Jo Schaffer's Blog: Jo Schaffer

February 26, 2019

Stanley & Hazel book 2 The Winnowing

“Darkness descends over St. Louis, a city already rocked by the Great Depression. More and more people are disappearing, and some have turned up dead. A sinister secret society is putting forward their plan known as “The Winnowing,” designed to wipe out those they consider “undesirable.”

After Stanley and Hazel foil the diabolical plans of Charles Chouteau, they become instant celebrities. Hazel is thrust into the role of debutante, and risks loses herself in it. Meanwhile, Stanley must deal with the horrific tragedy of his best friend’s death while being threatened by the unseen forces of the Veiled Prophet.

With things spiraling out of control, Stanley and Hazel’s relationship is tested, possibly beyond repair. As bodies pile up, people become more desperate. The divide between wealthy and poor grows ever wider, threatening to tear their worlds apart. Now, the two must find a way to work together if there is any hope at all of saving their relationship and their futures.”

The Winnowing
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Published on February 26, 2019 14:42 Tags: stanley-hazel, the-winnowing, yabook

April 19, 2018

Stanley and Hazel Cover Reveal!


My new book is coming out with Month9Books on May 15th! This YA novel was inspired by my love of classic film and my interest in the juxtaposition of the glamour and poverty that coexisted during the Great Depression.













Stanley and Hazel come from the two opposite extremes of the social spectrum and I wanted to explore that. This trope hearkens back to the days of 1930s movies like The Thin Man and It Happened One Night. The hard boiled newspaper man/gumshoe and the high class dame. It's a fun dynamic with some murder and intrigue thrown in!


 My publisher made some advance copies available for Teen Author Boot Camp and it was a blast to sign books there! Hazel even escaped the book and made a guest appearance!




A great depression grips the city of St. Louis in 1934. Stanley, an orphaned newsie, lives in a poor part of town hit especially hard by the economic downturn. One night, Stanley runs into Hazel, a restless debutante-in-waiting who has begun to question her posh lifestyle in the midst of the suffering she sees. She’s out and about without an escort and against her father’s wishes. When they discover the body of a girl with her head bashed in by a baseball bat, the very different and separate realities of the two teens inform their decision. Together they will figure out what happened to her and bring those responsible to justice. But getting involved with each other and digging into the secrets behind this murder earns them some powerful enemies, including a secret group seeking to rid society of all they deem undesirable. They’ve put into motion “The Winnowing,” a plan seeking to take over the city and enforce their will. As Stanley and Hazel’s forbidden feelings for one another grow, their investigation turns deadly. Now, it is up to Stanley and his gang of street kids to stop Hazel from becoming the next victim.




"Stanley and Hazel has spooky thrills, snappy dialogue, and rich historical detail. It makes for a swell read and one that fans of Libba Bray’s Diviners won’t want to put down!”  —Jessica Day George, author, Tuesdays at the Castle

 “Stanley and Hazel is an ingenious blend of history, magic, and spirituality that sheds just as much light on our world today as it does on our nation’s troubled past. Good and evil, love and greed, do battle in a story that has as much heart as it does fast-paced action.”  —Scott Bergstrom, author, The Cruelty
Stanley and Hazel is available for pre-order now!
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Published on April 19, 2018 21:53

January 28, 2016

Signing Books with Author Friends

Tonight I did a book signing at Barnes and Nobel alongside some friends who are fantastic YA authors. Jennifer Jenkins, Jessica Day GeorgeSara B. LarsonBree Despain and Valynne Maetani.

Coming up next month is LTUE and the month after that is Teen Author Boot Camp!


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Published on January 28, 2016 21:16

January 27, 2016

Awake and Dreaming

“For I have always been a seeker, a dreamer, and a ponderer on seeking and dreaming…” -H.P. LovecraftI write fiction. I dream up people and journey with them into places I know and places I have never seen, creating stories for other people to read with the hope that we can journey together and make sense of this collective experience we call Life.When I was little, there was a treehouse in my back yard, at the top of a tall Mulberry tree. I’d climb up there and spend hours alone reading books and daydreaming. There was something about being up high, surrounded by branches and leaves that made life feel magical.I could look out over our yard and neighborhood. Everything that seemed boring from the ground became a story. People went in and out of their homes, playing out the drama of ordinary lives but I could imagine interesting plots and intrigues from my perch above. Playing in the theoretical and imaginary.(READ MORE at www.joschaffer.com)
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Published on January 27, 2016 17:51

May 9, 2015

Author Interview and discussing Against Her Will


I was recently interviewed by friend and author, Jonathan Ryan for Patheos.com. I'm reposting that interview here! 81KhJ0SOZHL

What was the one event in your life that got you writing?There really wasn’t one event. I always kept a journal as a child and started writing stories by the time I was in elementary school. My older sister, Heather, would always tell the most imaginative bedtime stories and I think that really helped kindle a lifelong love of storytelling.I was also an avid reader early on. My mother has a Masters degree in English Literature and exposed me to wonderful books in my formative years.When I became old enough to babysit my mob of cousins and neighbors, I became popular with the children for my stories. I started to write them down in the form of interactive, choose-your-own-adventure type games. That was a hit and I was hooked.All through high school I wrote poems, short stories and personal essays. I enjoyed the process and people seemed to like reading them. I had a lot of encouragement from family and teachers.Later, as a university student living in London, I was immersed in good literature, interesting people and beautiful places. The very first novel I wrote (which is awful and hidden for all time) was based on that experience while studying abroad.Are there themes that you are drawn towards in your books?I love stories of redemption and self-actualization. The genre doesn’t matter as much to me. It can be paranormal, historical fiction or contemporary realism, but the main characters have to make an inner journey, coming to an understanding of themselves, their own culpability and be empowered by it. It isn’t until a person truly  owns their shadow side that they can be at their most powerful and at peace with their potential.I really enjoy exploring paradigm shifts and moments of enlightenment that build the character and make them more self-aware and “other” aware. I also like to dissect relationships and the effect of amity and enmity on the main character.How does your worldview play into your writing?I suppose I can’t separate my writing from the way I think. The things that I value or that I’m opposed to, will come across in the stories I write.  But I do try to balance what I think and what characters with opposing beliefs and world views would think. Writers, like actors, need to have empathy if they want to be able to write believable characters. I hope to capture authenticity and truth in what I write.  By truth, I don’t just mean the perceived absolutes of right and wrong in the universe. Truth is what is.  An honest look at the human experience. Sometimes for me, that means writing things that may demonstrate that what I hold as true may have possible downsides or contradictions. Other times it means that things that are generally accepted by our current culture as good are not as innocuous as we tell ourselves. Hopefully, if I write honestly… nobody is safe.How do you deal with criticism and bad reviews?Unless a friend points out–hey listen to this good review–it may be a bad idea to listen to negative reviews. However, if the criticism is sound and comes from a trusted source, I’m all about considering what they say if it can improve my writing. Sometimes, I can be too close to my work and fresh eyes are helpful.But you can’t please everyone and some people are just going to hate it  no matter what.What advice will you have for the teen writers at TABC?Have fun writing! Learn all you can about the tools of how to write well and to reach your audience.Write about things that matter to you and never stop working on your craft. Don’t worry about reviews or what people will say—you can’t please all readers and everyone is a critic! Don’t even worry about if you will ever get published. Just write for the love of it and pursue publishing if that is what you want—there are so many options for getting your stories to readers now. Most writers will never achieve fame or fortune. Do it because you love it.Tell us about your book. Where can people get it?Teen psychiatric wards can be “throw-away” places for kids whose parents can’t or won’t deal with them. In Oak Dale, teens battle their inner demons and not all of them win.The concept of Against Her Will came from the experiences of co-author, Serita Stevens who has worked in a teen psych ward for many years. It was interesting and fun to develop characters based on some actual patients she had known and put them together into a story line and a plot that will hopefully show the emotional journeys of teens who struggle with mental illness and other challenges.The main characters have all experienced different forms of bullying. Cassidy, from a wealthy home, has parents who have no time to show her love. Their primary concern is that she upholds the proper image. Her parents manipulate and shame her until she acts out and makes a string of bad decisions. Rather than trying to understand or support Cassidy, her parents have her locked up. Tony comes from serious domestic violence which has left him feeling powerless so he turns to pyromania to feel in control. Gina, is a defiant trouble maker who becomes a bully herself after enduring a childhood in the foster care system, in and out of unsafe homes. Erin, the anorexic, was horribly bullied and humiliated by peers from school and controlled by her perfectionist mother. And Julia is an endangered child, exposed to drugs and prostitution because of her mother’s lifestyle. They all play off one another within the walls of Oak Dale where unfortunately, some things only get worse. Get your own copy of AGAINST HER WILL here!!! IMG_20130715_065549
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Published on May 09, 2015 12:05

April 21, 2015

Jonathan Ryan's new book, Dark Bride, releases today!


A new release!



I read the first book, 3 Gates of the Dead over a year ago and was impressed! It was scary but also, thought provoking. Within a paranormal thriller, Ryan depicts the inner workings of a minister having a crisis of faith with insight and honesty.I was able to read an advanced copy of Dark Bride, the sequel to 3 Gates of the Dead, which releases today! This book does not disappoint! Jonathan Ryan really steps up his game in this terrifying next installment. As we follow, Aidan Schaefer in his continued struggle against the evil forces around him, a frightening and complex plot unfolds. The book deals with some very heavy topics--the disintegration of a family, human trafficking, dark powers and supernatural evil. The story will will freak you out and pull you along until the last page. You will think about the book long after you put it down. I loved it and hated it! Well played, Ryan, well played."For those who like to mix deep theological debate with full-throttle horror, there's no better bet than the works of the Benedictine-trained master of the macabre, Jonathan Ryan.”—Robert Masello, best-selling author of The Romanov Cross

“[Dark Bride] successfully knits religion, demonology and suspense to produce a tapestry of excitement and originality that will please any fan of the genre.” —Andrew Neiderman, author of The Devil’s Advocate and The Terrorist’s Holiday

“A remarkable novel.”—Michael W. Collings, author of The Annotated Guide to Stephen King

“A tale steeped in the fantastic and simmered in faith, a book as terrifying as it is profound—Dan Brown collides with Stephen King collides with St. Augustine.” —Jack Slay Jr., author of Sleeping Policemen

Order Dark Bride, the sequel to 3 Gates of the Dead from everywhere fine books are sold. Released in Print, Ebook and Audio from Open Road Integrated Media and Audible


ORDER HERE!
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Published on April 21, 2015 08:35

April 16, 2015

Against Her Will and TABC 2015


Last weekend I had a book signing at the Viridian  and launched Against Her Will at Teen Author Boot Camp! I was blown away by the support and enthusiasm shown to me and my book. Thank you to everyone!


TABC was epic this year. With a crowd of over 700 people and so many great classes to choose from, it was like a day-long author party! The teens make it the best. Their talent and enthusiasm creates so much positive energy.

We kicked off the day with a silly video in the manner of Kid History (Bored Shorts) with a little help from actor Richard Sharrah.


The book signing was high energy and the kids had us signing books, t-shirts, notebooks, programs and even arms!




Our keynotes, Brandon Sanderson and Jessica Day George were so awesome! Some ninjas (from the dojo where I trained for my black belt) performed a Mistborn inspired routine to introduce Brandon Sanderson and he said it was the best intro he'd ever had. The crowd went nuts over it!





There was also an author lip sinc for a smashing finish to an awesome day. My group, Writers Cubed, puts so much into TABC each year, and it is worth all we do! We are truly grateful for the gang of talented writers who come and participate each year.







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Published on April 16, 2015 16:52

March 30, 2015

AGAINST HER WILL RELEASE DAY! WIN A FREE COPY!


Against Her Will is a YA novel about teens battling their inner demons in a psych ward and not all of them will win.

I'm excited to be on a YA panel and signing books at the Viridian events center on April 10th. Come see me!

The book will be launched at Teen Author Boot Camp to nearly 700 teens and authors with prizes and a book signing! It will be a blast!



The concept of Against Her Will came from the experiences of co-author, Serita Stevens, who has worked in a teen psych ward for many years. It was interesting and fun to develop the characters based on some actual patients she has known and put them together into a story-line and plot that will hopefully show the emotional journeys of teens who struggle with mental illness and other challenges.
 I feel strongly about mental health and also bullying—which is a big problem in society today. Both issues can be misunderstood and affect lives so dramatically that it is always good to have more ways to discuss and examine them. We have a long way to go as a culture, to not stigmatize those who struggle with mental illness and to allow an open conversation without shame attached. Shaming is just a form of bullying and it never helped anyone.
When the opportunity came to work with Serita last year, I was eager to explore these topics and help to develop a story addressing some of these issues, embedding themes of hope and empowerment. Kindness to others and to oneself can go a long way to help in the coping and recovery process, no matter what a person has been through or what their struggle may be. 
Be a hugger not a hater.

(To read more on my views about bullying and the dire effect it can have on the mental health of young people click HERE.)

Against Her Will is AVAILABLE on AMAZON in paperback or kindle!


"A heartbreaking and beautiful combination of suffering and empowerment no one should miss out on."--“A compelling glimpse of life inside the teenage mind, AGAINST HER WILL, was a fascinating train wreck I couldn't look away from and read in one sitting.”
--Elana Johnson, Author, the Possession series (Simon Pulse) 


CLICK HERE!

BASED ON ACTUAL EVENTS

My name is Cassidy Connor and my parents hate me. Well, they can go to hell. After yet another fight with my manipulative lawyer father and bible thumping mother, I disappear onto Hollywood Blvd among the other street kids. Or so I thought. The cops pick me up for a BS crime I didn't commit, and Dad announces the only way I can avoid charges is to voluntarily admit myself into Oak Dale, a psych ward for crazy teens. I don't belong there -- my parents are the real nutjobs --but it's not like I have a choice.

At Oak Dale, everyone is going on about the kid who just killed himself trying to escape. How could they dump me in a place like this? I'm thrown in with my anorexic roommate, Erin; foster care system victim, Gina; and pyromaniac Tony. Guess he likes to light 'em up. All of us are unwanted baggage, here against our will.

I quickly learn only the strong survive Oak Dale -- and some of us won't make it out alive.




 ELANA JOHNSON


IN THREE EASY STEPS...

ENTER A DRAWING TO WIN A FREE COPY!!!

1. Follow me and SHARE THIS POST on Twitter with @AuthorJSchaffer and #AgainstHerWill

OR  Friend me and Share on Facebook and TAG ME  

OR do both to be entered twice!


2. Leave a comment below here OR in a PM on Facebook, telling me how bullying or mental health issues have affected you or somebody that you love.

3. Give someone a BIG HUG!

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Published on March 30, 2015 07:54

March 5, 2015

Against Her Will reviewed by Elana Johnson


On March 30th, Against Her Will releases and then the launch party will take place at Teen Author Boot Camp! I'm excited to share this book with the hundreds of teen who will be there--this year our registration numbers are the highest they have ever been. The book brings up important topics such as bullying and how ultimately their own decisions affect their lives more than the decisions of others. It also holds the message that life can be hard and people can treat you bad, but we each get to choose who we'll be and how we let our struggles define us.
Elana Johnson, author and friend, agreed to read the book and blurb it for me! I snagged the review she wrote on her blog and am posting it here. 


“A compelling glimpse of life inside the teenage mind, AGAINST HER WILL, was a fascinating train wreck I couldn't look away from and read in one sitting.” --Elana Johnson, Author, the Possession series (Simon Pulse) 
About AGAINST HER WILL: My name is Cassidy Connor and my parents hate me. Well, they can go to hell. After yet another fight with my manipulative lawyer father and bible thumping mother, I disappear onto Hollywood Blvd among the other street kids. Or so I thought. The cops pick me up for a BS crime I didn't commit, and Dad announces the only way I can avoid charges is to voluntarily admit myself into Oak Dale, a psych ward for crazy teens. I don't belong there -- my parents are the real nutjobs --but it's not like I have a choice.

At Oak Dale, everyone is going on about the kid who just killed himself trying to escape. How could they dump me in a place like this? I'm thrown in with my anorexic roommate, Erin; foster care system victim, Gina; and pyromaniac Tony. Guess he likes to light 'em up. All of us are unwanted baggage, here against our will. 

I quickly learn only the strong survive Oak Dale -- and some of us won't make it out alive.

----

"I absolutely loved this book in a sort of love-hate way. I couldn't stop reading it, and I wanted to yell at the characters. Things like, "No! Don't do that!" Or "Please eat something." Or "This is a bad idea..." Or "Tell someone! Tell someone!" 

AGAINST HER WILL is an emotionally powerful book -- I called it a train wreck I couldn't look away from. It stuck with me long after I finished it, and I find myself still thinking about it from time to time. 

I think the reason it impacted me so much is because it is the polar opposite of my experiences as a teenager. Cassidy's story opened my eyes to things I knew about, but didn't really KNOW about, if that makes sense. It is a fantastic read for anyone -- if you relate to Cassidy's story, if you don't, and anywhere in between.

AGAINST HER WILL doesn't come out until March 30, but you should pre-order it now so you can devour it then." -Elana Johnson
AGAINST HER WILL paperback version is available for pre-order now! Also, now available for pre-order on Kindle!

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Published on March 05, 2015 08:46

February 9, 2015

Elana Johnson's ELEMENTAL series cover reveal!




As a writer and literary agent, there are some writers I read because I love what they write and others I read because I love who they are. With my friend, Elana Johnson, it's both! She's so freaking awesome in every way!

 I'm so excited about Elana's new  YA/NA futuristic fantasy series, which includes Elemental RushElemental Hunger, and Elemental Release.




About ELEMENTAL RUSH: Eighteen-year-old Adam Gillman has trained for twelve years to earn a coveted spot on the Supreme Elemental’s elite sentry squad. His brother, Felix, is the commander, but Adam is still thrilled when his official assignment to serve Alexander Pederson comes.
He moves into nicer quarters and can stop getting up at four a.m. to complete his mandated work out time. He still rises early though, because he needs the solitude of early morning to practice his airmaking Element—something that Adam has kept secret from everyone, even Felix, because he can’t be both an Airmaker and a sentry.
When Alex assigns him to kill a group of rogue Elementals, he balks at completing his mission for the first time. See, his only friend is Isaiah Hawking, and he’s the Earthmover on the accused Council. When faced with the prospect of killing him, Adam finds he can’t do it.
He’s well trained in assassination, but he thought he’d be murdering bad guys—not innocents.
When Alex buries the Elemental Academy—and kills over one thousand Elementals—in a fit of rage, Adam’s loyalty cracks. When he discovers that Alex is really a woman, and his brother’s lover, he defects. He hops from city to city, from Elemental school to Elemental school, always escaping only minutes before Felix can embed a knife in his heart or a tsunami can make a classroom his watery grave.
He tries to fight back, but he’s just one Airmaster with exceptional tracking skills. He does his best to warn those in danger, but as the last Elemental school goes up in flames, he knows he needs to get some real firepower on his side.
ELEMENTAL RUSH is a prequel novella to the full-length futuristic fantasy novel, ELEMENTAL HUNGER.
On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22063929-elemental-rush
Buy Links:Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KFM3JJMBarnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/elemental-rush-elana-johnson/1119569676?ean=2940150184190iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/elemental-rush/id962939892?mt=11Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/elemental-rush-an-elemental-novella-volume-1Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=3SZtBgAAQBAJ
About ELEMENTAL HUNGER: The second installment in the Elemental series, a new futuristic fantasy for young adults and new adults from acclaimed author Elana Johnson, ELEMENTAL HUNGER is a full-length novel that continues the story that began in ELEMENTAL RUSH, an Elemental novella.
Sixteen-year-old Gabriella Kilpatrick can shoot fire from her hands, which would be great if she didn’t get blamed for a blazing inferno that kills 17 schoolmates. When Gabby is commanded to Manifest her Element, everyone knows what she is: a genetic abnormality. Not to mention guilty.
So she does two logical things to survive. 1. She runs. 2. She hacks off her hair to assume a new role—that of “Gabe”, because in her world, only boys are Firemakers.
Not only does she have to act like a guy, she has to pretend to know everything a Firemaker should know. When Gabby meets Airmaster Adam Gillman, he believes her act and pledges to serve on “Gabe’s” Council. But Adam has the mark of a sentry and spent years obeying Alex, the Supreme Elemental. And Alex wants Gabby-the-genetic-freak dead and gone before she can gather the magical protection of a full Council.
With Adam’s lies that sound like truths and rumors that Alex isn’t really a Firemaker—or a man—Gabby sets out to charter a Council of her own. In order to uncover the truth, Gabby will have to learn who she can trust, how to control her own power, and most of all, how to lead a Council of Elementals, most of whom have more control over their power than she does. If she can’t, she’ll find herself just like those 17 schoolmates: burned and six feet under.
Look for the third and final installment, ELEMENTAL RELEASE, the final Elemental novella.
On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22063919-elemental-hunger
Buy Links:Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KWF9PLIBarnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/elemental-hunger-elana-johnson/1119673756?ean=2940149745685iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/elemental-hunger/id962939784?mt=11Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/elemental-hunger-an-elemental-novel-volume-2Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=HjBtBgAAQBAJ
About ELEMENTAL RELEASE: Two months after returning to the capital city of Tarpulin with a Council of his own, Airmaster Adam Gillman is ready to start repairing the relationships in his life. Up first: his Councilman and the girl he’d like to be more than friends with, Gabriella Kilpatrick.
But first, he has to figure out how to be the Airmaster his Firemaker needs. In order to do that, Adam attends Elemental training and discovers that to truly command the air, he must first be in control of his emotions. And in order to master those, he has to grieve for the loss of Hanai, make amends with his brother, and earn the trust of Gabby.
Amidst all that, Adam must also learn how to grapple with the jet stream, because a dangerous Airmaster is loose in Tarpulin. And Adam will need to find his emotional center in order to work with the atmosphere and defeat the threat.
On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22063941-elemental-release
Buy Links:Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L4HTBZSBarnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/elemental-release-elana-johnson/1121137547?ean=2940150154391iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/elemental-release/id962940235?mt=11Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/elemental-release-an-elemental-novella-volume-3Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=3zNtBgAAQBAJ

About Elana Johnson: Elana Johnson’s work, including Possession, Surrender, Abandon, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), is available now everywhere books are sold. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for download, as well as a Possession short story, Resist
Her self-published novels include two YA contemporary novels-in-verse, Elevated and Something About Love, as well as a YA/NA futuristic fantasy series, which includes Elemental Rush, Elemental Hunger, and Elemental Release.
School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or Twitter. She also co-founded the Query Tracker blog and WriteOnCon, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers.

Social Media Links:Website/blog: http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElanaJFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorelanajohnsonTumblr: http://elanajohnson.tumblr.com/Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/elanajohnsonLeague of Extraordinary Writers: http://leaguewriters.blogspot.com/WriteOnCon: http://writeoncon.com/Elana on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4044383.Elana_Johnson
Win $10 for helping to spread the word about the new ELEMENTAL series covers! 
Rafflecopter Giveaway
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Published on February 09, 2015 08:13

Jo Schaffer

Jo Schaffer
Writer. Speaker. Traveler.
Writing the bridge between us...
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