Epic fantasy music that inspires writing


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Today, I’m working on the second book in my Chronicles of Fallhollow series. So much is happening so fast, my fingers can’t type fast enough to keep up with my brain and the scenarios it’s spitting out.  I normally don’t write with any music, but I found two awesome videos on YouTube that are keeping up with my lightning-fast muse. I might reach my 10,000 words after all.

#BreakYourCrayon? #Cowbell? What happened to #Groovy and #Heavy?


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My son and I were cruising home in the car today when #WalkThisWay by #Aerosmith came on the radio. Of course, I had to turn it up because you just can’t listen to Aerosmith without the volume blowing out your eardrums.

Anyway, we pull into the driveway and lo and behold #BlueOysterCult’s song, #Don’tFeartheReaper comes on, which, by the way, is another song that must be played at ear-piercing volume. But alas. I turned the car off and left my son whining, saying, “Oh, come on, Mom. Cowbell.  Cowbell.”

Umm, #Cowbell?  What the heck is cowbell?  I went running to my Urban Dictionary. The last I heard, a cowbell was a bell you hung around a cow’s neck so you could keep up with where the bovine was. Something told me my son wasn’t asking for a cowbell in the traditional sense.  Here’s what I found out for all us vernacularly (is that even a word?) challenged adults who are older than dirt.

When your kid says “cowbell” it means “something good we need more of”. For instance, “My life is boring. I need more cowbell.”

It also has a literal reference. It seems it derived from a skit on Saturday Night Live when Will Farrell portrayed a member of the 80s rock band, Blue Oyster Cult, as they recorded “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” (ahhh, my brain is starting to see the connection with my son’s comment). During the skit, Farrell played the cowbell quite forcefully on the track, much to the dismay of the band, but the studio producer loved the cowbell playing so much, that he demanded more ‘cowbell’, thus the comment, ‘need more cowbell.’

As I continued to search through the Dictionary of strange urban vernacular, I stumbled upon a few other phrases that I thought you might like to incorporate into your every day speak, because, you know, we have to stay hip and with it.

Did you have any idea that ‘break your crayons” means someone is trying to make you sad or ruin your day? For example: “Dude, don’t worry about him, he’s just tryin’ to break your crayons. Just let it slide.” By the way, ‘slide’ still means “let it go.”  Whew.

Oh, and be careful when asking someone to come over and “meet your cat.” Yeah. You just asked them to have sex with you. *gasp*

How I long for the days when everything was either far out, groovy or heavy. Then again, our parents scratched their heads and rolled their eyes over those words and phrases, too, as evidenced by Doc in Back to the Future.

Just goes to show you each generation has their own ‘urban dictionary’. It’s up to us ancients to keep up with it and the times.

Peace out.




Cover Reveal: I Heart Robot by Suzanne van Rooyen and Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals


Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

I Heart Robot by Suzanne van Rooyen

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

I HEART ROBOT Cover Art from Suzanne van Rooyen

I’m not the most artistically inclined. While I do love art and have been known to bust out the pencils and paints myself, it’s not an area where I’d consider myself particularly talented. In short, I knew that cover design was something best left to the professional and I had every confidence in Month9Books.

I am so grateful to Georgia McBride for allowing me to have the amount of input I did when it came to cover creation for I Heart Robot. This is a novel that is as much about a civil rights struggle in a futuristic, post-war city as it is about romance, and we wanted a cover that reflected both elements. Finding the right balance between romance and science fiction was a tall order, but Month9Books delivered in spades by presenting me with two stylistically different covers. I loved elements of both, and by working closely with the cover artist and with Georgia we managed to combine all the best parts of both original covers into what we have today: a cover that reflects the gritty world my characters live in while emphasizing the fact that this is above all, a love story.

I Heart Robot

Sixteen-year-old Tyri wants to be a musician and wants to be with someone who won’t belittle her musical aspirations.

Q-I-99 aka ‘Quinn’ lives in a scrap metal sanctuary with other rogue droids. While some use violence to make their voices heard, demanding equal rights for AI enhanced robots, Quinn just wants a moment on stage with his violin to show the humans that androids like him have more to offer than their processing power.

Tyri and Quinn’s worlds collide when they’re accepted by the Baldur Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. As the rift between robots and humans deepens, Tyri and Quinn’s love of music brings them closer together, making Tyri question where her loyalties lie and Quinn question his place in the world. With the city on the brink of civil war, Tyri and Quinn make a shocking discovery that turns their world inside out. Will their passion for music be enough to hold them together while everything else crumbles down around them, or will the truth of who they are tear them apart?

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Title: I Heart Robot
Publication date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Suzanne van Rooyen



Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing, she teaches dance and music to middle schoolers and entertains her shiba inu, Lego. Suzanne is represented by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


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#YARomance, LOUDER THAN WORDS, is finally here!


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I have been waiting so long for this Y.A. romance novel, #LouderThanWords, to come out!  I am so happy, I’m jumping around like a Mexican Jumping Bean.  And, to make the release even extra special for me, the author, the lovely Iris St. Clair, put together a special post for me and all of you.  I’m so thrilled for Iris I can’t contain myself! Squeeeee!!!.  Time to run around and go tell more people the great news. In the meantime, enjoy Iris’ post. I expect to hear a lot of singing going on, folks. Oh, and make sure you scroll down to the bottom to enter the #Giveaway!!

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Louder Than Words Playlist

I can’t write to music, but I am inspired by it. When I’m driving, my music is playing and I’m often plotting (in addition to minding the road). Music helps set the mood for those mobile mullings. I asked fellow GMMG author, Heather Van Fleet, on Twitter the other day why playlists appeal to readers and I found her answer intriguing. She wrote: “I love playlists because it gives readers the mindset into what an author is feeling/thinking during writing.”

Here are a few songs from the Louder playlist and the why behind my choice. Usually a few lines of lyrics snag my attention. Sometimes it’s the timbre of the singer’s voice. Other times it’s the tempo or atmospheric quality of the song. So, dear readers, hop aboard the carnival ride that is my mind for a few minutes.

1.  Bad Day by Daniel Powter.

Louder Than Words opens with a cowering heroine, Ellen. She’s in the girls rooming hiding from a shocking, appalling, confusing experience. Throughout much of the book, there is this sense of this poor girl having one crappy day after another. At the risk of sending listeners shrieking from the room because this song’s been played to death, I still had to choose it. But because you already know Louder Than Words is a romance, you can trust that I’ll give you a happy ending. The lyrics may be about a bad day, but there’s a fun piano score to leave you with the promise that no matter your troubles, it’s really not you … it’s just a bad day.

2.  Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men

I chose this one because of the pessimistic / optimistic banter between the female and male lead singers. Their playful back and forth belied the serious content of the lyrics. It reminded me a lot of Ellen and Rex and their “little” talks with him pumping her up with his positive outlook.

Her:  I don’t like walking around this old and empty house

Him:  So hold my hand, I’ll walk with you, my dear

Her:  The stairs creak as I sleep, it’s keeping me awake

Him:  It’s the house telling you to close your eyes

(Lyrics by Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson

3.  Blue Jeans by Lana Del Rey

I related two elements of this song to the Louder characters. The husky opening lines set a James Dean vibe. For you young’uns (myself included), James was one of the first “bad boys” of cinema. He’s also mentioned in the lyrics. Weaving in and out of this sultry yearning for a possibly unattainable boy is an ethereal chorus of “I will love you til the end of time.”

4.  Breathe In by Frou Frou

Okay, I picked this one mostly because I just love everything by Frou Frou and Imogen Heap (female vocalist of Frou Frou), but this song has always made me think of Ellen and her longing and patience for the day when she could finally win the one she loves.

And I’m high enough from all the waiting

To ride a wave on your inhaling

Cause I love you, no?

Can’t help but love you, no…

(Lyrics by Imogen Heap and Guy Sigsworth)

It’s got a nice jaunty sound with a strong bass line so there’s a little bit of a push pull between the lyrics and the music that hooked me. And how, exactly, do you ride a wave on someone’s inhaling? And how high would you need to be to do it? Food for thought, that. LOL

5.  If You’re Not The One by Daniel Bedingfield

This one I love because it’s a man trying to convince the object of his affections why they are right for each other despite her misgivings. He’s not going to give up on her. His persistence and absolute confidence that she is THE one for him, woos me like Rex did Ellen.

If you want to listen to the entirety of the Louder Than Words playlist, check it out on Spotify. The entire 56 minute list is comprised of:

  • Come With Me Now by the Kongos
  • Bad Day by Daniel Powter
  • Hurricane by MS MR
  • Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men
  • Hot N Cold by Katy Perry
  • My Life Would Suck Without You by Kelly Clarkson
  • Blue Jeans by Lana Del Rey
  • I’m With You by Avril Lavigne
  • Breathe In by Frou Frou
  • If You’re Not The One by Daniel Bedingfield
  • Message to My Girl by the Split Enz
  • A Thousand Years by Christina Perri
  • Best Day of My Life by American Authors
  • My Secret Place by Joni Mitchell

swirl and flower scroll


Louder Than Words
by Iris St. Clair

Release Date: 09/16/14
Swoon Romance

Summary from Goodreads:

Disappointment has been on speed dial in Ellen Grayson’s life lately. Her dad died, her mom numbs the grief with drugs and alcohol, and her so-called friends have slowly abandoned her.

Trusting a popular teacher with her troubles should have been safe and should NOT have led to an unwelcome seduction attempt that made her desperate to escape the final moments of Junior year. Lesson learned. Best to keep all the sordid details to herself and trust no one.

Enter Rex Jacobi, a cocky boy, recently transplanted from New York City and fellow summer camp employee. Though his quick wit and confidence draws her in, she can’t let him get too close. And summer is just long enough and hot enough to keep a boy like that at arm’s length.

But by the time Rex’s charm wears down her resistance, it’s too late. He’s put Ellen on the “just friends” shelf and has shifted his romantic attentions to the impossibly annoying and perky anti-Ellen. Even worse, the teacher who tried to get her to sleep with him is still at it, preying on other girls while Ellen struggles to come to terms with what happened.

With her ability to trust as shaky as a chastity vow on prom night, Ellen must decide if she has enough remaining courage to speak up about the well-liked teacher and risk retribution, tell Rex how she really feels about him and risk heartbreak, or hold all her secrets inside. After all, it’s the only safe place she knows when the only thing louder than words is the fear of being rejected.



About the Author

Iris bio

Iris St. Clair is the pen name for a long-suffering cubicle worker by day, a Walter Mitty-like dreamer by night. (Her alter ego Tatiana Ivanadance also choreographs gravity-defying routines in those fantasies, but that’s another bio.)

No matter what genre she writes, she prefers witty, insecure heroines and kind, persistent heroes able to break through to the gooey heart inside.

In high school she was voted most likely to win at Monopoly and Clue, but least likely to throw a ball anywhere near a target. Thank goodness writing requires less hand-eye coordination, punctuation errors notwithstanding.

Iris believes in the two-year “fish or cut bait” dating rule and has a 20+ year marriage and two teenaged sons as proof of concept. She lives, writes, dreams and dances in the rainy Portland, OR area.

Author Links:

Website || Goodreads || Twitter || Facebook || Pinterest


Win a $10 Amazon gift card + ebook of Louder Than Words (INT)

Louder Than Words Giveaway Link

Win an ARC of SECRET OF THE SOULS by Terri Rochenski


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J. Taylor Publishing is giving away FIVE ARCs of Secret of the Souls by Terri Rochenski!

Check it out!

Secret of the Souls

Thrust out of their homes by a human High Priest on a vengeful mission, the Natives of Derlund no longer have a place to call their own. One escaped capture, however, and now she, Hyla, is the only one who can save her people.

For, Hyla, though, saving her nation isn’t her ultimate goal—returning to the Pool of Souls is. Becoming its Guardian and preserving their faith is her heart’s desire. The perils of her current journey, though, could leave her unable to fulfill that dream.

To find her way back to the Pool, Hyla must live among dangerous, powerful humans willing to defend the Natives, and must submit herself—her Talents—to them. While her protection is paramount, plots to end Hyla’s life will push her to her physical and emotional limits.

On the edge of sanity, her courage tested, and convictions nearly broken, Hyla’s final test of loyalty to her faith comes with the death of one she could have loved.

Readers will experience Hyla’s spiritual and self-discovering journey once more, in this latest addition to the Pool of Souls duology.

And J. Taylor Publishing is giving away FIVE ARC copies.


You don’t even have to be a book blogger!

Nope, so long as you are willing to leave an honest review* by October 12th 2014, you are eligible to enter.


Then just fill out the form and keep your fingers crossed.

You have until midnight of September 21st, 2014 to enter.

*A review should consist of your honest thoughts regarding a book, usually a few paragraphs long and around 150 – 500 (or more, if desired) words in length.

About Terri Rochenski

Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with the fantasy genre.

Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her three young children allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up, or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.

#TheMockingjayLives – Official Trailer of the newest Hunger Games movie


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“You will rescue #Peeta at the earliest opportunity. Or you will find another #Mockingjay…”



Who else just got shivers????

Cover Reveal: Where the Staircase Ends by Stacy Stokes and Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals


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Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

Where the Staircase Ends by Stacy Stokes

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

Where the Staircase Ends

After her best friend orchestrates the lie that destroys her reputation, Taylor wants more than anything to disappear from her life. But when an accident turns this unspoken wish into reality, instead of an angel-filled afterlife, Taylor must climb a seemingly endless staircase into the sky.

Instead of going up, the journey plunges her into the past. As she unravels the mystery behind her friend’s betrayal, she must face the truth about life and find the strength to forgive the unforgivable — unless the staircase breaks her first.

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Title: Where the Staircase Ends
Publication date: April 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Stacy Stokes



Stacy Stokes attended the University of Texas at Austin and The Wharton School of Business. She grew up in Dallas, TX, and currently lives in San Francisco with her husband. WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS is her first novel.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter


Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

(Winners will receive their book on release day)

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Follow the tour!

When Curiosity Quills asked if I’d like to participate in the blog tour for THE UNRAVELING, I had to say yes! I’m very excited about this book and I hope you will be, too.  as part of the blog tour, Curiosity Quills released an excerpt from the book, which you can read as well as listen to.  There is also a Rafflecopter Giveaway at the end so make sure you enter to win a copy of THE UNRAVELING! And now, without further ado…

Erin’s parents are murdered and she can sense that same malevolent energy hunting her down. With little time to grieve, Erin is forced into hiding and discovers an unusual ability she’s never had before — she can talk to animals!

With the help of her new found animal companions, she eludes the killer. Disguising herself as a boy, she joins the Autumn Gathering and is able to concentrate on the questions she needs to solve: Who killed her parents? Why are they trying to kill her, too?

Quakes, storms, and murders begin plaguing Erin’s world and she soon realizes that they’re all connected. The fabric of her world is just beginning to unravel…

Buy the book at: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Smashwords

Excerpt from Chapter 14

“There is something about our kind that the planet needs to be stable. We are bonded together. If you count the healer who was killed thirty years ago, and that is not much time to us or the planet, we have lost seven sages in a very short amount of time . Our world,” and he patted the ground, “had fifteen. When Syrah died we had fourteen but that was still enough for a strong bond. When you were born with the Sage Seed the connection started, even though your skills were underdeveloped. As you matured, we regained our fifteen special magnetic threads that were adequate for that stable planet bond. We are now down to nine from the potential optimum of sixteen, almost half strength. I don’t know the tipping point but we are dangerously close or we wouldn’t be getting all of this tectonic activity. Our world’s fabric is unraveling.”

Erin’s eyes were big as she took all of it in. “Then the earthquakes…?”

Lor nodded. “That special cohesion has been greatly weakened.”

“What are we going to do?” she whispered.

“I don’t know, but we must stop this. The danger is very real.”

Alliz spoke for the first time. “Lor is being very honest with you. We don’t know any more than what he shared. Most sages know that they are part of the weave of our world, but perhaps they don’t know it in the clarity that Lor expressed. Yet there’s a lot we don’t know. It wasn’t important for us to understand everything. It’s on a need-to-know-basis and only the Great One has access to more information. It’s part of his job. But from the time of the settlement, we have never been in this dire situation.” She held out her hands, palms up, in a shrugging gesture . “Now we are. I don’t know if the Great One has all of the answers either. I sense that there are complexities here that go very deep.”

The three sat a few moments and looked at each other. Erin was the first to move. She slapped the ground a couple of times and Tempo came running out of the shadows. After that sobering conversation, the three called it a night. Each companion, human and wild, had a lot to think about. Erin lay with Tempo curled at her side.

‘I wonder,’ Tempo said as he laid his head on Erin’s side and looked up at her, ‘if skunks are part of that weave?’

She stroked his head and back. ‘That is a good question, little one. I’ll bet they are. I just don’t know quite how all of this fits together.’

As Cear rose in the sky, it took awhile for sleep to come. Nuit watched from atop of Lor’s wagon in the muted amber moonlight. She thought of her young that had hatched the year before and had begun their lives in newly established hunting territories. Everyone on this world was affected by the actions of these few men who threatened Erin and Ree. She was determined to give Erin any help she could and agreed with Lor’s words. The danger was very real!

About the Author: Holly Barbo’s world is shaped by her love of her family, the beauty of the natural world in Northwest Washington State and an irrepressible creative drive.

Living where the scenery is incredible with a rich abundance of wildlife “is so special and soothing that it feels like a quiet kind of magic,” according to Barbo. She is drawn to creating stories where there is just a bit of something unworldly, perhaps it is magic or psychic skills. Her stories are mostly in non-urban settings and usually have some focus on nature, building a discordant drama inside the peaceful frame.

Follow the author at: Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

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Where were you on 9-11-2001?


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When I was a little girl, I remember my mom telling me she remembered the exact moment – where she was, what she was doing – when she heard President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.  I was 3 years old at the time so I don’t remember it, but I remember it was difficult for me to understand how someone could remember something like that with such clarity.

Fast forward to September 11, 2001, and suddenly it all made sense.

I had just arrived at work. I’d been listening to a cd in my car so I didn’t hear any of the news. A fellow employee got in the elevator with me and asked if I’d heard the news of a plane crashing into the #TwinTowers. I said, “No” and of course wanted info. Was it a small plane? Large plane? He didn’t know. He walked with me to my boss’ office, and after depositing my things at my desk, we turned on the t.v. in the small conference room near my cubicle. The other paralegals in the department wanted to know what was going on, so we sat around the conference table and watched the news. More people wandered in and leaned against the walls and windows. A few minutes later, the second plane hit.

Photo courtesy of New York City Police Department

The conference room filled with a collective gasp and then grew eerily quiet. We watched, mesmerized, as if caught in a surrealistic dream. It was if we were watching a movie, yet somehow we knew with dread the actors were real people, and this was a script none of them rehearsed.

We sat, stood, watched, all of us stunned and shocked. Tears fell. Hands covered mouths. Heads shook. Then we watched as a reporter with CNN who was on-site at the Pentagon shouted something like, “I don’t know what’s happened! There’s been an explosion!” He ran. The cameraman ran, then the reporting switched back to New York. We watched the pandemonium as the buildings fell and covered everything in ash.  Not long after that, we learned another plane had gone down in Pennsylvania, killing all on board.

We … and our nation were paralyzed with fear, disbelief, and that moment was etched in my brain forever. Needless to say, not much work was done that day and we all went home a bit early. I hugged my kids and wept. They cried, and even though my two sons weren’t quite old enough to understand the total implications, they knew a lot of innocent people died. As a parent, it was difficult to find the right words, words they would understand, but not frighten them. How does one explain this sort of terror to a child? More so, how do children living in war zones, cope? What do their parents tell them?

On this #911anniversary, there is no doubt the world has changed in the last 13 years. It is almost scary to turn on the news, to see what is happening around the globe. All we can do is pray our humanity strengthens us, binds us, and leads us to some semblance of world peace. In the meantime, hug your loved ones, spend quality time with your families, and as you leave for work or school, always leave your children, your spouse, your parents with three little words: “I love you”. We never know what tomorrow will bring or even what the next fifteen minutes hold in store. Try to make every moment the best it can be. Set aside differences, anger and try to remember we are all on this ride together. Let’s spend it laughing, not crying.

So, where were you on 9-11-2001?

Image in Public Domain


TORN by Laney McMann releases today!


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It’s time for Layla and Max to be put to the test in Torn!

Torn grabs you by the throat and holds on till your face is bluer than that forgetful fish in the Pixar movie.” — Alexander Nader


Find Max.

That’s all Layla cares about. Not healing from the Fomore attack. Not finding answers to how she survived a fall that nearly killed her. Nothing will stop her. She will find him. She’ll even pair up with an overbearing Fallen Angel who’s hell bent on making everything harder than it needs to be if she has to.

Protect Layla.

For Max, nothing else matters. Not the bruises covering his body. Not the pain radiating from his broken bones. Not even his hands tied behind his back. He will find a way to save Layla, and the Fomore will pay if they’ve hurt her.

Every. Single. One of them.

In the second installment of The Fire Born trilogy, a new breed of villain looms—one Layla and Max will never suspect, and this killer has nothing to lose. Better yet, with Max and Layla’s deaths, victory is in the grip of the enemy.

Will Max and Layla find each other in time, or is it already too late for them both?


TIED (Fire Born 1) is on sale until September 15th to celebrate its ONE YEAR book birthday. : ) (Plus, it gives you guys a chance to pick up the book if you haven’t yet, before you read TORN. They kind of need to be read in order.)

Firebanner 7 (1)


And finally, the GIVEAWAY!

There are several giveaways happening across the board, three to be exact.

The TORN Book Tour giveaway and the Blast Laney is hosting alongside her publisher, as well as all the other bloggers participating. The Book Blitz Giveaway is being hosted by Itching For Books (click the banner)


HERE’S WHAT’S UP FOR GRABS on Laney’s blog for the Book Tour:

Signed paperback copies of TIED and TORN to ONE winner (U.S. & Canada), E-book copies of TIED and TORN to ONE winner (Int), and signed bookmarks of TIED and TORN to FIVE winners (U.S., Canada, and U.K.)


AND here’s what up for grabs for the Book Blast:

Signed paperback copy of TIED and TORN to ONE winner & e-book copy of TIED and TORN to ONE winner (Int).


Make sure you enter to win and good luck!!!



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