The Wedding of Eithne by @MDellertDotCom – Interview by #thetoiboxofwords

Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I’m sharing a special interview with author, Michael E.  Dellert, about his fiction book entitled, The Wedding of Eithne. Enjoy! 

Where did the idea for The Wedding of Eithne come from?

“The Wedding of Eithne” (and my books before it) have their origin in the first complete book that I ever wrote. In rewriting that book, I created a “Cuts” file as a place to dump a lot of back-story and exposition that was superfluous to that story. The “Cuts” file eventually came to some 191 pages of good story ideas in their own right. So in a sense The Wedding of Eithne is the last of a series of “prequels” to a book I’m still polishing for publication.

How did the title of this book come about?

For this book, I wanted a simple functional title that linked well with the last book in the series, since this was a continuation of that story from a new perspective.

I also wanted something that spoke to the particular story question: Will the Lady Eithne actually get married after everything that’s happened in the series to date, and what obstacles will come between her and the final decision to accept or reject the arranged marriage of the title?

What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?

“The Wedding of Eithne” is primarily a heroic fantasy novel, like the other works in my Matter of Manred series. The title heroine, Lady Eithne, is of relatively humble origin (being from the lowest rung of the aristocracy, and a bastard branch of her family besides), and has been reluctant for three books now to become an arranged bride, but she’s thrust into making this choice by events beyond her control. I wanted a smaller, intimate, character-driven story that explored questions of fate, free-will, pre-destination, family, and obligation, without the world-shaking overtones of epic fantasy.

What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?

I was raised Catholic, and have read a lot of “Chosen One” fantasy fiction over the years, and as a father of daughters, and a feminist-friendly person in general, the question of choice and free-will in relation to romance and religion is important me. So questions about fate, free-will, and the nature of evil feature prominently in the heroine’s development. It’s something of an “Abraham & Isaac” story, told from a female viewpoint, with marriage as the sacrificial altar. So these are the predominant themes in “The Wedding of Eithne.”

Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take.

Parts of “The Wedding of Eithne” go back fifteen years, and the original draft from which the core of this story emerged was written two years ago in about 90 days. And then this particular book was drafted last year in another 90-ish days, and went through about six months of rewrites before I was happy with the final draft. The process involved many years of researching medieval Irish culture, particularly marriage practices, myths, and legends. I even went to Ireland for a few weeks to immerse myself in the culture.

Tell me about the main storyline within this book.

The Lady Eithne has lived her whole life under a magical prohibition: she may not marry until the portents are favorable, but she’ll always have the right to choose her husband. Now, the portents are favorable, AND they coincide with an ancient prophecy. Eithne is left with little more than a day to decide whether to accept marriage arranged for her. But rival religious and political factions have their own ideas about her wedding plans. How can she avoid becoming a pawn for one side or another, yet still exercise her free right of choice?

Who is the protagonist of this story?

The Lady Eithne is the daughter of a minor aristocratic family, raised in a remote mountain village. Because of her magical prohibition, she aspired to a life beyond the typical fate of being married off as a teenager to the first man who could afford her bride-price. When the years went on, she began to think she’d end up an unmarried “spinster,” and learned about “men’s ways” in order to make an independent life for herself. Now that an arranged marriage has been contracted for her, she has to decide what love really means to her.

Who is the antagonist of this story?

This was actually an interesting problem in writing this novel. The visible antagonist is His Reverence Inloth, a priest who believes that his local religious institutions are corrupt and in need of reform, particularly its marriage practices. He is a native of the milieu, but studied abroad and returned with “foreign ideas” and a mission to make his countrymen “see the light” of the larger religious order. But there are also political opponents and “hidden” antagonists. Inloth’s reformation isn’t all that it seems to be, and not all of his villainous allies are honest and earnest.

What is the major conflict in this story?

As a divorced Catholic, I am myself something of an oxymoron, faced with the question of whether my marriage is actually still valid (no according to the State, but yes according to my Church). So the fundamental question in “The Wedding of Eithne” is whether Eithne really has the free-will to choose her own marriage partner, and what the consequences of that choice might be. She is also faced with the problem of whether her choice (if it is truly free) would be legitimate and valid, given the political and religious conflicts currently dividing her land.

Where and when is this story taking place?

“The Wedding of Eithne” is set in the dark, medieval-style milieu of my Matter of Manred fantasy series. The setting and political culture were influenced by 12th-Century AD Ireland in the decades preceding the Anglo-Norman Conquest, and the religious culture was inspired by hybridizing Irish myths and legends and mystic Pythagorean philosophy with real-life Catholic Church conflicts of the period. Robert E. Howard, Evangeline Walton, CJ Cherryh, and Glen Cook were the primary influences on the writing style, but I could probably spend 100 words just naming authors that have influenced me, there are so many.

Who is your favorite character in this book?

Although I love Lady Eithne and her betrothed, two minor characters who first appeared in my second book recur here: Adarc and Corentin. The first is essentially a fourteen-year-old seminary student, acting as a guide and interpreter for the second, a foreign merchant’s apprentice “studying the market” for his trading company. I love them because they have such divergent world-views, the spiritual versus the commercial. In a way, they represent the warring halves of my own soul, the writer (an act of faith) and the publisher (with all my American capitalist commercialism).

Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?

I’ve already mentioned a few of the elements of my own life and personality that have wormed their way into “The Wedding of Eithne,” like my Irish Catholic upbringing, my divorce, and my daughters. I think any writer worth his salt tells very personal–and sometimes uncomfortable–stories. I’ve certainly taken my own fears of failure and success, and my reluctance to disappoint, and weaved these into the characters. I’ve also drawn on my own family history in developing these characters, though it wouldn’t be appropriate to name names, considering how much the characters have diverged from their inspirations.

What is one thing from this book you wish was real or could happen to you?

I suppose the whole book is an act of wish-fulfillment in one way or another. I wish I could find the sort of love that the characters in “The Wedding of Eithne” are looking for, a partner that isn’t just obligated to be a part of my life, as a consequence of chance and circumstance, but who really wants to be there. Someone I can believe in and encourage, and who believes in and supports the person I am and want to become as well.

What is something you wish wasn’t real and hope doesn’t happen to you?

I most certainly never want to be attacked by giant bats, spiders, or snakes!

Let’s say your book is being turned into a feature-length film; quick- cast the main two characters and pick a theme song or score.

Two songs come to mind: “When Will We Be Married” by the Waterboys and “Short-Change Hero by The Heavy. As for casting the film, I’ll have to say Keira Knightley from her roles in “King Arthur” and “Domino,” and F. Murray Abraham as the villain Inloth.

Do you have any special plans for this book in the near or far future?

This book closes out what I call “The Eowain Cycle” of my Matter of Manred Saga, setting up the background for the story in my next major book. But one thing I’d like to do with “The Wedding of Eithne” is create an omnibus edition that combines it with the previous three books in the series. I’d also like to create hardcover editions of my books. Several readers have already asked about it. Like many writers, I’m a total narcissist, so I wouldn’t mind having such a thing on my own shelves, something that will really last the ages.

Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. To Pre-order your copy of The Wedding of Eithne (March 28th release), please visit the links provided.

AMAZON | Author Direct links: EBOOK | signed PAPERBACK

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#IWSG March 2017: “Ever reworked an old story?” & outrageous expectations

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Created and hosted by the Ninja himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writers Support Group posts the 1st Wednesday of every month. Click the image to learn more or sign up.

Monthly Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

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Yes and no. I recently re-wrote a short story that was derived from a blog writing prompt and turned it into a novella (see “We Are Jardin”). I’ve also developed recent stories from ideas I wrote down years ago. I think it’s worked out pretty well. I don’t, however, think I’ve given new life to anything I’d written more than five years ago. Maybe I should give some of my old stuff a once over to see if there’s something special there.

As for my insecurities, outrageous expectations. I do it to myself, but I don’t think there’s anything I can do to change it. It’s part of who I am. I want things for myself that just may never be possible. So, I’ve decided to attempt the unlikely even if I look stupid, which won’t be too far off from the fact that I already feel a little stupid. In spite of that, I’m proud of myself for trying to do things. Too many people never really try to do anything for fear of failure or looking stupid.

So, maybe I’ll continue talking to my camera as I try to grow a You Tube presence that just isn’t meant to be. Maybe, I’ll keep writing books that no one is the slightest bit interested in reading. Maybe I’ll keep posting to a blog that, while I’m ecstatic about the followers I have, it hasn’t grown in over two years. And when it’s all said and done, I’ll at least be proud of myself for doing something.

In happier news, I found out that J.H. Moncrieff has a new book, Monsters In Our Wake, that looks really cool, and hopefully a little scary. I’m hoping to read and review the book soon and have already contacted J.H. for an interview. I’m really excited about this. I really do miss interviewing authors on a regular basis. Gotta look into doing that more.

And to end things on an annoyingly selfish note, here’s my latest You Tube video.

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Reworked any old stories?
Have any perceived outrageous expectations?
Want to be interviewed?

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After hanging out with Alex, be sure to stop by and visit this month’s co-hosts:
Tamara Narayan,
Patsy Collins,
M.J. Fifield, and
Nicohle Christopherson!!

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Click here to visit other IWSG blogs and sites to receive and share more inspiration and support. (This month, I’m #69).

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Your Next Favorite Author: Toi Thomas

Sooooo, guess who got featured?

This girl!

Yay!

Go check me out.

“Why are you THE Next Favorite Author?
I write for story lovers. I love fresh stories, characters, and worlds. I’ll be the favorite author of a geek like me…” Read more: Your Next Favorite Author

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#Author Interview with Dan Nimak at #thetoiboxofwords #kidlit

Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I have a treat to share. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview a wonderful author named, Dan Nimak. A good time was truly had by all, and here’s how it went down. Be sure to check out the special offer at the end.

Amazon Author Central

Toi Thomas: Hi there Dan! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ToiBox Blog. I’m excited to learn more about you and your work.

Dan: Thanks so much for inviting me, Toi. I really appreciate it.

Toi Thomas: So tell me, who is Dan Nimak?

Dan: I was confirmed at birth as a total left-brainer – math degree and all (though the degree came several years later). Mysteriously, my memory didn’t kick in until the sixth grade, when I fell in love with books. I even tried “writing” one then. Thankfully, no copy of that masterpiece exists. I do remember someone died at the end, so it must’ve been YA instead of MG. Fast forward to three years ago: In an illogical attempt to verify right-brain vital signs, I decided to write a book. I’m not sure what happened, but I now have two completed novels.

Toi Thomas: I can relate. My first, 12-year-old, attempt at a novel “accidently” burned in a fire. Oh well. Glad to see that your left-brain and right-brain are working well together. Two novels is no small feat.

Toi Thomas: Now, before we dive into your special message today, let’s get to know you, the person inside the author.


Toi Thomas:
What makes you geek out?

Dan: Any type of science fiction, and especially my current favorite shows: Doctor Who, Dark Matter, Killjoys, The Man in the High Castle. (Based on the book by Philip K. Dick.)

Toi Thomas: Wow, you really are a sci-fi fan. I like it. Plus, if you are going to write science fiction, you should partake in the culture. Any thoughts on Firefly? I’m always curious about that one.

Dan: I’m a big fan of the Firefly series, though I must admit I was one of the many who missed out on its initial release. I didn’t catch up until a friend recommended the Firefly movie finale “Serenity,” which came out a couple of years later. It’s definitely one of the most unique sci-fi series ever (in my humble, little opinion). Now that you’ve mentioned it, I think it’s about time I watch it again!

Toi Thomas: I like you, missed the initial airing, but have since watched the show and movie. Now, I’m just holding out for an animated series… Moving on.

Toi Thomas: Okay, so what was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?

Dan: EZ question! Half Magic, by Edward Eager. I was eleven years old when I randomly read this book, and it absolutely showed me how reading could be FUN. I seriously had no idea until I picked up that book. Thanks, Mr. Eager.

Toi Thomas: What a fun endorsement. I’ve never read that book, but I can now see it on my TBR.

IMDB

Toi Thomas: In terms of interviews, whose brain are you just itching to scratch?

Dan: I’m cheating and naming two people. I would have loved interviewing Robin Williams. And for the same reason, I’d love to interview Gary Larson (The Far Side comic strip, retired in 1995). No two people have ever made me laugh out loud like Robin and Gary did.

Toi Thomas: I totally get that. I don’t think people give enough respect to people with the ability to make others laugh. There’s no Oscar for best comedic performance and none of the writing awards that acknowledge it are ever publicized or televised. I like that you can appreciate humor; so many people don’t. Do you by any chance incorporate humor into your writing?

Dan: Definitely. I believe Middle Grade needs a good mixture of adventure, mystery, drama, fun and humor. And hopefully, my readers will laugh at the appropriate times.

Toi Thomas: Now that we know a little more about you, the person, let’s learn about you, the author, and dive into your special message.


Toi Thomas: So whacha got for me today?

Dan: “Has Anyone Seen My Brain?” is a Middle Grade adventure about a trio of twelve-year-olds and a dog named Blue invisibly traveling through time. They enjoy the best summer ever – until the trip in which one of the friends truly disappears. A fourteen-year-old girl from the Salem witch trials helps with the search, and they soon discover that finding their lost friend will lead to a life-or-death decision. Here’s a partial review from “The Page Turner” – “The writing is quick and clever…and as hard as it is to manage time travel without plot holes, this one aced it.”

Toi Thomas: I agree with The Page Turner Review; after reading the book myself, I can attest to your ability to address plot issues while keeping the fun rolling. Here’s a look at my review as well.

Toi Thomas: Now, Dan, tell me who’s starring in this 2-dimensional script read of Has Anyone Seen My Brain?

Dan: Addi, Brain and Jaden make up “The Blue Team” (named after Addi’s dog, Blue). While Addi is the true “brains” of the group, Jaden provides the comedy. And it’s Brain who has to make a heart-wrenching decision that determines the fate of one of the friends. They seek some timely assistance from Anekia, but the girl from the Salem witch trials has her own issues.

Toi Thomas: You have a way with words; no spoilers here, but you’re right. Anekia does have a whole set of issues it takes Brain a while to acknowledge; he is just a kid after all. Would you be willing to admit as to whether one of the characters is your favorite?

Dan: I’d have to go with Anekia, which you know, isn’t her “real” name. Even though she’s dealing with some serious 17th century problems, she wants to help her new friends hundreds of years in the future. Plus…she is very capable of getting even with Jaden (no spoilers) in the humor department.

Toi Thomas: I see. Well, overall, what do you feel about this story is going to reel in the readers?

Dan: I wanted to lightly touch on 17th century Salem, with a focus on friendship, tough decisions, and forgiveness. (I threw in a little baseball for the fun of it.) I hope many will enjoy, and I’m very grateful for those who take the time to give my story a shot.

Toi Thomas: I think the baseball was a fun touch. There are so many angles to which you could pitch this lovely story: Salem Witch Trials, Baseball, Time Travel, Invisibility, Coming-of-age, and so much more. I really think you’ve got something here.

Toi Thomas: Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?

Dan: Absolutely!


Toi Thomas: If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Dan: I’ve got to refer to you, Toi, on this. When I first read your review of my book, a fist pump was involved regarding, “It’s a very touching story with a coming-of-age significance and an ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ impact.” I suppose I’m a sucker for happy endings.

Toi Thomas: It’s funny that you say that. I was thinking over the holidays, that people don’t watch that movie enough anymore. It’s a classic worth watching from time to time.

Toi Thomas: Let’s play zombie urban survivor. What 3 things do you need to survive a black-out in Central Park the day zombies attack?

Dan: My kindle; my solar panel charger; and, my soon-to-be-acquired zombie blaster.

Toi Thomas: A hardcore reader to the end. That’s what I like to hear. Even in the zombie apocalypse, we have to let the good times roll.

Toi Thomas: Speaking of good times, what’s the most fun experience you’ve ever had, to date?

Dan: I guess I could get all “deep” and mention the birth of our three daughters. The miracle of birth is certainly wonderful, but to be honest, the word “gross” comes to my mind more often than the word “fun.” We’ve had a lot of great times traveling and hiking in many places. For a single event of pure entertainment, I’d have to rank zip-lining several hours through the Smoky Mountains on a beautiful fall afternoon a few years ago as one of the best!

Toi Thomas: Aww, how sweet. Yes, the birth of a child is indeed wonderful, but I agree that zip-lining is probably more fun. I love it.

Toi Thomas: Last question of the day; here we go.

Toi Thomas: Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?

Dan: For the immediate future (2017), my goal is to complete “Dioji,” the sequel to “Has Anyone Seen My Brain?”  I’m also working on another novel, with a hopeful appearance during 2017 as well. Ten years from now, I will be found zip-lining on a regular basis through the Smokies.

Toi Thomas: A sequel to HASMB sounds great. I can’t wait… And here’s to a future of fun and zip-lining. Is there a question you would like to ask me before you go?

Dan: Would you mind sharing my special offer with your readers?

Toi Thomas: Of course not, Dan. I’d be delighted.

Dan is offering both “Has Anyone Seen My Brain?” and “Above the Rain” as free eBooks. All you need to do is tell him which book(s) and what version (mobi or epub) you would like. Please email him through the “Contact” link on his site and let him know either your email address or your kindle email address, so he can send you the files.

Toi Thomas: Dan, thank you so much for spending time with me today.

Dan: It’s been my pleasure, Toi. I hope you and your readers have a great 2017. And on a personal note, I’d like to congratulate you and wish you luck with your guest appearance at a Fantasy convention this spring. Please keep us updated with the details!

Thanks again Dan. Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from Dan Nimak, check out these great links:

Website: Dannimak.com

Amazon Author Central: Dan Nimak

GoodReads: Dan Nimak

Facebook: Dan Nimal | @RainbugBooks

Purchase links for Has Anyone Seen My Brain?:

AMAZON | iBOOKS | NOOK | KOBO

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Coming Out Of Egypt by Angela Joseph Interview #Christian #Fiction

Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I’m sharing a special interview with author, Angela Joseph, about her fiction book entitled, Coming Out Of Egypt. Enjoy!

Where did the idea for Coming Out of Egypt come from?

Many years ago when I was a teacher in Trinidad, there were rumors about two sisters who were being sexually abused by their father. Nothing was ever done about it, as far as I know. Fast forward to living in the US, I now work with women, as well as men, who have suffered this horrible fate and who continue to bear the emotional scars of their experience.

How did the title of this book come about?

Coming Out of Egypt is a metaphorical and literal title for the story that depicts the journey of two sisters, Marva and June, out of the bondage of an abusive past. It’s metaphorical because it is based on the exodus of the Israelites from the bondage of slavery. It’s also literal because after Marva, the older sister, commits a horrible crime as a result of that abuse, she and June flee their home in Egypt Village, Trinidad, in order to escape from the law.

What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?

Coming Out of Egypt belongs to the women’s fiction genre. While the story has a strong romantic element, the subject matter deals more with the journey of the main characters out of the bondage of their past experiences.

What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?

The theme of this book is one of redemption. My aim in writing this book is to bring hope and healing to women, and men, not just those who have been abused, but those who have been in bondage of some sort and feel they are no good and do not deserve to be loved. I want to show them they can “come out of Egypt” with God’s help.

Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take.

You may not believe this, but this book has been 13 years in the making. First, I could only write on weekends because I worked full time, then I attended a writers’ conference where an editor told me I had too much material in one book. She suggested I make the teacher in the story the protagonist and focus on the romance between her and the detective. This I did, but then I couldn’t get an agent and my writer’s group felt it didn’t have the punch the first book had. Back I went to the keyboard and came up with not two, but three books. My research focused on the effects of sexual abuse on women and their partners.

Tell me about the main storyline within this book.

After accidentally killing her father and dumping his body in a nearby river, seventeen-year-old Marva and her younger sister June flee their home in Egypt Village, Trinidad. Marva ’s goal  is  to forge a new life for herself and June and forget the memories of their abusive past. But, desperate to elude the ruthless detective, control her rebellious sister, and hold down a job in a man’s domain, Marva’s new life is not what she envisioned.  While she yearns for love, understanding and forgiveness, Marva knows she deserves only punishment. Will she get what she yearns for or what she deserves?

Who is the protagonist of this story?

Seventeen-year-old Marva is the protagonist of the story. She is  taciturn, strict with few friends, desperately longing for love, but afraid of men in general – although she does harbor some romantic feelings for her childhood friend. She is fiercely devoted to her younger sister June and is not afraid of getting into a fight to protect her.

Thirteen-year-old June is almost the opposite of her sister. Even though she too was abused by her father, she craves the attention of the opposite sex and uses her beauty to win them over. She loves her sister, but tries to wriggle out of her control.

Who is the antagonist of this story?

The antagonist is David, the detective, who is investigating the murder of the girls’ father. Even though he is not a bad guy, he thinks Marva is guilty and is anxious to carry out his duties. She sees him as her archenemy and tries to avoid him at all costs.

What is the major conflict in this story?

The major conflict centers on Marva’s attempts to elude the detective who, she knows, suspects her of murdering her father. She moves to another city where she thinks she will be safe, only to discover that not only does her former teacher, who has always shown an interest in her, now lives in that city, but she is engaged to the detective. As circumstances conspire to bring Marva and June into closer contact with the teacher, Marva wishes she could confide in her, but she is scared, not so much of being brought to justice, but of what might happen to her sister.

Where and when is this story taking place?

The story takes place in Trinidad in the mid-80s. The country, which lies at the northern tip of Venezuela, formerly a British colony, is now a republic, rich in oil, natural gas, and asphalt. The population consists mainly of people of African and East Indian descent with a smaller percentage comprising of Europeans, Chinese, Hispanics, and people from the middle east. The two main characters are of Venezuelan descent.  The story makes lavish references to the diverse cultural influences of this fun-loving nation.

Who is your favorite character in this book?

Apart from Marva, the protagonist, my favorite character is Cicely, the school teacher, who plays a great role in helping Marva overcome a lot of her weaknesses and become a child of God. Cicely is kind, warm-hearted and generous. She was also molested by her father as a young girl and was, therefore, able to empathize with Marva and give her the love and support she so much needed.

Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?

Quite a few of my life experiences were brought to bear in writing this book. As I mentioned before, I was a teacher in the same school that I write about in the story and knew two sisters who, it was rumored about, were being molested by their father, but they were never my pupils. Also, I work with patients in behavioral health who have been sexually abused. As far as personality, I think I am somewhat like Cicely.

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Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. To obtain your copy of Coming Out of Egypt, please visit the link provided. Amazon.com

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

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