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Archive for July, 2013

Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the safe delivery of their son, a prince for the nation.

This is history in the making. For the first time in 120 years three heirs to the throne are alive at the same time and this is a brief astrological profile of the youngest addition to the Royal House of Windsor.

Birth chart of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's son

Birth chart of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s son

The new prince arrived just in time to make him a sun sign Cancer, the same as his father Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. The baby prince’s sun sits in the very last degree of Cancer at 29 degrees 59 minutes and 3 seconds. Cancerians are noted for being private individuals, yet having a very strong sense of family and country, often taking an interest in history. If you look at his birth chart you’ll see that his Cancerian Sun sits in his 8th house, which is ruled by Scorpio, the same as his ascendant. This will add emphasis to his need for privacy, and to some make him appear introvert and distant. You’ll see the prince but find it difficult to decipher the man inside.

Prince Charles is a sun sign Scorpio with his sun in the 4th house ruled by Cancer, so the young prince will have similar traits to his grandfather; although he has greater similarities to his uncle Prince Harry who has his natal Virgo Sun in his 8th house.

One of the characteristics of a Scorpio ascendant is that they consider all of their options before making a move and rarely jump into action quickly. They are watchers and like to suss things out first, being circumspect and cautious. When presenting his infant son on the steps of the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London earlier today the Duke of Cambridge (Prince William) said, “I’ll remind him later in life of his tardiness in keeping you waiting.” The young prince will always take a little bit of extra time before stepping forwards, so it won’t be the last time the press are kept waiting.

The bulk of the young prince’s first house is Sagittarius so once he’s out and about he’ll enjoy fresh air and sports. Sagittarius’ ruling planet Jupiter is conjunct Mars in Cancer in his 8th house indicating that as he grows up property and investment will appeal to him, as well as sports and fighting for his country. He will hold the strong principle of protecting his people. In this respect we find a similarity between the young prince and his uncle Prince Harry as they both have strong military traits in their charts. Just like Prince Harry the young prince won’t always show his hand concerning his military activities, but he’ll feel compelled to become involved in whichever manner possible.

Following through with another strong Windsor family trait we see that the young prince has his Moon in Capricorn in the 2nd house. The 2nd house is ruled by Taurus and the Royal Family have extremely strong Taurean traits. His father, The Duke of Cambridge, has Venus in Taurus, Prince Harry has Moon in Taurus, Prince Charles has Moon in Taurus and The Queen is a Sun sign Taurus.

The Moon in Capricorn holds strong emotional ties to being of value to others and of others being of value. They do not take fools lightly and don’t approve of laziness, or of people who don’t try and have a go and make something of themselves. They don’t mind if you fail, because at least you had a go. The young prince will always be stubborn in his principles, but will often feel conflicted about what he wants versus what others want from him. This is shown by his Moon opposite his Sun, across the 2nd to 8th houses. He will take duty in his stride because he is a Cancerian and the country will become his family, but sometimes he will feel that people demand just a little too much from him. He will most likely compensate through an interest food, phases of over-indulgence, buildings/architecture, and separating his home life from the public.

His natal Venus sits in Virgo in his 9th house and this will give him a natural curiosity in philosophy, ethics, foreign countries and debate. He will enjoy analysing foreign policies and when it comes to choosing a life partner will be extremely fussy.

With a very strong grand trine between Neptune in Pisces 3rd house, Saturn Scorpio 11th house and Jupiter conj Mars 8th house he will be a master of playing to the crowd and yet also keep himself private. As he grows older he will hold great authority and people will feel his presence as something strong yet mysterious. Only a few people will truly get to know him well.

As well as his strong political traits the young prince also has a leaning towards the arts as shown by his Neptune in its ruling sign of Pisces in his 3rd house. This will give him a pleasant way with people and a strong sense of the romantic. In his youth he may well enjoy photography, but his main artistic interest will probably lean towards architecture and sculpture.

His Uranus in Aries in the 4th will give him a restless nature, and as it forms a T square with his Pluto in Capricorn 2nd house and Mercury in Cancer 8th house there’s an idea that he’s always searching for his spiritual home, and most certainly would want any home that he lives in to be exactly as he would like it to be. Kings don’t build castles these days, but this young prince will have high ideals, and truly believe that every man should have the right to his own castle; a place that no other man can intrude upon.

This young prince is so very much a royal prince, carrying through many of the house of Windsor’s strong family traits. Unfortunately we don’t have the Duchess of Cambridge’s birth time, so it’s very difficult to assess how many of her family traits follow through as we don’t have the astrological houses.

What we can see if that Duchess of Cambridge is a sun sign Capricorn and the little prince has his Moon in Capricorn immediately showing a strong bond between mother and child. Her Cancerian Moon will sit somewhere near his Mercury in Cancer outlining a tender communication between them throughout their lives.

Between the Duke of Cambridge and his new son we see alignments indicating friendship, as with The Duke of Cambridge’s natal Cancerian Sun sextile his infant’s Venus, and the infant’s Moon trine his father’s Venus. This is deeply moving as it shows that whatever happens in their lives they will always be there for each other.

No name has yet been announced, and many people are suggesting that the royal couple may break with tradition and choose a modern name. I rather fancy the name Louis…but we wait and see.Toni Allen Logo

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Okay, so this post is completely off topic, but hey, it’s not every day that I go to a music festival and see the fabulous Bryan Adams. Years ago a friend of mine said that in order to write, and write well, you had to experience life at all levels; physical, mental and emotional.

Well, I’d say that Magic Summer Live in Guildford on Sunday 14th July covered all the bases.

To be honest my two male companions and I started the day with a fair amount of trepidation. The organisers of Guilfest who previously ran music festivals at the same location had gone bust, and these new people appeared to have lots of restrictions, especially on what camera gear anyone could take in…and I wanted to take photos…so I ended up only taking my little point and shoot Canon S95. Then there was the weather. Yes, I live in England and we always talk about the weather. A blistering 33 degrees! It was HOT! We’re in the middle of a heatwave!

So there we are, in a sun parched field, with no shade, and eight hours to go before the main man takes to the stage. We took in loads of bottled water, but maybe we didn’t need to, because bless their cotton socks Magic Summer Live had FREE drinking water on tap at various locations around the venue and free sun-tan lotion at the medic tent if you got into trouble. You’ve got to give them credit for looking after us.

Level 42

 There were three stages for performers, so we wandered around taking our pick of who to listen to. First up we chose Level 42, which I’m not personally a great fan of, but David has most of their music on CD and enjoyed every moment.

Starting to get into the mood for more music we meandered over to the Surrey Sessions Stage where we thought we’d have a listen to some local talent. Oh wow, our timing was perfect and we struck gold with Charley Farley Sunday Four.

I think you’d describe their musical style as jazz swing with a spoonful of humour and lots of happy vibes all round. They were terrific. If you pop along to their website you can hear them in action, and trust me, they are well worth a listen. Charley Farley Sunday Four

The Real ThingBy now we’d spent over five hours in the sweltering heat so sat down by the More Music Stage thinking we’d spend a quiet half an hour listening to the soul band The Real Thing. We were muttering words to each other such as, “Do you know what they sound like?” when they appeared on stage. Huh! Within seconds of them starting we were all saying, “OMG it’s the band who sang Can’t Get By Without You,” and leaping to our feet for a bit of a boogie. Isn’t the power of music amazing. One minute we’re exhausted and the next we discover hidden reserves of energy to sing along, wave our hands and grin stupidly at everyone within ten yards while mouthing, “Oh wow, you love this song too.” Yes, we did all four at once, sing, wave, grin and talk…which is quite a feat considering that two of us are tee-total and not a drop of alcohol had been consumed between us.

Okay, so now the big buzz is that we only have half an hour before Bryan Adam appears on stage in Guildford, and it’s time to break the resolution we made earlier in the day not to be silly children and push to the front on such a hot day. We didn’t push, merely strolled lazily past a few unsuspecting people who thought they could hog the ten paces ahead of them and were secure in their position. We didn’t make it to the front but were pretty close. What can I say, Bryan Adams appears on stage and the screams, cheers and whistles are deafening. The atmosphere was electric, everyone happy, everyone bonded as one huge family, singing along, loving the show.

Bryan Adams live Guildford 14th July 2013

We were treated to some of his classics and then Bryan calls out, “I’d like to invite a member of the audience up on stage to sing a duet with me.” He strums a few chords and says, “Anyone know the words to this song?” A couple of people wave their hands. It’s tricky, we’ve only had about 5 seconds of music to guess the song from. “You, you know the words?” he asks, someone nods and is called up on stage.

“I’ve never sung a duet with a man before!” Bryan says and everyone goes wild with anticipation.

“What’s your name?” Bryan asks the young man.

“Joe,” he replies.

“Where do you live?”

“Guildford.”

Hey, he’s a local guy and the crowd whoop and whistle their approval.

“What work do you do?” Bryan asks.

“I sell cameras, I work at the London Camera Exchange in Guildford.”

My two friends and I let out a spontaneous cheer. That is the shop where we buy our camera gear…we know this guy!

I can’t get my camera out of my bag and set it to video mode quick enough.

So, this is it, the video, this is Joe Strudwick, singing ‘When you’re gone,’ live at Guildford with Bryan Adams. A star is born.

Joe has since leapt to celebrity status and appeared on local radio and newspapers. I’ve given Joe a copy of my YouTube video and by return he’s pointed me towards his own photos, which are superb. He performs in a band himself and if you go through to his website at JPSImages and look at his photographs of musicians in action you’ll see how he really connects with the subject.

If you’d like to look at some more of my photographs you’ll find my portfolio at  http://toniallen.zenfolio.com/

Hey ho, the fun is over, the memory lives on, now back to the task of formatting my new tarot book.Toni Allen Logo

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I’m currently working on a new tarot book aimed primarily at people beginning to learn tarot. One of my aims in writing my book is to simplify various elements of tarot and help beginners see how the cards work together in a reading. Currently it’s a work in progress, but while writing a lot of ideas are filtering through as to what elements of tarot reading people find most difficult to grasp.

System of Symbols coverI’ve been teaching tarot for many years and one thing I’ve noticed is that finding the right tarot spread is often a confusing journey when starting out as there are so many spreads to choose from. What students are looking for is a spread that is easy to use, and can be quickly built upon to create an in-depth tarot reading. Many of the people I have taught have found the tarot spread I devised and outline in my book The System of Symbols, a new way to look at tarot becomes the spread they continue to use because with practise it is very easy to understand and make your own.

My new book is going to teach a really simple tarot spread, with lots of comprehensive guidelines on how to fully understand how the cards work together…but that book isn’t completed yet. In the meantime I’d like to share an excerpt from The System of Symbols, a new way to look at tarot on how to lay out a tarot spread.

Tarot Spread

First the shuffle

There is much ritual written and expressed about the keeping of Tarot Cards and the shuffling and cutting of the cards in preparation for a reading.  Although I have many packs, which I use for teaching purposes, I keep one pack especially for readings.  Some people say that Tarot Cards should be wrapped in silk to protect them from negative vibrations, or perhaps kept safe and sacred in a wooden box.   Each to their own, nothing is right and nothing is wrong.  Mine are kept in the same cardboard box they came in, their protection….respect.  They are only taken from their box to be used for a reading.  They are kept shuffled in a mixture of upright and reversed, and never stacked in order for teaching purposes.  I do not let students handle them for study; or take them to lectures or workshops, where they might become “sorted”.  I call them my “working pack.”

I do not start a reading until my client and I are sitting comfortably, opposite each other across a low table.   I take the cards and shuffle them while asking the client if there is any specific reason why they have felt the need for a reading.  They do not have to give a specific answer, a simple “yes” they have a problem, or “no” they’ve never had a reading before and have come out of interest, will suffice.   I then hand the client the cards and request they shuffle them.  When they have finished I ask the client to place the cards on the table and cut them with their left hand.  I then ask the client to place the bottom part of the pack on the top and hand them to me.   The reason for asking the client to pass me the cards is that if they put them on the table and I pick them up then I am making a decision about which way round the pack is used.  This crucial determination must remain with the client.  It’s useful to practice both disciplines initially to see what occurs.  For example, let clients place the pack on the table and see just how many lay it sideways on, unable to make a decision about which should be its top or tail.  Then investigate asking clients to pass you the pack, and watch just how many people unconsciously turn the pack around 180 degrees, so that the end initially facing you is now facing away.

Tarot spread

The Initial Spread

Once the shuffle and cut are complete it is time to lay out the first six cards of the spread.  I start by placing them face down, then explain the meaning of their positions before turning over only the first five cards to start with.  See diagram.

Positions 1 & 2

These cards sit in the centre of a downward axis representing the present time in the questioner’s life.  I call them “the central pivot point” of the current situation.  Card number 2 crosses card number 1 and by its symbolism will indicate whether it is helping or hindering something at the core, or heart, of the situation.

Position 3

This card also sits on the axis of the present time and represents “the mind;” which includes thoughts, aspirations and desires.  It quite simply suggests what is on the questioner’s mind and might additionally indicate what they would like to happen, or intend to happen.

Position 5

Again on the line of the present time, but this time representing the “physical world,” that which is manifest, or happening in the questioner’s life.

Position 4

This card represents “the past,” but it is that part of the past which has helped create today.  We are working in the realms of cause and effect, where every action has a reaction somewhere in the future.  This card of “the past,” can therefore indicate the cause behind current circumstances, early conditioning or obstacles which have been overcome.  On occasions it indicates residue from previous incarnations which has created present life karma.

Once the questioner has recognised that these initial five cards are relating to their life and personal circumstances I turn over card number 6.

Position 6

This card represents “the next step in the future.”
I then take cards from the top of the pack and place them in positions 7 to 12.

Tarot Spread

Positions 7 to 9

These cards sit on the top line and continue to represent “the mind,” and the client’s thoughts and wishes on the problem as the future unfolds.

Positions 10 to 12

Likewise these cards sit on the bottom line and continue to represent “the physical world,” and what happens as the reading unfolds in the future.
I then take cards 13 and 14 from the top of the pack.

Positions 13 and 14

Cards 13 and 14 continue to represent the future unfolding, the base card once again either being helped or hindered by the actions of the top card.

Once these cards are laid I spread the entire pack out, face down, and ask the questioner to take further cards, to either add information to what is already there or proceed into the future.  At this point cards can be taken in response to questions, either concerning what has already been outlined or other issues.
This spread is fundamentally simple and very easy to use.  Practice will bring confidence and show you endless possibilities.  Each card will slightly change according to its position in the spread; for example a card depicting sorrow will symbolise hidden sorrow when appearing in the line of “the mind,” and open grief when seen on the line of “the physical world.”   Continue to build upon this theme and you will find that a card showing sorrow in “the mind” might well be directly above a card on the physical level showing happiness.  Thus you will be able to deduce that your client is inwardly very unhappy but puts on a smiling face to their family or friends, who probably don’t know how unhappy the client really is.

*******

For beginners and more experienced tarot readers I have two books available in many popular formats.

Ever wondered what the Moon tarot card means in a tarot reading about sex and relationships? Find out in…

Sex & Tarot

Sex & Tarot by Toni Allen

Sex & Tarot by Toni Allen

Sex & Tarot from iTunes

Paperback via Lulu (possibly best price)

Kindle UK  Kindle US Paperback Amazon UK  Paperback Amazon US

Also on Nook and other platforms

The System of Symbols, a new way to look at tarot

System of Symbols cover

Available from Kindle UK  Kindle US ITunes

Paperback via Lulu (possibly best price) Also on Nook and other platforms.

*****

If you’ve enjoyed this article please follow my blog so that you’ll be kept up to date when I post new articles and tarot interpretations. If you’re not on WordPress come along and follow me on Facebook ToniAllenAuthor or @listansus. Come along and follow me anyway, it would be great to meet you.authorsdb_badgeToni Allen Logo

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As part of the All Authors Blog Blitz I worked alongside the delightful Kevin Hardman who interviewed me on his blog. One of the genres that Kevin writes is “superhero” and this piqued my interest in his work because as a child I always had my nose stuck in comic books. My favourite superheroes were Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and Batman. When reading Batman I was always so excited by the cool words like Kapow and Wham springing from fists in jagged outlines when our hero was having a fight.This, no doubt, helped expand my vocabulary!

With my love of Superheroes I invited Kevin Hardman for an interview to find out more about the man behind a new superhero.

Kevin Hardman book covers

Tell us a little about your background Kevin.

Well, on a personal level I come from a large family.  I’m one of seven kids, which was great because I enjoyed having a lot of brothers and sisters. It made growing up a lot of fun.

From a professional standpoint, I work in an office environment. I have several degrees, which once resulted in a friend jokingly commenting that I had more letters after my name than actually in it. At the moment I enjoy what I do, but I wouldn’t be adverse to writing full-time.

What led you to become an author?

Like a lot of authors, I get a great deal of enjoyment out of reading.  In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t able to read.  Regardless, it was my love affair with books that eventually turned my thoughts to writing one of my own. In fact, I wrote my first story – a contemporary short – around the age of nine.

After that, I didn’t really do much writing again until college. I wrote a few short stories during that time, but didn’t seriously turn my hand to it until after I graduated.  At that juncture, I tried to get some of my work published but received the usual round of rejections that most authors are familiar with.

Some time around then, I began writing movie screenplays. I’ve always been a big fan of movies and – like most other moviegoers – I’d seen one-too-many terrible films that left me thinking, “I can do better than that!”  Eventually, I was able to get an agent, and some of my scripts supposedly found their way into the hands of some recognizable people.  Unfortunately, I never sold anything, and eventually my agent and I parted ways.

I really didn’t attempt to write anything for a long time after that (mostly because I went back to school for another degree and then started working), but eventually the urge became too strong to ignore so here we are.

What subjects do you write about?

Historically, my favorite genre has always been fantasy/sci-fi, but by today’s standards I would expand that to include related subjects like the paranormal and supernatural.  That said, I write about anything and everything.  Basically, nothing’s off the table; I write fantasies, romances, mysteries…any genre you name, I’ve probably got a story in mind that suits it.

For instance, I currently have two books out:  Sensation: A Superhero Novel (which I suppose you could describe as fantasy/sci-fi) and Warden (Book 1: Wendigo Fever), a paranormal/horror story.  I had planned to follow these up with a romance I’ve had in mind for a few years and then a mystery.  However, I decided to go ahead and do sequels to the existing books before moving on to other genres. Sensation seemed to be resonating with readers, and It didn’t seem fair to keep any fans waiting an excessively long time. (As I write this, Sensation is actually ranked #1 in three categories on Amazon.)

What were your greatest influences? 

That’s tough.  I’d say that my parents buying me lots and lots of books as a kid probably influenced me to a large extent.  If you read enough books you’ll often get the itch to write one yourself.

In terms of writers, I would say that Jack Vance was a strong influence on me.  I simply love his prose, as well as his ability to create fantastical worlds and singularly unique societies.  In addition, he wrote in multiple genres. Not only did he win every major award in fantasy and science fiction (Hugo, Nebula, etc.), but he also won an Edgar Award for mystery.  Finally, he was simply a prolific writer, as his huge body of work will attest to.  (Vance was admittedly into writing solely for the money, which might explain why he cranked out so much.) I was deeply saddened by his recent passing, as there just aren’t many people I’d place in the same class with him.

What can you tell us about your latest book?

As I mentioned, I actually have two out at the moment that were published around the same time. Rather than talk about them, it’s probably easier if I simply share the descriptions, starting with my superhero novel Sensation:

Sensation Tiny ebook Cover Like millions of other kids, Jim grew up wanting to be a superhero. Unlike most of his contemporaries, however, Jim actually had the goods: a plethora of super powers that would have been the envy of any meta on the planet. But when his tryout with the Alpha League – the world’s premiere group of supers – goes disastrously wrong, Jim basically becomes an outcast. 

Two years later, Jim is still bitter about what happened to him. However, he soon finds himself the centerpiece in an odd turn of events that gives him a second chance at his dream. But nothing is as easy as it sounds, as Jim soon discovers. Among other things, he’s made an enemy of a prospective super teammate, he’s being stalked by an unknown pursuer, and a shadowy cabal bent on world domination has identified him as the only obstacle to their plans.

It’s a lot for one super to handle, even with a smorgasbord of abilities. But if saving the world were easy, everyone would do it…

 And here is the description for Warden:

Warden_Tiny_Cover_for_KindlePart lawman, part tracker and part magician, the Wardens are monster-hunters – tasked with protecting the people from the various, nightmarish creatures that have invaded the world of men. However, despite being descended from a long line of Wardens, 16-year-old Errol Magnus believes it to be the absolute worst job on the planet: How could a single occupation simultaneously be the most boring, abominably stupid and extraordinarily dangerous profession imaginable? 

But when his older brother Tom – the current Warden for their region – goes missing, Errol has no choice but to enter the Badlands, where monsters abide in mind-boggling numbers, to find him. During his search, Errol crosses paths with – and finds himself stalked by – the legendary Wendigo, a monster with preternatural strength and speed, as well as enhanced senses of sight, smell and hearing…and an insatiable hunger for human flesh.

 Now Errol must do the impossible and not only escape from the monster (something no one has ever done before), but also avoid the unearthly legacy it leaves on all its victims – a terrifying curse known as Wendigo Fever.

I think that both books can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, although they will probably have greatest appeal for the teen/young adult demographic.

Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us?

Sure, here’s the excerpt from the inside cover of Sensation:

I shot an angry look at Paramount as I braced myself and started to rise from the floor. He put a hand up to his mouth, as if to hide his snickering after having knocked me down. I can’t explain what happened next, but fury such as I had never felt – all-encompassing and all-controlling – exploded inside me.

I switched into super speed, moving so fast that later, even on film slowed down as much as possible, my movements were a blur. I grabbed the chair I had been sitting in, and in one smooth motion folded it up, spun around and hit Paramount with it squarely on the chin in uppercut fashion.

I mentioned before that I don’t actually have super strength, but when moving at top speed I can mimic it pretty well. Paramount’s head snapped back and he went sailing bodily up into the air. He hit the back wall with an audible smack that shattered plaster, then slid down to the floor.

I stood frozen, still gripping the chair. I seriously doubted that I had hurt him; at only 16, Paramount was already practically invulnerable, like his father. The lick I’d just laid on him was probably akin to an adult getting poked in the eye by a baby. It catches you a little off-guard, but it’s more irritating than painful, with no lasting effect.

Sadly, I was right.  Paramount started to get up…

What inspired you to write a superhero novel?

I’ve always been a fan of comics and superheroes.  It probably stems from the fact that one of my older brothers read a lot of comics and loaned me quite a number of his when we were growing up. 

As to what made me write a superhero novel first – out of all the stories I wanted to tell – all I can say is that it was the story making the most noise in my head and clamoring the most to get out.  Oddly enough, though, the story that ended up being published is nothing like the one I had planned to write.  Basically, as so often happens, the story tells itself, and in this case I ended up with something far different that what I initially intended. 

What’s the most difficult thing you’ve encountered in your journey as an author?

That’s hard to say, because at various junctures different things would arise as the most difficult barrier to overcome.  For instance, when I started writing right after college, the major roadblock was simply getting published.  After the advent of self-publishing, one of the biggest challenges for me was simply trying to be a one-man band and do everything myself: the writing, editing, marketing, etc.

These days, I share the load by having a cover artist and an editor.  The major obstacle I currently encounter is walking that tightrope between maintaining my day job, finding time to write, and taking care of marketing/promotion (which I still do myself).  It’s quite a balancing act, and you often feel like you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul when you have to push something to the side for a little while you sort some other issues out.

What words of encouragement would you give to any potential authors out there?

First of all, if you’re serious about it, you have to treat writing like a job.  That means writing every day, no matter what. Beyond that, simply have faith in yourself.  For most of us success is not going to happen overnight – whether in writing or any other aspect of life.  You wouldn’t expect to be made CEO after two weeks on the job (and you wouldn’t quit after two weeks because they didn’t make you Chief Executive). Likewise, don’t quit writing just because you don’t hit a home run your first time at bat.  Just keep honing your craft, getting better, and eventually the world will find you.

And on a side note, don’t discount the power of prayer.  I pray about my books on a daily basis and am blessed in that they have been performing well.

Where can readers find your books?

Sensation is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.  Likewise, Warden is also available on Amazon US and Amazon UK. Interested readers can also find out more at my blog The Hardman Writing Stylus

Whatever else you do today don’t forget to look up Kevin on Amazon or his blog and find out more about the man behind the new superhero.Toni Allen Logo

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