Tag Archives: Wales

Jessie Cahalin – author of ‘You Can’t Go it Alone’ and instigator of Books In Handbag

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Author and blogger, Jessie Cahalin, is visiting my blog today, sharing with you all her writing routine and five things you may not know…

How do you write? Is everything plotted, planned to perfection? Do you ever change tack as you go along or always stick to a pre-made plan?
I plan, I plot and lose the plot to rather assertive characters. At first, they remain quiet when I map out their lives on a large sheet of paper.  As time passes, the characters remove the post-it notes, screw them up and knock on my door.  I do argue with my mischievous characters quite a lot. I only listen to them if they speak nicely and explain why they won’t behave.
Do you have a writing ritual? Meditation, certain cup for your tea, writing trousers?
Where do I buy writing trousers?  I read about some power trouser designed to help the elderly to walk (not joking) – my gran would have loved these. Come to think of it, I have bought lots of jogging trousers since I started this writing malarkey, but I don’t think they I powered with words.
I start the day with posts on social media then switch off the Facebook and Twitter to begin writing.  I switch on social media for a couple of minutes at a time as a reward.   Eleven O’clock signals time for tea followed by some stretching exercises.  My aim is to write throughout the day. Blog posts and website updates are completed in the evening.
Aside from writing, what makes you tick? Tell us 5 things about yourself we probably don’t know.
Embarking on my writing and blogging journey was not something I planned to do.  My husband published my manuscript on Amazon to force me into action.  I am glad he did this, as it has opened a fabulous new world for me. I am an accidental blogger and author.
My late father worked for Leeds United. Don’t get excited, he wasn’t Billy Bremner.  Many decades ago, Dad manufactured one of the stands at the ground and (pardon the pun) part of it is still standing.
Billy Bremner: not Jessie’s dad. Can you spot her novel?
Ever since I watched Out of Africa and heard the lines, ‘I had a farm in Africa.’ I have longed to own a farm in Africa.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to toil on the land. I want to sit in Blixen’s house and write stories with the pen she received from Denys Finch Hatton.  In truth, I fell in love with the setting.  I know I would be able to write in that vast, golden brown setting where solitary trees present umbrella silhouettes. If I have trouble writing then I say, ‘I need a farm in Africa.’
Right, time to get back down to earth. I ‘ate cream buns!  I mean I hate cream buns because they make me sick. Once, I went on an exciting visit to the Bath Pump Room Restaurant for afternoon tea and it wasn’t pretty. I discovered an intolerance to cream. This was NOT the Jane Austen experience I had imagined. I should have listened to Austen and said, ‘I would rather have nothing but tea.’
Finally, I confess that I do not possess many handbags.  I clear out my wardrobes, in the name of thinking time, when I need to avoid a task.
If you were stranded on a desert island with shelter, food and water, what 5 items would you want with you?
Ready for the desert island adventure. I’m Jessie, get me out of here!
I assume I am glamping on this desert island.  Can I stay in a house like the one on the beach in Death in Paradise?  OK. I’m settled and have removed my shoes.  I have my holiday handbag bursting to the seams with some smuggled items. My husband has just asked he if is allowed on the island too.

Firstly, I’d cram my manuscript, which I haven’t written yet, in my handbag.  This would force me to get on with the dreaded editing. I would read the entire thing aloud to exercise my voice. I would take an old-fashioned camera with lots of film because I fear there is no electricity. I’d need the photos for my tweets and memoirs.

I would like to take my tiny radio, if I could get a reception, because the batteries last for years.  I love radio 2 and Radio 4. Alternatively, I would take my guitar, bought when in primary school, and work through the beginner’s guide.

I almost forgot the essentials. Paper! I’d need reams and reams of paper. I would need to learn the art of tiny writing like the Brontës so I could fill every scrap of paper.

On a desert island, I may as well make the most of opportunities. I would take snorkelling gear to I could enjoy the underwater world.  Would I need a shark alarm?

I would have to smuggle an album of photos to remind me of people, favourite places and seasons.  I’d miss the beauty of the seasons on a desert island.

On said island, what 5 books would you take and why?

I feel I should say the Complete Works of Shakespeare but what about Shakespeare’s sisters?  I love the Norton Anthology of Literature by Women because there is such a range of texts I could enjoy.  An anthology of poetry would also be useful.  A collection of classic novels would place me in good company. I would also take The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer.  I haven’t read the book, but the title intrigues me.  In addition to novels, I would take books about art history.  I am interested in art but would love to study the history in more detail.  I need to have visual material to make me reflect as well as words.

Stranded like a fool, I have my holiday handbag bursting to the seams with some smuggled items.

Off the island now, which famous person would you like to have dinner with?­

Having read Judith Barrow’s ‘A Hundred Tiny Threads’, I researched the suffrage movement in Leeds.  I discovered a woman called Leonora Cohen involved in the campaign, and I’d like to speak to her.  I’d invite Leonora to dinner to get an insight into what happened in Leeds.  I am also interested in how working class women got involved in the campaign.  Perhaps I could also invite my great grandmother to see how she would have viewed the whole situation.

 Your current writing projects?

I never stop blogging about my world and am always writing something. At the moment, I am writing some flash fiction.  I plan to write another book in the Sunflower Series.  Judith Barrow has suggested I write the prequel to You Can’t Go It Alone.  I will need to research into Cardiff back in the forties.  Some plot ideas have been surfacing, but I haven’t written anything down yet.

Other published work

You Can’t Go It Alone, Jessie Cahalin

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Book links:

UK:                             http://amzn.eu/cz1jQgl 

US:                             http://a.co/iDjcGSH 

 

About Jessie Cahalin

I’m the proud author of ‘You Can’t Go It Alone’ and creator of Books in my Handbag Blog. I’m thrilled to be visiting another blog made in Wales.

I hail from Yorkshire in the north of England but now lives in Wales. I love to travel the world and collect cultural gems. I search for happy endings, where possible.  Great coffee, food and music give me inspiration. I adore books, bags, writing and photography. Having overcome my fear of self-publishing, I am now living the dream of introducing the characters who have been hassling me for decades. My debut novel, ‘You Can’t Go It Alone’, is a heart-warming tale about the challenges women still face in society.  The novel has light-hearted moments and presents hope.  As C. S. Lewis said, ‘We read to know we are not alone.’

Contacts

Visit Jessie’s website at http://www.JessieCahalin.com

Connect with her at:

Facebook         https://www.facebook.com/people/Jessie-Cahalin/100016975596193

https://www.facebook.com/JessieCahalinAuthor/

Twitter             @BooksInHandbag

Contact her at: jessiecahalin@aol.co.uk

Thanks so much for joining me Jessie! Lovely to find out more about you and your writing.

Follow my blog for more interviews, writerly stuff, dance, tried and tested plant based recipes and magic.

 

 

 

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The inspiration behind The Standing Stone Book Series – Home

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Even though our house only had a tin roof, heating was various and I spent sleepless nights wondering if we’d made a huge mistake, within a year I’d written the first in The Standing Stone Book Series, Home for Christmas. Whatever the weather or the living accommodation, the Welsh countryside inspired me to pen a series about the people who had dwelled on the land before me, or who will live here in the future.

We’d holidayed in Wales for fifteen years with and without the children, but finally living here, in a tent, then a caravan and finally a house, I felt I’d returned home.

Each of the books begins with a song and it beautifully sums up the idea of home.

Home

Think of me in this barren landscape

Think of me, on this hill

Far away from love and friendship

Think of me, if you will.

 

Spare a tear for my weighty burden

Digging new this foreign land

Felling trees to build my homestead.

Hearth and home made with this hand.

 

But the earth, it is the same earth

And the sea ‘tween shore and shore

Gives me hope in times of hardship

That I’m coming home once more.

 

Coming home, I’m coming home

Coming home from distant shore.

 

Think of me as I bring in the harvest

Plucking crop from land and tree

Tending flock and growing family

Dry your eyes and think of me.

 

Trees and hilltops, plants and flowers

Glossy stars that light Her dome

Where I live in Nature’s beauty

That to me, is truly home.

 

But the earth, it is the same earth

And the sea ‘tween shore and shore

Gives me hope in times of hardship

That I’m coming home once more.

 

Coming home, I’m coming home

Coming home from distant shore.

Rachel, Candy and Fern make their homes in Wales, dependent on the land, the people and the culture, to help them call it ‘home’.

Today, for a limited time, you can download The Standing Stone Home for Christmas for just 99p/$1.30 and begin a new, exciting series. Discover how Rachel copes in her little cottage, how Candy seeks to escape the Dome and Fern becomes a leader for her people, while immersing yourself in the Welsh landscape. Mabon blessings xx

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Standing-Stone-Home-Christmas-ebook/dp/B00OCPBVV6/ref

https://www.amazon.com/Standing-Stone-Home-Christmas-ebook/dp/B00OCPBVV6/ref

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Face to face at the Book Fair

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On Saturday 21st July, the National Botanic Gardens of Wales held a storytelling event and book fair called Plant & Plots. I was invited to bring my books along to set up a stand in the Great Glasshouse.

All began well at 8.30am. The plants are amazing and the thought of spending all day with them, and meeting the plant loving public, filled me with excitement.

More authors arrived. I was opposite the fabulous children’s author, Angela Fish and we chatted about the prospects for the day and our books. Her stories are wonderful with glorious illustrations. I was sure every parent and child who walked passed would love one of her books.

I’d recently linked up online with Cheryl Beer, a poet and organiser of a new book fair for September 29th this year in Llandysul, so it was lovely to meet her ‘in real life’ and have a chat. Thorne Moore was there with her clever book stand to keep the drips off her books, and her books of course, psychological mysteries or ‘domestic noir’, exploring the reasons for crimes and their consequences. It was lovely to see Judith Barrow after she interviewed me for Showboat TV, and her wonderful family sagas. Thorne and Judith are the brains and beauty (and damned hard work!) behind the Narberth Book Fair, this year on 22nd September. Check out the fabulous website they have created. http://www.narberthbookfair.co.uk/

Sarada and John Thompson, organisers of the Carmarthen Book Fair on 11th August, invited me to the event, so it was lovely to catch up with them and their work.

And then the sun came out…. and nost of the public chose not to come in. I didn’t blame them. I love the sun, am very happy in it, but the heat and humidity were unbearable. Angela and I took turns to get fresh air, but it was a struggle returning. After a few hours, we nabbed someone to put an industrial fab on which helped a bit, but by 3pm, I was beginning to feel unwell. A meeting of authors was called. Graham Watkins spoke to those in charge of the event and we were offered a table in the Gallery for the following day, but I chose to leave space for others on this occasion; my broken toe is still mending!

I shall definitely return to the Botanic Gardens and I did meet some lovely people. I talked at length to a wonderful gentleman about the magical landscape of Wiltshire and I danced with a little fairy who called me the purple lady. In this digital age, you just can’t beat chatting about books and inspiration face to face.

Don’t forget my Summer Special Giveaway Be in a Book! In three easy steps, you can be yourself in my next novel!

 

Six months without a fag

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In ten days time, 21st July 2018, it will be six months since I last smoked nicotine.

How’s it been?

In some respects, it is easier. The gnawing, gut churning pangs have lessened which is great, as has the insomnia. Looking back, I might have three good days and nights in a row…but the craving is still there.

I’m like a crazy stalker if a smoker comes towards me in the high street, inhaling deeply as they get close and turning with them to make the most of their smoke.

I’ve seen smokers sitting on a bench and been tempted to ask them to blow smoke my way.

I’ve stuck to walking two thousand steps when I wake in the morning, but I come in exhausted and want a cigarette.

People don’t have to be very mean and I want to cry. If they shout at me, I want a cigarette really badly.

And the benefits?

My physical body is settling down. I’ve lost the weight I put on and the HRT is doing the job. I’m very aware that my body is not the same, however, so the body I’m building will be a different one.

I’m embracing this as a challenge (I didn’t to start with! I cried and shouted and stamped about the unfairness of it all!) because I have to. I refuse to accept that I have to ‘settle’ and that because I’m in my crone stage that I have to put up with aches and pains and tiredness.

My bottom is changing shape, my arms are toning up and though I still get a little out of breath walking up steep hills, I recover much quicker.

Other benefits?

I haven’t noticed any extra money in the coffers, but I suppose there must be. I’m proud of myself, sticking to the promise I made to myself, but there are still days when it isn’t much fun!

Will I be celebrating six months smoke free?

On the 21st July, and the 22nd, I’ve been invited to the Great Glasshouse at The National Botanic Gardens of Wales for a weekend of story telling, ‘Plant Pots’. I shall be there with all my books, including The Flowerpot Witch, so why not arrange a day out of flowers and stories? https://botanicgarden.wales/visit/whats-on/storytelling-weekend/

For more musings, magic, dance and words, sign up for Wendy Woo’s Round Robin here http://wendysteele.us15.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=bd3cc38cba01c2dea4a5f386f&id=6210056252

Bright blessings xx

 

 

 

Tales from Pan’s Grotto

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wales-2014-058This past year, I’ve been writing and submitting short stories. Having had over a quarter of them published online and in anthologies, I decided to start my own Youtube channel, Phoenix and the Dragon, and read to you the WitchLit stories emerging from my pen right now. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw3ee9CuNdek9ZC1Im8I_iA

I began at Samhain with a slightly longer story, Granny Hickson’s Blessings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjBDk9eogZQ

This week’s story is called Lucky and is perfect for a tea break viewing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNRDQMuBv3U

If you enjoy the stories, please like, share and subscribe to the channel.

Bright Blessings xx

 

The Veil of Secrets

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Upon the road to Samhein, I’m facing my fears. Working on my root chakra, Muladhara, the fears of the past haunt me less.

1655477_912692688801104_1676088900175960390_oI am no longer a child. Little Wendy met her fears in the safe place in the faery wood. They were part of her once, a constant reminder but now, they are abandoned. She leaves the wood a woman. Little Wendy is still there but she is more than that now. I have followed my dream, to live, write and teach in Wales. This bravery is new. This courage is inspiring.

As the Sacred Wheel turns, Samhein beckons, the time when the veil between the worlds is thin and the future, a step away. What secrets lie beyond the veil?

‘Wendy Woo’s Year – A Pocketful of Smiles – 101 ideas for a happy year and a happy you’, written in 2012, I suggest you take time to declare your intent….

“81: Declare your intent
As we draw towards the end of October, the summer is over and
before us, the long months of winter beckon. This is the time for new
ideas and new plans and, in my experience, choices.
Our ancestors used the coming months to preserve and conserve food
for the winter and organise themselves for the coming spring and we
too can follow this example by conserving the ‘seeds’ of ideas and
plans that proved their worth, burning those that didn’t and beginning
a new seed bank of our own.
A few years ago, two aspects of my life were taking off, writing and
dancing, but I didn’t know which to pursue. I sought advice from a
dear friend, a wise and wonderful lady. Her words have stayed with
me and I use them when making all my life choices.
I gave each of my plans an intent. To writing, I gave ‘to write a novel’
and to dancing ‘to share my love of dance.’ Both ideas developed but
at a different pace. Phoenix Bellydance was born and, in the five
years I taught Egyptian Bellydance, I introduced over 300 women
and girls to the dance. I wrote my first novel over three years while
waiting in the car to collect my children from school.
Write down your ideas for your future on coloured cards and place
them where you can see them (March). You could carry a small
version in your wallet or purse. Decide the intention of each idea and
add that to the card. If you plan to do something to make money, that
is your intent. If you want to help people, that is your intent. My
recent novel was published because my intent was to share the story
with as many people as possible.
Take your time. There’s no rush.
Enjoy this time of new ideas and choices and, by the end of the
winter, be ready to declare your intent.”

The secret beyond the veil is your intention for the coming year.

I work on my land, cutting back brambles and clearing away dead leaves and weeds. I work on my home, rebuilding, lime mortaring and white washing. The fear is gone. I allow my mind to realise my intent. On Samhein, I will release it to the universe.

 

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You can find all my books via my Amazon author pages:

http://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref

The Path to Success

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Life in Wales was to be just that…a life, not an existence. When the weather allowed, we wanted to immerse ourselves in the landscape and create a home, surrounded by our four acres of land. Self sufficiency was another aim, using the wood on the land and planting new trees for the future was the first step; creating a vegetable patch, the second. My card for this month is II Wands and I embraced its message, gathering up the spark from the ace, propelling me along my chosen path and fulfilling my dreams of my life in Wales…and then reality hit me like a truck, out of control on the ice road…my partner and I have to work as well.

1655477_912692688801104_1676088900175960390_oThough we’ve been in our house since November 2013, without a roof and with major work needed at the house (heating, bathroom, sceptic tank), setting up my partner’s wood floor business in Wales is in its infancy so working away is the only option. Without him here, I’ve done my best, but this weekend was our first opportunity to make a real difference. On Thursday, I borrowed a strimmer from a neighbour, keen to get a headstart as the weather was dry and sunny.

I trimmed as far as the lead would reach but no extension lead could be found in the house. I read about using a white vinegar and salt solution to kill weeds and decided to douse the grass and weeds growing through our decking. I carried the two gallon can outside five times, liberally dousing the area. The following morning, I checked to find it had made no difference. I cleared nettles, barrowed stones and filled the holes on the driveway. I burned half the cleared bramble, twig and nettle pile, until the ash in our tractor wheel fire threatened to seep from its metal safety and a few spots of rain began to fall.

DSC_0157My partner came home. I’d cleared away brambles and nettles at the front of the house, dragging out the beech tree branches ready for chainsawing, splitting and barrowing…and then the chainsaw refused to work.

My head said ‘Forget it, you’re both tired. Give up,’ but my heart said ‘No way!’

Our fabulous neighbour lent us a chainsaw. Between strimming the driveway, extension lead having been extracted from partner’s car, I moved a dozen barrows…until we realised the piles in the wood barn were not going to work and we needed to move the wood we were using now. ‘You’re tired!’ yelled my head. ‘It needs to be done, you can do it’, assured my heart. By the end, my biceps were buzzing, my back screaming but the resulting wood piles were magnificent…and then it rained.

We worked in the rain on Sunday morning. I cleared nettles from around half our apple trees, my partner mowing without the grass boxes on as they clogged every five minutes and still it rained, a thundery downpour forcing us indoors. Just after four o’clock, the sun came out and we cleared the final uncovered logs from the front grass and finished mowing around the house.

Returning our borrowed tools, we sat on the riverbank with a cup of tea. DSC_0132

 

Whether its people or circumstances, we get knocked and buffeted on our path. Doubts creep in, as does the fear, both of the future and of failing. Only you can commit. Only you can turn a dream into a reality.

 

 

Taking our home back

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One more day, and the builders will be gone. I can’t remember when the house and byre were last scaffold free. In two years, the byre has changed from this…Wales 103Wales 2014 044To this…12985581_1725096004415555_5059410862430744539_n And the house from this…m_DSC01452 to this…11150930_1600818576843299_7145038719453612890_n

Having been nursed and tended by the professionals, with a bit of help from us, we finally take charge of our baby. We began making lists…and added them to the fire! Lists longer than your arm are far too daunting so we’ve allocated four priorities we want to achieve by the end of the summer and we’ll see how we go from there…the truth is, our funds are depleted and as we approach three years in Wales, tent, caravan and house, we need to start living here.

So the outdoor stage stays…12998745_1725523984372757_3935931874685187204_nand we’re going to construct one under cover in the byre. Soffit painting, lime mortar ‘dobbing out’ on the walls needs to be finished on the byre and the gable end of the house also needs finishing. My partner is going to build a straw bale building inside his workshop…a soundproof, watertight room, ideal for planing wood and recording music and we’re going to dance and sing our way through the spring and summer.

We love living in Wales and we plan to enjoy it.

 

Welcoming the light

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After eight weeks of rain in Wales and the end of term approaching, I set myself a challenge….to brighten up our fireplace for the winter solstice and welcome in the light.

Work on our house this year has focussed on practical rather than cosmetic. With the thatch on, work turned to mending the chimneys and building up the clom to try to make our home weatherproof. We had almost repointed the end wall of the house before the rain started.11150930_1600818576843299_7145038719453612890_nWhile my partner worked upstairs, boarding and insulating, I worked on the fireplace. DSC_0128First all the old mortar had to be scraped out and the mantel shelf and beam rubbed down. DSC_0129With my first bucket of lime mortar, I repaired the fireplace, rebuilding where necessary. DSC_0130

Part of the left hand wall had been mortared so I finished it DSC_0132

While the mantelpiece dried, I moved into the hall, prepped and repaired a small length of stonework. DSC_0133I limewashed around the lounge window…I had repaired it last year but never got any further. DSC_0135….and used three buckets of mortar to continue repairing up the stairs. DSC_0136 

Lime mortar in quantity is best made in an adapted cement mixer but for small amounts we make by hand and it’s hard work imitating a mixer! In two days, the fireplace was transforming and the lounge and hallway too but on Saturday morning, my partner added his expertise to the project, filling in the holes in the wood and glossing.DSC_0138Between adding thin coats of lime wash around the window, I attacked the other wall in the hall. DSC_0140Mike rubbed down the window and glossed it, as well as the kitchen door frame and a second coat on the beams. DSC_0142

More whitewash was applied around the fireplace. DSC_0143By the end of Sunday, the hall was repaired DSC_0145and the window and fireplace repaired and whitened. DSC_0144

It isn’t easy living in a house while working on it. For five days, washing hung cold and damp in the bathroom and fitting in meals required planning. My hands are bruised and sore and each night my shoulders and back ached from the physical effort but if you want something done, challenge yourself.

On the morning of the 21st December, we cleared the mess from the lounge and began to transform the space. My broomstick finally has a home. DSC_0148With the greenery we cut from the riverbank and white fairy lights, we watched the room change as the light faded. Jibby loved the new look fireplace and the window looked stunning DSC_0149DSC_0147

We lit lanterns and placed one in each window, calling into the darkness and welcoming in the light. Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, I wish you bright winter solstice blessings and may you be warm, loved and peaceful in the coming months to spring.

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A new book…a new beginning

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Today is launch day for The Standing Stone – Silence is Broken. This is the second book in the Standing Stone series. It’s longer, faster paced and features the Goddess Ishtar.

Ishtar, or Innana, came into my life over 15 years ago when I picked up a book about goddesses in the children’s library and was inspired to paint her, my first ever water colour. Since moving to Wales, she has been a constant in my life and with her support and guidance, I’ve embarked on a new spiritual and emotional journey.

When I stand beneath the vast skies in rural Wales, the stars from her belt shine on me, reminding me that I’m part of an amazing universe. On wet Welsh days when the weather changes from torrential rain to sunshine in minutes, the rainbow necklace at her throat gives me hope, showering my life with a myriad of colourful blessings.

As Ishtar, the warrior goddess, I carry her with me always.

Eight pointed star, one of the symbols of Ishtar

Eight pointed star, one of the symbols of Ishtar

She inspires me to dance and teach others, even if my classes are depleted. She inspires me to share my stories, even when my book sales are low.

Every day can be a new beginning with the goddess and today begins the life of a new story, sent into the world to be shared.

Embrace Ishtar in your life today.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Standing-Stone-Silence-Broken-ebook/dp/B010NUJALG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435824840&sr=1-1&keywords=standing+stone+silence+is+broken

http://www.amazon.com/Standing-Stone-Silence-Broken-ebook/dp/B010NUJALG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435824925&sr=1-1&keywords=the+standing+stone+silence+is+broken

 

Standing Stone Silence Is Broken ebook cover proof