guest blog

Hi everyone, and Nina, thank you for inviting me. My name is Charlene Roberts. I’m an Ellora’s Cave author, and soon to be Double Dragon author (this is an e-pub specializing in sci-fi, horror, fantasy, etc.)

My blog is about the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short. I’m sure that some of you are wondering if you can do this, or if it’s worth spending time on. For writers who are not prolific, like me, the gain of 50,000 words is 50,000 more than if I wrote at my regular pace.

National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month – or NaNo, as it’s affectionately called – is the brainchild of Chris Baty, who works for the Offices of Letters and Light in California. His idea to get people of all ages writing has blossomed into a global extravaganza, where writers challenge themselves to complete a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.

Now you must be wondering; why on earth would anyone subject themselves to the agony of finding 50,000 words in 30 days? Well, I for one am a procrastinator. I have all these wonderful ideas of what to write, but when it comes to finishing, it can take me forever. Plus I’m a very slow writer—a double whammy.

With NaNo, I can decide on what project to work on, get an outline together, and make myself write 50,000 words.

For those who are considering the challenge of taking on NaNo, here are some tips that can help:

1. The most important thing to consider when tackling something of this size is to turn your internal editor off. That’s right, I’m serious. There’s no way (unless you’re extremely prolific) a person can write 50,000 words in 30 days unless you turn off that annoying little voice in your head that says “What are you writing? It’s terrible! Start over!” The whole idea of doing NaNo is to write as much as you can in one month. Don’t worry about what words you’re using, or the grammar – just get the words down on paper. You’re going to be editing it anyways. And you know as well as I do that it’s easier to edit a bunch of words than a blank sheet.

Oh and what I’ve learned when turning off the internal editor? You come up with some very interesting scenes you never would have thought of otherwise.

2. You need to plan. 50,000 words is a lot of work, so you need to know how you’re going to achieve that goal. It takes about 1,666 words per day to make the 50K mark – so how will you do this?

I found that for myself, a little bit here and there helped. I work full-time in front of a computer, and nowadays, I’m hard pressed to sit in front of my computer in the evenings. So I would write long hand instead, or use my Blackberry Torch to write.

If you do write in the evenings, you should plan to have “me time” – no interruptions from the family, no phone calls, and no distractions. The hour or two that you set aside for yourself HAS to be for you – I found that my family would find excuses to interrupt me! After putting my foot down though, they got the hint! LOL

3. Know what you are going to work on. It sounds simple I know, but I noticed that in the years I’ve done NaNo, passion for my new manuscript made a big difference in how many words I would produce. For example in 2008, I was working on an urban fantasy manuscript. I loved the story and the outline I had drawn up for it, and when NaNo started, I couldn’t write fast enough. I think I was at 53,000 words when NaNo was finished. I finished my manuscript (which was approx. 103,000 words), and finally sold it this year. Like I said, slow writer. 🙂

However, this year was a struggle. I liked my story, but I didn’t have the same passion for it as my urban fantasy, which is not normal for me. I did manage to reach 50K this year, however.

4. Know the best time for you to write. Some writers are early birds, while others are night owls. I’m definitely a night owl, and produce my best work then.

The best thing about NaNo is that it’s not a contest, or that you HAVE to have 50K at the end of the month. The best thing about is that you’re further ahead than if you didn’t join NaNo. And the support from Chris and his team members is contagious. They’ve set up NaNo so that Regional Volunteers can cheer their neighbourhood writers on to produce as much as they can. Some of them even have all-night writing parties! How’s that for inspiration?

And I personally love a challenge. You can even “friend” other people on the site and watch as you compete with each other on your word counts.

Anyhow, I hope that what I’ve learned about NaNo will make you think about taking on the challenge next year. And I’ll be there too in 2012, working on my next greatest masterpiece!

Charlene’s lastest release, A Gentlemen’s Savior is available from Ellora’s Cave.

When Stephanie’s art teacher issues a challenge—create a painting based only on the torso of a human sculpture—she decides to paint a Regency lord. But with his muscular body, longer hair and a few well-placed scars, Stephanie’s lord is definitely no Regency dandy. Her best work ever, the painting stirs an obsession Stephanie can’t explain. Not content to wait for the next class, she visits the art center, just to get a peek at her lord. She touches the painting…

And suddenly finds herself in a bedroom in 1817 London, her lord standing behind her—very real, very naked and very ready to end Stephanie’s sexual dry spell.

Before she can say “ton”, Stephanie’s indulging her desires with Gabriel, dressing in the height of Regency fashion and meeting the Prince Regent. But life in 1817 isn’t all tea and crumpets. Stephanie soon learns she’s reliving her past life—one that ended tragically. Thrust in the middle of a sinister plot, she must save the prince, save Gabriel…and if she’s luckier this time around, save herself.


On Friday, Stephanie decided to go straight to the community center after work. The thought of not seeing her Regency lord until Wednesday bugged the shit out of her. She needed a visual dose of his taut, muscular body to keep her fantasies running strong over the weekend.

At the center, Stephanie hurried inside, the silence in the building eerie. There was always something going on at the center, but since it was after hours, the hallways now stood empty. The classroom doors were all closed and the early evening twilight lengthened the shadows in the long, narrow corridor.

Stephanie walked quickly, her heels clicking with swift purpose. If she couldn’t find the janitor before he left for the weekend… She shook her head. It wasn’t the end of the world for Christ’s sake! It was only a painting, after all.

A movement ahead and to her right caught her attention.

“Excuse me?” Stephanie called out, seeing the familiar blue coveralls. “I was wondering if you could help me.”

The old gentleman stopped and turned to look at her. “What is it?”

It wouldn’t be easy getting him to unlock the door. She would need to come up with a good reason. “I’m one of Leila Rowe’s evening art students. I can’t find my paintbrushes and I think I may have left them in the storeroom.”

The janitor sighed, rolling his eyes heavenward. “Come on.” He led the way to the storeroom and pulled out a large ring of keys, taking his time selecting one. “You artsy folk can be a pain sometimes.”

“I beg your pardon? What are you talking about?” Stephanie demanded, standing aside as he swung the door open and flicked on the overhead light.

“I’m talking about your weird requests. In the fifteen years I’ve worked for the center, the Adults Arts Program is the strangest.”

“In what way?”

“I’ve seen my share of people just like you, coming in here at weird hours, asking for me to open the storeroom door so they can stare at their masterpieces.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“They always forget to turn off the light and latch the door so it locks behind them, that’s what’s wrong! I can’t be standing here watching them ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over their paintings.” He made a limp gesture with one hand.

Stephanie managed to keep a straight face. “I’m only here to find what I want.”

“You’ll remember to turn off the light and lock the door behind you?”

“I promise.”

The old man nodded and walked off.

Stephanie walked in and shut the door behind her. Five easels stood in a row at the back of the storeroom, the paintings covered with sheets to protect them from prying eyes and careless fingers.

She moved forward, not knowing which one was hers, and yet she walked purposefully toward the last easel to her right, partially cast in shadow. Lifting the sheet, Stephanie gazed at her naked hero, feeling the rush of pride and slight embarrassment as she stared at his body.

His gaze almost seemed to beckon her to reach out and touch his warm skin, to kiss the full lips curved slightly upward with a mysterious smile, to grasp his cock in both hands and feel its silky skin glide over her fingers.

Stephanie let out a small gasp—she hadn’t realized she was holding her breath. Reaching out with one finger, she grazed her lord’s cheek ever so slightly…

Thanks so much for visiting Char. I can honestly say I’ve never been brave enough to commit to NaNo. I’m curious how many of my visitors have tried it. If not, why? And if you did, were you happy with the results?

I’d like to welcome guest romance blogger, Phyllis Campbell.

Heart thumping, palms moist, she settles her shaky fingers on the keyboard. Millions of thoughts run through her mind, those that aren’t very good…at least that’s what her momma had told her as a young girl. Squeezing her eyes closed, pictures of half-naked men float through her mind and her mouth turns dry. SEX! No, it couldn’t be time to write the sex scene, could it? Her religious leader would certainly kick her out of church for fear of a bolt of lighting spearing down from heaven. What about her parents? Would her own husband disown her? Her poor children would have to walk down the streets with their head ducked from now on.

But she’s a romance writer. It needs to be written!

She swallows the lump of fear lodged in her throat and takes a deep breath. Once her eyes are open, she focuses on her story. Reminding herself it’s a natural thing, she proceeds, her fingers fly across the keyboard as if they had a mind of their own. His masculine scent of leather and spice fills the air, consuming every breath she takes. In her head, the scene unfolds, the hero sweeps the heroine off into another world where seduction and passion rule. Seeking fingers, curious kisses…

The more she writes, the wider her grin spreads. Her heart now beats a different rhythm. Her palms are moist for entirely different reasons this time. And in her chest…love grows. This excitement is the thrill she needs –the energy that gives her the courage to continue and not be afraid.

I don’t know about most writers, but I’ve certainly experienced this a time or two (or three or four) since I first started writing. Those who don’t read romance stories label us as ‘smut’ writers. All we think about is sex – twenty-four hours a day. My husband tells me this numerous times…and it isn’t for flattery. (grin) But there’s a bigger picture. The overall picture that nobody sees but romance writers. We aren’t writing about sex – we’re writing about love.

I write Sensual…don’t you just love that word? It rolls across your tongue like a lover’s passionate kiss. Makes you want to deepen your voice in a sexy tone, lower your lids half-mast and part your mouth. Maybe even swipe your tongue across your dry lips…

Okay, I’m getting carried away again. I need to get back to the point of this article. As a writer, when will you know it’s time to write the sex scene? I can’t believe how many times I’ve been asked this question. Do you know what I say? My answer is this… Listen to your characters. Between them and the theme of the story, that will tell you when. For my stories, my characters must have some kind of attraction between them, and as the story progresses, this attraction becomes the theme of my story. I LOVE to tease the reader—and yes, my poor characters get affected as well. They want it. Badly. They almost get it, but then something happens to make it not happen. Pretty soon they’re playing that sensual, teasing dance again and even take it a little farther…but just before they get what they want, it’s snatched right from under them. Finally I’ve created the build-up. I’ve made my reader WANT it to happen as much as my characters do. So now it’s time… Or is it? Like I said earlier, the characters are really the ones who’ll let you know when they’re ready. And when they are… WATCH OUT! It’s a fun ride for all!

Now let me tell you about an awesome Christmas anthology titled – “A Summons from His Grace.” This has three short stories, but it gets better. It’s part of a four-part collection. There is also “A Summons from Yorkshire”, and “A Summons from The Castle”, and “A Summons from The Duke.” The cool thing about this is our characters are all related. The Duke of Danby has summoned his children and grandchildren to Danby Castle for Christmas. Each story tells about those who made the trek—and why—and how they fell in love.

Please enjoy this EXCERPT:
As much as Calvin knew she really shouldn’t be in his room, he was reluctant to tell her to leave. Being close to her like this reminded him of how he enjoyed touching her—how he had cherished their first kiss and couldn’t wait for another one.

And here she stood in her nightrail. It was as if the stars aligned perfectly in the heavens and fate was on his side, because even the companion wouldn’t be disturbing their privacy tonight.

“Calvin, you shouldn’t say such a thing.” The tone of her voice wasn’t as sharp as it had been moments ago.

“I can’t help it. With you so near, it makes me want to touch you.” He bent his head closer to hers while his hands continued to hold her face.

She clutched his hands, and for a second he thought she meant to remove them. But she didn’t. Desire coated her blue eyes as they rested on his mouth. His heart jerked. She wanted this as badly as he did, despite her words earlier. Perhaps she was as confused as he was. But unlike Dorothy, when Calvin became confused, he didn’t cover it with anger.

He brushed his lips across hers. Hesitating…prolonging the excitement building inside his body.

“Calvin,” she whispered. “Why are you doing this to me?”

Smiling, he slid his hands down her neck as he rubbed his cheek against hers. “Pray, tell me what exactly I’m doing?”

She closed her eyes. “You’re making me want things that aren’t possible. You’re bringing my body alive, something that’s never happened to me.”

He kissed her eyelids. “Dorothy, my lovely, this is a new experience for me as well.” He slid his lips across her cheek again. “Because my body has never burned so much for a woman.”

A small moan came from her as she searched for his mouth with hers. When their lips met, he crushed her in his arms, kissing her soundly. Her arms hooked over his shoulders as she held him tight.

He caressed his tongue with hers, and she responded so passionately it nearly had him dropping to his knees. Moving a hand between their bodies, he cupped her breast, which elicited another moan from her. Under his palm, her nipple beaded, and he became aware of just how naked she was under this gown. Eager for more, he broke the kiss to move his lips over her chin and down her throat.

“This should be wrong, but it feels too good,” she muttered.

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Phyllis Campbell is an award-winning, multi-published and best-selling author of romance; from the dark and mysterious hero who sends shivers up your spine to the feisty heroines who somehow manage to keep them in line. She’s been published with several small presses since 2006. Most of her reviewers have given her the title of “Queen Of Sexual Tension”. Married with kids (and three grandchildren), Phyllis has lived in Utah all of her life and enjoys family activities when she’s not writing her next sensual story.

I’d like to welcome my guest Marie Rose Dufour, whose debut novel was released just this month. Welcome Marie!
“So what type of romances do you write?”

A writer asked me while we were getting together for dinner. This question always has me shaking in my shoes. You never know how people are going to react to the answer.

“I write erotica.”

A nervous laugh went around the table.

“Hmm…It’s always the sweetest looking ones who write erotica.”

So here is a question. Do writers of certain genres look a particular way? I think it’s like saying all phone sex operators look the girls in the commercials. What should an erotic romance author look like? Should I prance around the house in a black leather dominatrix outfit, cracking my whip, making my husband call me, Mistress? Although it might be a fantasy of my husband’s (don’t get any ideas Mr. Marie), it’s not going to happen. I’m sure I’m not bursting anyone’s bubble here but I’m usually writing in my yoga pants and a t-shirt.

Writers are regular people who just gravitate towards a particular genre. Barring Stephen King (who is probably a very nice person but definitely looks like he should be writing horror), you really can’t tell who writes what by looking at them.

In order to be a better writer, you have to write what you’re passionate about. Speaking for myself, I’ve always loved romances. Maybe, my love of romance comes from my mother who is never without a Harlequin Romance novel in her purse; or blame it on Disney fairy tales like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty.

Whatever or whoever is “to blame”, it has made me a better writer because “Happily Ever After” is a passion of mine. It may not always happen in real life but it will always happen a t the end of my books.

Finally, why erotica? You’ll just have to read between the lines on that one and read the books. 😉
Marie’s book, Fated Mates is available through Secret Cravings Publishing

We know that we are no longer alone in the universe. Descendants of Earthly ancestors have returned to find the other halves of themselves, their destined mates.

Dragon, a scarred Serralian warrior drawn to the planet of his ancestors, never believed the Goddess had a mate for him but no matter what he believes, he’s unable to resist the pull of the planet deep within in soul.

Liz, a curvy teacher who escaped an abusive marriage three years earlier is afraid to take another chance on love. Tired of being a
bystander in her own love life, she participates in an ancient ritual to identify Serralian mates. Taking that chance changes her life forever. Can these two people overcome their pasts to become each other’s true Fated Mates?

Liz woke up with the sounds of waves crashing in her ears. Confident of the lack of beachfront property within her condo, she wondered what destiny had in mind for her now. She sat up looking around at her surroundings. Lying under a beautiful canopy tent draped with yards and yards of gauzy royal blue material swaying gently in the breeze, and keeping the rays of the sun from beating down on her body. Liz ran her hands over the bedding beneath her. It felt softer and smoother than the highest count Egyptian cotton sheets bought in Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

The beautiful beach reminded her of pictures of exquisite Caribbean beaches with turquoise waves and miles and miles of powdery white sand. The gentle breezes lightly ruffled her hair as she walked down the beach to the edge of the water which rose up to meet her feet, tickling her toes.

“Well, Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore,” she said looking up at a foreign sky with two moons in the distance.

“I must be dreaming. I read so much information about Serralia I’m dreaming about it in Technicolor. Damn! This is one realistic mother of a dream.”

Suddenly, her senses went on high alert. She didn’t know if the air around her had changed or if her body sensed another person behind her, but she knew she was no longer alone and somehow her mate stood behind her.

Two strong bronze hands slowly encircled her waist, pulling her gently back to into a lean, hard body. Liz sighed. This felt right. She snuggled deeper into the embrace. Nothing ever felt this right before. She could stand here in the safety of his arms forever.

“I’ve been waiting for you. I thought you would never get here,” she whispered.

“I’m sorry it took so long. I never let myself believe you existed.”

“I read your file.” The hands moving on her stomach stilled. “I’m sorry for what you had to go through alone. I would have been there for you if I had known.”

“I wouldn’t have been there if I had faith I would find you someday.” Dragon’s chest expanded letting her love and comfort wash over him. “So you know?”

“About everything that happened to you when you were taken prisoner? Yes, I know. I know you lost an eye and still wear an eye patch. I bet it makes you look rakishly handsome.”

She felt the chuckle in his chest before she heard it. The heat of his body warmed her back and aroused her body.

“I have never been told such a thing.”

“Well, I’m sure it does.”

She stroked the muscular forearms at her waist with light caresses. His body trembled behind her.

“We’ve never met in person, but I already feel connected to you. Is it normal?”

“The bonding happens when we are connected as mates. Normal. I don’t know. Right, yes.”

“Do you know about me?” she whispered.

“I know you are perfect.” He leaned down and sweetly kissed the top of her head.

Liz stilled, she might as well tell him about her marriage. She didn’t want any secrets between them.

“I was married before,” she blurted out nervously. “He was not a nice man. He hurt me, not only physically, but verbally too. It took a long time, but I left him.”

Dragon fully stilled behind her. All the wonderful stroking stopped. Her stomach dropped down to her feet. Shit! I’ve ruined this already. She knew her mistake of a marriage would follow her around for the rest of her life. She knew it.

“You don’t know how much pain it causes me to know how much pain you had to endure. I would gladly be tortured again if it meant taking it away from you.
You never have to be afraid with me. I would sooner cut off my own arm than hurt a hair on this beautiful head.”

Liz nodded, the lump in her throat making any physical speech impossible.

“I realize it might be a while before you believe this, but it is true.”

“I do believe you. I don’t know why, but I do.”

“Good. Now, we can continue what we started here.”

Callused thumbs again stroked her stomach making it quiver and her pulse quicken. If this was what he could do to her body with only his thumbs, she might actually die from pleasure. She smiled thinking about what her obituary would say. Woman dies from having the most intense sexual experience of her life, then her brain stopped working; her body took over and went into overload.
Marie Rose Dufour grew up reading romances. She secretly attributes, or blames, her mother who would have romance novels delivered to the house monthly while she was growing up. When she is not reading or writing romances, you can find her working tirelessly in urban education. Marie Rose Dufour lives in Rhode Island with her high school sweetheart and two very curious cats. You can keep up with all her newest releases on her website or follow her on Facebook.

Obviously I seem to be having a some crisis of identity. Some internal search to figure out my place in this world. More specifically, where I fit in this whole crazy-ever-changing-dear-lord-what-have-I-done world of publishing.

I’ve been thinking about blogs and the WIDE universe of the internet and how many people every day who are seeking our attention. I don’t take a lot of time surfing blogs. Very little as a matter of fact. Which I believe is directly proportional to the number of people who stop by The Block on a regular basis. (And I love and enjoy chatting with all three of you. *g*)

I have only a couple of blogs I visit nearly every day Julia Rachel Barrett because Julia blogs on everything from movies to television to interesting authors she enjoys reading. And Penelope’s Romance Reviews because I just relate. The rest of my blog surfing is done from recommendations. But since I’ve dropped out of most of my Yahoo loops, I don’t get many of those anymore either.

So what makes you visit a blog? Besides the three dear friends who come all the time … what brought you here today? Just curious.

And if you’re up for following me around the internet, I’m trying to do a bit of marketing at Hesperia Loves Books because she’s showcasing indie authors for the next couple of weeks. And also at The Tiki Hut, Author Island’s guest blogger hang out. I’ll be there all week.

Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

Thanks for stopping for a visit. But I’m on walk-about today.

I hope you’ll stop over at SARA TRIMBLE’S BLOG where I’m chatting about what a visual writer I am and how adding small details to your writing can make a big difference.

And if that doesn’t entice you, I’ve got a brand new excerpt from my sexy romantic suspense Deceive Her With Deception and a chance to win a set of my romance trading cards.

I’d like to welcome my very special guest blogger ALAYNA WILLIAMS. Alayna has an MA in sociology-criminology (research interests: fear of crime and victimology) and a BA in criminology. She has worked in and around criminal justice since 1997. Although she does read Tarot cards, she’s never used them in criminal profiling or to locate lost scientists. She recently took up astronomy, but for the most part her primary role in studying constellations and dark matter is to follow her amateur astronomer-husband around central Ohio toting the telescope tripod and various lenses. Like the Pythia in Dark Oracle, she’s been known to belly dance. Unlike the Pythia she’d never consider herself a professional.

Writing as Laura Bickle, she’s the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket – Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, she’s the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE.

Writers tend to get into a lot of trouble with time. There’s making time to write, managing deadlines, and the vagaries of market timing.

One issue with time, however, is entirely within the author’s control. And that’s the timeline of the story.

I never paid a whole lot of critical attention to time when I read. Sure, I was conscious that some passages in stories could be languid and slow-moving like a drippy faucet. Others were exhaustingly rushed. I never was quite able to put my finger on why.

And then, when my first book was accepted for publication, I discovered the answer: books can grow timeline issues. They’re very subtle, but can really cause problems with the reader’s perception of a work.

A timeline issue occurs when characters have too many events crammed into a period of time – or not enough. A timeline problem happens when too much stuff is packed into a single day. A succession of tasks emerges that would require the bending of the rules of the space-time continuum or superhuman abilities to accomplish. It occurs when your main character hasn’t slept for days. It happens when she travels an impossible distance in an hour. It can take place when your main character hasn’t worked regular hours at her day job without explanation. This goes for crazy amounts of overtime, or not working at all. It happens when your character is doing “cop stuff” for seven days in a row without a day off or at least a pro forma request for overtime. It’s easy for an author to lose track of what day it is, and a character can get trapped in a month-long weekend or a year of Wednesdays.

Mundane concerns? Maybe. But they catch an editor’s eye and seep into the subconscious of the reader. And sometimes, we’ve gotta pay attention to the rules of the real world – like time – in order to allow the reader to suspend disbelief for the really magical things we want to do with the story.

My editor asked me to turn a timeline in with my book. Something simple, listing the day, night, and all the scenes and events that happened in each. By reviewing my manuscript in this way, I could see where I crammed too many activities into the heroine’s day – or (eep!) not enough.

By doing this kind of post-hoc analysis, and correcting the results, I found that pacing issues automatically ironed themselves out.

I’ve turned a timeline in for every book since, whether or not I was asked. And it’s really reduced the amount of time I spend fixing structural issues in revisions. Now, I tend to work with that timeline in my head, and it keeps me honest. It keeps my very human characters from turning into Wonder Women and Supermen.

Not only do I have to manage time, but my characters do, too. Maintaining a timeline is a front-line editing fix I suggest that every writer keep in her toolbox.
Alayna’s newest release ROGUE ORACLE is the second in her Delphic Oracle series.
The more you know about the future, the more there may be to fear.

Tara Sheridan is the best criminal profiler around – and the most unconventional. Trained as a forensic psychologist, Tara also specializes in Tarot card reading. But she doesn’t need her divination skills to realize that the new assignment from her friend and sometime lover, Agent Harry Li, is a dangerous proposition in every way.

Former Cold War operatives, all linked to a top-secret operation tracking the disposal of nuclear weapons in Russia, are disappearing. There are no bodies, and no clues to their whereabouts. Harry suspects a conspiracy to sell arms to the highest bidder. The cards – and Tara’s increasingly ominous dreams – suggest something darker. Even as Tara sorts through her feelings for Harry and her fractured relationships with the mysterious order known as Delphi’s Daughters, a killer is growing more ruthless by the day. And a nightmare that began decades ago in Chernobyl will reach a terrifying endgame that not even Tara could have foreseen…

Come on over and help celebrate NEW ENGLAND AUTHORS all day JUNE 13 at Penelope’s Romance.

New England authors are posting about living in a beautiful part of the United States. AND there will be baskets of giveaways … digital books and print books. Come on over, check it out, join in the fun AND be entered to win all kinds of goodies.

I hope to see you over there!