Author Interview - Greta van der Rol - Nebula Nights (A Sci-Fi #Romance Box Set)

I'm delighted to welcome fellow SFR Brigade author Greta van der Rol to my blog today. If you haven't yet heard, a group of very awesome authors got together to release the Nebula Nights box set. For the low price of $0.99, you get eleven sci-fi romances to enjoy. I've managed to snag a few spare moments from Greta so I can get details about her contribution to this collection - The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy. 


1. Hi, Greta, and thank you for stopping by today. It’s a pleasure to be one of your hosts for the Nebula Nights tour. Could you tell us a little about your contribution to the box set?

The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy is a love story told against a backdrop of rising tension between the two sentient species in the galaxy, humans and the alien Ptorix Empire. After a massacre of Ptorix miners on a remote planet, Admiral Saahren is sacked in an attempt to appease the outraged Ptorix. He wants his job back, so goes undercover to find evidence to clear his name. In that process he meets Allysha, who was brought up with the Ptorix, can speak their language and is also an information systems expert. Saahren falls head over heels in love for the first time in his life. But Allysha is shattered when she finds out the under cover agent is really Admiral Saahren, the man she blames for the death of her father and many other civilians in an attack a few years ago. Saahren must win her trust, at least, if he is to get his job back and prevent the coming war. Of course, he also wants to win her heart.

2. If you had to describe your novel in one sentence, or, if there is a sentence in the book that captures the essence of the work as a whole, what would that sentence be and why?

Truth depends on your point of view. You know the saying that history is always written from the point of view of the winners? That's what I'm talking about. Everything we see around us, every situation, is coloured by our own standards and perceptions. And that happens in IA:C. Allysha, with her sympathy for the Ptorix, sees the attack which killed her father as a war crime. To the humans, Saahren is a hero. Which is right?

3. What was your most defining moment in your novel? Was there a point in time where a certain character had a truly standout moment, or, even for you as an author, was there a moment where during your writing process you felt that your work truly shined?

This book was the first I ever wrote and it went through a variety of incarnations. I had to learn a lot of lessons on the way, not least how to add romance to my characters. When my editor finally agreed I'd got it right, I was over the moon.

4. Avoiding spoilers, which character surprised you over the course of their development? Is this character your favorite, or is there another that you prefer?

Saahren kept on surprising me. He falls in love at first sight (yes, I do believe that happens) but he's an admiral, used to giving orders and being obeyed. Except it doesn't work like that with Allysha. He's on a long learning curve that doesn't end with this book.

5. Did your novel end the way you believed it would back when you first started writing it? Or did things change along the way?

Things changed all over the place :) But the plot did not. That was fixed a long time back. It was more who was involved in various scenes. Originally, I had intended that Saahren take up his role as a leader, from a distance, much earlier. Rather than be involved in the hand to hand fighting (so to speak) he would be forced to send Allysha with a team to do the dirty work. It was an agent who suggested the story would work better as a romance if he became an undercover agent. And she was right.

6. As I’m sure you know, the romance genre is vast, spanning countless subgenres and even crossing or mixing genres. What, do you think, sets your book apart from the rest of the other novels in the genre?

My novel combines action, politics and romance set against a backdrop of war with an alien species. More than one person has compared the book to Star Wars or Star Trek – but with a romance in the mix. I think that's a fair assessment. But I'll add that the science in my book is a bit better than you'll find in Star Wars.

7. What drew you to the romance genre? Did you know from the start that your book was going to be a romance, or did the plot develop into one?

I'm not actually a romance reader, never read Mills & Boon. Although I did enjoy the Angelique books. I always was (still am) a science fiction reader, but that very human romance element was so often skipped over, or omitted altogether. SF was books for the boys. The pulp fiction covers said it all, token scantily-dressed, swooning female being rescued by the bronzed alpha male. So I guess what I always intended was for something with the flavour of Star Wars, but with that romance arc. I mean, sex is a pretty timeless element, isn't it?

8. What would you say to readers who are hesitant to try reading books in the romance genre?

Romance has so many sub-genres there's something for everyone. If you like science fiction, you may well like SF romance. If you like historical fiction, you'll probably like historical romance. Romance is a huge part of life, which has had a compelling influence on our history.

9. Behind every great author, there’s a great reader. Who are some of your favorite authors? Who inspires you?

There are so many. I'll mention only a few. Anne McCaffrey, whose Pern novels are without a doubt science fiction romance. Elizabeth Moon, who included romantic elements in her Serrano and Vatta series. (I suspect she had to tone down the romance in those books to appease the SF boys only club) Jack McDevitt's Benedict novels, which combine hard science with made up but very convincing history. And I must include Terry Pratchett, because I love his work.

10. Last question, what’s up next for you? Do you have any projects you’re working on right now? What are your future plans?

I'm still writing science fiction romance. I've started a new series in a different universe from the Iron Admiral's. It's called Morgan's Misfits, a spin off from my most successful Morgan Selwood books. Which reminds me, I really must get on with that Work in Progress.
Thanks so much for hosting me, and asking such thought-provoking questions.

The pleasure was definitely all mine!


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Nebula Nights: Love Among The Stars

by Melisse Aires, SJ Pajonas, PK Hrezo, C.E. Kilgore, Cathryn Cade, Catrina Taylor, Veronica Scott, Lyn Brittan, Pauline Baird Jones, K.G. Stutts, and Greta van der Rol

11 Sci-Fi Romances that’ll sweep you away! 

If you like your science fiction blazing with adventure and your space opera spiced with romance, this boxed set is for you. From first contact to battles for survival and love on war-torn planets, this collection from bestselling & award winning authors, including Cathryn Cade, Veronica Scott, PK Hrezo and more, will leave you sighing with satisfaction. 

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | AllRomance | Kobo

Her Cyborg Awakes by Melisse Aires 
Her gentle cyborg servant helped her escape violence--but now he's changed into a warrior! Is he safe? 

Removed (The Nogiku Series, #1) by SJ Pajonas 
In this Japan-inspired tale, one woman’s family destiny is key to the survival of the last city on Earth. 

Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. by PK Hrezo 
Welcome to Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.

Noelle In His Heart by C.E. Kilgore
Noelle wishes for someone who understands she has love to give but commitments to honor. Stranded on Earth, Steve longs for someone who will understand that his alien heart can love just as deeply. 

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Stark Pleasure: the Space Magnate's Mistress by Cathryn Cade 
Kiri te Nawa survives the perils of the galaxy on her wits ... although when it comes to space magnate Logan Stark, she’d rather use her body. But can she trust him with her secrets? 

Birth of an Empire: The Beginning by Catrina Taylor 
Three former genetic experiments chose peace over war in a sector that's known only war for a century. As each one squares against their governments they will question the experiences that guide them. 

Escape From Zulaire by Veronica Scott 
When the planet erupts into war, Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane must decide whether to save Andi Markriss, the intergalactic businesswoman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire. 

Solia's Moon by Lyn Brittan 
SFR Galaxy Award Winner! When Dr. Solia uncovers her company's foray into creating humanoid life, she enlists the help of her handsome ex, Sheriff Sable, in bringing a little justice to the universe. 

The Key by Pauline Baird Jones 
Her orders are simple: do the impossible and do it yesterday. But this time the impossible might actually be impossible. The only way it could get worse? If her heart starts beating for the wrong guy. 

The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy by Greta van der Rol 
The Galaxy teeters on the brink of war. Can ex-admiral Saahren persuade the woman who hates him to help him prevent the coming conflagration? And perhaps even love him? 

Mirror Image by KG Stutts 
Maddie's entire world is turned upside down when she finds out that she is a clone. Now she must work with her counterpart to protect Earth.

Writing Tip - How to Write Longer by Zee Monodee

The Island Girls trilogy follows the 3 Hemant sisters – Lara, Neha, Diya – over the span of the 2000-2010 decade, chronicling the changing face of the Mauritian society over that crucial period. Book 2, Light My World, is Diya’s hilarious quest to find Prince Charming in the sea of frogs that is Mauritius (well, what it is according to her perception!). Follow her on this desperate mission!

The Island Girls trilogy follows the 3 Hemant sisters – Lara, Neha, Diya – over the span of the 2000-2010 decade, chronicling the changing face of the Mauritian society over that crucial period. Book 2, Light My World, is Diya’s hilarious quest to find Prince Charming in the sea of frogs that is Mauritius (well, what it is according to her perception!). Follow her on this desperate mission!

A while back, I asked my editor for Delicious Delay if she could give me some advice on writing longer books. You see, while she seems to have no problem hitting the 60-80k mark, I tend to have my entire story said and done with at around 20-40k. The longest book I've written thus far is Catching Red, and that baby capped at around 50k.

There's nothing wrong, of course, with writing novellas. I love reading and writing at this length, and I think I'm going to stick with my strengths for the foreseeable future. But it never hurts to keep one's options open. 

So here are some tips for writing longer books from Zee Monodee. Don't forget to scroll all the way down to learn more about her brand new release from Decadent Publishing, Light My World. 


How to Write Longer Books by Zee Monodee

Hi Tara; hi all! Thanks for having me over today!

So, writing longer books...how would you go about that one?

I write books varying in lengths from short stories (10-12K) to the saga-type novels (100K+). And up until Tara asked me to write about tips for penning longer works, I hadn’t really stopped to ponder how it is I go about making one book longer than the other.... So, rack your brain, Zee – you have to come up with an answer!

All this soul searching brought me to these possible avenues for penning longer works:

- External conflict

- Plot/Genre

- Characterization

- Story time frame

External Conflict

I write with the typical Harlequin ‘formula’ – External conflict-internal conflict-black moment-resolution. In every story (romance-wise), I’ve found that the last three in this spectrum are non-negotiable....

Which brings us to the very first element – external conflict.

If you want to develop length, this is where you can work the magic!

In every short I have written, external conflict (meaning something that is external to the characters’ doings – in Light My World, it is the accident that happens at the same moment both Diya and Trent –strangers till now – take to the road on a Saturday afternoon. It’s almost like serendipity!)...so yes, in every short, external conflict happened just enough to bring the characters together; the rest took place through internal conflict leading to the black moment and then the resolution (for example, in my 1NightStand shorts, Madame Eve brings the couple together through a blind date and that’s it – end of external conflict).

But in my longer works – like in Light My World – there are at least 3 instances of external circumstances working to bring the H/h together. Fate is pitting them against one another despite all their resolutions to stay away; they just cannot escape...and this paves the way for them to get to know each other before their internal conflicts can come into play to jar the path to HEA. In short, it’s a slow burn, a game of push and pull, bringing you to a place where their internals can work to complicate things.

How easy is it to play with external conflict? Remember, it is serendipity...that you as the author are manipulating! Throw in a storm and make them snowbound (easily avails you of 2 chapters). Have them gravitate in the same social circles – they’re bound to meet time and again along those paths. In Light My World, just at that point when Diya and Trent are sure to throttle each other thanks to their mutual dislike, Trent’s son gets sick in the middle of the night and the only person he can turn to is Diya, his neighbor, and this opens the way for him to see her as the compassionate woman she is and not just the bratty spitfire she’s shown herself to be till then.

Play with external circumstances and throw all sorts of problems and issues at your characters – yes, it’s sadistic but you get to torture people legally here!

Plot/Genre

Depending on the plot you are using, and the genre you are writing, this will determine whether or not the story can go long or short.

Have you ever seen a short thriller? They might exist, yes, but more often than not, thrillers and/or mysteries are longer books. The whole plot demands an exposition that automatically tacks on the pages to the tale – the more you need to develop the circumstances, the longer the read will be.

Same goes for fantasy or urban fantasy – the world building alone will be a huge part of your tale, meaning writing more/longer to present that world not only in all its glory, but in a way that will make sense to the reader.

External conflict comes into play here, too – in a mystery, for example, the crime is always an external factor that will bring the characters together. External conflict paves the way for the plot, in this case.

Characterization

Ever read chick-lit? Half the time, these stories have no plot whatsoever, so how come they carry on for 300+pages and still keep the reader riveted?

That’s where characterization comes into play! Well-sketched, wholesome characters can write a whole tale based on their day-to-day lives and what is happening to them at any given point.

Let one of your characters have free rein – let him/her speak and tell you about him/herself. More often than not, you can find a treasure trove of ideas to make a read longer.

Describe, describe, describe – allays you to a few thousand words more, in a longer book.

Show, don’t tell – where you might have used five words to tell something, get into character and relate the tidbit from that perspective. You can easily write twice to thrice the amount of words and convey everything better, immersing your reader totally into your story.

Story Time Frame 

Say your time frame is one night – it’s easier to write a 12K 1NightStand romance that takes place over a night, than a 100K thriller (though yes, 24 with all its twists and turns in one season is about what happens over twenty-four hours!)

Want to write length? Then prolong your story time frame. You can have external conflict and internal conflict happening more over a couple of weeks or months. A storm, a car malfunction, a mugging, and falling sick have more chance of happening over one week than all in one day.

Throw in characterization, and use the plot/genre to its best ability, and ta-da! You are writing longer.

 

I hope these pointers help! I’ve tried to describe how I veer between lengths to the best of my ability, but that can still be as clear as mud. *grin* Any questions, hit up in the comments!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee


Light My World (Island Girls #2)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that to find a prince, a girl has to kiss a few frogs along the way. But what happens when a modern-day princess comes across…an ogre?

So what if a girl has to kiss a few frogs to find her prince?

Tired of her Indian-origin mother’s relentless matchmaking, Diya Hemant is determined to find her Prince Charming on her terms. Armed with a definitive list of requirements, she is sure she’ll know her man when she meets him…

But looking and finding are two different things, especially on the tiny island of Mauritius…

When her path crosses surly British widower Trent Garrison’s, it’s hate at first sight. And though fate keeps pitting her against him, she’s certain he can’t be turned into a frog let alone a prince.

Can this modern-day princess overcome her own expectations and see beyond the ogre to the man beneath?

Buy LinksDecadent | Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | ARe

Excerpt

He heard more than felt the car hit the back of the SUV, which had halted in a screech of tyres. The smell of burnt rubber filled his nostrils when the calm came back. He expected the airbag to blow from the wheel, but none released.

Better and better. The car wasn’t only tiny, it didn’t even have an airbag.

A wave of concern washed over him. He wasn’t hurt. At least, he didn’t feel any pain. But what about the other driver?

However, as he stepped out of the car, the worry drained away as another, stronger emotion settled in. Anger.

What sort of inconsiderate driver stopped like that in the middle of a main road?

The bloke should be tagged as a public danger. To top it all, he was going to be late to see his children.

Bloody hell!

His tall height allowed him to peer into the vehicle without much difficulty. He swept his gaze over the top half of the interior, and puzzlement replaced his fury.

The car couldn’t be empty. Where was the driver? When had he had the time to get out of the vehicle?

Walking around to the front of the hood, Trent stopped in his tracks.

The body of an unconscious—or worse, dead—dog lay sprawled on the street. Sunlight glinted off its shiny, metal-studded collar. Must’ve been the reason behind the streak of light that had blinded him and the other driver, too, probably.

As he ran a hand in his short hair, he cursed again. How did the locals respond to accidents here? Especially when there was a death involved, even of a dog? Not something he wanted to find out, and not as a participant in this involuntary homicide.

With his hand on his mouth, he goggled at the dog that picked itself up and hobbled across to the other side of the road, before disappearing in between two rows of sugarcane.

What the hell? What was it with this strange island? Couldn’t anything be predictable on it?

The muffled opening click of a car door broke the silence, and Trent stepped back to glare at the person getting out, more like slithering out, of the SUV.

A slim pair of legs emerged and wobbled for a second after the sandal-clad feet hit the asphalt.

When the door closed, he glimpsed a short denim dress hugging a tiny frame. Straight black hair brushed the shoulders and the lapels of the collar, and framed a lovely, delicate face.

He had to blink a few times. The woman, or the girl, could pass for a life-sized doll. She stood no taller than five feet, so small he could probably encircle her waist with his hands. Her eyes were deep-set and dark, rimmed with black kohl. Her golden skin struck him as somewhat pale underneath her makeup, and she bit her full, pale lips, as if trying to work some colour into them.

“Thank God the dog is alive,” she said in a light, youthful voice. “I sure would’ve hated to have killed it. Lucky there isn’t any damage.”

Her voice reminded him of laughter, and the tinkling of fragile crystal flutes.

Shaking off the bizarre notion, a slow throb built in his blood. The overwhelming feeling settled as a twitch in his cheek, and he winced when a stab of pain shot from his clenched jaw.

No damage? What about his car? “Miss, you demolished my car.”

Nothing betrayed her cool composure when she checked out his car before staring at him again.

“Sorry, but you hit from behind. You’re at fault.”

He’d started to think that the delicate motion with her frail shoulder could topple her over, so much she seemed fragile. But the concern sputtered into outrage once her words registered. The cheek of the girl.

She’d stopped dead in the middle of the road. How the heck could it be his fault? “If it weren’t for you, none of this would’ve happened,” he snapped in a low growl.

She pursed her full lips, and jutted her pointed chin out in a fierce way as she settled her hands on her hips. Craning her slender neck to peer into his face, she stood her ground.

“Well, I should’ve killed the dog? This is what you wanted?”

“No, but—”

“And you wouldn’t have jammed into my car if you hadn’t been tailgating me.”

“I wasn’t tailgating you—”

“Yes, you were.” She poked a finger into his chest. “And you were speeding, at least a hundred where the limit is sixty.”

Could this girl be for real? “Miss, you were going faster than me, so don’t get on your high horse here.”

She poked him again. “Stop evading the issue. It’s your fault.”

Disbelief strangled his throat. She glared back, not in the least bit intimidated by the fact he towered above her by more than a foot.

At the same time, he flinched under her accusing words. Kill the dog. Right. Like he’d have wanted to kill a poor animal. What was it about this scrap of a girl that had him so ruffled?

A thought struck him. “Are you old enough to drive?”

“I’m twenty-four years old, for your information,” she said, spitting the words out at him.

So she could be held responsible for the accident. “My car is damaged, and it’s your fault.”

Blimey. They sounded like little children during kindergarten recess in the schoolyard.

He should drop this matter, deal with her like the adult he prided himself to be.

If she’d let him, though. Her dark eyes grew even darker as they narrowed on him. Fire, or ice, burnt in them. Her voice dripped with frost when she next spoke.

“I thought British men were supposed to be courteous.”

“I beg your pardon?” She’d done it again, struck him speechless. Unbelievable.

She fluttered her hand before her in an evasive gesture as she shook her head. “You know, proper British manners. Can’t say you’ve shown any so far.”

How could she sound so righteous, as if she were the injured party?

“How do you know I’m British? Does it read not-from-Mauritius somewhere on my face?”

“Your accent,” she said. “You speak just like Hugh Grant.”

Hugh Grant? That pasty-faced pin-up?

Even better. Not. “Thanks. It’s a very positive compliment.”

Trent had the pleasure of seeing his sarcasm unsettle the unnerving Miss Know-it-all. Her chest rose and fell in rapid succession as she glowered at him.

“You’re so….” She paused and seemed to search around for the proper word. “…obnoxious.”

And she was a brat. Nothing more.

Her barb hit home, though. He’d been called many things in his life, but this one was a first. And coming from a tiny lady like her, he didn’t know whether to laugh or be annoyed. He couldn’t remember the last time, if ever, he’d had such a verbal joust with someone. Loath as he was to admit, but tangling with her tickled him as stimulating as the encounter unnerved him.

Blimey, he had no time to dwell upon that. He was getting late. And he itched to shut the little spoilt princess up.

“My, incredible,” he said. “A pretty head as yours came up with such a big word. I sure hope you won’t get a nosebleed from too much brain activi—”

Yes, he’d been callous, but the sight before him horrified him more. He stood there, his jaw slackening as his mouth fell open.

“What?” she asked.

He pointed at her face. “Your nose. It’s bleeding.

About Zee Monodee

Stories about love, life, relationships... in a melting-pot of culture

Zee is an author who grew up on a fence – on one side there was modernity and the global world, on the other there was culture and traditions. Putting up with the culture for half of her life, one day she decided she'd stand tall on her wall and dip toes every now and then into both sides of her non-conventional upbringing.

From this resolution spanned a world of adaptation and learning to live on said wall. The realization also came that many other young women of the world were on their own fence.

This particular position became her favourite when she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing – her heroines all sit 'on a fence', whether cultural or societal, in today's world or in times past, and face dilemmas about life and love.

Hailing from the multicultural island of Mauritius, Zee is a degree holder in Communications Science. She is a head-over-heels wife, in-over-her-head mum to a tween son, best-buddy-stepmum to a teenage lad, an incompetent domestic goddess, eternal dreamer, and an absolute, shameless bookholic. When she isn’t penning more stories and/or managing the Ubuntu line at Decadent Publishing, you can bet you’ll find her with her nose in her tablet, ‘drinking in’ a good book.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | GoodReads

 

 

Fools For Love Blog Hop - On Fairy Tales

Welcome to JustRomance.Me's Fools For Love hop. If you came upon this post by accident but would like to join in the fun, just click the banner to the left and you can start at the beginning (or here). There are lots of ebooks up for grabs, and the Grand Prize is a Kindle Paperwhite. The live drawing and chat will be on Sunday, April 6th at 7PM Eastern. 


You can probably tell by now that I have an affinity for fairy tales. Back when I was little, I cajoled my Dad into telling me several hundred variations of Sleeping Beauty. By the time I was six, he got desperate enough to make my heroine a kung-fu master miniature white rabbit (who still somehow manages to get saved by a Prince).

As a writer and fairy tale aficionado (who has repeatedly failed to convince her husband a trip to Disney World is warranted), I can't help but wonder what elements of these classic stories gives them relevancy throughout the ages. With Frozen on target to become the highest grossing animated feature film of all time, and Tangled managing to secure a permanent spot on many a DVD shelf, it's obvious there's something in these tales that resonate to people of all ages.

One of my theories is the association between love and risk. Fairy tale characters often make irrational and dangerous decisions for the sake of someone they care about. Whether it's Prince Phillip hacking his way through thorns and bramble to get to Briar Rose, or Gerda facing down the Snow Queen to save Kai, we seem have a soft spot for all these Fools for Love.

I've published two fairy tale-based romances thus far, and the third is navigating its way through content edits. My debut novella Tower in the Woods is a post-apocalyptic retelling of Rapunzel. My sniper heroine takes a huge risk by saving a mysterious stranger from zombies, and she later faces an even more significant choice after she falls in love with him. 

The book has been nominated for the RONE Awards at In D’Tale Magazine (novella category), and you can check out their review of the book here. If you feel up to signing in and/or creating an account to vote (by April 6th at this link), I'd really appreciate it. No pressure. Just getting nominated fulfilled my positive encouragement needs for this year.

Catching Red is the second book in my Undead Fairy Tales series (they do not need to be read in order), and it's also set in post-apocalyptic D.C. Familial love and loyalty prompts Scarlet "Red" Ryding to dive headfirst into a hospital full of zombies, where she encounters covert Federal Agent Marcus Woodsman. An almost fatal infection and snowstorm forces them together, giving love the perfect opportunity to complicate their lives. After that, they both make tough decisions for the sake of saving each other. 

Giveaway

As a reward to those who've managed to read this far down the post, I'm giving away a $5 Amazon Electronic Gift Card (this is separate from the prizes at JustRomance.Me). Since not everyone is comfortable commenting on blogs, I'm giving you several options (any of which will earn you 1 entry):

(a) leave a comment here stating your favorite fable/fairy tale; 
(b) leave a comment on my Facebook page (right click, then choose Open Link in New Tab) stating your favorite fable/fairy tale; or
(c) send a Tweet mentioning me and this post (i.e. Check out @LaylaTarar's Fools for Love Post! - http://www.taraquan.com/blog/jrmfools);

If you picked option (a), please leave me a way to contact you in the comment. For the other options, I'll reach out to you through that social media. (Note to Facebook users: my message might land in your "other" box, so check back at this post on April 7th. The winner will be announced as a comment.)

Thanks for joining us on JustRomance.Me's Fool's For Love. Happy Hopping!

17 Comments

Tara Quan

Globetrotter, lover of languages, and romance author, Tara Quan has an addiction for crafting tales with a pinch of spice and a smidgen of kink. Inspired by her travels, she enjoys tossing her kick-ass heroines and alpha males into exotic contemporary locales, fantasy worlds, and post-apocalyptic futures. Visit Tara at www.taraquan.com

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