Monthly Archives: September 2011

Sep 30

Multi-Published Author Michael Parker Joins Mike Angley Today

MA: Michael Parker worked as a maintenance technician in the Royal Air Force and the food industry. His primary trade is electrician. He was in the Merchant navy for a couple of years before joining the RAF. He has also worked in the Middle East. Michael retired at 55 and moved out to Spain with his wife Pat.

Following that Navy career, why did you choose to write novels?

MP: I didn’t choose; it is something I have had in me for as long as I can remember. I’m not interested in poetry or short story writing.

MA: You are a prolific writer – seven published novels – please tell us about some of them.

MP: I wrote NORTH SLOPE, published by Macmillan in 1980. The novel is a thriller and was inspired by the search for oil on the North Slope of Alaska in 1968. I was described as a ‘Gifted Narrator’ by the Financial Times. The accolade didn’t seem to help with my writing career, and I have since taken care not to attribute too much to reviewers’ opinions, good or bad.

MA: How did you develop the character of your protagonist?

MP: In my first book, NORTH SLOPE, I based the main character on the actor, Anthony Quinn, and imagined how he would portray the character in a film. He’s tough, determined, and a trust of his own gut instincts. His weakness was alcohol which he overcame.

MA: Who is the antagonist in the novel?

MP: One who many people believed I should not have killed off. This was Conor Lenihan, ex IRA terrorist and SAS soldier who was the ‘star’ of THE EAGLE’S COVENANT’. Even now I wonder if I should resurrect him, but as a writer I believe I have a moral duty to stay on the side of good against evil.

MA: I imagine with your love of writing novels that you have something planned for the future?

MP: I am now waiting the publication of THE BOY FROM BERLIN in December. In the meantime I am in the process of publishing my novels in paperback and Kindle. Two of these are now available on Amazon: NORTH SLOPE and A COVERT WAR. I am currently researching my next novel, which is set on the Mexico/USA border.

MA: Is there anything else you would like to tell my readers or potential reviewers out there?

MP: My reference to reviewers should point out that the comments I value the most are those that come from strangers who have nothing to gain by saying how good or bad I am. One chap phoned his daughter in Spain at 11.30 one evening to say he had missed his favourite TV programme because he couldn’t put my book down (THE EAGLE’S COVENANT). I have had other comments similar to that, which I really do value. Unfortunately they rarely sell books!

My website will give you a better insight into the type of person I am and what kind of novels I write. www.michaeljparker.com Read More

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Sep 28

Habitual Mistakes? Mary Deal Tells Us All About Them!

Habitual Mistakes
by
Mary Deal

Any error in writing, no matter how simple, can be jarring to the reader and we need to strive to keep the misspellings from showing up in our work.

Pointing out one of my habitual mistakes may save another person’s writing as well. Often, I find myself making one particular mistake and simply had to find out what was causing it.

I know how to spell. I know how to key and I’m fast at it. However, one same mistake kept showing up in my work. I try to catch them all but see that I miss a few now and then. It’s embarrassing to turn in a manuscript with that kind of error. It’s embarrassing to publish online and have the whole world see it. It’s particularly embarrassing for me since I write about all aspects of writing correctly. What a hoot!

As I became aware of this nemesis of mine, it narrowed down to one particular word habitually showing up in place of another. I studied the way I used the keyboard and then realized the accidental spellings began happening after I bought a new keyboard. Now I was getting somewhere.

I watched my hands as I typed and found what I was doing wrong, I double checked myself and typed sentences over and over with that one word included. Surprise! What I learned was that I probably made this mistake all along because the faster I type one of my fingers doesn’t reach high enough on the keyboard. Instead of typing or my finger falls short and types of.

While the mind does not see these words – of and or – while reading, they are still there and in plain view for anyone keen to editing, whether in actual editing as work or simply editing a story as they read. In my case, my mind did not see the interchange of these words as I edited my own manuscripts, not even when I read them out loud.

As a result, I am left to do a search for both of these words through all the work I produce for public viewing, and that includes my book-length manuscripts as well; at least until I can re-train my keying ability.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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Sep 23

Michael Bosc Slides in from Spain to Guest with Mike Angley

MA: Michael Bosc is living in Spain on a finca growing olives and almonds. He was born in London during the second world war when V1s and Land Mines were falling on the houses. He served nine years in the RAF and is married with two grown up children.

Learning to sail in his mid forties, he sailed across the channel on many occasions visiting the Normandy coast from Cherbourg to Fecamp where English Kings are buried. Michael has always had an interest in history and found it relaxing writing an adventure story set in the latter stages of the American War of Independence: A Soldiers Wind.

His second book, A Loving Son, echoes back to his earlier life just after the war and the East end criminals, with the gangs growing, the East End criminals were finding their feet, this was Stanley’s training ground…

Interesting life story, Michael, and welcome to my blog. How did you get into the world of writing?

MB: I am retired and had been thinking of writing for some time. However, until I moved to Spain I never had the time, with sailing and other activities. But when my father-in-law died and we went back to England, I picked up the Sunday Telegraph and in there was an article by a lady reviewer. She was saying how all the books she had reviewed although good, did not contain enough sex, it was a bit like waves crashing on the beach. It was not necessary to be explicit but we all like to read about sex, so being a normal health male I thought, why not?

MA: (Chuckling) I understand it was your personal interests that drew you to the specific ideas you had for a novel. Tell us about that.

MB: My interest is in Naval History, British or otherwise, so when I read that I thought, I could write something along those lines, after all I sailed for over 20 years. I mentioned this to my wife who said go for it, and A Soldiers Wind was born.

A year later my mother-in-law was seriously ill and whilst in England (again) I decided to write about Stanley Saunders, an East end boy growing up in London after WW2, whose mother was a prostitute who set up an escort agency. It tells of Stanley’s maturing and how whilst protecting his mother from the villains, he hones his skills as a killer, an assassin; thus A Loving Son was born.

MA: Did your personal life’s story influence your writing – any real-life East enders as characters?

MB: No, apart from the fact of my birth-date 21st October (Trafalgar Day) plus my love of history and reading naval books, no. Not even the gangs of East London were close contacts however at that time in history it was a well documented fact that bodies were dumped in the marshes or were propping up bridges.

MA: Tell us about your novels.

MB: A Loving Son was supposed to be the first novel out, but Authorhouse were reluctant to publish at first as Stanley and Gillian were under 18yrs. Unfortunately, the difference between the USA and England was around 2 years, but after re-writing a few bits Stanley was published. I think I am more in tune with A Loving Son because of its setting in the period of time I grew up in. There was an awful lot of bent police, gang killings, and general dodgy goings on.

For a woman to set up a business in that atmosphere at that time was very bold. If the police were not wanting a cut to turn a blind eye to what was going on then the gangs wanted protection money so she could continue. Diane, although a prostitute, was a loving mother very fond of her only son and very protective towards him. She had her head on right and saved money to buy a house so they had somewhere to live. There is a lot more to her than you first see.

I took the memories of how hard it was in London immediately after the war, with rationing, food shortages etc., and then put Stanley in the role of protector of his mother. Strange as it may seem, once I had done that and given him a name, Stanley appeared and started to tell his story; once begun it just went from logical reactions to logical actions. What I did learn was that to Stanley there was no grey area, only black and white.

MA: Tell us more about Stanley’s character.
MB: He is honest in his way, does not think about when he kills, looks at it as a job pure and simple. But he does care about his mother and the girls. He is fond of them and looks after them like his family. However after a kill he needs sex…

MA: Oh my! Are you planning more stories in the future?

MB: I have the sequels to both books ready to go to print, and I am working on the next ones. Plus I am putting together a wine book with a difference. I write blogs on the local ‘Cellers’ here and the superb wines they produce, but I also add their history to the story. I am not a wine snob, I say what we like and don’t like but then most people can do that. I try to say something about the people, the village or the countryside. There is so much more than opening a bottle, tasting and writing. These blogs can also be found on Southwest Wines site, where they have been kind enough to give me my own page.

MA: Thanks, Michael. I appreciate you stopping by and visiting with me. I know my readers will want to learn more about you, too. Please visit Michael’s blog for more information: http://asoldierswind.wordpress.com/ Read More

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Sep 21

Are the Inmates Running Your Asylum? Mary Deal Dishes on ‘Character Take-over’

Character Take-over
by
Mary Deal

Many writers do not understand exactly what it means when they hear someone speaking of a character taking over a story, or the story writing itself.

Character take-over happens when you are diligently writing along and suddenly you write something you know your character has to say. It just pops out of your head and you write it because you’re inside that character’s head. You’ve already developed your character sketch and know that character like a twin. You expect him or her to say such things but you don’t know how you conjured that surprising dialogue that is so apropos. Wherever it came from, it fit and makes the dialogue or story more exciting. Wow! Now you’re on a high and begin to type faster and faster as the story pours out

You don’t know where those words came from but your character feels more exciting and you have the feeling the words just popped out without you having to think about what to write. You ask, “Where did that come from?” That’s character take-over.

It’s nearly the same when your story begins to write itself.

You’re typing along, maybe even following an outline, when an idea comes into your mind that changes the direction of the story or is something so foreign to your way of thinking – but it is you creating your story and your mind is always searching around for ways to thicken the plot or add suspense – whatever. It happens subconsciously. All of a sudden it’s there. You might even make major changes in your story or chapter because a more appropriate idea hit you like a slap in the face and it fits your plot and your characters better than you had conjured before. This new idea may also open up parts of the story you had or may have trouble getting through.

All of a sudden, with these unexpected changes, you now see your plot being made more exciting. Your characters are more vivid. You type faster and faster. At this point I would suggest you open a new page and make note of what you received and about how it affects your story deeper into it. You do not want to lose this valuable story-livening information.

Character take-over or a story writing itself is YOU. Yes, it’s you having finally accepted your muse and turned the story over to your creative self. You are trusting your own abilities more, giving your creativity free reign. Don’t stop now!

A TIP: Your creativity, your muse, will cause character or story take-over when you have confidence in yourself and simply keep pounding the keys. Let the words pour out uncensored. Your mind has a way of creating the story elements you don’t yet know. That is, you know the structure of a good mystery and you have great characters established. But if you don’t know the details of how the crime will be committed or solved, or who may fall in love with whom, etc., trust your creative self to conjure these scenes by letting your imagination run rampant.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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Sep 16

‘Boardwalk in Disrepair: The Splintering of Miss Patriotic’ Author, Ami Feller, is Mike Angley’s Guest

MA: Ami Feller has written articles published in New Jersey newspapers including: The Courier Post, Gloucester County Times and Cocktails and Fiction Magazine.  She published a thesis for Rowan University on the impact of communication within the media regarding West … Read More

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Sep 14

Mary Deal Tells Us About Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts
by
Mary Deal

For those who have not been to my website, here is one of the articles presented there.

Writing prompts and story ideas can be found in lists all over the Internet. How many times have you searched to find topics that might serve to shake a story out of your muse? A list of words or phrases just might trigger your creativity into action. Then, when you find such a list, you are not enthused by its offerings and you continue to search for more.

Story starters that encourage descriptive writing abound around you. Everything you see day-to-day is writing prompts. If you don’t see life that way, I encourage you to take another look.

Take new interest in the things you take for granted. Let your mind wander from the probable to the improbable. Fantasize about things and events. Give them a new spin.

Here are a few samples of story ideas taken from everyday life that might help you see what’s around you in your world.

Imagine you’re walking down a road. Usually you see rocks and you side step and walk on.

If you’re a fantasy writer…

What would happen if all those rocks lying dormant for eons suddenly came to life? They pop. They explode. Wow! Would they be friendly? Or would they be alien, just waiting for the right moment to change the universe?

Want to write a mystery?

Suppose one of those ordinary rocks had fresh blood on it?

A romance?

You find an envelope caught under a rock along the road. It’s open and money is sticking out. You want to get the money to its rightful owner so you read the note inside. It’s a heartfelt message about….

See where I’m going with this? Writing prompts are everywhere.

In my day to day life in Hawaii, just this morning, I saw or heard the following writing prompts out of my window from where I sit composing this bit of descriptive writing at my desk.

~ The man across the street is trimming branches off a tree with a buzz saw. He stops suddenly and tries to see into the window of the house. (Someone from inside that house may have called to him. But as a mystery writer, I can make a real thriller out of that teeny bit of action.)

~ A kid runs down the street, like he’s real scared. Now I hear a siren coming close.

~ A dog limps across my yard. It has a broken leg, or its favoring an injured leg, and hobbling. A moment later, another dog crosses the yard. Looks as though it’s had one leg amputated.

~ A car passes by on the street. The girl looks like she’s gushing all over her guy, the driver. She’s almost in his lap. They look blissfully happy.

~ I hear a strange intermittent sound and it doesn’t sound like any of the neighbors using a power saw as they repair their houses and structures. The sound is most curious, choppy, like someone hacking something. I can’t get it out of my mind.

~ I hear a loud bang, like a gunshot. It comes from the next group of homes adjacent to this small neighborhood. I hear another.

~ The woman in the house to the left is standing out in her yard. She never just stands there. She’s always on the go. Her husband comes out. They talk. They hug. She cries. He comforts.

The best writing prompts are right around you. However, if you wish only words or phrases to trigger your muse, then here are a few samples.

Buried money and valuables in a box

White powder on the kitchen counter and you don’t bake

Loving a married person, then learning that person is divorcing

A child who leaves alien footprints

An ugly knot growing on your thigh that gives off a pulse

Learning your spouse is a murderer in hiding

A horrific recurring dream that gets closer and closer

Lightning always striking only your house

The neighbors on your left practice swinging with the neighbors on your right

A rock containing clear facial images that seem to pull you in

A grotesque Halloween mask that looks like the guy’s real face

A drop of acid rain

Unidentified creature footprints

This list is just a sampling of possibilities.

When searching for writing prompts, keep in mind that it is said only twenty types of stories exist. All stories have been written. This is true, but every story contains a different setting, unique characters, and unusual occurrences and endings. That is how we’re able to create new plots all the time.

As you seek mental stimulation through prompts, begin by having an idea in which genre you wish to write. Genre is what you need to decide first. Take for example, this prompt:

A car passes by on the street. The girl looks like she’s gushing all over her guy, the driver. She’s almost in his lap. They look blissfully happy.

A romance writer will turn that scene into, perhaps, one of a happy couple of kids. Then life pulls them to opposite ends of the world. They meet again years later, only by chance, depending on the circumstances of the plot, and realize that they still love each other.

A mystery writer could turn writing prompts such as this into a thriller where the girl is gah-gah over the guy, but he’s got other plans. He turns out to be a serial rapist!

A science fiction or fantasy writer would have the guy taking the girl out to a deserted field, she thinks for a bit of petting. Instead, he beams her up to a hovering ship and whatever fate waits.

Know your genre and then, as you read prompts, determine what appeals to the type of story line you wish to create. When a writing prompt rings true to you, it has the potential to enable you to realize an entire plot line in a flash.

Begin to make a list of story starters that you notice. They are innocent gestures and occurrences that you might find in any good novel or short story.

Make a list of anything that strikes your muse’s fancy.

Allow yourself to dwell on story ideas that may come to mind. Loosen your imagination. Do it now. You will need to free your muse to write any story. Begin with your writing prompts.

Any story starters that you discover can also be used as occurrences and highlights in a story already begun. Story starters need not only start a story. Starters can also flesh out story middles and endings.

Writing prompts, story starters, or story ideas, wherever you find them, can trigger descriptive writing if you will loosen the reins of your muse and let your mind wander on things sometimes best left alone. It’s only fiction, after all.

I have used many instances from my life and ancient family history as writing prompts. You might wish to read Grandpappy’s Cows on my website to see how my muse hilariously ran away with it.

Or you may wish to read what my muse made of seeing a boy out in the dead of night with a scissors in Boy at the Crossword.

These two stories are great examples of readily available writing prompts.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre.

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Sep 09

Melinda Clayton Guests with Mike Angley

MA: My special guest today is author Melinda Clayton. Melinda is a licensed psychotherapist and freelance writer living in central Florida. Her vast experience working in the field of mental health gives her a unique perspective on human behaviors, and she likes to explore this dynamic in her writing.

Melinda has published over twenty articles and short stories in various print and online magazines, and is currently in the dissertation phase of an Ed.D. in Special Education Administration. Return to Crutcher Mountain is Melinda’s second novel.

Tell us about that passion you’ve had for writing for many years now.

MC: I’m an odd combination of psychotherapist and writer. I’ve always wanted to write, so several years ago I began writing on multiple online writing sites. From those, I began selling a variety of articles to print and online magazines on mostly mental health related topics. From that, I decided to branch out to short stories, and then a novel seemed the next logical step.

MA: I can see the progression! Did it evolve to novels or did you know for some time that you wanted to write them?

MC: I’m a very goal-oriented person, and writing a novel had always been a goal of mine. I’m at the perfect point in life to pursue it, in that I took time off from working with clients to raise my children and pursue a doctorate. With extra time on my hands, writing was a natural activity for me to pursue.

MA: I imagine that in your professional line of work, you’ve run into some quirky people and you’ve seen some odd things that would make for great characters and plots. Did any of that influence your writing?

MC: Oh, absolutely. I love to explore the thought processes behind the decisions we make, and I do that with my characters. I like for my characters to face tough decisions – decisions in which there is no clear answer – and I like to explore the reasons behind the paths they ultimately choose.

MA: I know you wanted to talk about your second novel, so please tell us about it.

MC: My second novel is a mystery, and it’s also a sequel to my first. My first novel, Appalachian Justice, describes the circumstances through which Jessie McIntosh was saved from a childhood of abuse. The sequel, Return to Crutcher Mountain, picks up with Jessie as an adult who, although successful by all outward appearances, struggles with the psychological scars of her abuse.

When she’s called back to her childhood home following a string of mysterious occurrences, she must confront the truths of her past in order to free from painful memories and look forward to the future.

MA: Wow, so you probably have dealt with people like Jessie in your professional life. I imagine that helped you shape her character.

MC: Having worked in the field of mental health for so many years, I’m very familiar with many of the issues adult survivors of abuse often face. Jessie describes herself as “a woman composed completely of opposites.” Like many survivors, she’s tough yet vulnerable, brave yet afraid, independent yet lonely.

Jessie’s a strong woman, but she’s often her own worst enemy. Her insecurities cause her to sabotage the things in life she most wants. She does have a keen awareness into that part of her personality, but really has to struggle to overcome it.

Both books are really a tribute to the many women and children with whom I’ve worked over the years. Their strength, perseverance and tenacity leave me in awe.

MA: Tell us about the antagonists Jessie faces.

MC: Since Return to Crutcher Mountain is a sequel, the memories of the bad guys are still evident throughout. But the antagonist is, I hope, totally unexpected.

MA: So what’s in the future?

MC: A few people have shared with me that they’re not yet ready to leave Crutcher Mountain, the setting for both novels. I have a couple of ideas in mind, but haven’t quite decided.

MA: Will Jessie or any other characters reappear in future stories?

MC: I’ve had a few people ask about that, but I’m not sure. I sort of think we’ve got Jessie squared away now and it’s time to move on. If I do write another novel using the same setting, I might focus on someone else, someone who has been on the periphery but not really yet explored.

MA: Thanks for guesting with me today and for sharing so much about your stories. I would like my readers to visit Melinda’s website for more information about her novels: http://AuthorMelindaClayton.xanga.com. Read More

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Sep 07

Writing the Biorhythm Waves by Mary Deal

Writing the Biorhythm Waves
by
Mary Deal

At times my creativity is hot. Other times…you guessed it, cold. I began to notice a fairly regular cycle of being on and off. Though I’ve never had writer’s block, at first I began to write when the Muse was hot, edit when she was slouching.

At other times when I thought it wise to edit, I found myself creating new prose. I was in a quandary. Someone suggested I watch my biorhythms and see if the writing cycles coincided at all with the three main cycles of biorhythms.

The next time I had a surge of energy that allowed me to be creative and write new prose, I checked my biorhythms. Sure enough. My intelligence line was at the top of the chart. So was my line of emotion. My physical energy line had just crossed the median line on the upswing. All that created such a high.

However, some months later I noticed that I felt particularly quiet and yet the words poured out in two short stories within half an hour. As I said, I felt quiet creatively. So I was surprised to see what poured out of this mind, through my fingertips and became two completely different stories.

Again, I checked my biorhythms only to find that my physical energy line was at the bottom of the lower curve; which was why I felt less energy. Intelligence was on the downslide but still high above the median line, and emotions were also on the downslide but below the median line. That must have been why I felt no energy and yet the words flowed.

Once I began to check my biorhythms regularly, I got the idea that I was trying to dictate when I could and couldn’t write, or when I should or shouldn’t. That was not good.

Certain cycles produce more energy but all are good for me because I write from different moods. Biorhythms in all their variances produce different moods and emotions and not any of these will prevent a person from writing.

The ups and downs of biorhythms have their place as they are being used to teach people to control emotions, temperaments and such. As far as writing, I’m simply happy to recognize the differences in my mental states and then write from that platform. If my moods dictate what I write, so be it. But I don’t have to have all high Biorhythms in order to write. Nor will I write all negative work when my rhythms are in the dumps.

I’ve found several writers who watch their Biorhythms, and much more than I did. I don’t watch anymore because I believe I can tell what’s going on with all three cycles on any given day.

My friends live by them. Some days they feel off, like having lost interest in writing. Other days, they are super-charged. Biorhythms helped them understand. It might be interesting to chart your progress as your cycles vary. It may help you as a writer to learn of peak performance times – whether to write, whether to edit, or why you feel elated or deflated about your writing. Chances are, it’s not about your writing at all. It’s about the fluctuation of your Biorhythms and how they affect creativity.

Note: Biorhythms can be charted in many places on the Net. Your readings will be the same no matter whose chart you use.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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Sep 02

‘The Essene Conspiracy’ Author, S. Eric Wachtel, is Mike Angley’s Guest Today

MA: Please help me welcome today’s guest-blogger, S. Eric Wachtel. Eric was born and raised in New York City and studied at the University of Missouri. While in college he crafted his first historical based short story. Recruited by the CIA, he opted out in favor of a business career. Starting on Wall Street, he later worked as a vice president for a large international conglomerate before organizing and serving as president of a medical technology company. Eric lives with his wife, Lynn, and Russian Blue cat in Vermont and Washington, D.C. A member of International Thriller Writers, he is at work on the next Harry McClure thriller.

Welcome, Eric! Please tell us about your debut novel.

EW: In THE ESSENE CONSPIRACY, a blend of fact and fiction, I’ve created dynamic fictional characters from composites of personalities with whom I’ve crossed paths during my business career.

A high ranking Israeli minister has been murdered in Jerusalem. Muslim terrorists are suspected, but no group has claimed responsibility. Finding a barely legible name scribbled on a blood-stained card in the shirt pocket of the slain minister, the Director of Israeli Intelligence calls upon international security consultant Harry McClure to investigate a possible American connection to the brutal crime.

McClure uncovers a Wall Street money-laundering scheme linked to a Messianic brotherhood’s plan to overthrow the Israeli government and retake Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

The clock is ticking as Israeli Intelligence, aided by McClure, race to organize a preemptive eleventh-hour strategy aimed at thwarting the brotherhood’s imminent attack. A timely blend of historical fact and fiction, the Essene Conspiracy builds to an unpredictable ending.

MA: Why novels, and why not a how-to book about the business world?

EW: It’s a natural extension of my early interest in writing and history.

MA: How did you develop the character of your protagonist?

EW: He’s a composite of many personalities I’ve know in real life. He’s a strong character, entrepreneurial, determined, charming.

MA: So who is the antagonist in the story?

EW: Mayer Rubin, the bad kid who grew up to be a key member of a clandestine brotherhood. My book is adult fiction. It’s aimed at readers who want to be entertained as well as intellectually stimulated.

MA: Thanks, Eric. I appreciate you stopping by to visit with me today. I encourage my readers to visit Eric’s website for more information: http://www.sericwachtel.com. Read More

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