.

Whew! How’s your Monday going?

Here are a few pics from the weekend:

TMP Authors
Slept with my editor, the fabulous Lola del Sol, in order to earn extra commas.
Bribed Kim Jacobs, Publisher, with a ginormous Diet Coke from Sonic.
Mugged for the camera with Renee Vincent
Spent time with some of the best friends any woman could ever have.
Fangirled Jill Shalvis
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Monday Mayhem – Let’s Play Catch-up

It’s bullet point day! I know you’re all as excited as I am, so let’s get to it. Here are the pertinent facts in the order generated by my highly disordered brain:

1) I just realized that Inamorata releases in two weeks! Woooot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Went to a beginner yoga class on Saturday and it almost killed me. Seriously, my abs haven’t hurt this bad since I tried to follow Denise Austin’s Pilates tape (Yes, I said tape. I’m old.) I remember the night I was afraid I’d never pull myself out of the bathtub like it was yesterday. I saw myself dying there, shivering and shriveled, and still without a six pack. Oh, wait. That was yesterday…

3) Still running. Still hate the process and love the results.

4) Got the nicest email from a reader about Spring Chickens. Want to make an author’s day? (Any author – not just me) Drop a line, write a review, Tweet, FB, Pin, or smoke signal them and tell them that you appreciate their work. We are delicate little flowers. We need sunshine and love and a constant sprinkling of reassurance. Seriously, something as simple as ‘I loved it’ makes us want to dance. Sometimes I even jitterbug.

5) I’m moved into my new daytime digs and feeling my way through the new job. I’m on the opposite end of the building from where I spent the last 7 years. My parking routine is completely out of whack.

6) Monday. *sigh* I miss Castle.

7) Leo Sayer is playing on my iPod. Don’t judge.

8 ) I may or may not (that’s my oh-so-subtle way of playing it coy) be planning to write a little short story involving Maggie McCann and the Sullivan clan for an anthology. They’ve all been chattering in my head, making plans, vying for dialogue…the usual.

9) I’m heading to the Annual Reader and Author Get Together in Cincinnati June 1-2 at the Marriott north. I’ll be signing books Friday, June 1from 7-9PM. If you’re in the area, please come by and say hi! Here’s the 4-1-1!

10) Long weekend coming up! I plan to sleep, eat, and write. What are your plans?

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Monday Mayhem – Guilt Offering

The dog ate my homework!

Okay, maybe not really, but the result is the same: I don’t have a post prepared. What can I say? I’ve, uh, been…busy. I am prpared to offer appeasment, though. No, I don’t have a Central-Eurpopean country to hand over, but I do have one more novel releasing this year. How about a sneak peek from Inamorata? Will that get me off the hook?

Warning: Frank DeLuca was never PG-13 and probably never will be. The potty-mouth…

Anyhoo…Here’s your bribe. Let me know what you think, and have a happy Monday!

Inamorata – Coming June 2012 from Turquoise Morning Press

After twenty-five years of cooling his jets in a wall sconce, Frank DeLuca figured the afterlife owed him a break. Hadn’t he been a model ghost? He didn’t possess little kids, screw up the television reception, or throw random objects across the room just to get attention. Hell, he never even made creepy noises in the dead of night.

All he asked was a peaceful existence where someone would turn him on every once in a while. The light, that is. He needed just a little bit of light in his afterlife.

Instead, he got a sullen, silent little boy who cried for his mommy every night. The kid came with a set of hyper-tense grandparents whose marriage was crumbling under the weight of old insecurities and words left unspoken. As if that weren’t enough to drive a guy to hide out in his light fixture, providence tossed in a little a spitfire of a girl who flipped his switch in every way. Gina Ferro turned out to be the kid’s mother. She also happened to be a ghost.

Thrown together by Fate and bound by history, Frank and Gina must learn to trust each other with the keys to their pasts in order to unlock their eternity.

Excerpt:

He let go, allowing the soul-crushing pain to swamp him, plummeting to earth once more. He couldn’t crash and burn any worse than he had before. Twice before. Once when he was living, and once long after he’d been dead. Frank blinked the glare from his eyes and focused on the blank wall in front of him. The rosebud wallpaper was gone. The sheetrock had been stripped, sanded, and painted blue. A blue that was just a half-shade lighter than the blue that coated the walls in nineteen-eighty-seven.

He shook his head to clear it. Finally, his gaze tracked to the right where he spotted a bookshelf loaded with books, games, and stuffed animals. At the very top, a collection of trophies like the one he once kept in this very room was proudly displayed. Tiny gold men holding bats glistened in the soft amber glow of evening. He gaped at them perched atop their faux marble and fake brass pedestals.

He could see it so perfectly in his mind’s eye. A spotless trophy, gleaming bright gold in the light cast from the cheesy 70s directional sconce mounted on the wall. His mother running her fingertip over the engraved plate bearing his name.

“Francis DeLuca.”

The name rolled off his lips even though he hadn’t spoken it aloud in nearly two decades. Not since the night he introduced himself to the little girl who moved into his room. Not since he fell in love with Cam.

His eyes locked on the gilt batter glued to the top of the tallest trophy. He couldn’t look away. Obviously they didn’t belong to the little guy snuggled into the race-car shaped bed. But something told him they belonged here, just like him.

He stared hard at that trophy, seeing his mother’s wind-up, flinching just as he flinched when she hurled it across the room, smashing the bulb in the brass-colored wall sconce to bits, stealing the last wisps of breath from his lungs, and sentencing him to an eternity as the middleman.

On August nineteenth, nineteen-eighty-seven, he died. That was the day he broke his mother’s heart. That was the day his fate was sealed.

Shaking his head, Frank glared at the woman perched on the side of the bed. She was tall and slim, her hair so blonde it was almost white, her skin as pale as milk. Long, graceful fingers fussed with the edge of a Thomas the Tank Engine quilt, but the backs of her hands were veined and dotted with sunspots. It was her face that called to him. Stoic. Silent. Stone-faced.

“Fuck. Here we go again.”

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Monday Mayhem – Randomosity

I have nothing prepared for today’s post, so I’m just going to throw a handful of randomosity at you and hope that something sticks. You ready? Here we go!

1) My husband and I just had a ten minute discussion about geometric theorems which concluded with heartfelt declarations of our utter relief that we don’t have to take Geometry class ever again.

2) I participated in a 5k race on Saturday. I managed to run about 2 1/2 of the 3.1 miles and finished in 37:45. I was happy. 🙂

3) As I type, I am wearing a rather fetching pair of University of Arkansas at Monticello Boll Weevil socks. Fear the weevil!

4) I ate birthday cake today. And chocolate ice cream. Je ne regrette rien.

5) Spring Chickens is now available…everywhere! Tell your friends and be sure to check out this fabulous GoodReads giveaway that starts tomorrow!

The winner of the $20 gift card from last week’s post was Carol. Thanks for your comments and continued support! My readers are the best!

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Monday Mayhem – Picking Favorites

The gift card winner is: Carol! Thanks for your comments!

It’s release week for Spring Chickens and I am doing a happy dance. If you haven’t heard my crowing already, here’s the 4-1-1: Trade Paperback can be ordered NOW! Digital versions and all outlets other than the Wild Rose Press Bookstore will release Friday, April 27th!

Whew!

An author once told me she gets ‘the jitters’ each time she has a new release hit the shelves, despite having over a dozen titles out there. She’s not the only one.

This never gets old. Each release is exciting and terrifying at the same time. Like a first date without the pointless rambling and the possibility of spilling food down the front of my shirt. (Which I will do anyway, but you won’t see it so it won’t count against me.)

I can’t help but wonder if you’ll like my writing. Will you fall for Lynne and Bram the way I did? Will there be a second read? What if I never hear from you again?

Oh, the hand wringing!

Just like dating, all I can do is put myself out there and hope we connect on some level.

Spring Chickens is a different sort of story for me. My hero and heroine are a little older, a bit wiser, and a whole lot warier than they were when they were young, but in a way it’s much more optimistic than anything I’ve written before. I know authors (and mothers) are not supposed to have favorites, but…Shh. Don’t tell the others.

Desert island time! If you had to pick only one book (no cheating and naming a series!) by your favorite author, which would be your favorite and why?

One lucky commenter will win a $20 gift card to the online bookstore of their choice! Winner will be drawn on Sunday, April 29th at 6PM US-Central time. Please tell your friends!

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Monday Mayhem: Springing Eternal

Today is the day the Romance Writers of America announce the RITA/Golden Heart contest finalists. For those of you who don’t know, the RITAs are for published authors, and Golden Heart entries are unpublished. There are many prestigious and esteemed awards in the romance community, but these two would be the equivalent of the Oscar/Emmy/Tony awards.

Last fall, the staff at Turquoise Morning Press voted to put two of their 2011 titles up for consideration for RITA awards and they chose Grace Greene’s Beach Rental (Best Inspirational Romance & Best First Book categories) and my Contentment (Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category) as TMP’s official submissions.

I couldn’t believe they picked one of my books from all of the titles they published in 2011. I might have had a total Sally Field moment. Maybe. There’s no video, so there’s no proof. As you can imagine, RITA and GH submissions are huge. The chances of being chosen as a finalist are super-slim – particularly for a small press author. But even as I filled out the entry form, I will admit that I was picturing myself as that camel passing through the eye of a needle. Without the hump. And the overbite. And the spitting thing…

I’m realistic enough to know my phone will probably not ring this morning. I’m not just saying that to be self-deprecating. Those of me who know me well know I have a ginormous ego. Huge. At times, monstrous. But I will say it’s also pretty well grounded in reality.

I love my baby, but I’m not so blind that I can’t see its flaws. But still…Maybe….

And there it goes again – springing eternal and all that jazz. I can’t help myself. I came equipped with this tiny little flame, flickering and sputtering deep inside of me. Standard equipment on this model, I guess. It won’t ever be extinguished, not even after the name of the last of the 2012 RITA finalists is posted on the RWA website.

Being an author is all about having hope.

We hope the story idea rattling around in our head is as good as we think it might be.

We hope we’ve chosen the right words to paint a picture, tell the tale, and spin a web so sticky you’ll never want to put the book down.

We hope it touches someone somehow.

Hope is the key ingredient that makes each and every romance (real or fictional) a possibility. It spurs us to press ‘send’ on that agent or editor pitch. Hope keeps us clicking the refresh button multiple times a day. Each time I open a new document, I’m filled with hope, expectation, and the tiny trickle of trepidation that accompanies any risk worth taking.

And if that phone call never comes, that’s okay. There’s always next year, right?

Spoken like a true Cubs fan.

Happy Monday, my friends. What are your hopes for the day, week, month, or year?

ETA: Just wanted to thank you all for your support. Contentment wasn’t chosen as a finalist, but I will have three (!) 2012 releases to choose from when it comes time to submit again. Thanks so much. You all are the best!

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Monday Mayhem – Special Guest Stars!

Today I have a special surprise – I’m turning my blog over to two of my favorite chickas – The Karens!

Not long ago, I met Karen Stivali and Karen Booth on Twitter. In the blink of an eye, we were best friends – braiding hair…finishing sentences…dishing about our hot dates…raiding each other’s closets…. Oh, and they also write fiction.

Fabulously sexy fiction.

Today they are visiting Writings and Ramblings to celebrate the release of their co-authored story, Long Distance Lovers! Woooot! Without further ado, here are The Karens nattering on about one of our favorite subjects – British boys!

*Cranks the Duran Duran and pretends she didn’t just lick a picture of Colin Firth*

Brits, Brits, and more Brits

When did your fascination with British men start? Who was your first Brit crush?

Karen B: I started young—seven or eight years old, playing Beatles 45s for hours at a time on the record player in my dad’s den. It was the 70s. We called a man’s home office a den. My first Brit crush was also my first rock star crush—dreamy, fresh-faced and clever Paul McCartney. In middle school, I had a crush on a boy in a Beatles cover band. I remember thinking that he would have been the perfect guy if he were British. Not a lot of British boys in Minnesota. Dammit.

Karen S: My earliest fascination with British men came from listening to The Beatles. I can remember being no more than five years old, lying on the area rug in my dad’s den while he worked. I’d be alternating between drawing pictures and studying the covers from his collection of Beatles albums. Paul and George were my favorites, especially in the photos from their early mop top days (the scraggly bearded look didn’t do it for me then and still doesn’t all these decades later). I’m guessing it was the combo of British accent and floppy hair that later led to my first celebrity crush, on Davy Jones from The Monkees. I must have been ten by then, and even though the show was in reruns and Davy was more than old enough to be my father, I thought he was the cutest, funniest guy ever. Once again, the accent had worked its magic. Around the same time we moved to England for a while and lived there for several months over the span of a few years. I fell in love with Oxford, the beautiful old buildings, the fluffy down beds, the dessert trolley at tea time. Everything enchanted me, and the local men with their charming voices and witty jokes were no exception. I was hooked.

Karen B: Why am I not surprised we were both obsessed with The Beatles when we were little? Why am I not surprised we both decided to use the term “den”? I’d say we were separated at birth if we didn’t have completely dissimilar appearances.

Why write Brit characters?

Karen B: Write what you love? That’s one excuse. There’s a safe exoticism to the Brits. They’re just different enough. No language barrier, but you have the accent, the irresistible British sense of humor, and those funny things they say like bugger and brilliant. I’m such a goof, a good-looking British guy could tell me I was sixes and sevens and I would still swoon.

Karen S: I write both British and American male leads. The ones who are British are just, for lack of a better word, different. The sense of humor is different. The charm is different. There are things American men can do that seem completely awkward or unnatural coming from a Brit, and vice versa. Also, when I write I “hear” my characters talking in my head. It’s very easy for me to hear my Brit characters because I’m so familiar with the accent. I’d have a very difficult time writing a character with an accent I had less familiarity with, so I stick with what I know. I have a close Aussie friend who keeps insisting I need to write a good Aussie leading man. We’ll see…

What about British snacks? There’s mention of them in the book.

Karen B: In Long-Distance Lovers, Tim has a bit of a sweet tooth and he’s disappointed when he realizes he can’t procure the candy he likes from home. Jenna introduces him to pretzel M&Ms, which he loves, and it’s one of the things they bond over. I get all of my best British treats from Karen S. She sends them to me.

Karen S: One of my favorite things about traveling is having the chance to sample local foods—the produce, the traditional regional specialties, and of course, the candy. There’s always an array of new snack foods to choose from and I love to try them all. I usually return home from trips with a stash of tasty snacks I’ve discovered on my journey, and I miss my favorites when my supply inevitably runs out. Nowadays, with the Internet, it’s fairly easy to order hard to find snacks, but I don’t. Instead I prefer to troll the import aisle at supermarkets or specialty shops. I love the excitement of stumbling upon a favorite treat I can’t normally get locally. And I often buy an extra, to ship to Karen Booth.

Food is also closely linked to memories for me, which is why Tim, the charming British lead in Long-Distance Lovers, needs to experience some quintessential New York treats. One of the things I miss the most from when I lived in New York City is the cannolis. Not just any cannolis, either, the ones from Veniero’s Bakery. Those can’t be found or duplicated anywhere else, so I had to let him enjoy them. And trust me, he really enjoys them.

Long-Distance Lovers

British musician Tim Wentworth trades his London flat for an apartment in NYC so he can record with a promising American band, but he arrives in Manhattan to learn the gig has been canceled. With no job and a two-month stay in the States, he wonders if the trip has been a waste of time, until he meets charming and talented jewelry designer Jenna Bradford.

Unlike the groupies who throw themselves at Tim after shows, Jenna couldn’t be less impressed by his music credentials. Bad experiences have led her to have a strict “no-musicians” policy. But when Tim rescues Jenna from an obnoxious drunk, she bends her rules and they embark on a sensuous courtship filled with steamy, passionate nights and intense, unexpected emotions. While they try to find a way to prolong their time together, a family tragedy forces Tim to return to England. Jenna and Tim must each decide how far they’re willing to go to see if their whirlwind romance can lead to a lifetime of love.

 

Karen Booth and Karen Stivali are critique partners and co-authors of the new Ellora’s Cave erotic romance, Long-Distance Lovers, out now. Further info at thekarens.com.

Buy now at Ellora’s Cave or Amazon!

 

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – Vacation – all I ever wanted…

Vacation – I need to get away…

Later this week, I will be on vacation for a few days. That means I’m scrambling to tie up loose ends at both the day job and on the author gig. I’m not taking any work with me. This time I mean it.

Okay, so I’ll have my laptop. And my thumb drive. I do have a galley to proof…I could convert it and put it on my Kindle…There will probably be some airport time…I could use to write a few paragraphs just to make the wait go faster…I’d really like to finish this bit up by the end of the month and the flight is two hours long…I could get a few hundred words in before beverage service begins…

Yeah. Have I mentioned that I’m a bit of a control freak?

How about you? Have you got this relaxation thing covered, or does downtime make you nervous?

See you next week! (If I don’t spontaneously combust…)

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