Vaccination Distractions

Most of us are getting vaccinated these days, and not all of us feel so great the next day.

I’m a pretty driven person, so I’m usually doing whatever needs to get done. However, I decided to give myself a vaccine break and just do what-ever I felt like for the afternoon. A sort of spontaneous sick day playing on my computer.

It was great. I drank hot tea and cuddled up under my favorite blanket and I even ate cookies. I started out with my newest pastime — I recently discovered Mahjong and now I’ve found two different places to play it online. I already knew I was drawn to classic games, those without people or plots, maybe because I tend to write such complicated books. Matching patterns soothes me, and let’s me turn off the words part of my brain.

I’ve also reaffirmed that I love playing with graphics. It’s what I do if you leave me alone with a computer and I’m not playing a game. Look at this cool collage I made with the first five main characters in my new series. I had more more fun doing this than I can possibly explain.

What can I say. To each our own, huh?

If you do get vaccinated (and I hope you will!) I wish you a nice recovery day, too, doing whatever dumb little things relax you and make you happy.

Once Upon A Princess Trio

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Deborah A. Bailey and her three fairy-tale inspired paranormal romance novellas entitled Once Upon A Princess Trio.

Author’s description

Formula for Fairy Tale Love:
1 adventurous Heroine + 1 tortured-but-noble Hero = Happily-Ever-After

For all the innate complications involved in finding the secret to blissful fairy-tale love with shape-shifters, three wise and discerning princesses trust their hearts instead of their eyes and fall in love with the unlikeliest of princes.

“Heart of Stone:” Leesa trespasses into a haunted palace, where she meets a gargoyle. Breaking the spell that cursed him may carry a price steeper than she’s able…or willing…to pay.

“Beauty & the Faun:” Kayla flees an arranged marriage and falls for a faun shifter instead. But how can she ignore her duty by refusing to marry a prince?

“Land of Dreams:” Cicely knows she possesses magical ability. Falling in love with the courageous, self-sacrificing Willem may be the key to her awakening…or may unleash forces that will separate them forever. (Sequel to Heart of Stone)

Box set includes books 1-3 of the Once Upon A Princess paranormal fairy-tale inspired romance novellas.

Using Fairy Tale Elements in the Once Upon A Princess Novellas

I asked author Deborah A. Bailey to tell us how much vocabulary she created for her fantasy worlds in this trio and I got back fascinating information about what guided the creation of her entire worlds. Enjoy her answer.

For my worldbuilding, I considered creating words for the worlds I was writing about. But as it turned out I only ended up creating one word, “Malida.” The reason I created it was because I wanted to use it during a conversation between the hero and heroine in Heart of Stone. Willem, the hero, uses that word to refer to the heroine’s grandmother. The grandmother is a former queen of the province where the story is set. In the aftermath of a war, the heroine, Leesa, and her grandmother are (as far as they know) the only remaining members of the royal family.

When Willem asks Leesa about her grandmother he calls her Malida, which is also a term of endearment. It means “great mother.” For Willem to know that name, he would have to have known more about the family than he’s admitting.

Though I didn’t focus on creating the words and language for those worlds, Since they’re based on fairy tales, I made sure to include certain elements. For instance, I included princesses,  magic, and fantasy creatures. In Heart of Stone Willem is a gargoyle who is under a magical curse. He lives in a deserted palace and he has access to enchantments that were left there by the former inhabitant.

In Beauty and the Faun, the heroine ends up escaping into the Great Forest and it becomes a refuge. Forests are often used fairy tales as places filled with magic and mystery. Satyrs, forest nymphs, centaurs and fauns are among the inhabitants of the Great Forest. Each group has their own culture and behavior that they’re known for. The heroine finds these creatures when she enters the forest, and they show that this is an entirely different world than the one outside.

In Land of Dreams the Great Forest is also included, along with fauns and water nymphs. I added additional magical characters, such as elementals, shifters, and river deities. There’s also a character called the Night Queen who presides over the elementals. While I would’ve loved to have created other words (and languages) for the stories, I made sure to include many fantasy elements and fairy tale touches to set the mood.

About the Author

Deborah A Bailey’s Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance novels include suspense, a bit of mystery and a lot of romantic heat. Her books include the Hathor Legacy science fiction romance series and the Family Pride and Once Upon A Princess shapeshifter paranormal romance series.

Her short stories have won awards from the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and have been published in US1 Magazine and the Sun and are included in, Electric Dreams: Seven Futuristic Tales. She’s the author of non-fiction books, and articles for various online publications.

Visit her site https://dbaileycoach.com/brightbooks for more information and subscribe to the newsletter here: https://eepurl.com/bokGdX so you’ll be the first to find out about giveaways, book launches and sneak peeks.

Find the Author

Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/AuthorDeborahB
Twitter — https://www.twitter.com/AuthorDeborahB
Pinterest — https://www.pinterest.com/debstyle3
FaceBook — https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDeborahAB/
Amazon Author Page — https://amazon.com/author/deborahannbailey
Bookbub —  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/deborah-a-bailey

Buy the Book

Buy link (universal book link): https://books2read.com/u/4Dg5xA
Personal Sales page: https://payhip.com/brightbooks

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $40 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Heart of Stone:

Leesa headed up the stairs and stopped at the 2nd floor landing. Eduardo and Erokan’s rooms had been on this floor. Dust was everywhere, but otherwise the furnishings were just as they’d been left. Varmont’s bedroom, private study and library were on the 3rd floor. Most likely he would’ve hidden some of his valuables there. She went upstairs to check. The doors to the Duke’s room, study and library were open. But the fourth door was closed. The treasure room, perhaps?

She opened the door and stepped inside. Strangely, this room wasn’t as dusty as the others. The air was heavy with perfume. Across from the door was a folding screen decorated with blue and yellow flowers. Behind it she could make out the base of a claw-foot tub.

To her surprise, the entire room had a feminine feeling, from the huge bed covered with blush pink coverlets and plush furs to the gold-trimmed white furniture. Even the jewel-encrusted skylight above her had its own beauty, reflecting colorful sprinkles of light over the pale stone walls.

A white cabinet with glass doors caught her attention. The shelves held glass bottles of different shapes and sizes. Some had liquids inside, others were empty. What were these? Perfumes? Or maybe potions.

The Duke used magic. Maybe this was where he’d kept his enchantments. Would they be worth anything? Possibly. But just as Leesa reached out to open the cabinet, the door slammed behind her.

Startled, she spun around. She was alone. Who had closed it? Leesa ran to the door and gripped the handle, expecting the door to open as easily as it had when she’d come in. But it didn’t. She pulled and banged on it, but it wouldn’t budge.

She was locked in.

Thank you!

Deborah A. Bailey — we appreciate your sharing Once Upon A Princess Trio with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Let Me Explain …

As I began to create The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters, I realized I wasn’t writing a series in the classical sense. In fact, my novels occur simultaneously, almost, as they present a time of great turmoil through the eyes of seven different participants.

Because these seven are sisters, though, they obviously make plenty of appearances in each others book. But, how one sees  their own actions is quite different from how they perceive what their sister does, right? Along with much else, I was excited to explore this point of view difference.

I’ve been looking for a succinct way to tell potential readers what in they are in for before they begin reading. Like most authors, I’d rather attract readers who like what I’m doing.

Today I came up with this add-on blurb and from now on I intend to add it to every book description. I think it helps. What do you think?

The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters consists of seven short companion novels. Each tells the personal story and perspective of one of seven radically different sisters in the 1200s as they prepare for an invasion of their realm. While these historical fantasy/alternate history books can be enjoyed as stand-alone novels, together they tell the full story of how Ilari survived.

Which sister do you think saved the realm? That will depend on whose story you read.

Ellerslie

Today it is my pleasure to welcome William Francis and his paranormal historical mystery novel, Ellerslie.

Author’s description

Did you know author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda lived in a haunted house?

It’s the Jazz Age, it’s Prohibition and aviator Charles Lindbergh is the most famous person in America. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald rents a mansion in Edgemoor, Delaware called Ellerslie hoping for a quiet retreat so that he can write his next novel following The Great Gatsby.

April Ross, the first and only female history major at the University of Delaware, is commissioned by the owner of Ellerslie to research the estate’s history for a potential sale. At least, that’s what April is told. In the days ahead, April’s historical research uncovers Ellerslie’s former owners dating back to 1810. She interacts with the Fitzgeralds, yet endures unexplained occurrences and visits by an unknown woman. Against her better judgement, April eventually accepts that the woman is a ghost and realizes that her true purpose is to find out who this woman is, or was, and what happened to her in real life.

About the Author

Raised in Newark, Delaware, William spends his days working in Corporate America and writing about the First State. He achieved a Masters Degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, but also writes non-fiction. Through Arcadia Publishing he has produced 5 books related to Delaware: The DuPont Highway, Along the Kirkwood Highway, Along the Christina River, Building Interstate in 95 in Delaware and Newark Then & Now. Fiction titles include: A Life Told to None, The Umpire, Seacrest, and the five-star The Katie Dugan Case. Whether his books are fact or fiction, William hopes to entertain as well as inform and leave the reader with a satisfying experience.

Find the Author

Facebook: William Francis
Goodreads: William Francis (Author of The Katie Dugan Case) (goodreads.com)

Buy the Book

On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08XK1JYC7

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

“I don’t know,” Scott said, lifting his glass of gin, his bowl of stew untouched. “I’m just so sick and tired of hearing about Charles Lindbergh. They report everything he says and does.”

Zelda spooned her stew and turned serious. “I’m sorry, Fitz. I know you’re upset about the latest sales figures for Gatsby. I should’ve been more receptive to your feelings when you told me.”

Scott took another sip. “I blame the title. I told you I hated the title.” He mimicked sarcasm. “The Great Gatsby. Rather pretentious, don’t you think? And what’s so great about him? He’s a sick symbol of today’s greed and self-absorption. Who needs to read a story about a man who epitomizes what we see in everyday society?”

“You know,” Zelda said, “I think those journalists who are coverin’ Lindbergh would better serve the public if they examined the disgusting tastes of American readers. They need to explain to me why dime novelists like Zane Grey are making a fortune while respectable writers like you, Fitz, are not.”

April appreciated seeing Zelda act kindly to her husband, but she wondered how long it would last.

“My friend Mencken is soooo right,” Scott said after tasting some stew. “Quote: ‘No one has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of plain people, nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

“Fitz, maybe you should write one of those dime novels.”

“I’d rather die.”

“Do not fret, monsieur. I believe you could write a good one.”

“Well,” Scott said to April, “what do you think? You’ve been silent so far.”

April put her spoon down and took a moment to formulate her response. “I’ve been reading The Great Gatsby and I really like it. I’m intrigued by the mysterious Jay Gatsby and how Nick perceives him. And then there’s the relationship between Jay and Daisy and Tom Buchanan. I look forward to finishing the book, hopefully tonight.”

“Thank you for saying so, but that wasn’t the question. Should I write a dime novel?”

“No, sir,” April said staring directly at Scott’s bloodshot eyes. “There’s nothing wrong with writing at an elite level. It’s a known fact that the masses prefer tabloid stories and yellow journalism, and that Mr. Hearts has capitalized on this. But I think you’d be doing yourself and the literary world a great disservice if you lowered your talents to that type of writing.”

Scott’s eyes watered. He looked shocked.

“Wow, Fitz,” Zelda said, humbled. “I think that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to you about your writing.”

Thank you!

William Francis — we appreciate your sharing your book Ellerslie with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Better Covers: Does Your Brain Prefer Left to Right?

I love book covers! After ten years in the self-publishing industry, I realize I spend a lot of time thinking about my covers, analyzing them, and just plain staring at them.

I designed my own first one (and had so much fun doing it), but since then I have relied on professionals who can produce a better product. I was lucky to find Deranged Doctor Design a few years ago and they’re now working on their eleventh cover for me!

But it was cover number ten (shown here) that brought out something I was unaware of.  The final product, or at least what I thought was the final product, shows Olivine, a shy, artistic woman who takes up archery because of her unusually gifted eyesight.

I loved the olive color, and the sense of capturing her in motion, so I happily gave DDD the okay to call this one done with only a minor revision to her hair. (Don’t think that has ever happened before. I always see something I want to change.)

I second-guessed my decision, however, when I studied this cover next to the first three books in this series. The other women all look so strong, so sure of themselves, while my fourth sister — she hesitates. To me, she’s looking back over her shoulder like she’s not entirely sure if she should go on.

Well, she is shy, I thought. Maybe this captures that part of her and I should be glad. But honestly, I wasn’t. I know Olivine is strong inside, like her other sisters, and I wanted my readers (and my potential readers) to know that too.

Then a weird thing happened. I was trying to crop the cover image in PowerPoint to just get her face, to put it into a promotional idea I had. You know how if you grab the side of a small image in PowerPoint to move it, sometimes instead you end up pulling one edge all the way over the other and reversing the image? It’s annoying. Well, I did that, and the reversed image surprised me. Here was Olivine, reversed and looking more sure of herself!

Yet, it was the same picture. How could that be?

I puzzled over this for a while before it occurred to me that I’ve spent a lot of my life reading (and writing) and my words always go left to right. In our alphabet, left is backward. Right is forward. So looking left is looking over my shoulder, gazing at the past. Looking right is boldly looking ahead.

Flip the image of a woman looking to her left and suddenly she appears more ready to face the future. It’s amazing.

Yes, the nice folks at DDD were happy to flip the cover image for me, and today I got a draft of the result.

Look at her. Now she’s perfect.

And, I’ve learned something that should help me evaluate cover designs going forward.  For just as our bodies respond differently to chemical compounds that are mirror images of each other, I believe our brains respond differently to mirror images as well.

This means I can ascribe attributes to a character on a cover by paying attention to which way her gaze is directed.

Cool, huh?

FREE: She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much

To celebrate and promote the release of the second novel in this series, I am offering the first novel, She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much, FREE today (February 18) through Monday (February 22) on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BY4RLX1. 

Those of you familiar with the ins and outs of self-publishing will know that I had to pull this book out of wide distribution for 90 days, removing it from Barnes & Nobel, Kobo, Apple and others in order to sign up for Amazon’s KDP program and offer this free promotion.

Those of you familiar with me will know how much it pisses me off to do this. Amazon already controls a vast amount of the eBook market, and has little reason if any for this petty requirement. None-the-less, it exists.

Because I really want people to give my new series a try, I’ve negotiated with my conscience and decided to put each of these seven novels into KDP one time only, around the time when the following book in the series is released. Then, I’ll offer one and only one such free promotion for each book. It seems like a reasonable compromise to me.

My point is, this is Thinks Too Much‘s onetime giveaway. Please give it a try. It’s free, and I think and hope you’ll like it. Check it out at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BY4RLX1.

She’ll be here in two weeks

She’s the One Who Cares Too Much

Book 2, my story of the soft-spoken and caring sister who discovers her own fierce power, will be available for purchase Friday Feb 12 and can be pre-ordered now.

I’ll be honest. I struggled with Coral’s story at first. Her personality was too mild for my taste (I like wilder women) and her dreams were so traditional. But over the months we spent together, she won me over as we discovered her power and strength together.

Every woman has a right to pursue her own happiness, and while Coral may want the simple things in life, she’s hardly a simple lady. Furthermore, in the end she may really be the one sister who saves Ilari. I think there is a good chance it’s true, but I’ll have to keep writing to find out.

Coral is Close

I’ve had such fun creating my magical seven sisters for my current series! One of my chief frustrations is that only one of them, Ryalgar, has seen the light of day. But that’s about to change ….

Over the next couple of weeks I will be putting the finishing touches on Coral’s story, checking it once, twice and thrice to make every little detail perfect.

If you don’t self-publish books yourself, believe me — the release of the new book is an exciting time. It’s also hard work, as an author needs to spend time on the promotional work that will get her story in as front of as many readers as possible.

I always like to try new approaches, and this time around I’ll be doing my first release day book blast with a new company (new for me that is). I’m quite happy with others I’ve used, and I’ll be using them too, but the more eyes I can get on this book, the better. So I’ve added Hot Tree Promotions to my arsenal.

They use something new to me — a promotional teaser — and I needed three of them. They gave me the option of designing my own or paying to have them made. I thought, I like messing around with graphics, so why not give it a try?

Above is my first attempt, and I’m rather pleased with it. Wish me luck — I hope it sells a lot of books for me.

Want to learn more about Coral and her story? Check out her pre-order page.

It’s a big day for me

Hello.  I have a favor to ask of you.

My brash and intelligent 13th-century hero and her story will be available in paperback and kindle starting TOMORROW. You can order a copy for yourself today at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BY4RLX1.

My situation is that any purchases made in the next 24 hours benefit me a great deal more than a later purchase because sales during my book launch make a huge difference in how many new readers can find me. So if you’re thinking of ever buying a copy …

Honestly I’m quite excited about this new series. One of my first reviewers said “From the first page … She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much pulls the reader into a diverse, colorful and plausible world, with its own geography, culture, language and politics. S.R. Cronin has done a wonderful job creating Ilari and its peoples.”

If you’re willing to go one step further and share my good news on any social media platform at all, I’d be even more grateful. Use the blurb below so you don’t even have to think about what to say.

Thanks for considering this, and if you do try it, I hope you enjoy the book.

Paste this anywhere:

I know someone who has just published a fantasy adventure book. If you like thought-provoking speculative fiction and reading about diverse, colorful and plausible new worlds, check out She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much, the first book in an exciting new series.

Twin Time

Today it is my pleasure to welcome authors Olga Werby & Christopher Werby and their Time Travel/Historical Fiction/Urban Fantasy novel, Twin Time.

Authors’ description

The portrait that hangs in Aunt Nana’s house

Alex and Sasha are twin sisters, physically identical down to their freckles. But the resemblance is only skin deep—Sasha is profoundly autistic, while Alex is not. Sasha can’t communicate and acts bizarrely, and the family revolves around her and her intense needs. Yet the aged, wealthy, and mysterious Aunt Nana seems to have a particular interest in both girls. Offering a helping hand, she encourages the family to move to San Francisco to be near her. And when the young twins discover a tunnel in Nana’s tool shed, it leads them on a journey across the world and back 100 years in time. The tunnel is a pathway to the Firebird Estate, the home of their ancestors, located in rural Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Even more remarkable, through the effect that twisting time has on cognition, Sasha is not autistic when she’s at the Firebird Estate. Now, growing up in two strikingly different times and places, the twins must face their separate destinies among the ravages of the incipient Russian Revolution. Can they save their families on both sides of the tunnel? Can they simultaneously stay true to their own hearts, to each other, and to the people they left behind? Each sister must face her own personal challenge—but only together can they discover their own future within their family’s past.

So, which child do you like best?

In my own experience, my favorite of my own books is always the one I’m writing now. Having read and enjoyed Olga Werby’s book Harvest (see my review) I was curious about how she felt about these two books of hers. So, I asked her which one was more fun for her to write: Harvest or Twin Time?

Yes, I know this is a little bit like asking someone which of their children they like best. “Both” is a good answer. But to author Werby’s credit, she had an interesting and well-thought-out response.

“Harvest” and “Twin Time” couldn’t be more different! One is a sci-fi thriller; the other is a fantastical, historical romance. I’ve spent years researching the science for “Harvest”—the scientific details in that story are all true. But the same is true for “Twin Time”. “Twin Time” is partly based on my grandmother’s childhood. She grew up in post-revolutionary Russia, in a rural village where the political change was slow to arrive. When it finally did, her family had to run in the middle of the night to stay alive. They lived through unspeakable horrors and didn’t survive unscathed. Most died. When and where we are born shapes our lives. When you read “Twin Time”, you will get to experience what it was like to live in another time and place with a different value system and different culture.

I came to America as a refugee; I grew up in Russia and those experiences shaped my life. To write about what it feels like to be there, even if at a different time and place than what I knew, was transformative. I loved doing the research, looking at illustrations and old photographs. It made me remember the fairytales of my youth.

Emotionally, “Twin Time” was more powerful for me, while “Harvest” was more intellectually stimulating. Writing these two books was a very different experience. But I wouldn’t swap my life for the life of my heroines in either of these novels—they had it rough. Spending a few years dreaming the lives of these women is very different from living those lives. I have to say, I’m a girl who likes first-class bathroom accommodations!

About Olga Werby

Olga Werby, Ed.D., has a Doctorate from U.C. Berkeley with a focus on designing online learning experiences. She has a Master’s degree from U.C. Berkeley in Education of Math, Science, and Technology. She has been creating computer-based projects since 1981 with organizations such as NASA (where she worked on the Pioneer Venus project), Addison-Wesley, and the Princeton Review. Olga has a B.A. degree in Mathematics and Astrophysics from Columbia University. She became an accidental science fiction indie writer about a decade ago, with her first book, “Suddenly Paris,” which was based on then fairly novel idea of virtual universes. Her next story, “The FATOFF Conspiracy,” was a horror story about fat, government bureaucracy, and body image. She writes about characters that rarely get represented in science fiction stories — homeless kids, refugees, handicapped, autistic individuals — the social underdogs of our world.

Her stories are based in real science, which is admittedly stretched to the very limit of possible. She has published almost a dozen fiction books to date and has won many awards for her writings. Her short fiction has been featured in several issues of “Alien Dimensions Magazine,” “600 second saga,” “Graveyard Girls,” “Kyanite Press’ Fables and Fairy Tales,” “The Carmen Online Theater Group’s Chronicles of Terror,” with many more stories freely available on her blog, Interfaces.com.

Find the Author at

http://www.interfaces.com/blog/
https://www.amazon.com/author/olgawerby
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4056895.Olga_Werby
https://www.facebook.com/OlgaWerby/
http://Pipsqueak.com
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDE3BNceupMYgvoaoAps2mg
https://www.linkedin.com/in/olgawerby

Buy Her Books at

“Twin Time”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LZM578L/

“Harvest”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07R8HGKWN/
“Becoming Animals”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078P6BB6K/
“Suddenly, Paris”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014OM5158/
“The FATOFF Conspiracy”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014S0W4WO/

Yes, there is a giveaway.

Olga Werby & Christopher Werby will be awarding two signed books to a randomly drawn winner (US only) via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Boris Blackburg was observing Alex carefully, judging her emotional state and her ability to comprehend what he was telling her. She seemed very confused. He wasn’t surprised. This was the strangest assignment he had ever accepted. At first, he thought it was some silly notion of a well-to-do old woman. But as the years passed, he got to know Nadezhda well, and he liked the old woman, eccentricities and all. And as he got to know the Orlov family as well–vicariously, of course—the assignment grew more and more strange and intriguing.

Boris was also well compensated for his work. He was going to ensure Nadezhda’s wishes were followed. Alex Orlov would inherit her great-aunt’s estate and all the accompanying strangeness that came with it. He would make certain of it.

“Where did you get these?” Alex asked.

“Nadezhda, your Aunt Nana, gave these to me about eighteen years ago, shortly after you and Sasha were born.”

“I… I…” Alex seemed to want to say something, but couldn’t get it out. Boris was prepared to give her time, as long as her parents didn’t interfere with his mission by arriving too soon. At least the girl was now of age and the complications of guardianship had gone away–but he needed to complete his assignment before her parents arrived and complicated matters.

“Who’s the woman in this photo?” Alex pointed to a small black and white print of a man and a woman walking on the street. The image was very small, and it was difficult to identify the people, both of whom were wearing hats.

“Who do you think it is?” Boris asked. He knew, of course–Nadezhda had identified most of the photos for him, and there was information written on the back of most.

“I don’t know. But… it looks like… me?” Alex’s voice was small, barely audible.

Boris nodded.